Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

August 21, 2004

by J

Intra-Group Demographics

NYCO posts a thought-provoking theory (rather, beginnings of a theory) about the implications of the differences between Democrats and progressives who live in red states vs. those who live in safely Democratic regions of the country:
There is a reason why Howard Dean was so rapturously received by Democrats in Idaho, in Texas, and other red areas. There is a reason why upstate New York Dean supporters debated fiercely among themselves about whether or not to abandon Dean for Edwards or Kerry during the primary after Dean dropped out; or to stick to their guns and cast a symbolic vote. Their experience as Democrats is not the same as those in more liberal bastions. And I think that difference of experience is something significant, although I admit, I'm not sure how exactly at this point. It has to do with being comfortable vs. feeling disenfranchised, and having the experience of never voting for winners but remaining faithful to the cause. These Democrats are now being spoken to by others in the way that the Democratic Party never has. Empowered to raise their own grassroots money, suddenly they see possibilities they never have seen before. But their point of view is subtly different from the point of view of the politically well-heeled.
Since I'm not even a Democrat, I don't even fit within either of these options. But that's the story of my life, to participate in, but not really be of, any particular group. I can't imagine voting for a Republican for decades after what they've become--I would not even vote for my own mother if she chose to run as a Republican, I think the party has sunk that low--so I suppose I'm a de facto Dem in a blue area of a very red state.

This reminds me of something else that has bothered me about both the DSCC and the DCCC. Even their language is defeatist. The DSCC wants to "fight for 51." Dammit, fight for 60 and be sure to get 51. The DCCC says they want to win 218 House seats. What? What a limited goal. Aim for 230, or 250! If you set such limited 50%+1 kinds of goals, I think it demonstrates a real lack of vision and betrays a lack of belief in your own cause. Bill Clinton says: When people think, Democrats win. Poll after poll shows that Americans support basic Democratic principles (over reactionary Republican ones), so, at least in your rhetoric, act like a confident party, not one that merely wishes to achieve a fingernail-thin majority. It sends the wrong message and certainly doesn't make me want to work hard for a party when I know they've written my state off. And it wouldn't even cost much - it's just a rhetorical and framing shift. Bah.
Posted by J at August 21, 2004 06:35 AM

I agree. The Republicans' overconfidence on every issue gives them a distinct advantage. They consistently act as if they have the support of the majority of Americans on every issue, even when they don't. Perception becomes reality.

Would Al Gore have rammed a left-wing agenda through Congress if he had won the electoral college, but not the popular vote? Not a chance.

The Democrats really need to stop being so namby-pamby when it comes to political maneuvering, or the Republicans SS-style uniformity and determination to ram their agenda down Americans' throats win will far more often than it should.

Posted by: Brandon at August 22, 2004 11:26 AM

NYCO often hits the nail on the head. I certainly have felt disenfranchised, which is why I revolted against the Dem party a decade ago and became inependent. "An outsider in my own country" is how I've described myself... in the context of presidential politics.

I can give a twist to what NYCO talked about: I could be considered as a little blue island living in one heavily (!) red area or another within a blue state.

Posted by: Todd at August 23, 2004 02:48 PM

... within a red country (apparently).

You know, I heard on the radio that most citizens of other countries don't blame American citizens for Bush's policies. But they WILL start blaming ordinary Americans if Bush is elected. From America-hating to American-hating?

Posted by: Todd at August 23, 2004 02:51 PM

I agree somewhat with the piece....but frankly I live in a state considered swing (which has no business being there...we're really pretty safely blue) where Dean was recieved most passionately and had some of his larger turnouts. But then Oregon is always her own redheaded stepchild in the Union...so maybe that's just us continuing to be us.

The real key though is not so much the cited piece but J's comments after it. The Democrats aren't aiming high enough at all. What Dean did, imo, is show Democrats that they have a voice and can mobilize. Instead of capitalizing on this in a big way..the DSCC and DCCC are aiming much too low.

Good post.

Posted by: carla at August 24, 2004 12:34 PM

I've gotten furious at feminists for that same limp 50% + 1 attitude as well. When asked how much power is enough (a question that reveals a lot more about the paranoia of the questioner than anything else), they inevitably answer, "Half."

"Half" is why we're still puttering along at 5% of the damned government and NONE of the presidency. I want 100%. As a woman, I want it ALL, because we are against an adversary that thinks absolutely nothing whatsoever of taking it ALL. (Have men OR Republicans ever imagined that they deserved LESS than 100% of the government? Have they ever said, "Oh, we'll stop running males when we hit 50%? Would they?)

If we want to meet halfway, we'd better push just as hard as they do, for the whole deal. 100%. THAT'S equality -- equality of motivation. And if we're not prepared to roll up our sleeves and say it out loud, and BELIEVE it, we don't deserve it.

Posted by: Janis at August 25, 2004 01:43 AM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In Association with Amazon.com