Unfucking the Donkey
April 11, 2006 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Advice for weary, wandering Democrats Note to Democrats: "Barack Obama put it exquisitely in his victory speech: "Government can help provide us with the basic tools we need to live out the American dream." Here's a dirty little secret. The Republicans know this. Nothing scares them more than us returning to our simple answers. ..."
posted by Postroad (93 comments total)
 
If republicans have a core belief that government is eveil, but want to be in government, what do people expect them to do once they get elected?
posted by Space Coyote at 7:23 AM on April 11, 2006


An optimist would expect them to minimize the size and power of the government in an effective and philanthropic way.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:27 AM on April 11, 2006


The name of this panel is "Building a New Idea Infrastructure for Progressives."

They still haven't got a clue.
posted by three blind mice at 7:38 AM on April 11, 2006


An optimist would be disappointed, rxrfrx. There's a reason cynicism is a popular response to politics...
posted by verb at 7:43 AM on April 11, 2006


Yeah, why can't they call it "Returning America to Americans?" Isn't that what they want to do?
posted by jon_kill at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2006


jon_kil, that's howard dean talk. Which is apparently still like nails on chalklboards to establishment political strategists.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:48 AM on April 11, 2006


There is a website that thousands of committed Republicans spend hours on, giving and receiving marching orders. When people stray from the party line, it's not unusual for them to be banned. Free Republic, I'd argue, is far more crucial to the Republican infrastructure than the Heritage Foundation.

*collapses in a fit of laughter*
posted by Krrrlson at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2006


The GOP, I suspect, will begin to unravel. Followiong step lock with Bush is no longezr a sure way to anything but a lost election.
posted by Postroad at 8:05 AM on April 11, 2006


American political parties suck. I don't give a shit about "saving the Democratic party" beyond whatever needs to be done to take Bush et al. out of power. Does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are any less in the pocket of big (oil, pharma, tobacco) than any other huge political money machine?
posted by rxrfrx at 8:11 AM on April 11, 2006


*collapses in a fit of laughter*

Yeahaha truth never was so funny !
posted by elpapacito at 8:12 AM on April 11, 2006


"Does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are any less in the pocket of big (oil, pharma, tobacco) than any other huge political money machine?"

no, but I'm hoping they aren't as embarrassingly obvious about it as the republicans.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2006


The GOP, I suspect, will begin to unravel.
posted by Postroad at 11:05 AM EST on April 11 [!]


Unfortunately, I don't think that they will. One of the GOP's strong points, IMHO, is their ability to learn from their own mistakes when it comes to political strategy. They'll distance themselves from Bush & Co, and come up with some new strategies. They'll be weak at first, but they'll rebuild. And that's something that the Democrats need to learn to do better: how to learn from and correct their mistakes. There's no shame in losing an election because you made mistakes. It's another question entirely when you keep losing elections because of the same mistakes.
posted by unreason at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2006


Neither party has a clue or is relevant.

It's time for some new parties.
posted by nyxxxx at 8:19 AM on April 11, 2006


no, but I'm hoping they aren't as embarrassingly obvious about it as the republicans.

Isn't this worse?
posted by poppo at 8:21 AM on April 11, 2006


Neither party has a clue or is relevant.

Um, yeah, this would be great if one of the irrelevant parties weren't sitting in the White House with control of the House and Senate.

Relevance isn't an opinion.
posted by fenriq at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2006


Yeahaha truth never was so funny !

Yes, yes, all you need to do is topple freerepublic.com, that "crucial" glue that holds the entire Republican party together. Good luck in '08.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:28 AM on April 11, 2006


The GOP is about to split down the middle anyway. That is unless McCain plays to, as Jon Stewart put it, "crazy base world." If he does not, Frist will crucify him in the religious right side of the aisle for the nomination and the party will fracture along fundamentalist vs. traditional Republican lines. The Democrats will have the opposite problem, they will uncharacteristically rally behind an unwinnable candidate like Hillary Clinton.

It's back to the fun of the 2000 election folks, hooray!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:44 AM on April 11, 2006


Calling the DLC "centrist" is about as dumb as the idea that the DLC should tell rank and file Democrats what to do. The DLC is a para-party organization at odds with the Plan of Organization of state parties. The Democratic Party is not an organization like the Republicans which receives marching orders from the top. The organization of Democrats is to push directions from the bottom up in the form of the consensus of activities of the rank and file. This is why the media always gets it wrong about "directionless" Democrats. It's not organized for pundits and wonks to go to one place and get "the program" in distilled form. It's organized for the program to emerge from its people, democratically. But media lazily want to go to one place and get the scoop. And it's in the interest of the media to perpetuate the idea that there should be a cabal of Democrats somewhere whose job it is to set the platform for all Democrats. It is in the interest of the media to promote the idea that Hilary and the DLC set the Democratic agenda. But those ideas, however convenient for the media, are lies.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:48 AM on April 11, 2006


that "crucial" glue

your inability to see how "crucial", yes, "crucial", the right-wing Swift Boat / Get Dan Rather effort is for the Republicans is not particularly surprising.

either that, or the "liberal media" is not that liberal after all.
posted by matteo at 8:55 AM on April 11, 2006


Perlstein is talking about the kind of people who frequent Free Republic, not the website itself (obviously). Exploiting the natural tension between the poorer base and the corporate elites that really run the party is a no brainer and is something I hope the Dems are working on. The hard-core Christian fundamentalists are probably lost to the Democrats forever, which doesn't strike me as a problem - that demographic just isn't that big.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:03 AM on April 11, 2006


The Democrats will have the opposite problem, they will uncharacteristically rally behind an unwinnable candidate like Hillary Clinton.

