what is more important to the democrats – winning elections or fighting over iraq? some might suggest that the war in iraq is so polarizing that the democrats can take back control of the white house, and possibly even pick up some congressional seats in the fall, BY fighting with the bush administration over iraq policy. i’m not so sure about that. being against the war in iraq is a legitimate point of view. i’m not saying it isn’t. it’s just that making this the main qualification for a candidate might not be the best strategy for the democrats.
lucky for the democrats, i’m here to help them with their strategy. no mortal human being can completely fix the fissure currently on display with the democratic party between the centrists and those who are, um…not so centrist. total unity between those two groups may not be possible. however, there are ways for the democrats to appeal to more voters, as long they start thinking more in big picture terms.
larry sabato asks several questions that democrats will have to answer when deciding the best strategy for picking a presidential candidate who could win the ’08 election. ***while it’s true that his questions have the most relevance to ’08 strategy, i believe that some of these questions also come into play when discussing potential congressional candidates. In some current mid-term races, the question of whether to throw their support behind someone like ned lamont in connecticut who opposes the iraq war, or joe lieberman who supports it and several other policies of the bush administration, is something currently being debated in democratic circles. it’s all part of the big picture as far as i’m concerned. ***
now to the questions.
- … help themselves by nominating the candidate most likely to win, or will they insist on ideological purity?
- ….choose a person with broad popular appeal, or pick a controversial standard-bearer?
- …broaden their base, or merely attempt to produce the highest turnout possible among liberal constituency groups, a tactic that failed in 2004?
- …find a nominee fully able to compete with a Republican on national security, or simply hope to skate by on this greatest of all issue-clusters in the current age of terrorism?
for the first question, the answer to it should be pretty obvious. you go for the candidate who can get you the most votes, and the candidate who is the most electable.
controversial standard-bearers are only useful if they force electable candidates to re-think their positions on issues, or change them to appeal to those sympathetic to that person’s views. people who admit to unpopular views aren’t usually electable. maybe there are exceptions to this, but the conventional wisdom is usually true in this area.
how many votes can you get from the aforementioned liberal constituency groups? even if a majority of the people in those groups vote, my guess is that the democrats might be a few votes short. aren’t the democrats supposed to be famous for their inclusion, “big tent” philosophy, etc? so why not prove this inclusion by letting those who are in the minority on issues like abortion and the war in iraq have equal access to their party? broaden the base.
national security is important post 9/11. the voters want to know that their candidate’s party has a credible plan for national security. this plan should be more specific than “we won’t do what bush is doing”. it should include not only an alternative to iraq policy, but also a strategy to deal with securing our country’s borders. border security and tougher enforcement of current immigration law is essential as part of an overall national security plan.
i think the voters are smart enough to know when a candidate is pretending to be something he or she is not. so i think the democrats should say what they believe, and be willing to make the argument for why they believe it. if your position is defensible, defend it. it’s not about how awful, terrible, and horrible you think bush is. it’s about why voters should elect you. sell yourself.
my last bit of advice may be more cosmetic than any of the others, but this is something i don’t usually see from the modern democratic party. the spice girls called it “positivity”. be positive. america’s a great country. we have problems. there are inequalities in our society. nothing is ever perfect. we still should have hope and optimism that, in spite of everything going on in the world today, america’s best days are still ahead. i believe that. i would love to hear something like this from the democrats. that’s how reagan inspired the people of this country.
so those are my suggestions for the democrats. i just hope this is one of the days the dnc doesn’t come to visit this blog. i also hope, as always, that they will not take my suggestions seriously.