Saturday, April 1


Eugene Robinson. Amen.

It's frustrating. The three overlapping forces that have sent this country in so many wrong directions -- the conservative movement, the neoconservative movement and the Republican Party -- are warring among themselves, doing their best impression of crabs in a barrel, and sensible people can't even enjoy the spectacle. That's because it's hard to take pleasure in the havoc they've caused and the disarray they will someday leave behind.
It would all be entertaining if the stakes weren't so high. Iraqis and Americans are dying; the treasury is bleeding; real people, not statistics, are at the center of the immigration debate. Iran is intent on joining the nuclear club. Hallowed American traditions of privacy, fairness and due process are being flouted, and thus diminished. As the powers-that-be self-destruct, the powers-that-would-be -- Democratic leaders and all Americans who've seen enough of this movie -- need to put together an alternative program that will begin to undo some of the damage the conservative-neocon-GOP nexus has wrought.

To this point, I think the Democratic Party has done just what it needed to do, which was basically to sit back and watch the other side wear itself down. When one party is in charge of the White House and both sides of Capitol Hill, there's not much the other party can do anyway. Refusing to draw up articles of impeachment or sign on to Russ Feingold's censure resolution may reflect cold political calculation, but it also acknowledges plain reality: Not gonna happen.

Democrats have behaved with remarkable discipline, which shows how much they believe they need to win this fall and in 2008. What they haven't yet done is communicate a compelling vision of where they will take the country when they are given the reins. Dry position papers, drafted by committee, aren't enough. Make us see a better future.

I would just expand a bit on those last two sentences. Democrats announced a strategy for national security this past week and got almost no media attention. It's something we have to do. But we must also remember that position papers don't resonate with the media or the public. We need to create the best of marketing taglines -- and even though that's long been a regular part of my "real" job, I've never come up with anything with which I'm satisfied. We need every marketing, PR and communications professional in the party to be working on this. I'm skeptical that Beltway consultants can do it. They're too out of touch with the grassroots, both the Democratic party base that is frustrated by the passivism of Dem leadership these past five years and the independent and soft-Republican voters who are disenchanted with the current Republican agenda and performance but not motivated to vote Democrat. Eugene is right. We need hope.



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