Sunday, March 09, 2014


Here's a story from The Hill:
The election is coming, the election is coming!

That's the message coming from President Obama as he tries desperately to rouse Democrats out of a midterm election stupor that could cost his party control of the Senate -- and bury his agenda once and for all....

... at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Boston, Obama said poor turnout could lead the party's candidates to get "walloped."

... A White House official says that the president will look to "set the terms" of the election by focusing on his economic policy message, and repeatedly contrasting that with Republican policies designed to benefit wealthy Americans....
Yeah? Is that the plan?

BooMan responds:
Promoting a hike in the minimum wage is what [Democrats] seem to have latched onto, and that's not bad. But to really break through, the Democrats need something bolder. Wiping out college debt or rescheduling marijuana as a safer drug are two things that could energize young people. They also need to go on offense with health care. Defensiveness over the Affordable Care Act could be disastrous.

Overall, it would be better to have candidates like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, John Walsh, and Mary Landrieu pitching populist policies, even if they aren't immediately achievable, than to have them distancing themselves from the party and the president. Also, the Republicans are nuts, and they should be pointing that out.
I think the president overestimates the usefulness, especially at this point, of "focusing on his economic policy message." BooMan talks about "pitching populist policies, even if they aren't immediately achievable" -- but that's just the problem: they aren't achievable. Voters know that. They voted to reelect Obama in 2012 in the hope that he'd be able to get some of his policies enacted in a second term, and now they see he hasn't done it. I think restating the Democratic wish list, or even adding some of the items BooMan recommends, isn't enough. Voters just think Democrats make a lot of empty promises.

So what can Democrats do? I think they have to start talking about why popular Democratic policies don't get enacted. The reason is that there are too damn many Republicans in Congress.

I think they have to say, "When you elect Republicans, they block any increase in the minimum wage. When you elect Republicans, they block every bill that would put people to work. When you elect Republicans, they block immigration reform. When you elect Republicans, they insist on trying to get the budget under control by cutting programs that people really need because they refuse to allow the taxes of the wealthiest Americans to go up by even one dime." And so on and so on.

Maybe you even need to explain the filibuster -- yes, on the campaign trail. Don't you think Bill Clinton could pull that off in a speech and still keep an audience's attention? Well, why should that be a unique skill? The president is a pretty good speaker, too, isn't he?

According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, 59% of voters are at least somewhat "disappointed" in the Obama presidency, including 24% of Democrats. Why is that? Partly it's because people thought he could do more. Well, most voters don't have a clear picture of why he can't do more. They need some Civics 101 so they'll understand. And they need someone to explain what the solution would be, even if it's highly unlikely to be attainable.

Why is it so difficult for Democrats to say that Republicans are the problem? Republicans have no problem blaming Democrats, and they're not punished at the polls for "divisiveness," at least in non-presidential elections.

Assess the blame where it belongs. Otherwise, voters just think that ineffectual Democrats are the real problem.


ladyblug said...

They need to constantly point out that the Republicans are NUTS and they keep winning!

Victor said...

Democrats are rational, and too polite.

They think that rational people will see what's going on, and vote for them.

Republican messaging goes for the heart, not the head.

They're always looking for issues which create fear and hatred, and which constrict people's sphincters, to win elections.

Yes, EVERY Democratic candidate should be stating the obvious - that it's the Republicans who are insane, and are causing the nation to not make any progress.

But the Democrats are too damn nice and polite and rational...

Anonymous said...

Focus on social issues. The Democratic party is not going to blow up it's power base in rich cities like NYC, DC, SanFran, where it's rich donors depend on income inequality and raiding the rest of the country to stay rich.

WE are the party of the predatory 1% and the predatory super cities on the coasts. We know that, we can't run from it.

Frame it always as fighting the dumb ass hick bible bangers and that not voting is forcing the women in their lives to bear Limbaughs rape children and handing over your gay friends to the tender care of Rick Santorum.

That's what the Democrats offer, a more liberal social policy. The economics is all bullshit unless we are willing to destroy our own power and donors base, the very base that lets us crush the other side in the culture wars.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

So what can Democrats do? I think they have to start talking about why popular Democratic policies don't get enacted. The reason is that there are too damn many Republicans in Congress.

Sure, Steve. And when the Democrats had large majorities in both the House and Senate, what kept Obama from enacting his agenda?

Nothing. His agenda was and is a right-wing, corporatist one. The GOP House now provides him cover for it. Maybe you could recall him running against NAFTA in 2008? Thanks to wikileaks, we know that he resumed negotiations on G.W. Bush's TPP (NAFTA on steroids) in the fall of 2009.

That's just one example...check what happened to his campaign promise re: mortgage cramdown.

I read your blog every once in while. Each time I come away saying to myself: Either Steve can't figure it out, or he doesn't want to.

Steve M. said...

And when the Democrats had large majorities in both the House and Senate, what kept Obama from enacting his agenda?

The filibuster.