I hope to God you're wrong but I'm pretty sure that you're right. That said, between Hilary, McCain, and every other Republican I think I'd go with McCain every time. Hilary has sold out to conservative interests more thoroughly than any Democrat save Leiberman, and her gung-ho attitude towards censorship in the name of 'family values' fills my mouth with bile. I just wish I had a choice on the Democrat side of the aisle.
posted by Ryvar at 9:07 AM on April 11, 2006


this would be great if one of the irrelevant parties weren't sitting in the White House with control of the House and Senate.
and the Supreme Court
posted by Aknaton at 9:15 AM on April 11, 2006


your inability to see how "crucial", yes, "crucial", the right-wing Swift Boat / Get Dan Rather effort is for the Republicans is not particularly surprising.

Nor is your inability to admit that the Democrats have been digging, and continue to dig, their own grave. Barring the prophesized schism in the Republican party, that will decide the next 2-3 elections in America.

But no, it was the smear campaigns! The Dan Rather controversy (now there's a metaphor for digging one's own grave)! The phony terror alerts! Diebold did it! Anyone's fault but ours! It may help you sleep at night now, but it'll also come back to bite you.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:19 AM on April 11, 2006


Bucky Fuller knew this.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:27 AM on April 11, 2006


McCain is the third-most conservative senator.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:28 AM on April 11, 2006


Isn't this worse?

Is ANYTHING worse?
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on April 11, 2006


Wake me up when this country (US) is ready for approval voting -- in the meantime, it's all a farce.

doesn't stop me from voting, but it's mostly a farce nonetheless
posted by davejay at 9:43 AM on April 11, 2006


You are going to be asleep for a long, long time Dave.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2006


Anyone ever visit that Free Republic site?
There are some seriously disturbed people posting there.
posted by notreally at 9:57 AM on April 11, 2006


Mix FreeRepublic w/Kos - do you get a happy medium or just a confused reader?
posted by JB71 at 10:12 AM on April 11, 2006


Biden has a better chance of getting the nomination than Clinton. I don't think he will, but he was sure saying all the right things about Iraq and Religion when I saw him on Bill Mahr the other night.

Clinton has a lot of money and a lot of name recognition, so she's a press favorite. Still, I just can't believe that she will ever get the nomination. She's hated from both sides and her attempts to play to the middle seem crass and very disingenuous. Is there enough money in the world to overcome that?

I don't know who will become the Democratic front runner, but I just can't believe that it will ever be Clinton.
posted by willnot at 10:13 AM on April 11, 2006


I just wish I had a choice on the Democrat side of the aisle.

Well, you will - maybe after Hillary loses in '08.

The absolute worst thing for the Democratic Party would be for Hillary to win. Because if she did, it would solidify the view of the DLC-types that all the Democrats need to do is be MORE LIKE REPUBLICANS and they can win, when in fact that's an opportunist's strategy, not a long-term plan.

The Democrats are still f*cked, and have to hit absolute rock bottom before they can start heading back toward the surface.
posted by kgasmart at 10:15 AM on April 11, 2006


Anyone ever visit that Free Republic site?

I conducted a little experiment over there, to see if they could tolerate non lock-step view. I got the ban hammer in under a week for this controversial "trolling":
Yes, the guise of objectivity has been dropped, although one must admit Fox News is more guilty of it than others.
That's the quote that got me banned, in a thread about Meredith Vieira, future replacement for Katie Couric of the Today show, marching against the war in Iraq.
posted by jon_kill at 10:21 AM on April 11, 2006


Hillary Clinton will be the nominee in 2008 and Hillary Clinton will not run on universal health care or anything close to it. She has a very simple objective: 100% of the women who voted for Kerry plus 95% of the men who voted for Kerry plus 15% of the women who voted for Bush. This strategy dictates moving right from Kerry, not left, in order to peel off the women and minimize the loss of men.
posted by MattD at 10:31 AM on April 11, 2006


It is the duty of every generation of Democrats to produce new geese to lay 70 years of golden eggs.

If you bribe the voters, they will come.
posted by madajb at 10:43 AM on April 11, 2006


MattD: aaaah!

willnot: I agree with the press-sweetheart theory. Although I was honestly shocked when I read her name in the article, thinking "who is still listening to her now?"

Biden seems awfully Edwards to me, and Mark Warner has solid policies but a strangely off-putting public persona. Nonetheless, either is a better choice than Clinton in 08.

So if 3.2.3 is right then any party-lining of Clinton would happen over the complaints of the state organizations. I'm not as optimistic, so it seems like something worth acting upon instead.
posted by abulafa at 10:44 AM on April 11, 2006


This strategy dictates moving right from Kerry, not left, in order to peel off the women and minimize the loss of men.

