I guess everyone on the DNC mailing list received a message asking for feedback about the election 2004. There are several questions, the last one asking for suggestions for the future. This is how I responded to that question:
There is no continuum of Left and Right. Those are two separate and different
worldviews. Most people use one worldview (conservative) in some areas of life,
and the other (liberal) in others. There are perhaps 30-35& of Americans who
are 100% conservative - those are unreachable by the Democratic Party - don't
even try. There are also 30-35% of Americans who are 100% liberal, and should
vote for Democrats all the time. The rest can be reached. How?
Once upon a time, the GOP was conservative on some issues and liberal on others. It
was difficult for them to explain each issue separately - they were sending
mixed messages that alienated independents, and left their base lukewarm, thus
they lost elections. In the past 20-30 years, the GOP has switched, one by one,
all its issues to its conservative core. They now have a simple unified
conservative message, thus their base is shored up and
Democrats used to have a unified liberal core and a
simple message that resonated to most Americans. With the advent of DLC and
Clinton, the party has lost its core and moved to a mixed bag of liberal and
conservative positions, each of which needs to be explained separately. This
alienates the base (Nader factor), and is not attractive to the independents
Clinton won because neither Bush Sr nor Bob Dole were true
conservatives, not because Clinton's message was appealing. He, as a person, was
appealing and that helped. The Perot factor was an even greater help. Do not
learn your historical lessons from Clinton wins. Those were choices between two
wishy-washy candidates with mixed messages, but one was more charming than the
other. Don't try this at home! Ever again. The GOP today is truly conservative
with a simple message that gives conservatives wings and is appealing to
Democratic party has to get back to its liberal core,
form an internally coherent ideology, and put it in simple terms and the
language that resonates. Use George Lakoff for God's sake! Do not let the
Republicans frame the debate. They wanted this to be about fear and terror and
war and gays - all the topics on which they are perceived as stronger. Of course
I adore Senator Kerry. I think he would have been the best President in history. But he was and is a lousy candidate. It is a sad state of things, but you do not put a war hero against Republicans and do not accept the campaign to be about God, Gays, Guns, Terror, Fear and War. That is a
disaster. They WILL win every time.
I supported John Edwards in the primaries because I felt that he was able to shift the topic of the campaign onto his turf, the Democratic turf: economy, jobs, poverty, fairness. He would have known how to divert the GOP efforts to make the election be about fear and terror and war. The summer would have been about Enron and Halliburton and outsourcing and dishonesty, not about Vietnam and 9/11. He had nothing in his Senate record to pick apart. "Trial Lawyer" meme is something he would have relished to destroy. No questions about his "liberalism", "Boston brahmin", "atheist" crap that was thrown at Kerry. Whatever Rove tried, Edwards would have used to reinforce his theme of Two Americas, as everything GOP is about plays right into it. He would have won the general election.
Why didn't he win the primaries? Because of the way the primaries were planned, timed and organized. It is time to replace the "old guard", starting with Terry MacAuliffe, as soon as possible. A number of people can do better, but the one with the best ideas, and the best vision, one who has actually left behind the political dinosaur-land that is 20th century, is Joe Trippi (I was never a Deaniac - I like Dean but thought he was an awful candidate). I think Trippi is the best choice for the Chair of DNC.
And don't you dare push Hillary for candidacy! I love her to death, but only someone who lives in DC or NYC or SF can really believe she has a snowball's chance in hell of winning more than 3 or 4 of the bluest states. It's a sad state of affairs, but we better get real, really soon, or this democracy we call America will be just a distant memory from the past.