Why The Democrats Haven’t Produced A “Contract With America”

by John Hawkins | March 6, 2006 9:58 am

Over at the New York Times[1], Adam Nagourney writes on the Democrats’ inability to put together a coherent party platform. Here’s a key passage from Nagourney’s piece:

“Democrats pointed out that Republicans did not offer their Contract With America until the final weeks of the 1994 campaign and said that they were planning to offer their own version by summer.

Still, party officials said, it has been difficult to build a consensus. Some Democrats want to call for raising automobile mileage standards to conserve energy, but Democrats in Michigan have resisted that idea. While Democrats including Ms. Madrid of New Mexico want to set a timetable for pulling out of Iraq, others say that would be politically and militarily disastrous.

Mr. Emanuel, though, said he was not worried. “What divide?” he said.

“We agree on Social Security,” he continued. “We also agree on the war, which is, not more of the same.”

“Skelton has a position. Murtha has a position. Levin has a position,” he said of Congressional Democrats who have raised questions about the war. “But all of them have one thing in common: Staying the course is a fool’s errand. O.K.? I’m happy that our party has a lot of different ideas about how to solve a problem.”

There’s a reason why the left still hasn’t come up with a Democratic “Contract with America,” 10 years after it was an important factor in helping the GOP take back the House.

For a “Contract with America” to be worth anything politically, it has to feature at least a few very popular ideas that most people on the other side of the aisle won’t get behind. That’s because obviously, if your ideas aren’t popular they won’t help get you elected and if the other side has the same position, it gives the voters no motive to get behind you.

This is a problem for the Democrats because they support lots of popular ideas that Republicans also champion and they have lots of unpopular ideas that Republicans won’t support, but what they don’t have an abundance of are very popular ideas that Republicans won’t support and without those, a Democratic “Contract with America” won’t help much.

Hat tip to Ann Althouse[2] for the story.

  1. New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/06/politics/06cong.html?ex=1299301200&en=2c7fe21b6f5cc64d&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss
  2. Ann Althouse: http://althouse.blogspot.com/2006/03/splits-within-party-about-what-it.html

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