By "right", I assume you must have meant "left", since emulating Bush and the Republican party necessitate a platform of higher effective taxation and more centralized spending decisions (i.e. more socialist at every level) than we've seen in past Democrat-controlled governments.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:48 AM on April 11, 2006


It's heartening to see people here hate the GOP for being the coldhearted opportunists they are, but then so sad to see people get behind the Democrats and treat them as some kind of voice of the people. Frankly you'd be better off trying to sink the Democrats for good and headhunting McCain for a new party.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 10:54 AM on April 11, 2006


Hillary Clinton will be the nominee in 2008

O Canada, my home and native land...
/me in 2008
posted by psmealey at 10:58 AM on April 11, 2006


The strategic difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Republicans are very good at ignoring their differences; while Democrats live only to kick each other in the balls over theirs. If you want to see a credible imitation of Democratic solidarity, try throwing a single T-Bone steak to a group of starving castaways.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2006


If Warner can learn to loosen up a little bit over the next year or two, he'll be the front-runner amongst a certain set of Democrats--namely, kids who live in Democratic enclaves in Southern states, who all look back to Carter and B. Clinton and decide that the only way the Democrats can win is if they run a southern governor. Whether or not he'll be able to convince a large swath of Democrats in other states remains to be seen.

Honestly, the problem seems to be that a lot of people think running against or even just not supporting H. Clinton is a sign of sexism--the NY Times Magazine profile of Warner just kept hammering him over the head repeatedly with that one.
posted by thecaddy at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2006


I don't understand the right's intense hatred of Hilary Clinton. I have no strong feelings for or against her.
posted by mike3k at 11:04 AM on April 11, 2006


The GOP, I suspect, will begin to unravel.
posted by Postroad at 11:05 AM EST on April 11 [!]


Possible, but I doubt it. Democrats should not be celebrating Bush's low approvals so much. I think Democrats are assuming Bush's 40% approval is marking a national swing to the left, when a large % of the disapprovers are people who are actually to the right of Bush.

These folks are mad because, in their view, he hasn't acted harshly enough on gay marriage, his supreme court nominees are not conservative enough and he hasn't effectively limited the size of government. These folks think they made a deal with Bush when they carried him in '04 and that he's not following through with his end of the bargain.
posted by b_thinky at 11:08 AM on April 11, 2006


Republicans don't ignore differences -- we actually fight over them quite openly. Just look what happened with the Harriet Miers nomination last year, or what's happening with illegal immigration now. (If the typical FreeRepublic view of the bankruptcy bill was 10 units of outrage at President Bush, when it comes to illegal immigration, it's 100 units of outrage.)

Republican election strategy isn't based upon a papering-over of disagreeements, but on a rather clear agreement that any Republican is better than almost any Democrat.

Maybe the problem that Democrats have is that they actually don't vigorously fight it out internally on issues and appointments -- they get so use to not fighting that when it comes time for a unified argument against Republicans, they don't have the firepower for it.
posted by MattD at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2006


The strategic difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the Republicans are very good at ignoring their differences; while Democrats live only to kick each other in the balls over theirs.

Yeah, but lately the reason for the knees in the nads has become less a matter of issues than approach.

I live in Pennsylvania where Bob Casey Jr. has been put forth as the fait accompli nominee to run against Rick Santorum. Make no mistake; I'd vote for Mephistopheles himself over Santorum, but I do not like the way Casey was selected - pretty much on the basis of 1.) his opposition to abortion and 2.) his name recognition.

Yeah, but what are his ideas? That doesn't seem to be real important. Except, for me, it is.

And so you have a small but growing groundswell for those who would dare challenge Casey, like Chuck Pennacchio. Well, Pennacchio isn't as telegenic, certainly doesn't have the name recognition, is a hell of a lot further to the left than Casey is. But you know what? He's authentic - and Casey isn't.

That's the big divide, I think - electability vs. authenticity. If the Democrats were ever able to combine it - I'm thinking Barack Obama - that would kick ass.
posted by kgasmart at 11:12 AM on April 11, 2006


Also, if Bush doesn't deliver to the religious right, there's really no downside to Republicans. These folks will never support the Democrats. They may not support Republicans as enthusiastically - nobody can rally the religious right like Bush - but they will not support Democrats under any circumstances.

Turnout might be lower among this group in 08, unless Hilary runs in which case they'd probably come out stronger in favor of her opponent.
posted by b_thinky at 11:14 AM on April 11, 2006


I don't understand the right's intense hatred of Hilary Clinton. I have no strong feelings for or against her.
posted by mike3k at 11:04 AM PST on April 11 [!]


Hilary represents the phoniness of politics that is universally hated. Staying with Bill just because of the fame & power, The fake southern accent she put on when she was 1st lady of Arkansas, the fact that she supported the Iraq war even though you know she didn't want to, her arguing against the Dubai Ports deal while her husband was lobbying for it, you could really go on and on...
posted by b_thinky at 11:18 AM on April 11, 2006


Man, I'm so sick of every armchair political junkie knowing exactly what the democrats should be doing. In my America the people have spoken: they WANT to vote GOP. GOP is their values. The ideals of progress, liberalism, secularism, etc are not their ideals.

