Monday, August 22, 2011

What's wrong with Democratic pols?

Republicans may be crazy and/or stupid, but you always know where you stand with them. The Democratic pols we have now, on the other hand, are completely amorphous. I don't think a minute goes by on Daily Kos when there isn't a thread that doesn't devolve into a debate on what Obama really wants. We simply have no idea, really, what the putative leader of our party thinks about the issues of the day, let alone any solutions we need for the very real and sinister problems we face. And if he isn't the leader of the party, as his supporters claim--they say, with a smug expression, more times than not, that he's the President of the whole country, not just the majority of people who are on his political left--then who is, and what does s/he believe? We are bereft of leadership, and we are bereft of direction, and it is killing this country just as assuredly as the Republicans' policies are.
Ideas we have. Most Dems know what policies are popular, what policies would solve the various issues of the day, and what policies we would enact if given the chance. That part, as strange as it sounds, is easy, because all the problems we currently face have already been solved, either in this country (Keynesian spending will solve deflation and government job creation will solve unemployment, just like it did during the New Deal), or others (we are the only industrialized nation that does not provide universal health care, and we far outspend others per capita for what we do get from the private sphere--talk about a no-brainer!) The electorate, however, has failed to consistently support the one party that at one time or another, has supported those policies that the public supports with big majorities, judging by any poll taken. Why is this?
It is eminently possible that the majority of the voting populace is simply stupid and doesn't know what Republicans do when in power, but I think it's a little more complex than that, and at the same time simpler. People that vote, for some reason, seem to prefer politicians who stake out a position on a small number of policies, stick to them (even when shown those policies are abject failures, like with supply-side economics), and most importantly, fight for them when elected. The Republicans are seen to stand for something, even if it is evil and/or short-sighted, and because of that, they are attractive to the people who bother to vote. And Democrats are not. (And this is true even when they do try to push for a similar descriptive stance, due to too many years of mindless campaigns. Which one of the 3 major candidates for President in 2008 ran this kind of campaign? John Edwards, and he was laughed off the stage after one primary.)
This is not something that can be solved by one campaign or one individual, either. All Democrats running for office have to buy into the same theme somehow, and pursue it faithfully once in office, at least rhetorically, and it may not even matter what that theme is. If all Dems could unite under one banner, whether it's an analogue of Edwards's "Two Americas", which is becoming more and more true with each passing crisis, or something else equally as true, I think the policies we push for would make more sense to the voting public.
Let's take an example: What's the benefit of universal health care? There are a multitude, actually. Better outcomes, better cost containment, better (i.e., less) bureaucracy, better efficiency, less confusion for the patient, etc. Each of these could be used as a rationale for politician to support a bill, but when a handful of pols each choose a different one, which is what happens now, the voter is seemingly confused about what the party as a whole wants. Does the Democratic Party support universal healthcare because it does a better job at containing costs, or because it cares about patient's rights, or because it is interested in centralizing decision making? Who knows, and who can tell? The truth is, the Party as a whole doesn't support any one thing for any one reason at all, because it doesn't have a coherent message that would easily accommodate these disparate reasons. Once it decided on that overarching message, all of these various things, instead of pulling in different directions rhetorically, would pull toward that same goal. For example, if Democratic Party politicians all began saying variations of the same theme, say, "We are the party for the little guy against the impersonal and uncaring corporate monsters", all of the various reasons listed above fit nicely in that framework. Voters would then get what the pols who have the "D" next to their name are about, regardless of what that individual pol thinks specifically about any particular issue. And that's a good thing, because that means the voter doesn't have to pick and choose which of his/her issues is most important to him/her in deciding for whom to vote. A vote for a Dem would be a vote for the "little guy", full stop. It's not all about messaging, but crafting a coherent message certainly couldn't hurt; not having one is rather obviously hurting, at the very least. Fighting for that vision once in office is the next step, but even here, if Dems looked at every issue they face through the prism of their overall message, it becomes clearer how to vote on each bill, and even easier to explain those votes to one's constituency.
It doesn't look like this is going to happen any time soon, unfortunately, which is why I think this country is dying. Help me, Democrats! You're my only hope!

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home