Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Al From & Bruce Reed and their "phony" issues.

Democratic Leadership Council leaders Al From and Bruce Reed want wishy-washy mush-mouthed Democrats to run for office!

In an article headlined "What We Stand For" in the DLC magazine Blue Print, From and Reed write:

"The last two elections were all reflex, all the time -- deflecting Republican charges on same-sex marriage, guns, and abortion. The best way to stop having the same old phony debate on cultural issues is to force a real one on issues that matter: strengthening families, helping parents teach kids right from wrong, coupling rights with responsibilities, and asking all Americans to give something back to their country."

Whatever you believe about same-sex marriage, gun control or abortion, I think we can all, on the right and left, agree that these are real issues that are not in any way phony. Women either have a right to abortions or they don't. Same-sex couples either have a right to marry or they don't. The government either has vast powers to regulate gun ownership or it doesn't. How are these issues phony?

I suspect what's really going on here is that From and Reed want Democrat candidates to avoid giving direct answers to these questions (and thus lose the votes of people who disagree with them) and to instead blather on about "helping parents teach kids right from wrong," which sounds nice but doesn't actually mean anything.

Let's look at their other prescriptions:

"Strengthening families." Again, sounds great, but what does it mean?

"Coupling rights with responsibilities." Uh-hum, yeah, so? Which rights? With what responsibilities? Aren't rights already coupled with responsibilities?

"Asking all Americans to give something back to their country." Right. Like what? Taxes aren't enough? So, what do you want us to give back? I'll probably even do it. But you have to ask for something, not mouth platitudes at me.

The debate on cultural issues isn't phony. In fact, it's full of very direct questions like, "What's acceptable content for broadcast television?" or "Can you take that Ten Commandment monument off the courthouse lawn, please?" I dare say that voters on either side, who might ask a question like that of a candidate, would appreciate a direct answer (even if it's not what they want to hear) and would be pretty ticked off if the answer came back, "I want to strengthen American families by teaching morals to children and coupling rights with responsibility."

How stupid do From and Reed think voters are?


At 4:08 PM , Blogger Ideasculptor said...

I think you are dead right, Mike. One of the reasons that the GOP has been so successful, of late, is precisely that they are willing to take a firm stance on these issues which, like it or not, are important to a large percentage of the electorate. The democratic candidates run around trying not to take a firm stance on, apparently, anything, at the risk of alienating some voters, and as a result, they alienate all the voters. Couple that with expert use and manipulation of the mass media by the GOP and their operatives, and it isn't at all surprising that the democratic candidate has been made to look wishy-washy and spineless in both of the last presidential elections.

The success of the 'flip flopper' label wasn't in tagging Kerry as someone who changes his mind. It was successful because it made him look spineless. Bush's flip flops outnumbered Kerry's, especially given the difference in length of career, and they were about far more important things, in general, but Bush was always able to stand up and say "yes, but my stance is firm and inviolate on this issue, that one, and the next one." As a result, he never came off as being quite as spineless as his campaign was able to paint Kerry, who just didn't seem to be able to muster the same impression of having a spine, mostly because there didn't seem to be a single issue about which he hadn't contradicted himself sometime fairly recently.

I know so many Republicans who really don't like Bush and much of his platform, but when all was said and done, they couldn't get behind Kerry, not because they disagreed with his platform even more, but because they wanted to vote for a candidate who would defend the position that he thought was right. And to a certain extent, I'm not sure they were wrong. Bush has shown that he will defend his ideology against all attacks, for better or worse, and if only his ideology made sense, that might be a positive trait. If Kerry's campaign proved one thing, it was that he really doesn't appear to be a good manager or decision maker, two traits which I would place high on the job criteria for President of the US. Personally, I think Bush has bigger flaws in other areas, but not everyone agrees, and as a result, he managed the win.

The cultural issues are important to many americans, and I am convinced that some of the supposed 'crossover voters' failed to cross over, in the end, because they lost respect for Kerry, the man, not Kerry, the platform. I imagine that the kind of folks who wouldn't vote for Kerry because he took a firm stance in defense of abortion or gay marriage wouldn't have voted for him, regardless, given Bush's strong stance on their side of those issues. Meanwhile, those who were inclined to vote against Bush, lost their inclination when the only viable alternative left the impression of having refused to take a firm stance on anything.

If the dems don't decide on a constituency and then deliver on the requirements of that constituency, they are never going to recover in Washington. I, for one, sure as hell am not going to vote for an anti-abortion, pro voucher, anti-gay-marriage democrat, particularly if I don't think that those are values they actually believe in themselves. There are Republicans I can vote for if I want to vote for a cynical opportunist.



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