The Democratic tent is already huge. Looks like the problem to me is people, not politics. If people can handle Bush and the GOP controlled government and revote them in back in 2004 then there's not much you can do to win over the enemy. Maybe in 25 or 50 years you'll see a moderate or liberal federal government in the US. Maybe the kids of gen-y will set things straight.

Certainly not now and the assumption that its the fault of the dems is pushing it. Running a dem in most parts of the US is like running Salmon Rushdie in the Middle East. Lets not kid ourselves too much.
posted by skallas at 11:20 AM on April 11, 2006


Oh God please Obama or some other person I've never heard of come and save us. The very idea of 24 (28?) years of Bush/Clinton is killing my soul already.
posted by washburn at 11:21 AM on April 11, 2006


The GOP, I suspect, will begin to unravel.

Actually, it's already happening.

The only people who continue to support this president are the true believers - or maybe they're better termed the "dead-enders."

That includes the religious right and those who simply cannot divorce themselves ideologically from a Republian president, just because. He's the president. And a Republican.

The vast majority of the country has come to the conclusion that Bush has been an incompetent disaster. And now, see the Republicans run: Well, he's not really a conservative. Yeah? I don't recall you saying that before the approval ratings started sinking like a stone...

And then people see the corruption of Congress - controlled by Republicans - and they see high gas prices and they see this "great" economy touted when in fact their standard of living isn't really keeping up, and they look at Iraq which was supposed to be a cakewalk but has been FUBAR'ed up beyond this current Republican crowd, which could f*ck up a wet dream.

Those who AREN'T dead-enders have made the connection: Republicans = screw-ups.

Democrats can and likely will capitalize on this come November, it's just a question of to what degree. But again, the opportunistic approach may win you a few seats; it's no long-term strategy, though, and that's what Perlstein's getting at.
posted by kgasmart at 11:24 AM on April 11, 2006


skallas: the elections have been consistently rather close. That means that only a small majority of the people (in some cases) are hot for the GOP.

Hence, when we all look with disbelief at the kind of marketing and assumptions (see kgasmart's anecdote above) made about electability we (or at least I) get mad at whatever organ of the party is able to sense anger.

Pushing the problem to "the people" is similar to "our problem is that people are stupid/ignorant/whatever." It's a serious dodge that lets us pretend no mistakes are made and wisdom is equally distributed.
posted by abulafa at 11:32 AM on April 11, 2006


kirkaracha, can you explain the rank ordering of McCain as 98th? The data they actually show in that table is confusing to me:

109 15039 61 ARIZONA R MCCAIN 51 286 0.822 98.000

The first three columns are Senate Number (the 109th), unique identifier, and the third I'm not sure of. Reading the explanation of Boxer's votes, it says that placing McCain as 98th in the list generated 51 classification errors out of 286 or only an 82.2% correct classification. This would be the lowest correct classification percentage for any Senator.

I read further into the links from the site and while I'm still a little confused (because it has been a long time since I took statistics), I think that the ranking isn't absolute. It is just the best fit of all the possible sortings for the entire group of Senators when expected votes are measured against actual?

Therefore, while this particular ordering of the 1-100 ranking has the best correct classification percentage ( 92.4% ), individual rankings may be way off. This appears to be the case for McCain who had a correct prediction percentage of only 82.2%.

As a result, I think your calling him the third most conservative is questionable.
posted by notmtwain at 11:38 AM on April 11, 2006


Which elections? What district? Urban? Suburban? Rural?

Or do you mean just the federal seats?

In 2004 the democrats were only able to contest 398 of the 430+ house seats. Bush won by a big enough margin with no massive voter fraud.

The GOP won 4 seats and with jeffords its 5.

With an unexplainable war going on. With a president knee deep in a dozen controversies. etc etc. Imagine if Bush was actually a competent president, they would have quite a few more wins as "reluctant dems" would vote GOP as they usually do.

Electoral politics are a lot more complex than the huge generalization of 'its pretty close out there.'

As to the people problem. Well, you can call them ignorant. That's your value judgement. Its not a dodge. If people vote for x, y, and z then they will get x, y, and z. So far they've been doing it consistantly. The US is a classic example of getting the goverment you deserve. Sadly, there is no big conspiracy or movie-like villain. Its everyday people voting their everyday ethics. Its everday people doing what they think its right and following their hearts. Washington looks a lot like how the US looks like once you step outside of the the urban centers. The a stirring speech from obama isn't going to fix this. Hell, Obama ran in the bluest of states , so lets not paint him as some kind of magic red state converter either.
posted by skallas at 11:42 AM on April 11, 2006


Also, if Bush doesn't deliver to the religious right, there's really no downside to Republicans. These folks will never support the Democrats. They may not support Republicans as enthusiastically - nobody can rally the religious right like Bush - but they will not support Democrats under any circumstances.


This is not quite correct. When the elections are as close as they have been, every vote for you does count. If the Republicans turn off religous right, then the right may not organize for them- this could mean a significant decline in the number of votes for the Republicans.

