Why Do Democrats Lose? It’s The Ideas, Stupid!
Robert Kuttner is the latest lib to write one of those “here’s what we must do to save the Democratic Party” columns. Kuttner’s piece, like all the others I’ve read since the 2004 election, completely overlooks the stiffening donkey with his legs straight up in the air that’s square in the middle of the Democrats’ living room: it’s the ideas, stupid!
Now, don’t get me wrong: these lib columnists understand that conservative ideas resonate with the American people more than liberal ideas do, even if they won’t admit it.
For example, in Kuttner’s piece he writes:
“I knocked on a lot of doors in 2004,” says Steve Rosenthal, who headed America Coming Together, the largest liberal voter-mobilization group. “If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times: ‘You may not agree with George Bush, but you know where he stands.’” Conviction evidently trumps vacillation, even when voters are skeptical of particular convictions. One of John Kerry’s pollsters says, “People looked at Bush and concluded that he’d shoot first and ask questions later. They concluded that Kerry would ask questions first. They voted for Bush.”
The conservative movement is rooted in a coherent, easy-to-summarize ideology: Government doesn’t work, except to protect you from terrorists; you deserve to keep more of your own money; cherished American family values, including national security, are under assault from liberals. The right has fine-tuned and segmented its rhetorical symphony so that the bass notes rock its political primitives while a softer timbre appeals to the moderate ear.”
Now you’d think that liberals, after writing something like that in these columns, would think: “Ok, conservatives have their ‘coherent, easy-to-summarize ideology,’ let’s sum ours up for the people and show them why it’s better” — but no, that never happens because liberals understand that their beliefs are too unpopular to ever sell to the American people. So instead we get process, process, process in these pieces. How do we raise more money? Where are the think tanks? How do we build up liberal radio? How do we phrase what we’re saying to appeal to the American people?
Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with considering those things, but in most ways the liberal political “machine” is far superior to the one conservatives have. The average person in America gets up, reads a liberal newspaper, sends his kid to a school run by liberals, comes home from work and watches news on the big 3 networks — which all are liberal and have bigger audiences than Fox — and then settles in to watch TV, where a bunch of liberals entertain him all night.
In the 2004 elections, liberals raised more money than conservatives, dominated the mainstream media where most Americans got their information, and even managed to produce best selling books and movies that blasted Bush. Sure conservatives have talk radio, Fox, the Washington Times, but the truth is that we were outgunned.
Well, how is it that Republicans control all the levers of government then? Well, our ideas just work better than liberal ideas and, furthermore, we’re not afraid to pitch them to the American people.
Liberals can criticize what conservatives believe all day long, but when you ask them what they believe in, they suddenly get foggy and evasive because they know that many of the things that they want to do are unpopular and viewed as failed concepts.
So, in an effort to show how bipartisan and helpful I am, I’m going to invite all the liberal blogs out there to participate in a little exercise that will do more for you than all the mamby-pamby, “We need to do things differently somehow or another” columns ever written.
Here’s what I’m challenging all you liberal bloggers out there to do: answer this question:
“Theoretically, let’s say you could get any nine pieces of legislation passed that you wanted. These could either be bills that are already in the pipeline in Congress or that you could write yourself. What pieces of legislation would you pass?”
Now, you liberals, this is more important than you realize because unless you can come up with ideas that you can unite around and sell to the American people, you’re going to have trouble getting back into power. So, this is a vitally important exercise for you…plus, I must admit that I want to see a list of ideas that are near and dear to the liberal heart.
Also, so no one can accuse me of not being willing to put my money where my mouth is, here’s a list I compiled two years ago that I still feel comfortable with:
Abortion: I don’t believe the rights of any mother should include the right to kill her child unless her own life is in danger. I’d like to see a Constitutional amendment banning abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger.
Balanced Budget Amendment: The ONLY way we’re going to be able to get the government to spend within its means over the long-term is to force it to do so with a balanced budget amendment. If the government wants to spend more than it takes in some years, then it better start saving some money for a rainy day instead of spending it all on pork.
Fifty-One Votes To Confirm A Judge Rule: Our judicial confirmation system hasn’t functioned well in a long time and now it’s totally broken. Quite frankly, I think you could make a case that the Senate can’t Constitutionally filibuster judges as it is, but in any case, this is what we need to be doing.
Flat Tax: Long-Term, a flat tax would do more to keep America economically strong than anything else we could do. It would give almost everyone (the poorest among us would be exempt) a stake in keeping taxes and government spending low and it would lead to a wave of economic growth.
The Glenn Reynolds’ End to Racism and Segregation Act of 2003: I took this one verbatim from Instapundit. “I think the Republicans should demonstrate that they’re taking the country beyond the legacy of segregation by passing the “End to Racism and Segregation Act of 2003,” which would provide that neither the federal government, nor the states, nor any entity receiving federal funds may take race into account in any manner in the making of hiring, firing, promotion, or benefits decisions.”
Illegal Alien Crackdown: I’d like to see us: use drones & greatly increased manpower to patrol our borders, crackdown on businesses that hire illegal aliens, refuse to let illegals have driver’s licenses or go to public schools. We should use the police to help hunt down illegal aliens and a work program that lets millions of Mexicans come her legally to work should be set up to reduce the motivation for people to sneak into the US. Furthermore, to free up resources to deal with illegal aliens, we should severely cut back on legal immigration until the situation is in hand.
School Vouchers: I’d like to allow parents to vote with their feet and their money when it comes to schools. Give parents a voucher for the full amount that is being spent on their child and let them pick the school they want to spend it in. That will lead to competition and a lot of bad schools going out of business while quality schools pick up the slack.
Term Limits: Because of gerrymandering and the advantages of incumbency, many people in the House and Senate in essence have “jobs for life.” That’s not good for Democracy and only allowing a Congressperson to serve three terms and a Senator to serve two would make sure that we get the turnover necessary to keep our government healthy.
Tort Reform: We are the most litigious society on earth by far and it’s a huge drain on our economy. Implementing a loser pays principle & setting damage caps on the amount of money that can be handed out in a case (among other things) would go a long way towards restoring sanity to our legal system.
Once you liberal bloggers come up with your list of the 9 pieces of legislation you’d pass, shoot me an email, do a trackback to this post, or post in the comments section, and I will link your list (*** I’ll link libertarian and conservative lists as well ***).