14 September 2006


Yellow Dog Time

Hello large-D Democrats, and welcome. It's time to begin the process of running the Republicans out of Washington and the various statehouses. Running them out on a rail. To do this, we need to realize one simple little thing: Voters elect people to govern based on their sense of how they feel about how well the people in question can handle the business of government.

Contrary to what many on my side of the political spectrum think, people do not just elect parties that they agree with philosophically, although they might refuse to vote for ones they disagree with. They do not vote for the person they think is "most right," or "most likely to stick it to the other guy." They vote for people who are capable of governing. Who can be put in charge. Who can run things the way the voters think they ought to be run.

People want to feel secure, they want a little more money in their pocket, and, by and large, they want things to be fair to the little guy. Candidates who voters believe are capable of making those things happen, can win elections. Candidates who are all talk, don't win elections.

Candidates who act like winners and who act like they know what they want to do when they get elected can win. Candidates who act like they wouldn't know where to find the bathroom at the courthouse don't have a chance.

Candidates and parties who try to expand their base, who try to bring more people in and around to their point of view (the one they're going to put into practice when they're elected) win. Candidates and parties who self-righteously act like everyone ought to know that they're right and deserving to govern don't. And then they wither and die.

As much as I was disgusted by the Republican National Convention in 2004, you have to admire them, give them credit, for trying to expand their base. For saying, "join us." For saying, "don't you agree with us?" The Democratic National Convention was a smug and smarmy affair that talked down to voters and patted itself on the back. We have to get back into the business of saying, "join us," "come with us," "be part of us on this path to victory and greatness."

One last thought: Every Democratic party political rally ought to include singing. Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" in particular. People want to feel connected to something larger than themselves. Their is no shame in civic virtue.

We are the rising tide. We are the correction. We are the next wave. It's our time.

Now, start acting like it.

Boy, you are a hell of a lot more hopeful than I am.

The "Christian" zealots and the Corporate Masters seem to be doing a pretty good job of slowly assuming ownership of this country's government. At least they talk like it, and their followers are among the most blind, ignorant humans ever to walk this earth - and that's saying something.

I'll be voting, but not very hopeful. Somebody prove me wrong...

- BT
The Democrats need to campaign LESS on feeling... more on plans, leadership.
You're right we need to be seen as ready to govern. At the moment Democrats are too comfortable in opposition. Democrats need an agenda, they need to treat the voters with more respect, and need to cease the reactionary rhetoric.

I'm one of the 60% of the country that's against what the administration is doing in Iraq... but I don't hear a democrat running nationally that says anything I agree with about it. Joe Lieberman was the exception, but the party has drummed him out.

The Democrats are squandering the lead they had early in the year because they don't have a positive message. We want to feel good about our country and demonizing the other side is wrong.. no matter who is in power. We Democrats should have been above paying the Republicans back, instead the party has taken it even further.

I was a Yellow Dog until 2000, but even then I voted Dem for President. Now, I'm not even welcome in the party... without voters like me the Democrats will never win again. Once again, as the election approaches and voters start paying attention to what CANDIDATES are saying... not the parties but the individuals... the Democrats are coming up short because they stress party unity, and feelings instead of specific... and as the opposition party they focus on negative feelings hoping that we'll throw the bums out, but it appears that in the security situation we are in against Islamic fascists, voters like me come to the defense of America,,, and the Democrats need to be America, not sounding anti-American.

We need a Democratic President to win the war the Islamists are waging on us. The Democrats aren't behind the government right now. And even though I don't agree with much of what the Admisistration is doing, I get an instintitve reaction AGAINST the Dems when Murtha and Pelosi spew their anti-Bush bile...

Leaders work best when they praise in public and criticize in private... that applies to government. Taking every opportunity to take shots at the party in office is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

I'm pessimistic. I predict the Republicans will keep both houses. The Democrats are simply blowing it. Just as they blew it by nominating Kerry. Their loud base doesn't have enough votes to win, and the ranks are shrinking. Too many Yellow Dog Democrats have been chased away.

