So here comes Adam Nagourney in the New York Times today goading national Democrats' failure to do better together and somehow come up with a winning "national message" like the Republicans did in 1994. To which I say - Roger Rabbit style -- pu-LEEEZE don't take this bait. We'd do better to let Democrats win locally in their own voices rather than try and come up with a bumper sticker slogan that doesn't fit all sizes and shapes. Ignore the whiny voices of press insiders who want a simple answer to "what Democrats stand for" and remember the reality that in 1994 voters threw out the Democrats as a message to Clinton -- not because they read the Contract with America and saw Newt and his crew standing on the steps of the Capitol in suits. Democrats in Congress doing their own contract with America will be the Dukakis tank shot of 2006, I am sorry to say.
Because I am more of a Malcolm Gladwell "blink" instinctual kind of guy rather than a polling fan, I have had a hard time articulating clearly why we DON'T want the Democrats to make a big hoo-hah this year with a Democratic Contract with America and some big marketing campaign designed to nationalize the House and Senate races by offering the "Democratic can-do alternative." So I've been shopping a little marriage/dating analogy that seems to work better at making the point. Imagine if you will that voters are stuck in a really-really bad marriage right now, battered and bruised by the lies and broken promises of Republican policies like privatization, easy-to-win wars and compassionate conservatism that leaves them cold as ice. They want out of this marriage BAD but uh, it's actually their SECOND marriage. The thought of jumping back into a serious relationship, let alone a binding contract, with Democrats who they were already married to before is not exactly an exciting alternative that they will rush into.
So better that we have our candidates run on their own, dating with voters all over the country on casual coffees with common sense issues rather than a binding commitment developed by pollsters and Democrats in suits standing next to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and all. Candidates can simply work from a smart menu of policies and dating one-liners that they can be for on their own, without being so closely tied to the bad memories of voters' boring first marriage.
If that doesn't move you guys, then tell me why Chuck Schumer ain't going along - to Kate Michelman's dismay - with the "make it national" playbook and pro-choice politics in the Pennsylvania Senate. Or tell me what our party's position will be on the war and national security? Do you really want to go there? And frankly, I'd even argue against a national position on the wiretapping issue given how our message plays and who delivers it. See this post for more.
Rahm and Howard, you are doing a great job working on grassroots organizing and candidate recruitment - hats off to that. Help our candidates realize their dreams and be smart about how we can win and get back subpoena power. And then old Adam at the Gray Lady will have something real to write about.