So the issue isn't weather the Democrats can win over the religious right, but if they can convince them that supporting the Republicans is a bad idea while convincing more Dems and no-parties to vote Democrat.
posted by gus at 11:46 AM on April 11, 2006


j.p. Hung >>> "'Does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are any less in the pocket of big (oil, pharma, tobacco) than any other huge political money machine?'

"no, but I'm hoping they aren't as embarrassingly obvious about it as the republicans."


Don't you want them to be obvious about it? Better to have it all out in the open as much as possible. Can't fight what you can't see.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:51 AM on April 11, 2006


The essay in the link is as correct as it is inspiring. I hope some influential Democrats take note.

RE Hillary : I really, really hope that she doesn't get the nomination. There's just no way that she can win a presidential election. Why do we want to run somebody who people already hate? It would be a similar mistake to running John Kerry in 2004, i.e. "They already have a negative stereotype of us. Let's run somebody who personifies that very stereotype!"
posted by Afroblanco at 12:00 PM on April 11, 2006


RE Hillary : I really, really hope that she doesn't get the nomination. There's just no way that she can win a presidential election.

Oh, I think she can win it. It's just that the Republicans would spend the next 4/8 years completely focused on bringing her down in a way that makes the jihad against her husband look like child's play.
posted by kgasmart at 12:02 PM on April 11, 2006


The USA needs a Thatcher. The sheer hatred of everything the Conservative party stood for eventually caused their downfall and now they are almost a laughing stock. It's all a question of kicking the apathetic voters into gear via the contempt born of over-familiarity. Seriously; how long can your nation watch that simpering 'tard smirk out his idiotic statements in broken, fumbled English before everyone get's sick of him? Let him stay another term (two even) and eventually even the hardest headed of voters will learn.
posted by longbaugh at 12:04 PM on April 11, 2006


Oh God please Obama or some other person I've never heard of come and save us.

You mean like Mark Warner?
posted by sellout at 12:16 PM on April 11, 2006


RE Hillary : I really, really hope that she doesn't get the nomination. There's just no way that she can win a presidential election.

I really don't get why people say this. A quick glance at the map and the 2004 results proves the entire election is about three or four states, and all Clinton needs to do is pull those away from the red column.

Clinton, both in the primary and the general, is a near-lock for the majority of the African-American vote. If she maintains the same percentage of the white vote as Kerry did, then the only factor really left are Hispanics. If Kerry took the same percentage of the Hispanic vote as Gore did in 2000, he'd be President right now. So it's a good thing the GOP isn't doing anything to alienate Hispanic voters or anything.

The crippling blow to the Democrats in 2008 if Hillary runs, however, will be the House and the Senate, which will landslide to GOP gains because in statewide contests the "we gots ta stop Hillareeeeeee!" mantra will send local politics into a fervor.

Hillary being President is not impossible. Hillary being President with a Democratic Congress is. Ultimately, that's why her Presidency would be bad for the country; there's no chance she'll ever be in a position to govern effectively.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:18 PM on April 11, 2006


I really don't get why people say this.

Because everyone hates her. Seriously. Most people I've talked to, even those who generally vote Democrat, have already decided not to vote for her.
posted by unreason at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2006


We may be best served by letting the mantle skip a generation, like many in the UK want to do with respect to the Monarchy.

How long until Chelsea's 35?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:35 PM on April 11, 2006


j.p. Hung >>> "'Does anyone seriously believe that the Democrats are any less in the pocket of big (oil, pharma, tobacco) than any other huge political money machine?'

Do you seriously believe that the Dems are as beholden to oil interests as the current administration? I'd bet that Republicans get more from tobacco than dems, too.

Now as for pharma (and the credit industry), that's another (tragic) story. One does need to look at specifics, here.
posted by washburn at 12:37 PM on April 11, 2006


Most people I've talked to, even those who generally vote Democrat, have already decided not to vote for her.

And far more than 2.7% said they were voting for Nader in 2000, too. The "boring, wishy-washy" John Kerry brought in the largest per capita vote turnout since the 60's, which I'm pretty sure required a lot of "Dean or bust" folks to... well... flip-flop.

People say they'll never vote for someone every four years. Then they do. Democrats will vote for her if she's the nominee just as much as Republicans will vote for John McCain if he's the nominee, despite the ultra-right's open refusal to ever do so. The great fallacy of the two-party winner-take-all system is that statements like that are empty threats. It only works if everyone thinks both candidates suck equally, and as far as I know the only people who actually believed that were Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Arguing negative ratings for Clinton is one thing, and I agree with you it's a huge factor she'll have to overcome in a general. But generic speculation that "no one will vote for her" is nonsense. Making the nominee look good (and her opponent the devil incarnate) is what all those millions are for.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:39 PM on April 11, 2006


Re: Hilary. Even many Clinton-sympathetic democrats have looked at (a) how effective the right-wing propaganda machine was against the Clintons and (b) the bit of truth in the propaganda. They're tired of fighting that battle. Hilary Clinton, deservedly or not, is the embodiment of the Democratic Menace and her mere presence in the election will ignite a fervor such that the Freepers won't even need to bring up teh gay and baby killing.

Someone like Warner or Clark who hasn't been the target of a decade and a half of talk-radio hate bent on turning their public image into a caricature has a much better chance. Not only that, they have ideas and demonstrable public successes, and actually seem like they might have a shot at doing good job of running the country.

