The habit of the Democratic Party to kill itself via self-referential meta-talk was on full display at the DLC meeting yesterday. Tell me if you can find what is wrong with the message coming out of the conference. From the Mercury News:It's also completely wrong. Clinton won in spite of the DLC's centrism because he's a brilliant campaigner. The DLC's approach has produced an unbroken string of underachieving failure ever since.Now, when you preface your policy proposals by indicating that said proposals are intended to win elections and unite your party, you have already pretty much ended any chance that people will think you making said proposals because you believe in those proposals. This is because, well, you just said that the purpose of these proposals was to win elections. Americans love it when politicians admit in public that their legislative proposals are designed to win elections.Sen. Clinton said the council's initiative can "unite Democrats and elect Democrats.''
More brilliant messaging from the same article:While this is not a direct quote, it is a widely held sentiment in some Democratic circles. It is also utterly self-defeating, since it strongly gives the impression that the only reason Democrats are moving to the center is because they think it will help them to win elections. Not only does this tacitly admit that Republicans have the right ideas and Democrats must move toward those ideas in order to win, it also is a pretty direct implication that Democrats don't believe in anything, but that they are moving to the center solely for the purpose of winning elections.Stone said the council's centrist approach has been the only proven success for Democrats in the past 25 years.
The bizarre Democratic need, found most often within DLC-type conferences, to preface any proposal with a public claim that the coming proposal will help Democrats win elections is a major factor in the national belief that Democrats do not stand for anything. If you tell the country that your ideas are designed to win elections, then they won't think you stand for anything except winning elections. And then, well, you probably won't win many elections, because Americans don't like politicians who only stand for winning elections. If you want to do something, then just do it. Throwing the "this will get us elected" qualifier in front of your statements just makes us all look like spineless jackasses who are trying to pull one over on the electorate. If you want to talk faith, or be a centrist, or be a hawk, or stand on principles, then just go for it. Stop wasting our time and making us all look bad by telling us you are doing it in order to win elections.My take on this is that it's a sales job. The DLC centrists know that their strategies are out of synch with core Democratic values, so they have to claim that they're sure-fire election winners, and thus well worth sacrificing principle and integrity for. Of course, as Bowers points out, they seem to be forgetting that the microphone is on, and just how bad this kind of talk sounds to us Great Unwashed. On the other hand, if Stoller is correct that failure is actually their goal (see below), then that part of it makes sense too...
As an aside, for those of you left hanging by Matt Stoller's comment under my earlier post, Stoller finally did answer my question under his original MyDD post about the anti-progressive, and apparently pro-failure machine within the Democratic party:
My Post: Matt Stoller rocks! Why do the Democrats keep hiring losers? (I'm paraphrasing a tiny bit here)We're doomed.
Matt Stoller: Insider Democrats don't win because they are paid to lose. That's the point of this parallel machine. Who do you think funds third way? (Hint: It's not left-wingers....)
Me: I don't disagree with your comment that losing is actually the insider Dems' objective, but I still don't understand why the congressional Dems (and presidential aspirants, for that matter) would hire professional losers.
Do they not actually want to win, or are they just completely blind to reality?Matt Stoller: Depends on the politician. Lots of them are insecure divas who desperately want the approval of the Broders, etc. Some are going to become lobbyists and don't want to jeopardize their job prospects. Some want to gain power and don't see how they can do that without having these third way people on their side (Evan Bayh, cough cough). Some just won by marketing themselves as moderates and can't see any other way of winning.