The Democrats Learned The Wrong Lesson In 2002

The Democrats Learned The Wrong Lesson In 2002: Something Nancy Pelosi said caught my eye and I thought it was worth commenting on…

“What is important, she (Pelosi) said, is that “never again will Democrats go into a campaign where it’s not clear about who we are, what we stand for, how different we are from the Republicans, and what we are going to fight for. The public will know the difference between the two parties.”

Really? What does the Democratic Party stand for these days other than getting elected and not being Republicans? I’m struggling to think of any ideas the Democrats have really pushed since the 2002 elections other than that cockamamie draft idea. Everything else is just a reaction to what Bush is doing. Most Democrats in the House voted against “Bush’s war”, don’t like Bush’s tax cuts, his judges, drilling ANWR, etc, etc, etc. The Democrats are behaving that way because of a huge problem they have and the way they interpreted the results of the 2002 elections.

The problem the Dems have is that their left-wing base is so far outside of the mainstream, that it’s very difficult to please them and the swing vote they need to win elections at the same time. So if the Dems do things that hype up their base (the people who contribute money, work on campaigns, tend to vote even it rains on election day, etc), they often turn-off the moderates who might actually go either way on election day.

Of course, there is a way around that problem — triangulation. You do just enough to keep your base happy, while also denying them a number of things they want to keep the swing voters happy and appear more moderate. This is how Bill Clinton got elected twice and Bush also uses this strategy domestically as well (which quite frankly annoys me although it’s hard to argue with success).

But, Democrats have abandoned the triangulation strategy because they mistakenly concluded that their losses in the 2002 elections were a result of not highlighting their differences with George Bush. They believe that if they really go after Bush hard on everything until 2004, their core constituency will all head to the polls and they’ll win big.

However, does anyone think it’s a winning strategy to relentlessly attack a VERY popular President and the policies that made him popular? Putting it another way, are the Democrats going to get back into power by relentlessly attacking things like Bush’s successful prosecution of the war on terrorism and tax cuts? We’re going to find out in 2004, but so far, so good as far as I’m concerned…

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