It's for those reasons I think the Democratic party will probably not nominate them. Because, you know, a liberal senator from a northeast blue state with a long party history and good name recognition really represents us well, right?
posted by namespan at 12:49 PM on April 11, 2006


XQUZYPHYR >>> "The crippling blow to the Democrats in 2008 if Hillary runs, however, will be the House and the Senate, which will landslide to GOP gains because in statewide contests the 'we gots ta stop Hillareeeeeee!' mantra will send local politics into a fervor. "

I'm confused. How does that work? Wouldn't the people voting "ta stop Hillareeeeeee" be the same people who wouldn't vote for her as President anyway? Meaning... why on earth would someone vote for her as president, and then vote for a Congress/Senate that would be her exact opposite? I've heard of checks and balances, but that's a bit... much.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:53 PM on April 11, 2006


Because, you know, a liberal senator from a northeast blue state with a long party history and good name recognition really represents us well, right?

Like that massive failure Franklin Roosevelt.

namespan, I'm from a northeastern blue state. If Hillary Clinton doesn't represent you, How the hell does Mark Warner represent me?

Look, Hillary's not the candidate I want; I'm just attacking these stupid kneejerk dismissals of her potential to win, especially since all the scortched-earth liberal attacks on her are more likely to sink her candidacy at this point than anything Limbaugh's said. The "oh noes she's from the NORTHEAST!" is one of the really aggravating ones. A candidate's ability to run the country effectively really, truly doesn't depend on how far their house is to the nearest farm. Again, John Kerry: more votes than any Democratic candidate in 35 years, population growth factor included.

What really confuses me about it is that Hillary Clinton was born and raised in Illinois. Then she lived and worked in Arkansas. Now she's representing New York. No offense to Mark Warner, but explain to me how he's covered more of America than her.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:06 PM on April 11, 2006


XQUZYPHYR: perhaps the assertion should be "no one would vote for her in the primaries."

If she's the nominee, yes, I'll vote for her. I'll also be unsurprised when she loses and even more disillusioned with the leadership who ran her.
posted by abulafa at 1:06 PM on April 11, 2006


Interesting post, great comments. The Hillary hate is really quite pathological. I mean, as a Democrat, I think she's guilty of being a bit phoney (kind of like, say, a guy who went to Yale then Harvard and likes to have his picture taken "clearing brush" on his ranch), but according to my Republican father, she's the antichrist. To ignore the inherent sexism in hating on her is impossible--with a few notable exceptions, Republicans like women to keep their mouths shut and their legs spread. My pop is a pretty well-educated guy too, and generally progressive on social issues (economic conservative), but he just turns into a goddamn caveman when you mention Hillary.

I like Warner--I used to live in Virginia. But as others have mentioned, there's a real charisma deficit there. In fact, he managed to win the governorship of a very Red state precisely because he was so low-key--kind of like the anti-Hillary, I guess. He would have no shot. (Then again, I'm all for Russ Feingold getting the nomination, but I have a feeling he's even more unelectable.)

As for the RNC, yes they have problems, but this article makes the point that the Dems can't be complacent. And I really don't think Hillary should get the nod, but I'd vote for her in a heartbeat--expect Republican talking points to tout the fact that many Dems would never vote for her, and realize that it's bullshit. The "take our country back" theme is a good, if not a bit simplistic one, but I think it'll play. 2006 should be a much needed boost for the Dems, but 2008 is going to be real ugly, and have a lot more to do with getting Republicans not to vote, by convincing them that McCain won't carry water for the religious right (of course, he will because he's as phony as the rest of them, but the meme is significant).

So if Hillary looks like the early, insurmountable front-runner for the nod, I'll have to get on board, strategically. A short nomination cycle would help a bit in terms of party unity, esepcially contrasted to the bloodbath that will be Frist vs. McCain vs. Allen, with wingnuts like Santorum and Brownback adding fuel to the fire.

Damn. Politics is fun. And more important than ever.

PS Democrats--when friendly Republicans are offering you "advice" as will be the case in the coming months, please do exactly the opposite.
posted by bardic at 1:10 PM on April 11, 2006


I'm confused. How does that work? Wouldn't the people voting "ta stop Hillareeeeeee" be the same people who wouldn't vote for her as President anyway? Meaning... why on earth would someone vote for her as president, and then vote for a Congress/Senate that would be her exact opposite? I've heard of checks and balances, but that's a bit... much.

Congress does not always mean the Electoral college. Look at blue states like Vermont and Rhode Island that went solidly for Kerry and re-elect Republicans over and over again. But national elections can have a big effect on local ones; it's what the Republicans are fearing right now- that Bush's low approval despite not having to run again will cost seats in Congress.

