For the sake of America, I hope the Democrats win. In the 5+ years of solid Republican rule, the congress has abdicated its constitutional role as a watchdog. It has become just another cheerleading section for the Republican party and has overseen fraud, waste, criminal activity and the abdication of American values and the abolition of precious liberties. A Democratic congress would at least restore checks and balances and throw a well-deserving butt or two in jail.
For the sake of the Democratic party, the party's long-term viability, and America's long term existence I sort of hope the Democrats lose this November. A win this Fall would be an endorsement of the party's ridiculously idiotic posture and would reward its sniveling cowardice with power. A Democratic win would put a rubber stamp on the feckless leadership and push the party to keep it going into 2008, where we would lose yet again for the third time out of the last four elections.
The Democratic Party apparently has no clue. It seems to believe that 1994-present is just a temporal hiccup, and all they have to do is wait for the Republicans to self-destruct and naturally inherit the earth and the congress. The party is like the child who refuses to learn its lesson, even though the results of 2000, 2002, and 2004 show us that simply wishing is not a good enough strategy for winning.
I thought they would learn. I thought they would learn to keep the message simple, repeat it often and repeat it wherever the media was. The Republicans have mastered this. The phrases they come up with are not magic (as folks like George Lakoff would have you believe) but appeal to people's gut instincts, especially with their repetition ("Head On, Apply Directly To The Forehead" is just the latest iteration of "Flip Flopper"). Democrats refuse to aim for the gut and the heart and prefer to aim for the head. So many Democrats and progressives think simply dropping a mountain of "facts" to "refute" Republican arguments will work in the public's eyes. But if you're responding, you are already losing.
Ever since I've been able to vote, the Democrats have been in response mode. Since 1994 they have steadily tried the same old, same old stodgy techniques, acting as if still in power while the Republicans have adapted and are beating the hell out of the Dems. The Republicans identified a way to get the vote out by sending a consistent message to their base and getting the base to share that message with their friends. Democrats outsource the jobs to the unions and pray that black voters turn out to vote. One of those two strategies is viable in the long term. It's not ours.
The Clinton folks innovated with the war room concept, responding and also introducing new media stories throughout the whole media cycle. They did this in an environment dominated by the three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) and a handful of papers (NY Times, USA Today, Washington Post, etc.). Yet, even this concept is not being used by today's Democrats and we face a significantly faster and news hungry media environment that encompasses 24-hour blogs, cable news, newspapers, magazines, radio and the like. This is not a question of having a progressive or conservative media, or a question of financial assets. The tools are all there and they don't cost a lot. Democrats are just not willing to do this. Republicans regularly flood the media with new initiatives, attacks on the left, and propaganda in favor of their party and the conservative movement. If you're lucky, sometime in the cycle a Democrat will drop off a press release or someone will say something on the floor of the House or Senate that nobody ever sees. The idea of using friendly contacts in the blogosphere and pushing the media to include a Democratic response or initiative just seems like its too much hard work.
None of this is hard to do, it certainly is not rocket science. The strategy of "hoping" has led to losing, why would it be any different this year? The President is one of the most unpopular in history, while the GOP-dominated congress is at all-time lows. Yet, the Democrats are not benefiting from this. Like the Kerry campaign not capitalizing on a President with middling approval ratings, Democrats are not presenting themselves as the alternative to the Republican brand. People are tired of Brand GOP but Brand Democrat isn't even handing out free samples. You can't blame the consumer for not choosing you if aren't getting in their faces, can you? No.
The Democrats don't deserve to win this election or the next one until they begin to show that they are willing to fight for it. They need to show that they want to fight hard and aren't just going to sit back and relax. They need to show that they believe in their guts on the issues we hold dear (Defending America, Improving America, Uniting America) and aren't so damn scared that Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh might say something mean about them, and choose to be so damn vanilla nobody gives a damn. America needs a strong Democratic party, but aren't getting it. In the absence of that, Republicans will rule. Because for all their innate evil, racism, classism and cronyism - their is no denying Republicans lust for the role of leaders while Democrats barely seem to want to show up.
Do better, damn it.