Sunday, November 14, 2004

Knowing the score

Josh Marshall makes a similar point to the one with which I kicked off this blog, namely that the Democrats need to clarify what they believe the country ought to be all about. Success will come not from aping the Republican message, but from defining in clear terms what the Democrats stand for. Here's Josh:

Democrats don't do anywhere near as good a job [as Republicans] at telling a story with their politics.

If you want an example think of a movie with great acting and set-design but no discernible plot.

Yes, you're for this and that policy and you have this, that and the other plan. But what story or picture does it all amount to? What things does it say are important and which things less important? What does it all amount to in terms of who we are as Americans and who we want to be?

I think I can tell you what the Republicans are for and without referencing hardly any policy specifics. They're for lowering taxes in exchange for giving up whatever it is the government pretends to do for us, (at a minimum) riding the brakes on the on-going transformation of American culture, and kicking ass abroad.

That’s a clear message and a fairly coherent one, whatever you think of the content --- it’s about self-reliance and suspicion of change. And Democrats have a hard time competing at that level of message clarity.

Josh goes on to describe the Democratic message as being like an opera with a great libretto but a lousy score. That's about right.

In terms of what I think the plot or the score ought to be, I've already said my piece: it ought to be about painting a picture of the country as an inclusive and open society rooted in a reverence for the scientific, Enlightenment ideals of the founding fathers.


SH said...

You have to consider this: one cannot win the election without getting moderates (centrists) to vote for you. You either cater to the center by making your message as vague as possible or you have to shift voters in the center towards your end of the spectrum on issues. It is much cheaper and easier to make your message to appeal to more people than to convince people in the center to move your way. I think this is why most of the politicians prefer the easiest route. As sickening as it might be…

rmockler said...

Talking about the problem with the Dems' message by using an opera metaphor pretty much sums up what the problem is.