There are a lot of red states where Clinton could pull the state electoral votes but lose several Congressional districts, e.g. Nevada, Oregon, Washington State, etc.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:12 PM on April 11, 2006


(I'm also quite amused with another recent Republican meme for 2006--vote Republican or else Bush will be impeached! Note exactly a sign of confidence in either the president or his cronies in Congress.)
posted by bardic at 1:14 PM on April 11, 2006


XQUZYPHYR - People voted for Kerry (and in great numbers) largely because he wasn't Bush. The fact that Bush still won is a remarkable testament to what a really crappy candidate kerry was. Clinton would be worse than Kerry, and she won't have Bush to hold up as the much worser of two evils.
posted by willnot at 1:15 PM on April 11, 2006


From the February 2006 Harper's Index (no direct link available):
Margin by which total votes for Democrats in the last three Senate elections exceeded those for Republicans: 2,900,000

Number of seats won by Democrats and Republicans, respectively: 46, 56
Thank you, gerrymandering. When does gerrymandering become a threat to democracy?

kirkaracha, can you explain the rank ordering of McCain as 98th?

Nope. You might try asking the gentlemen who own the site.

posted by kirkaracha at 1:23 PM on April 11, 2006


XQ: Don't get me wrong. I have nothing personal against liberal senators from the northeast. I cast my vote for Kerry and was only holding one nostril, unlike a lot of Dems. What I'm saying is that's such an easy target for caricature. As if Hilary needed any further.

And I quite likely would vote Hilary over many (though not all) potential Republican candidates. Probably most democrats and some portion of swing voters feel the same way. I don't think she will lose because of defection from her own party. But there are many, many conservatives (probably all) who would vote for snakes on a plane before they'd vote for her. There are many swing voters who, fairly or unfairly, she will not appeal to. She hath not her husbands charm, whether she has his ideals to the degree she has his name. So, like abulafa, I would not be surprised when she loses, even as I cast my vote for her.
posted by namespan at 1:26 PM on April 11, 2006


This is not quite correct. When the elections are as close as they have been, every vote for you does count. If the Republicans turn off religous right, then the right may not organize for them- this could mean a significant decline in the number of votes for the Republicans.

So the issue isn't weather the Democrats can win over the religious right, but if they can convince them that supporting the Republicans is a bad idea while convincing more Dems and no-parties to vote Democrat.
posted by gus at 11:46 AM PST on April 11 [!]


True, but if a Republican like McCain (who's seen as a centrist) runs, he'll take away some of the Democrat/Independant votes but still get all the religious votes (those that show up at least, but religious conservatives are more dependable for Republicans than, say, college students are for Democrats because college students don't show up).
posted by b_thinky at 1:31 PM on April 11, 2006


Given the polarization that's occurred over the past 8 years (everything from Clinton's impeachment to the 2000 and 2004 elections, 9/11, Iraq, etc) I'm convinced that Bush could not possibly achieve approval higher than the low 50s. Even if he cures cancer and captures Osama, some people just. hate. Bush.

The poloarization will continue unless both parties run moderate candidates. If Hilary runs, we're doomed to 4-8 more years of a divided country no matter if she wins or loses. I'd like to see a McCain vs Clark campaign.
posted by b_thinky at 1:37 PM on April 11, 2006


Gerrymandering has nothing to do with the Senate. The wikipedia link you're looking for is: the Great Compromise.
posted by MattD at 1:37 PM on April 11, 2006


b_thinky, possibly. But the Republican nomination is going to pit McCain and Allen and Giuliani (maybe) versus more religiously inclined politicians like Frist and (I have to think, with nothing to lose) Santorum. There'll be fallout, as there tends to be when an incumbent isn't running. The Democrats will suffer from it as well, but at least they won't be screaming about who loves Jesus more and who doesn't want to murder babies. Rallying the base is great for national elections, but kind of leads to a messy nomination process.

(Trying to think back to recent nominations--people pretty much fell into line when Kerry was the obvious winner. Gore didn't really have opposition. I think people have forgotten how grueling and damaging the nomination process can be.)
posted by bardic at 1:39 PM on April 11, 2006


Gerrymandering has nothing to do with the Senate.

Though it could if we go back to appointment via state legislature. I've heard an interesting amount of noise about that from a number of my righty acquaintances.
posted by namespan at 1:45 PM on April 11, 2006


Sigh. I think this discussion about Hillary reveals why the Dems are in trouble. Newt Gingrich was powerful within the GOP. He did some dumb stuff that made him very unpopular with the general public. The GOP did not respond by running him for president and telling themselves that they could use effective campaigning to make him less unpopular. They disassociated themselves from him and found people without his political baggage. Hillary is a liability. She's unpopular with the general public, and contrary to some opinions, it's not because she's a woman, it's because most people think that she sucks. The conservatives think she's too liberal, and many liberals think that she's too conservative. She has the Clinton history of scandal, without Bill's ability to talk himself out of a tight spot. She has zero support in the South, and even in the North people are unenthusiastic about her. Yeah, maybe some of this could be fixed with a media campaign. But why bother? Why not just choose a new candidate that people don't dislike from the start? And if the party wants to run a woman, how about one with some credibility, like Barbara Boxer? Why run the least popular candidate out there, simply because people already know who she is? It's easier to make people like someone they don't already know than it is do make them like someone that they dislike.
posted by unreason at 1:46 PM on April 11, 2006


No surprise that politics have polarized a lot since 1993. In 1992, both the Democratic Party and Republican Party had mixed records on guns and taxes, and the exclusive social and legal prerogatives of the traditional family were not (politically) in question.