Bottom line... Positive, pro-active message, not reactionary.. Anger and negativity means fewer votes from the middle. Without the middle Dems lose.
man sorry for the long rant... I'm out of breath.
@BT: (1) Be hopeful. (2) Help. (3) Be creative: Put an "I'm the NRA and I vote" sticker next to your "Had Enough? Vote Democratic" sticker. Preach to those who need to be converted, not to those who already agree. (4) You're a business guy: You know what it takes to make things happen. Expect that in politicians and project that confidence in politicians you agree with to get the job done.
@ocean guy: You and I are not far apart. I caution against buying too much into what the GOP says that the Dems are doing. I like Joe Liberman -- I voted for him in the Florida presidential primary in '04 (can't remember if he had already withdrawn by then, but I voted for him nonetheless) -- but he lost a Democratic primary fair and square, and if I were living in Connecticut, I'd vote for Lamont because he's the party nominee. Party discipline ought to mean something. No one gets a free ride.

You are welcome in the party. No one else gets to decide that but you. That's the nature of the Democratic party. The party needs voices like you and me, but we need to be committed to the party at the same time. The netroots crowd has a role to play, but so do I and so do you.

Fighting militant Islam is something you know I support, and I'm confident that a Democratic led government could do a better job of it than the current administration. Especially than the current Congress. Watch what they do, not what they say. Excepting the intercetpting of financial transactions, they have screwed this up big time, and they need to be held accountable.

The Democrats can win, ought to win, even being split on how to proceed on Iraq. Democrats, by and large in my opinion, are not ready to appease militant Islam the way some Social Democrats in Europe and some Labor party activists in Britain are.

It's fair to criticize the government in power, and this has been the way of the Republic since its founding. The current complaints about the administration are MILD compared to some of what was levelled against either Adams from the Jeffersonians or against Jefferson from the Hamiltonians. Even criticism of Lincoln during the Civil War was, in some ways, stronger than that which is being leveled against the W administration. Yes, there's something to be said for a unified foreign policy, but I think you have to admit that the administration's conduct in the lead up to the Iraq war and in its conduct is so bad that it's in our national interest to air that honestly than to buck up behind them just because they currently occupy the executive branch. Your mileage may vary.

Stay a yellow dog, man. The Republicans remain the party of the rich. Their social conservatism is just an electoral ploy. Their fiscal and tax policies reveal that we should all watch our wallets as they effect transfer payments from the middle class to the rich.
@ocean guy (more): Don't sweat it man. Your comments are always welcome here.

One more thing: I really believe that it's in all of our best interests, even the business people who'd be more inclined to vote Republican, to get behind and with the Democrats and help them make us strong and secure. That means taking care of our military personnel, treating them fairly, giving them proper terms of service and honoring our committments to them regarding those. Again, I think this is an area where the administration has failed.
I wish I had the confidence thay you have about Democrats in Power. I don't think they would be serious abourt confronting the Islamic Fascist threat let alone fighting it. I believe that a Democratic President with a Republican Congress is the best mix for success in that battle.

Party discipline and the way that the left "core" of the party enforces it is a bad thing. I don't know that I can ever go Yellow Dog again. Just as there are many Republicans I would never vote for there are plenty of Democrats in the same category. I can't vote for a "team" that has nothing positive to offer. At the moment the "team" is offering reactionary rhetoric against the current Administration. There are plenty of individuals to support, and if the local Democrats want to send Pelosi and Murtha and Alcee Hastings back to Congress, then so be it. But my vote for Democrats won't in any way be support for them.
@ocean guy: I understand concerns about some of the Democratic party leadership, but I'd rather be engaged with them than give W two more years of carte blance Congressional non-oversight. I don't share your respect for the current administration. I gave them my backing on the Iraq war, and they conducted it completely inappropriately.

Whether it's being clueless military competence (no clue that when the Iraqi army disappeared with their munitions that that would mean trouble down the road) to being clueless regarding American values in military conduct, this administration has shown itself to be deserving of close scrutiny and oversight. The criticism sent its way is deserving. The current "team" in office has nothing to offer but bluster.
I respect every Administration. The White House deserves all of our respect regardless of who occupies it. I don't think there are evil people running our country that deserve to be vilified and demonized.

Civil public discourse is necessary to good government. The more caustic the rhetoric the worse our government will be.

If they made mistakes running the war in Iraq (and they did), then they need to be corrected, it doesn't change the reasons for supporting it. To quit is wrong-headed. To expect good results so quickly is wrong-headed. To publicly defy the Armed Forces by supporting the enemy's position is criminal... and most of those posturing so are doing it to spite Bush with no real idea of how to fix what is in need of repair. And in the case of Iraq, cutting and running creates even bigger problems .

Again, tell me what will be done differently and they may win my vote, if I agree. Tell me that the current people are idiots (they are not) or that they are evil (they are not) or that they are liars (no more than any other politicians) and you'll chase me away to vote for the other guy.

