Thursday, September 08, 2005

How Can We Win?


First of all, when I say, "We," I don’t mean Democrats. I mean anyone who is against what the current administration has done to our country. The problem is, at this stage the Democratic Party is our best hope. I am not happy with their dismal perfromance as a party, but they are all we got.

We must concentrate on how to defeat them at the polls, and we have to choose what we will be our issues in the upcoming ’06 and ’08 elections. These issues can’t be based on ideals. They must be based in reality. I realize that some of what I am about to say is going to be a bitter pill to swallow, but unseating these people is vital to the future of our nation, and the future of the world.

Gay Marriage. This is an absolute loser issue for the Democratic party. In my heart, I know that homosexual Americans deserve the same rights and privileges as heterosexual Americans, but gay marriage as an issue to be discussed at election time will not bring the anti-BushCo voters to the polls, but it will bring the opposition to the polls in droves. Someone who lives in Massachusetts or California cannot possibly imagine the violent opposition to this issue in the Bible Belt. Trying to get these people to accept gay marriage would be just as easy as getting them to accept Islam as the established religion of the USA. It will never happen in our lifetimes.

Instead, we should follow Howard Dean’s advice, and push for “Civil Unions,” after we defeat them at the polls. If we don’t call it “marriage,” but gay couples get access to the same rights as straight couples, what would be the harm? I was raised a Catholic, and my first wife divorced me. I did not get an annulment from the Catholic Church, and when I remarried, I was married by a judge. That means that my “marriage” is not recognized by at least one church in this country, and probably a few more. So? What do I care? Most people who have an opposition to gay marriage have that feeling based on an emotional reaction to the word “marriage.” Admitting to them that “marriage” is a union in the eyes of the church and their God and Civil Unions are a legal agreement between two adults and their government is I believe a compromise that we can all live with, and one that is necessary if we want to relegate these neocons to the history books.

Gun Control. Another big loser for the Democratic Party. Should not even be discussed until after 2008, and then only to reintroduce the Assault Weapons ban and close the gun show loophole. Any more discussion than that, and we will hand the country right back to the Republicans.

The Pledge of Allegiance. We all grew up saying “under God.” So what? When we are cast as anti-God, we always lose. We should shut up about it.

What will win elections for us is to talk about issues that matter to the majority of the Americans, and not issues that anger us on principle. We must clean up the mess we made in Iraq, and find a way out of there. We must provide health insurance for those Americans who can’t get it through their employers. We must stop the flow of American jobs overseas. We must protect our population against disasters, natural and terrorist. We must make sure that a woman’s right to choose is protected. And, we must restore our reputation with the rest of the world. Other issues that are important to people who actually think, like global warming, stem cell research, etc. can be tackled after the election. The way to win is to appeal to masses with issues that they care about. The Republicans figured this out a long time ago, and we better do the same. If we continue to concentrate on loser issues that unite one-issue voters against us, then we must accept the consequences.

11 Comments:

Blogger M.T. Vanus said...

Nice work, Viscount. We are faced with two immutable facts: Most people are easily swayed. Their idea of researching a topic is asking their best friend-whom they share a similar blindness with, or listening to their favorite talking head on radio waves or drown TV. It’s like eating the same thing everyday. Pretty soon one get rickets and thinks Grand Design makes sense. "We was always too stupid to understand science anyways…"

This isn’t about politics; this is about human nature, which leads to the second immutable fact.

If you want to win an election, appeal to the lowest common denominator, not the highest ideal. The Republicans understand this. If we look at the voting demographics of all national elections after Lyndon Johnson and his Civil Rights initiatives, we will see the solid south abandoning their positions as good Democrats and flip-flopping to the other side. This did not go unnoticed by the Republicans. Can you hear the sound, the sound of desperate fish on the dock searching for the sea of change? Flobble. Flobble. Flobble. Wush.

