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Democratic Party Still Missing the Point

11

An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor puts the problem with the Democrats in clear and concise words. The party has yet to earn our trust.

America is not a country of intellectual voters. We do not calculate our ballots on the basis of financial or class interests. Sure, advocacy groups back candidates by virtue of their sympathy with cherished causes. But more often, voters base their decisions on sentiments that are more amorphous. Traits such as toughness and likability are key factors, subject to the standards that media establish.
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Democrats should know more about checkout lines at Wal-Mart, and less about windsurfing. They should also show an ability to speak different “languages” depending on their audience. If they cannot speak evocatively to union members in Seattle one day and an African-American congregation in Georgia the next, they can’t win.
It’s not enough for Democrats to repeat: “We have had enough.” They have to tell people what they’d get if elected. And they have to create trust in their ability to make Americans more secure.

Some Democrats have figured it out. Jon Tester in Montana is in position to unseat the incumbent Republican. Democrat Harold Ford Jr. is either in the lead or at least in serious contention to win the Tennessee seat being vacated by Bill Frist. Both of these men have appealed to the voters not with the intellectual/elitist affectations of so many Democrats these days but with an of-the-people charisma.

Doubtlessly there are other Democrats who “get it,� but the party itself is still off track. From Howard Dean to Nancy Pelosi to Al Gore and John Kerry, the party’s biggest names are decidedly not “of the people� (excluding Bill Clinton who no longer defines the party).

They exude a type of we-know-best elitism that is mirrored by the new base of Daily Kos, MoveOn types who are forever discussing the need to “educate the people,� presumably so the people won’t be so stupid and vote so wrongly. Unfortunately, this type of Democrat is disastrously unaware that their rhetoric makes them alien to “the people.�

For the last decade plus, Republicans have been the party that seems most in tune with the people’s will and wants. Now, a lot of that is smoke-and-mirrors, but a lot is also based on an earnest connection to the voters. Gone are the George H. W. Bush elitist types and in their place are the George W. Bush plain-spoken types. Whether you think that’s all show or not, the fact remains that Democrats have lost their populist aura and their ability to convince a majority of Americans that they are the party that can be most trusted to preserve our way of life.

The party-at-large still misses the point�or at least still lacks the ability to communicate the point. The Democrats best hope this year is that enough individual candidates can win on the power of their own personalities and convictions. The Republicans deserve to lose. Will the Democrats convince enough people that they deserve to win?

–To be continued soon when I reveal which party I’m rooting for in this election–

Cross-posted at Maverick Views