Political Strategy: How Democrats Define Victory? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Defining Victory

Having read numerous internet postings on the Iowa primary, last evenings New Hampshire debate, and the comment thread in Steven Reynolds posting at All Spin Zone titled “Hillary Clinton, You’re Better Than This", I decided to share my thoughts on some overarching issues which frequently get lost in the melee.

Generally speaking, most postings and comments offer valid points for consideration and discussion. Notwithstanding, human nature is prone to the promulgation of biased rhetoric, which can distract one from seeking to explore and understand obvious, though unspoken, fundamentals.

Before proceeding, let me expose my own bias in favor of the Democratic Party to those who may not know my political leanings. With that in mind, the following is primarily addressed to those like-minded individuals who are undoubtedly hoping for a Democratic victory this coming November.

The prevailing tone found in what I’ve read in the last few days is focused on which candidate people prefer followed by the justifications they offer in that regard. I personally feel this approach leaves one vulnerable to overlooking the prevailing considerations for the achievement of a meaningful victory by the Democratic Party.

In a nutshell, our basic task is to understand the nature and tactics of the opposition, the attributes of the candidates they enlist, how each of our candidates match-up against the opposition and each of it’s candidates, and the voter appeal we can anticipate from each candidate. Before we can actually begin analyzing our candidates, we must first look at the perceptions we hold regarding the level of partisanship we can expect from the GOP.

Recent history tells us that bi-partisanship and compromise haven’t been part of the Republican agenda under the guidance of George Bush and his minions. While this isn’t a guarantee of the nature of future behavior on the part of the GOP, prudence suggests one should anticipate more of the same.

With that in mind, we can begin to explore our optimal strategy. From a very simplistic perspective, the best means to combat the opponent we’ve identified would be for the Democrats to get behind a candidate that can best help the party win the White House and take enough seats in the House and the Senate to thwart what seems to be a state of perpetual procedural stalemate.

Doing so would solve many of the problems enumerated in the postings and the comments I’ve read. Further, if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, Democrats are never going to go toe to toe with the GOP in the playing of “cut-throat, take no prisoners" partisan politics. I say as much not because we couldn’t eventually learn to do so…but it would no doubt require even more focus upon manipulating the media and the voting public and it frequently demands that politicians be willing to forego or modify their beliefs in order to score political points.

Reality and a review of history should tell us few true Democrats are inclined to do so. It should also encourage us to know they possess the integrity to forego acting accordingly. Besides, it’s also unlikely we can beat them at their game. Additionally, to do so is to succumb to that which we despise. Defeating one’s adversary by adopting the same methods they employ is little more than capitulation…and it runs the risk of further alienating one’s voters. The bottom line is we mustn’t ignore or abandon who we are.

So what are Democrats to do? First, we should take pride in our identity and offer no apologies for choosing to act honorably. Secondly, the best way to defeat the GOP is to give them an Election Day bloody nose...by beating them silly...in the ballot box. If we did this, we wouldn't have to worry about playing games we’re not comfortable navigating and we wouldn't have to resort to cut throat tactics at every turn of the road…tactics that lead voters to conclude the only difference between the two parties is how they spell their names.

In our haste to change our modus operandi, we’ve forgotten the power of our message and the need to impart it, which essentially means we’re losing our identity…the very thing we have to offer the electorate. Democrats need to stop fighting with each other about whether to adopt the GOP’s suspect strategic methods and start convincing people to get out and vote Democrats into office because we offer clear and credible alternatives. The more we become a watered down amalgam; the more voters lack tangible choices and forego voting.

I would argue that understanding and appreciating the above should allow us to begin an informed and illuminating evaluation of our candidates and our prospects for achieving the type of success that voters notice and reward.

It is my contention that what we are witnessing with the Obama campaign …and to a lesser degree with the Edward’s campaign…proves my point. The best thing about Obama...at this moment...is his apparent (not yet proven) ability to bring people (from all persuasions) to the ballot box with his message…an unapologetic attempt to impart essence and empathy instead of affectation and animus.

The problem he and we face is whether he can turn his "magic" into enough votes to render the Republicans irrelevant. If he can't, one must wonder if he's got the stomach for the inevitable battles he will face from a GOP that is comfortable with a "we don’t negotiate" mentality.

In support of Clinton, she is probably more adept (and willing) to engage in perpetual partisan warfare. I suspect she may be able to win a general election, but she, in my estimation, unfortunately lacks the ability to change hearts and minds…a requirement to draw enough votes to meaningfully change the numbers in Congress. The comfort that may come with her track record is no doubt accompanied by ongoing gridlock.

John Edwards says the right things and he has a track record of fighting and winning...but not in the political arena where the rules are far less defined than in the courtroom. Notwithstanding, his experience may well translate...but in all honesty, his track record in the Senate probably doesn't offer convincing evidence.

I personally like his populist theme…but if Iowa is any indication of the best way to sell that message…in a manner that it engenders a groundswell of first time, independent, and crossover voters…perhaps Obama has proven to be the better tactician?

With Iowa as the backdrop, if Huckabee ends up being the GOP candidate (with his populist leanings), then a match up with Edwards is likely a wash in terms of who can draw like-minded (populist) voters. What Huckabee lacks in populist substance in comparison to Edwards is probably offset by the former Governor’s affability and articulation. The same may not be true when comparing Huckabee with Obama.

All of these observations are simply intended to force us to define the meaning of victory as well as the degree to which a win by each of our candidates would constitute meaningful results. It’s far too easy for each of us to get lost in the allure of our particular candidate being elected to the presidency. While each of us may feel this potentiality justifies our support of our chosen candidate, it may not equate with measurable success…success that ought to be defined as the implementation of the objectives we share as Democrats.

Today, I fear voters believe they must look for magic in the absence of substance. Until one of the political parties decides to forego it’s prop filled jacket and places its hidden cards face up on the table, we will continue to spin our wheels while trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Wouldn’t it be far simpler to extend an honest hand to the American people than to craft the next sleight of hand?

I may be wrong, but I have a hunch voters have reached the point where they are first and foremost looking for a little hope. I also believe they’re prepared to reward the party that backs it up with an observable measure of hard work.

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» Political Strategy: How Should Democrats Define Victory? from www.buzzflash.net
Defining victory should be the first step in any election. It’s easy to get lost in the allure of a particular candidate. However, being electable may not equate with success. In the end, success should be defined by the implementation of the policy ob... [Read More]

Tracked on January 6, 2008 8:17 PM


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