We want America to be good, we believe Americans are good, and we don't like people telling us otherwise.

Every administration in my lifetime has proved, in some way, that it needed close scrutiny and oversight. Criticism is always deserving, but the criticism ought to be, it needs to be civil. We are all on the same team as much as many on the left would have us believe otherwise. The current team offers much more than bluster, just as every other team has done.

What this team does have, that no Democrats have yet shown, is an understanding of the war being waged on us. I wish they would articulate it better, I wish they could do a whole lot better than they are doing, but at least I know they understand and they want to win like I do. The Democrats want to win too, but they are not demonstating that they understand the foe. Joe Lieberman understands, so did Bob Graham... who else does? Where are they?

They are hiding because they are afraid of the left wing of the party. They're afraid of being labled pro-Bush... It's a recipe for failure, it's why they will not be able to win either the House or the Senate.
One last response here, then I'm suggesting this stop. I'm out of town for almost a week, might not have computer access, and I'd like the courtesy of the last word on my own blog. If you care to continue, let's take it to your place.

I won't rehash the entire Iraq thing. I've stated that I believe there was a just cause for the war, but that doesn't mean that after it's clear that the administration's conduct of that war borders on criminal negligence, that I have to buy into Republican slogans for how to proceed from here. "Just quit," "cut and run," and the like are political phrases from the Rove playbook, not open discussion of how best to proceed.

Like most Democrats I share your concerns about Islamacist attitudes and actions toward the U.S. and the West. I can't name them all, but I know that they include not only Pelosi and Murtha who you denigrate, but also Barney Frank, our own Senator Nelson, Harold Ford, Jr., who's running for the Senate in Tennesse, Webb in Virginia, and the bulk of Democrats holding office and running for office this year. To dismiss them all as mouthing the Daily Kos party line would be the same as dismissing all Republicans as mouthing the Little Green Footballs party line. It's just not so.

But it is so that the Republicans have been in power in Congress since 1994 and the White House since 2000. It is simply time to hold them accountable. All of them, including this President.

I respect all Presidents on the day of their first innauguration. What happens after that is largely up to them and to my own willingness to remove my blinders and drop my baggage. Way back when, I supported, worked for, and voted for Jimmy Carter for reelection in 1980. In retrospect, I see that he was the worst President of my lifetime, something that was obvious to many who voted in 1980. Bush 43 is to me like Carter was to them, but I'm more confident in my analysis this time around, because deep in my heart in 1980 I knew what a pathetic loser Carter was (traits he continues to exhibit to this day).

That Bush may be right about the Islamacist threat doesn't mean that every thing he has done has been effective in confronting it. Or many things. The Iraq war happened because the Baathist government of Saddam refused to comply with U.N. resolutions regarding arms inspections, not to counter the Islamcist threat effectively. Even after 9/11, the idea that there were more actors than state-sponsored terrorism wasn't something the Bush administration could grasp. It was only after the horrible refusal to provide just and rightful security for the Iraqi people during the occupation that the insurgencies gained ground.

I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior. I don't believe that since Bush has made Iraq such a mess and such a terrorist hotbed that that means we have to continue to give him support. Sure, we have to deal with the mess, but the kind of ideas that are going to get us out of it and simultaneously enhance our security are not going to come from this administration and the current no-oversight Congress.

You want a plan. What is the Bush plan? What is the end game? How do we get to the end game? "Stay the course" is no more a plan than "Mission accomplished" was an accurate description of reality. It is sloganeering, bluster, wind.

As to the pro-security Democrats: I've named some, and there are plenty more. The idea that they're cowering is not factual. There are plenty of them besides Liberman and Graham, and they have plenty of support, regardless of how it is portrayed in blogs or the mass media. I have much more confidence in those Democrats than I do in almost any Republican these days.

One last thought: Elect a Democratic house, and there is a good chance that a security Democrat like Rahm Emanuel could be speaker instead of Pelosi. The newly elected house members will owe much more to him than to her.
Tim, I agree with everything you say (except for maybe the singing part, I'm not sure most people are into public singing outside of church).

I think Ocean Guy is way off, though. He's off on the idea that campaigning on policy wins elections (read George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant," which scientifically rejects that idea). He's also wrong to think that Democrats can't handle foreign policy. It was, of course, Democrats that won both World Wars and it was Republicans that lost in Korea and Vietnam. Truthfully, though, it isn't politicians that win wars (although they can lose them), it's the people running the military -- the generals -- and I have complete faith in them.
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