Lowest common denominator. The Republicans took a chapter out of the Nazi propaganda machine and decided on a scapegoat. People love a scapegoat. Scapegoats make it possible for everyone else to look in the mirror and say, “We ain’t so bad, and I coulda been something if it weren’t for them XXXX over there, etc.”-Insert scapegoat of the day. Blacks. Jews. Mexicans. Asians. Arabs. Liberals. Elderly. Poor. Aids victims. Gays. Women. Scientists.

Xenophobia. Flobble. Wush. Doesn’t if feel good to swim with your own?

So to your point. What is it about the Democrats that have failed us? They fall into two broad camps: The Harvard educated spenders, and the inept crybabies, and either flavor does not excite or entice people into voting for them. Until the Democrats grow a spine, and take aim at wining, rather than debating ideals-(do we really care about the arcane rules of quoits?)-the entire country will suffer.

The Republicans are not beneath playing the Flobble game. The question is, are the Democrats willing to put their caricatures aside and craft a platform, an easily digestible mission statement, and support a candidate who speaks directly to the people on issues that effect their bottom line?

Dean may have been the man. But the Harvard educated spenders and the crybabies killed him. He put the focus on the country, not on their conceits.

Xenophobia. Flobble. Wush.

12:34 PM  
Blogger cali said...

Great post.

We can win if we are willing to do the work. Right-wingers have been dedicating their lives to achieving and maintaining power. They do grassroots work 24/7 year after year. They groom candidates for City Councils, School Boards, Boards of Supervisors etc.The fund-raising never stops.

I wonder how many of us in the blogoshpere are currently volunteering on a Congressional campaign? Now's the time, not 2 months before the election in Nov. 06.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Sister said...

Viscount - A small point on gay marriage. Gay marriage has never been a Democratic issue in the sense that it has been pushed by the Democratic party. It was made an issue by the GOP, in their efforts to ensure equality would not be extended to gay Americans. The Democrats failed on the issue not because they championed it, but because they did not. Choosing to punt - It's err, uh, um, a state issue - rather than to unequivocably stand behind equal rights made them look like the wishy-washy, how's-the-wind-blowing? opportunists that the GOP intends for them to appear to be.

A clear message needs to transcend the fearmongering, and that message must come from liberals. It's just as easy, and more American, to point out that at one time miscegenation was equally reviled, and the country has not fallen to pieces since its legalization, as to engage in the verbal gymnastics required to attempt to stake out a centrist position on the issue. People are either for or against gay marriage (or civil unions - whatever one wants to call them), and the best thing we can do is strongly fight on behalf of what we know is right, and rightly and repeatedly associate homobigotry with the other institutionalized biases that have fallen away with progress.

The GOP only wins that battle because we refuse to engage it with the vigor with which being on the right side of this issue should embue us.

6:50 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Sis,

I agree with you in principle, but living here in GA for the last 10 years with the Southern Baptists I have to respectfully disagree with you. I know many liberals in the North strongly agree with your point of view, and all I can say is live down here for a year. This is not interracial marriage. This is not Brown vs. Board of Education. One of the reasons that Bush was able to win in some of the swing states was because they but gay marriage on the ballots, and people who never voted before went to the polls just so they could vote against (or FOR the banning of) gay marriage and by the way for GWB.

I stand by my original post - what good is being right on the issue if we continue to lose the country to the conservatives, which in turn creates an even more hostile environment for the people we are trying to help?

I believe the appropriate response to the issue is, "Marriage is for the churches to decide. I support equal rights for all people, and therefore I support Civil Unions."

7:08 PM  
Blogger XTCfan said...

Al, I know you're right, but I also believe that Sis is right. The question, I think, boils down to "Are we willing to sacrifice our principles to win?"

Does the end justify the means? Are we willing to sink to the Republicans' level in an effort to beat them? Or do we stand on our ideals and fight the Good Fight, to recapture the high moral ground and pursue a progressive agenda that strives to help all people?

