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Dead on! I've been saying nearly the same thing to my friends and family for a while now. But you are right that the Dems have not made the case. They have tried to say it around the margins, but they need to just come out and say it. "The Republicans think we have to have either/or (pick a subject). We think that Amewrica is good enough and deserves to have both!"

This works for any number of subjects but is particularly effective with the economy. "The Republicans say that we can't have a robust economy and a social safety net. They say that spending on social issues just increases government and slows down the economy. But we have had social safeguards for the last seventy years and look at where we are. Our economy is the envy of the world. We Democrats think different. We think that you can have both if you do it right...blah, blah, blah." You get the picture. If Galston and Kamarck think that changing the way we talk about things won't change our electoral prospects, then I don't think they have been paying very good attention recently.


Isn't this:

That two smart and observant people can write that paragraph is in itself the Democrats' biggest problem, which is simply that Dems can be centrist or not-centrist and will still be portrayed this way.

Part and parcel with this:

In some of those debates, Galston & Kamarck take well-argued sides, such as rejecting "The Myth of Language" in both its vulgar form (we just need a soundbite or an "elevator pitch") and its sophisticated form (Lakoffian "framing").

Isn't arguing against "framing" based on the premise that there is actually something wrong with democratic positions?

Aren't you essentially arguing for "framing" here:

Democrats don't need to move to the center so much as to find a sharp and unmistakable way to make clear that we are the centrist party even if we don't change a thing.

I think that nicely captures the entire "framing" argument.

While there are probably issues that the Dems need to rethink, if they don't get past the point where their message is ignored any new positions are meaningless.


This is exactly what I have been thinking for years as I watched the Dems decline in influence. Republicans draw up a straw man Democrat and make the choice simple for the average voter. The Dems answer with nuanced replies in shades of gray which reinforce the Republican strawman.

One other factor I would add is a personal theory that democracies tend to find strong leadership in times of crisis. Major crisies in our nations history have produced Lincoln and FDR, lesser crisises have produced TR, Kennady and Reagan. I know every one would have their own list of strong leaders, and that is not the point I am trying to argue, I just think the war on Terror/Drugs/Safety net is just not a crisis. The average voter does not spend much time thinking about politics when the issue du jour is marginal tax rates or pin pointing the housing bubble. The Republicans, by dumb luck, have stumbled upon the way to take advantage of a leadership vacuum. Prop up a puppet and elevate non issues like Terri Shiavo and Elian Gonzalez. Campaign against the strawman and victory becomes easy.

So far, our wars have not produced a draft, deficit spending has generated economic activity, and our leadership has carefully rationed their credibility to push their agenda. We could be at a precipice that causes the nation to seek strong leadership or there may be some wiggle room the stay the course. Predicting that bubble is more difficult than predicting asset bubbles.



Until the Demos own the media, they are sunk -- ie we are sunk. They'll swiftboat the best we can throw at 'em. And that's all the moderate center will see from the media.

You want health care -- good, but the lobbies will beat that back with a heavy stick.

One of the mani things the Repubs have accomplished is the idea that my taxes shouldn't bee used for anything like welfare (for blacks, implied) or the common good (it's okay to use taxes for corporate welfare because that creates jobs).


"Democrats don't need to move to the center so much as to find a sharp and unmistakable way to make clear that we are the centrist party even if we don't change a thing."

EXACTLY. It is incredible to me that there are people *even within our own party* who are claiming that Democrats are not centrist in policy compared to the Republicans. What is to be done with such people? How can things not be clear even to them?


Do you mean false symmetry or false dichotomy? I don't see what is symmetric.

Oh, and I love the name of your blog -- though Декабристы looks much cooler.


This is so much horse crap. What the DLC just doesn't get is that it's how your issue positions are characterized by the other side, not what the actual positions are. That's what James Kroeger made clear in The Republican Nemesis. One thing you can count on is that "moderate" positions embraced by New Democrats will be demonized as "extreme" by the Repugnicans. Kroeger also points out the sober truth of the Bill Clinton legacy:

"The only reason why his centrist positions helped to get him elected is because he was able to deftly take away the ammunition his opponents were depending on to define him in a negative way. By eliminating distinctions between himself and his Republican opponent, he was able to reduce the choice for voters to "Who do you want for your President? Him or me?" With his charm, he was the obvious choice for many. As many have pointed out, the only problem with this approach is that you can only agree with your opponent for tactical reasons so many times before you actually become your opponent."

Polarization in America? That's the way the Repubnicans like it. It's their strategy.

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