After eight years of Clinton and five+ years of Bush, guns and taxes have now completely polarized in partisan terms, and the exclusive prerogatives of the traditional family are very much in question, from many angles (gay marriage and domestic partnership being, in my opinion, far from the first among those challenges).

Guns are the one area where Democrats might actually have some flexibility -- I wonder if Hillary is smart enough to see it. If it takes Nixon to go to China, maybe it takes a liberal woman "from" New York to go ahead and admit that the 2nd Amendment guarantees every law abiding citizen the right to own firearms.
posted by MattD at 1:52 PM on April 11, 2006


I don't think Frist has the name recognition to rally the religious vote the way Bush does. Bush has his last name, plus a personality that plays really well to the NFL/NASCAR crowd, which intertwines with the religous crowd.
posted by b_thinky at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2006


Bush isn't running again.
posted by bardic at 2:20 PM on April 11, 2006


(Barring another domestic terror attack.)
posted by bardic at 2:21 PM on April 11, 2006


Bush isn't running again.

There is another.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:53 PM on April 11, 2006


There is another.

The thought of that is just plain frightening. But I wouldn't be surprised.

I just hope that the Democrats won't be stupid enough to try to run a ticket with two senators again. The last time a senator was directly elected directly to the office was this guy, and I think his charisma merits him special consideration. You have to make a lot of compromises in the Senate or House, and it reflects poorly on your record.
posted by malthas at 2:56 PM on April 11, 2006


Gerrymandering has nothing to do with the Senate. The wikipedia link you're looking for is: the Great Compromise.

My bad. Thanks for the correction.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:02 PM on April 11, 2006


can you explain the rank ordering of McCain as 98th?

I'll take a stab at it.

This is one of several techniques that can be used to estimate the "ideal points" of legislators -- roughly, where they stand on the issues if the issues are spatial dimensions.

The particular technique being used doesn't actually find ideal points, only orderings -- that is, it figures out that Alice is on one side of Bob, and Charlie is on the other, but not by how much. The optimal-classification method tries different rank orders until it finds that one that best explains the most votes.

Important: the OC method, as with all of them, is completely agnostic about the content of the dimensions. All you can really, firmly say is that Boxer and McCain are very, very unlike each other. Reading liberal/conservative into it is something that's done after the fact by looking at who is where and trying to make sense of it.

I wouldn't read too too much into something done with the OC method. For boring technical reasons, it would make sense to pay closer attention to the DW-NOMINATE scores from voteview. Normally, the first dimension looks a lot like liberal/conservative. But using those, McCain is the ninth most liberal Republican.

Matters would differ yet again if you looked at McCain's ADA and ACU scores.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2006


This is like Dune, not Star Wars.

W is the Beast Rabban, Jeb is Feyd-Rautha...we'll all be relieved when the Baron Harkkonnen sends in his nice, younger heir to fix all the mistakes of the last ruler.
posted by nyxxxx at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2006


Baron Harkonnen = Cheney?
Piter De Vries = Rove?

Who would be Muad'Dib? Obama?
Would Hillary be Reverend Mother Mohaim?
This is fun!
posted by papakwanz at 7:38 PM on April 11, 2006


Democrats need to do a much better job of fighting the Republicans. The first step is of course acting like a competent opposition/minority party and actually work in concert with one another, i.e. decide a course of action at the leadership level, then vote in lockstep with those decisions.

Instead, Democrats act like the nerd kid who thinks he can reason his way out of his daily beating from the playground bully. Sorry, but apparently you can fool at least 37% of the people all of the time.

Sadly, the Democrat continue to run away from Howard Dean - the one man who is always willing and able to fight the Republicans tooth and nail on everything. It's almost pathological. Perhaps Democrats are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?
posted by Davenhill at 4:04 AM on April 12, 2006


Sadly, the Democrat continue to run away from Howard Dean - the one man who is always willing and able to fight the Republicans tooth and nail on everything.

Sadly, he's probably the one guy who should run, but now is not in a position to.

Oh God please Obama or some other person I've never heard of come and save us.

You need to check Obama's voting record. The guy is Hillary-lite. He makes one rousing speech and gets a landslide against the second twerpiest Republican ever, and people talk like he's the second coming. He's not. He's another DLC right winger.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:11 AM on April 12, 2006


These folks are mad because, in their view, he hasn't acted harshly enough on gay marriage, his supreme court nominees are not conservative enough and he hasn't effectively limited the size of government. These folks think they made a deal with Bush when they carried him in '04 and that he's not following through with his end of the bargain.

I'm not sure that's entirely correct. I've seen a number of articles that cite the Katrina debacle, energy prices and the mishandling of the war in Iraq as big reasons people on the right are unhappy with Bush, and the reasons are pretty obvious: the administration fuck ups illustrate that Bush won't keep them safe, and the gas prices basically amount to a new tax implemented by the wealthy.

I'm not saying that part of the base isn't riled about what amounts to abstract policy goals (I mean seriously, how many people in his base are worried about having to actually witness a gay marriage?), I'm just saying that safety and energy costs are much more visceral and immediate for most voters.
posted by illovich at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2006


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