This is a problem for me. We've got to get them out of there. They're causing permanent damage to the country, and the longer they're in, the worse it'll get, and if it goes on long enough, we might not be able to get it back. But how much of ourselves will we lose if we resort to their tactics and a lowest-common-denominator approach to achieve what is right? And how much will an approach like that corrupt the people pursuing the goals we want now, ultimately endangering the achievement of those goals? What will we lose in winning?

I don't know. But my gut reaction is to fight for what we believe in, and not give in.

But, of course, there's no purity there, either. Progressives don't all agree on a single agenda (I sometimes envy the simplicity of Republicans' overwhelming need to be against things ... it's so much easier), so some compromise is necessary.

Lookit me. I'm a flip-flopper. Damn these shades of grey.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Sister said...

Viscount,

I think our biggest difference here is a semantic one. I’ve got no real problem with “Marriage is for the churches to decide. I support equal rights for all people, and therefore I support Civil Unions.” My honest opinion is that the best solution to this problem is to make civil unions the basis for all people, straight or gay, and everyone’s got to go do the government business (the legal contract) and then if they want to have a marriage celebration in a church, then they can.

My big concern is just that the Dems stop punting on it, and not keep warbling about how it’s a state issue, which is a non-answer. And although it may seem as though my belief stems from what “liberals in the North” think, it’s actually the opposite attitude that informs my earlier comment. I do live “down there,” even though I’m in NW Indiana. The only difference is the accent. I’m surrounded by a sea of red in which one can find little support for gay marriage—or, for that matter, civil unions. And short of a Democrat endorsing burning gays at the stake, most of the wingnuts around here aren’t going to vote Dem. And those for whom equal rights for gays is of concern aren’t going to vote GOP. So, in the end, it’s only reasonable people in the middle who can be swayed. And they’re not swayed by fence-straddling, but by framing it as something in which reasonable people believe. (My dad—a devoutly religious and conservative, but reasonable, man—supports civil unions for just that reason.)

Like I said, I don’t care about the specific words used nearly as much as I care about the Dems supporting equality without hesitation. They just aren’t going to win any voters by being noncommittal.

8:08 PM  
Blogger cali said...

"But my gut reaction is to fight for what we believe in, and not give in." - xtcfan

"The Democrats failed on the issue not because they championed it, but because they did not. - Shake's Sis

I believe this, too.

11:07 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

XF:

>Are we willing to sink to the Republicans' level in an effort to beat them?<

Not advocating this at all, but I think you know that.

>We've got to get them out of there. They're causing permanent damage to the country, and the longer they're in, the worse it'll get, and if it goes on long enough, we might not be able to get it back.<

Exactly my point. I'm not advocating "throwing gays under the bus." I'm simply saying to drop the support of the words "gay marriage" and instead us the words "Civil Unions" and "equal rights for all" and then change the subject to Jobs, Healthcare and competent Homeland Security.

>But how much of ourselves will we lose if we resort to their tactics and a lowest-common-denominator approach to achieve what is right? And how much will an approach like that corrupt the people pursuing the goals we want now, ultimately endangering the achievement of those goals? <

This is exactly the wrong approach. I believe we can win taking the high ground and exposing the Republican Party for what they are. I do not support the abandonment of social issues or the idea of appealing to the lowest common denominator. As Sis says, it IS a question of semantics.

Sis:


>My big concern is just that the Dems stop punting on it, and not keep warbling about how it’s a state issue, which is a non-answer.<

Agreed. Sounds like you are defining John Kerry here.

>...it may seem as though my belief stems from what “liberals in the North” think, it’s actually the opposite attitude that informs my earlier comment. The only difference is the accent. <

Point well taken, but I have lived in MO as well as NY and GA, and I have done business all over the country and I think IN has nothing on the south when it comes to bigotry and blind ignorance. As I said in a private e-mail to Sis, "...these people down here are of a different breed. They are anti-intellectual and anti-relativist. The amount of people who sincerely believe that evolution is a satanic ploy to turn people away from God is staggering, and I am in a relatively affluent and cosmopolitan suburb of Atlanta. You go to the sticks of GA, the Florida Panhandle, South Carolina, MS, LA, AR and you meet some really backwards people. In my experience, you start talking about Gay marriage and the discussion is over. They would vote for Hitler against Andy Griffith if Andy said he was for Gay Marriage." I will add that people down here speak of Satan and Jesus as if they are two people who often attend the monthly homeowners association meetings. And, the Jesus down here forgot about helping poor people and peace on earth and is just counting the days until he returns on the horse and wreaks havoc on all us heathens!

