Friday, February 04, 2005

A Democratic elevator pitch

When I started this blog back in November, one of my first posts concerned the need for the Democrats to create an effective elevator pitch. That is, I called on the Democrats to develop (perhaps only for internal purposes) a statement that would capture the emotional core of why people identify (or would like to identify) with the Party. In other words, I called for a simple statement of principle that (1) the vast majority of Democrats could happily sign up for, (2) would appeal to many swing voters and independents, but (3) would cause hard-core Republicans to feel unvarnished revulsion.

Well, recently we spent a little time with reader RWM to formulate a draft of what such a Democratic Party elevator pitch might look like. As a template, we considered Josh Marshall's suggested that the Republican elevator pitch consisted of the claim that, "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."

For the Democrats, this is what we came up with:
The Democrats are for promoting fairness and the rule of law at home and abroad, for keeping government out of the morality business, and for ensuring equal access to economic opportunity and political power.
Does that work?

6 comments:

Zak Braverman said...

I don't think that's any good. It doesn't match your own criteria for the simple reason that Republicans would already lay claim to 1 and 3. For instance, they would say that affirmative action objectively denies 1 and 3, because it goes against the spirit of a meritocracy and is therefore not "fair" and does not promote "equal access to opportunity" to those who lose out in admisssions for being white.

This is just an example, but it would be a simple intellectual exercise to think of other ways in which Republicans could lay claim to those values and claim that the Democrats do not actually stand for them. The same thing cannot be said of the Republican elevator pitch.

purpleprose said...

Perhaps you're right Zak. To make the contrast sharper, we have to get explicit about the belief in the moral value of redistributing wealth... the hatred of plutocrats. And you're probably right that #3 should make more explicit the idea of respecting internationally-formed rules (or, to be even more specific, to respect for the idea that at least the long-term goal should be create a rules-based international system, even if obviously many particular rules that have been, are, and will be written are foolish).

Beyond this point, however, I don't think the Democrats and the Republicans differ much at all in foreign policy -- they both believe, largely, in the Empire. As you know, I argued all during the Fall campaign against the belief -- held by some on the left as well as most on the right -- that Kerry would conduct a policy materially different from Bush in, say, Iraq.

In short, it's the domestic issues that really distinguish the parties. As much as I think Iraq is a fool's errand, you can tell from the preponderance of what I blog on that I consider the salient difference between the two parties to be the domestic issues.

But as I say, I think your criticisms are fair, and I'll keep noodling. How about some constructive criticism?

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Zak Braverman said...

"We protect the weak, the environment, and America's reputation abroad."

Large swaths of America couldn't give a !@#$ about any of these, but these people would never be convinced anyway.

br said...

The problem is that it is not snappy. While it is intellectually well crafted, it has to play in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Fairness and "ensuring equal access" are nice bromides, but they are like vegetables.
Something more like:
"We'll keep the Government out of your bed room, respect your privacy, and give you a hand when you ask for one. We'll also make sure you get a fair days pay for a fair days work."

Something more visceral like that. There are democratic wedge issues, we're just not aggressive enough to use them, which is why Hoard Dean needs to be the next DNC chair: He will be aggressive enough.

Ed said...

Definately drop the phrase "The Democrats are for promoting fairness and the rule of law at home and abroad, ". Americans are in no mood for fairness and probably have never been. As purplerose said the Dems stand for empire as much as Republicans. For foreign policy try "...Safe at home and in the world by supporting our Troops, our Vets and our Allies." Troops must come first in the list and allies last. Vets are important because Republicans seem to take them for granted and vets are the future of our troops.

People want government to be moral. For most of the country, getting government out of morality means someday legalizing theft and murder. A non-starter. How about "Ensure freedom of religion for all, without promoting one creed at the expense of minorities."

Economy... I love Truman's "Square deal". Such a great phrase but it won't work today. Tie it in to children. "Growing the world's strongest economy for us and for our children, by investing in great schools, a healthy environment and a government living within its means." If what I have said thus far sucks, try Clinton's "A Hand up, not a hand out."

So that leaves me with:
"Democrats strive for an America safe at home and in the world by supporting our Troops, our Vets and our Allies, ensuring freedom of religion for all, without promoting one creed at the expense of minorities, and growing the economy for us and our children, by investing in great schools, a healthy environment and a government living within its means."