Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Swopa Dope

It's all about the narrative:
On Sunday at Needlenose, I posted the first part of a long-procrastinated long-planned series on how Democrats can turn the 2006 elections from a one-time opportunity to take advantage of disastrous Republican negligence into the start of a long-term adjustment in how the American electorate views both parties — overturning the "frames" that have increasingly straitjacketed the donkey party over the past few decades.

Citing my Labor Day post here and Peter Daou’s well-noted essay on scandal fatigue, I wrote:

If Democrats don’t find a way to hang together through a unifying narrative, they’re at much greater risk of having Karl Rove hang them all separately in November. And from the standpoint of rehabilitating the Democratic brand — and weaving a common line of argument than helps Democrats nationwide withstand the barrage of below-the-belt attack ads — the answer to Daou’s dilemma isn’t to pick one or three issues and drive them home, it’s to make all of them one issue, which is what a successful narrative can do.

. . . consider Peter Daou’s cri de couer over NSA spying. Let’s suppose that, rather than simply hammering on the issue independent of any others, Democrats were tying it into a larger argument — saying that it was another reckless, irresponsible example of a president with dangerously bad judgment , which needed to be remedied by electing Democrats who would bring common sense back to Washington.

If that was the case, when a couple of days after Daou’s essay, VP Big Dick Cheney accidentally shoots a hunting companion, it’s not a distraction – it’s exactly the same issue, and an event that powerfully reinforces the contrast of identities that Democrats are presenting.

My point was (and is) that Democrats don’t have to change their beliefs, or cover them up, to build a stronger brand identity — all they have to do is communicate the core values that separate them from Republicans in simpler, more consistent language.

(...)

If someone is interested enough ask what our "better way" is, particularly with regard to torture and NSA spying, an added soundbite I would throw in is that the best way to defend America is to be America. The other day at Needlenose, I quoted Ron Suskind on the real front line against terrorism, which is ordinary citizens in obscure locations around the world who might get wind of a plot against the U.S. — if those random citizens react by thinking, "F—ing Americans, they deserve it" instead of "That’s terrible, I should tell the police," America is less safe. When our country is an example of freedom and tolerance across the world — the kind of nation that drew the world’s sympathy after September 11th — America is safer.

There's more, and it's all great stuff - be sure to read that Needlenose post from Sunday. This is not exactly what Swopa said, but I would really like to see Democrats focus their narrative on what an awful job Bush and the Republicans have done on national security. They have done almost nothing to improve our security, merely taken advantage of our fears to excuse tactics that are as unnecessary and counterproductive as they are illegal and evil.

Torture? Against the Geneva Conventions and Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Warrantless wiretapping? FISA allows for 72 hours to obtain a retroactive warrant, which is only an impediment to illegal wiretapping.

Gratuitous unprovoked war? Morally bankrupt, distracted from the far more relevant effort in Afghanistan (we were capture/kill bin Laden and create a model democratic state in Middle East there, remember?), terrorist recruiting/training bonanza.

I'm not sure exactly how to pull that into a coherent narrative, though. Saying that "Given a choice between pragmatism and evil, Republicans will always choose evil," or "Republicans have sold out your safety and your freedom just to make themselves look tough" is probably a bit too strong...

4 comments:

Sanjay said...

Very well written man. This is such a refreshing change from the drivel about my wandering mind (medusa on the road.. wtf?) lol

That's why I leave most of the political blogging to people who do it well ..like you. Keep it up mate!

Eli said...

Thanks, man. I mainly just let Swopa do all the work.


I liked the random musings, actually, but you are sooo going to get in trouble with *A*...

Blue Gal said...

ooh scandal fatigue. I had not thought of that one. You're making me miss Pittsburgh, man.

Eli said...

Thanks, BG. I talked more about Daou's "scandal fatigue" concept back in December - I'm not convinced he's entirely right (Phila and I elaborate in the comments). I believe that while each individual scandal may count for less and less, they collectively contribute to a very unflattering image of the Republicans as the Party Of Corruption. The Democrats just need to make sure that voters realize that this is a *Republican* issue, as opposed to a "those politicians, you can't trust any of 'em, at least the Republicans *talk* about values" issue.

Perhaps the best narrative would be "The Republicans are more interested in enriching themselves and their cronies than protecting this country's well-being".

Well, maybe something a bit punchier, but you try being brilliant on a smartphone...