The republican party has spent untold millions on exploiting the ignorance of these people, and they now more resistant to change than they were 10 years ago. This is a piece of serious damage that few people are speaking about, but actually will cause the country lots of trouble and heartache well into the future. But that is another post for another day.

Still, you are right - there is enough of that all over the country but I still think that supports my position, which remains this: we need to focus on issues that will bring *our* side to the polls and cut the legs off of the issues that the Republicans use as a wedge to get out the hate and fear vote. I believe avoiding the term "gay marriage" is vital to that goal.

When the comments on this thread die I am going to post this discussion.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

A lot of good points made above. I'm no fan of the Dems given their horrible performance in these Bush times, but obviously they're not Republicans. If they could only state their objectives clearly and take their fight to the right wing. No more of this "more troops in Iraq" crap. They need to be an actual alternative to the Republicans, not a lesser version of same.

Viscount: Re strategy, I agree with your basic premise, which I take to mean - let's deal with the day to day issues that impact the personal finances of regular people by showing how the Repubs have spent the last five years screwing everybody over.

11:46 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Kevin:

> I agree with your basic premise, which I take to mean - let's deal with the day to day issues that impact the personal finances of regular people by showing how the Repubs have spent the last five years screwing everybody over. <

Yes. They have had the opposition on the ropes by controlling the debate. We need to get better at turning things around to talk about what we do right and what they don't do at all. When they say "gay marriage" we should say, "rights for all people - civil unions, by the way everyone needs a good wage and health insurance." When they say "pro-life" we say, "Live babies need healthy food and doctors when they get sick. Mothers and fathers need jobs so they can care for their children."

12:50 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

Quite a sad post. I'm not convinced by convergence politics, where the idea is that the only way you can beat the opposition is to become just like them, with a few minor differences - the spectre of Hilary Clinton discussing defence matters with Newt Gingrich. Quite aside from the moral vacuousness of such a project, since it involves abandoning, abrogating or concealing certain political and moral viewpoints, I'm not convinced that is actually what people want.

Opinion polls suggest that a majority of Americans still think in social democratic ways, and have done ever since WWI. Capitalists and their PR agents and their lackeys in the corporate media have undermined this but been unable to destroy it. The interests of the vast majority of Americans are not served by either the Republicans or the Democrats, but would be served by far more left-wing parties.

There is an enormous mountain to climb for any progressive force in the US, because popular culture and the media are saturated with the societal myth-falsehood of the American Dream, rugged individualism, and all that crap, concealing the massive subsidies going to the rich. Xenophobia, racism, homophobia - all whipped up by the right-wing and their friends in the press, serves to divide the poor and key them weak. Laws passed in Congress simply solidify existing power structures and make it increasingly harder to get alternative measures out into the public domain.

The only possible answer is therefore popular grassroots activism, concerned individuals coming together to tackle local problems and to form common cause on national politics. People are isolated, fearful, suspicious, atomised consumers at the moment, but they could be united with enough willpower and the use of modern technology like the internet. It has to start with individuals talking to their neighbours and trying to win converts, and holding meetings to discuss issues, disseminating information in home-made flyers -- American politics must, I think, be rebuilt from the bottom up.

If the Democrats attempt to win by lurching to the right, the only people who 'win' are conservatives, since there is even less of an opposition to their disastrous policies. This post just smacks of defeatism -- maybe I'm a bit of a dreamer, but I think you all should believe in yourselves a little more.

2:44 PM  

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