Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Exceedingly Eloquent Concession Speeches

While watching Boston Legal tonight the character Alan Shore gave one of his speeches that made me stop and think for a minute or two. He talked about how when the missing WMD's happened, he thought the American people would rise up and then when Abu Ghraib and renditions and warrantless wiretapping. He talked about how he was continuously frustrated by the lack of interest by the American people in these seemingly scandalous events. Now, the purpose of this post isn't to make my father immediately close his browser, it's to vent my own frustrations.

To move from David E. Kelly to Aaron Sorkin for a minute;
"People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." (The American President)
I know what you're going to say, both of these guys are liberal. Perhaps they are, so what. They're both right... to a certain extent. The Democrats (myself included) have been sitting on the collective couch for years, grouching about any number of things and waiting, I'm gonna say that again cause it's important, waiting for people to agree with them. Now, to a certain extent this plan is working. I mean if President Bush has a 36% approval rating and that's 2x as much as the Vice President how can you mess that up? How about by sitting on the couch?

Democrats need to understand that leadership isn't just waiting for a chance to lead, it's leading when no one is looking. Right now the approval ratings for everyone are down, not just the Executive branch. The last couple of election cycles the senior Democrats have stood outside the Capitol building, trying to sell a variation on the Contract With America. The problems with this idea are so numerous I can't even use a variation on two-fold or even ten-fold. But I will shrink the list down in the hopes of making this a readable post.

The Democrats Contract(s) with America tend to be vague ideas on what they may do when they attain control of the Congress. The Contract(s) also usually come out about one or two weeks before the election, way to late to even make a difference. Lastly, and this goes hand in hand with the last reason, the Democratic party is a "big tent" party. By "big tent" we are referring to a party that is made up of many different viewpoints and ideologies.

For instance in the Democratic party it is O.K. to be against abortion in any form, just ask the Governor of South Dakota. While this sounds good in theory, it doesn't work very well in reality. The Dem's have several leaders; Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Chuck Schumer, Joseph Biden, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, I could in fact list every member of the Democratic party at this point. When Howard Dean says something that Harry Reid disagrees with he comes out and says it and the same is true about everyone else. Again, while good in theory, it only makes the party look like what it is; fractured and incapable of action.

So now, to the point. Democrats need to get off the couch. Instead of trying to capture what Newt Gingrich and the Republicans did in the '94 election, try something different. I agree that it's important to have a common voice and a party platform, but if it's too little too late then why bother? Come out now, or better yet 4 months ago, with a coherent and policy laden plan. Make that plan easy to understand yet comprehensive. Make sure that those who are running in primaries get word of this plan and agree with it. Better yet make sure that Democrats agree with it, and I'm not speaking of party activists but mainstream Democrats. One of the main arguments that Dem's like to pull when they're being criticized is their lack of a bully pulpit. They argue this as if Tim Russert, George Stephanopolous, etc. etc. would turn down requests to appear on the Sunday morning talk shows to unveil a new policy strategy.

Lastly, I know that those in control of the party now believe that it is "their turn" to run things. How very, very wrong they are. Not only should this not be a turn based system, it shouldn't even be close to an aristocracy. Their are tens of thousands of active Democrats out there. Everytime the Dem's lose an election they're not only squandering money donated, they are letting down their supporters. What exactly is the point of a party that is only good at two things; soul searching after a loss and as Sarah Vowell put it: "writing exceedingly eloquent concession speeches".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A father should not turn off his browser, regardless of his political philosophy.

Comments on who is listening, or even who is paying any attention are good and valid to a point. Maybe people have "gone to the couch" because there isn't anything going on that generates their interest. By the way, Canadian radio doesn't follow U.S. politics!

The simple fact that someone's approval rating is in the ditch, doesn't automatically mean that someone else's approval rating isn't in a different ditch as well. The "politics of strange bedfellows" has really come home to roost. We have a party and no one is really interested.

10:25 PM, March 15, 2006  

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