Democrats & Liberals Archives

Approaching the Election

In the past, as I have worked with various Democratic Party campaign organizations at various levels, I have frequently bemoaned the fact that, for the most part, the Democrats have attempted to stake out the high moral ground during campaigns, leaving the negative campaigning largely to the Republicans. Yes, I know that’s a generalization but it is reflective of my personal experience. This time around, I think my usual advice to the Democrats — to get down into the mud with the GOP — would be ill-advised. If Bush’s popularity holds (and I doubt it will), attacking would be a mistake. I think it is essential, rather, that the Democrats stand for something, create a positive agenda, and draw support from the more traditional Democratic groups whom they’ve abandoned in the past couple of elections.

Bush's win in the last election was a shock to me. Regardless of how you feel about the legitimacy of his election, it is a fait accompli and part of the realpolitik with which we must now deal. Every indicator was that Gore should have been elected easily. In the end, somehow, Gore managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The key lesson I took away from the election was that a 100-year chain of the American public voting its wallet had been broken. In a sound economy, the American people chose in huge numbers to vote for the out-of-power party's candidate. In the upcoming election, barring a miracle (even an arfiticial one, which the plutocrats of the GOP are certainly capable of manipulating), we will be voting in an economic downturn that is as serious as any that has been seen in this country in 75 years. Will the Democrats have the courage to face down the ill-advised, favor-the-rich tax cuts created by the Bush Regime? Will the American people return to their historical pattern of voting their pocketbooks? If they do, a Democratic victory will be a lock. But we can't be certain either that the Republicans won't find some way to (temporarily) make people forget their pocketbooks long enough to vote for them or that the people will revert to form.

A positive campaign in 2004 can center on these issues, among others:

  1. Universal health care.
  2. Reinstating international treaties from which the Bush Regime has withdrawn
  3. Reversing Bush's tax cuts, which provide real benefit only to a tiny percentage of the wealthiest Americans.
  4. Unswerving suport for a woman's right to choose, including a pledge to select judges committed to upholding Roe v Wade.
  5. Returning to a pro-environment federal policy, specifically re-enacting some of the legislation and regulations overturned by the Bush Regime.
  6. Internationalizing the clean-up and aftermath of the Iraq adventure.
  7. Re-committing the United States to the United Nations.
  8. Fashioning a new foreign policy that recognizes the reality of terrorism without allowing the terrorists to win at home and abroad through the politics of fear.

The key point for me is simply that the Democrats must find an alternative way to approach these difficult problems, present a positive program of action and change to the American people, and state their case clearly. I'll have more to say on this last topic later when I focus an essay on the question of how liberals can bring conciseness to a debate they have too often clouded with complexity.

Posted by insiter at June 14, 2003 2:07 PM