blogenlust
11.17.2004

Good Question


Harold Meyerson wants to know, What Are Democrats About? He probably isn't alone:
Once more, the theme of themelessness. Cover the Democrats for any length of time and you become expert in campaigns that don't seem to be about anything. They have policies; Democrats are good at policies. But all too often the campaigns lack a message -- a sense of what the candidate's about and what he aims to do.
Unfortunately, the fact that Bush was horrible for four years doesn't mean people will automatically vote against him. People want to have a few more reasons, preferably regarding what a candidate will actually do better than his opponent. Strange, this democratic process.
Historically the Democrats have been the party of security, but that's an identity they need to reclaim. The challenge of radical Islam demands more of them than a foreign policy of realpolitik; empiricism -- while a welcome counter to Bush's indifference to fact -- is not enough. The challenge of a global labor market demands more of them than a commitment to mid-career retraining; defending the American middle class means creating the kind of global standards that the Democrats created on the national level during the 1930s and '40s, the time of their greatest popularity. That's a daunting challenge, one that requires the Democrats to think and develop a story about the new threats to the American dream. If they do they'll come up with a more plausible list of culprits -- and solutions -- than the Republicans ever will. They may even come up with a new sense of self, with a purpose, with a theme.
The first thing we need to do is create and articulate a policy for the war on terrorism. It was a big issue this time around, and will likely remain so in 2008. This year Kerry tried to run on the fact that Iraq was so FUBAR that it would be irresponsible to re-elect Bush. I think a lot of people agreed, but Kerry didn't have a catchy alternative for people to chew on. It is probably a safe bet that our foreign policy will be even more FUBAR by '08, so it will be extremely important to come up with a policy that is universally understood to be the Democractic Party policy. Send your suggestions here.