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December 13, 2005

Democrats' Plan For Winning '06 Elections? Empty Rhetoric

When all you have is hot air, every problem looks like a colorful balloon.

The Democrats can't speak confidently or honestly about Iraq, taxes, or even abortion (a narrowly-winning issue for them, except that they are beholden to abortion-on-demand absolutists, making it a net wash), so they've got a killer new strategy for 2006: soft-headed baby-talk!

From an AP piece:

To hear Democrats tell it, an anxious and isolated public craves a sense of national community and would galvanize behind a leader who asks people to sacrifice for the greater good.

"There is a hunger in America, a hunger for a sense of national community, a hunger for something big and important and inspirational that they all can be involved in," [Senator John] Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee, told delegates at a weekend convention of Florida Democrats.

"Americans don't want to believe that they are out there on an island all alone," the former North Carolina senator said.

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean has commissioned confidential polling and analysis that suggest candidates in 2006 and 2008 should frame their policies β€” and attacks on Republicans β€” around the context of community.

It seems to be the emerging message from a party that has been bereft of one.

...

"When we work together, when rely on one another, when we care about one another we remove the fear of sharing," [Iowa Govenor Tom] Vilsack said. "I believe the current administration and its polices is eroding the sense of community. This country's two great things β€” the self-reliant individual supported by community β€” is what made the American dream ... possible."

This is the theme? This is their big play? They polled and focus-grouped and this is the fruit of their labors?


As Powerline notes, this is not a new theme at all; Clinton ran on it, as have many others. It's about as new as John Edwards' "Two Americas" theme.

What does "community" mean?

In one way, it's so unobjectionable that only a real dick (like me) would impugn the idea. Of course, if we had our druthers, we'd all like more "community" in our country.

Whatever, you know, that actually means.

But it's not an especially high priority. In high school, I wanted to make varsity football, get good grades, and (dare to dream!) maybe one day kiss a girl. If you asked me, "Would you also like more school spirit?" I would have said sure, why not (at least after I'd gotten over giggling at the question).

"Community" is the "school spirit" of the country. It's a nice enough idea, but it's intangible and hardly affects our lives at all. Truth be told, Americans don't tend to know each other very well; we know about 10 people very welll, another 20 people somewhat well, perhaps a 100 slightly, and the rest of the nation not at all. That's our "community." It's silly to speak of a "national community" as it is to speak of a country-wide "American family." There really is no such thing. Our family and our friends are one thing; our fellow Americans another. We wish them well and want them to succeed, simply because they are our fellow countrymen but then, they're also perfect strangers to us.

So what could this mean for the average voter in tangible terms?

I suspect it's partly a code for "social spending" -- it's just a nicer way to say "we'll force you to give money to strangers" -- and partly an attempt to fill the famous "values gap" by offering something greater than the self which nevertheless has nothing to do with this God chap everyone's always on about. It's a religious notion, but of a secular, civic nature.

As to the former, there are those who want more social spending and those who don't. Simply disgusing social spending as talk about increased "community" will not actually win converts.

On the latter score, it's still not particularly objectionable -- at least not to me. If some people can't believe in God but need something bigger to believe in, "the national community" seems to me as good as any other artificial, fake-pretend idea.

But what does it mean? What does it actually offer?

Nothing. Not a lick. Politics exists to resolve concrete arguments about the best way to organize and govern society, not to provide people with some quasi-religious philosophical meaning. To the extent that such godless religions are needed, they can be better provided by professional nitwits like Depak Chopra or John Edward.

Leave the philosphizing to the philosophers. What's your stance on ballistic missile defense, guys?

We are less than one year from the 2006 elections and thusfar the Democrats' preferred position on the great issues of the day is to have no position on them at all.

They've tried this for several elections running now. A simple change in name does not actually change the fundamental nature of what they're offering -- nothing, and plenty of it.

Liberals have always been great fetishists about the power of words, and the efficacy of simply changing words to change public perceptions. All political types engage in wordplay for advantage, of course, but it seems to me it's only the liberals who actually believe this nonsense can actually work.

Republicans call the tax cut bill "The Jobs and Growth Bill" thinking it marginally helps sell the product. It's PR. It gets the goal of the bill stuck in the name of the bill itself (although, of course, no one ever really calls it that, but that's the hope).

On the other hand, Democrats call "withdrawal and surrender" an "over-the-horizon immediate redeployment" and insist -- apparently sincerely, it sometimes appears -- that it changes the nature of the product itself. It's neither surrender or withdrawal, they say, along with Humpty Dumpty, just because we're not calling it that.

If avoiding discussing the important issues facing us the Democrats' 2006 product line, ingeniously branded as "community," let me be the first to suggest a good way for them to start describing the 2006 campaign: as "a rebuilding season."

If they do badly enough, who knows? Maybe they can draft Reggie Bush.

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posted by Ace at 01:20 AM

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