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Insane Musings

Catching up: Diary from April 17 (posted @ dKos)
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ACTION ALERT: The Thematic Imperative

I am a firm believer in the idea that, when defeated, an initial post-mortem action should be to determine
how you were defeated and then promptly steal the tactics of the winning side and adapt them to your cause.

As Democrats, we should be no different. I know there are a laundry-list of items that we could/should deal with in accord with my statement above. I'm only going to deal with one such issue and then I'm going to ask for participation from the Kossack community.

Throughout the '04 Presidential election you would constantly hear the talking heads comment on how disciplined the Republicans were in staying "on message". So much so that they put Kerry and other campaigning Democrats in the position of being continually poised in reactive mode. I am fully aware that the majority of the dKos community has borderline contempt for the media and the talking heads that front the media, but they're a reality. As we seek progressive change across institutions we must also deal realistically within institutions as they exist today. Therefore, what the talking heads say and the impressions that they plant in the minds of Joe and Jane America matters - they are a means to an end if we walk the talk.

With the '06 elections looming, can you (without looking) articulate the central organizing theme of the Democratic Party? What is the one, unified message that all Democratic candidates can use in their campaigning to add cohesion and organization to individual campaigns and the goals of Democrats and their constitutents while simultaneously hitting Republicans on their weaknesses? Do you think the DNC has a central organizing theme?

I asked myself that same question without going to the DNC website to see what (if anything) they were saying. I couldn't name the DNC's theme. I know what I think the theme should be, from my perspective:

Give Power Back to the People
tagline: Stop the Republican Abuse of Power

It's a theme that generally resonates across all areas where Democrats can hit Republicans hard. A few ideas:

Give power back to the people: protect individual choices for peope and their families

Give power back to the people: Ensure that ruling parties don't disenfranchise millions of Americans by eliminating the voice of the minority party

Give power back to the people: Guarantee that the real issues of real Americans have a voice in Congress

Give power back to the people: Stop the assault on your rights and those of your children

Give power back to the people: Protect your sacred right to vote and the integrity voting systems

Give power back to the people: Turn the tide of anti-individual pro-business legislation that erodes your ability to work and to be paid fairly for that work

Give power back to the people: Say "no" to those in Congress who feel it's all right to assault working class families

Give power back to the people: Ensure the free exercise of your morals and values without government interference or influence

Give power back to the people: Protect the air you and your children breathe, the food you eat and the water you drink from Corporate pollution

The theme sets the overarching strategy of the Democratic party as a whole. Tactics will specifically hit the Republicans on unpopular issues and stances, as follows:

Give power back to the people: protect individual choices for peope and their families
- Invoke Terri Schiavo and general disapproval of the American public at this extreme over-reach.

Give power back to the people: Ensure that ruling parties don't disenfranchise millions of Americans by eliminating the voice of the minority party
- Multiple purposes: The filibuster can be invoked here. So, too, can the issue of DeLay, ethics, and the rules committees that set the agenda for when Congresspeople are investigated.

Give power back to the people: Guarantee that the real issues of real Americans have a voice in Congress
- Invoke pocketbook issues: the price of gasoline; the rise in inflation; the stagnant growth of jobs and wages; outsourcing. Republicans have given little time to these issues while they have intervened in right-to-die legislation, nomination of judges, and Social Security privatization.

Give power back to the people: Stop the assault on your rights and those of your children
- This opens a discussion on the Patriot Act and a host of other legislative items that can be adapted to a candidate's individual needs.

Give power back to the people: Protect your sacred right to vote and the integrity voting systems
- This can be used to demand paper trails in electronic voting systems and can generally address disenfranchisement and voting reform.

Give power back to the people: Turn the tide of anti-individual pro-business legislation that erodes your ability to work and to be paid fairly for that work
- This is a catch-all which will allow Democrats to hit hard on the issue of tax reform, Corporate welfare and healthcare to name only a few.

Give power back to the people: Say "no" to those in Congress who feel it's all right to assault working class families
- This opens the door for discussion of taxation, Bankruptcy reform, and wages.

Give power back to the people: Ensure the free exercise of your morals and values without government interference or influence
- This one's tricky. The goal is to set the stage for a values/morals argument from the perspective of not allowing values and morals to be legislated.

Give power back to the people: Protect the air you and your children breathe, the food you eat and the water you drink from Corporate pollution
- It may be obvious, but it's a point that needs to be made over and over again. Our water supply has not be secured. Our air is being polluted by Corporate greed and has also not been secured from biological/chemical attacks. Our food is not being adequately secured and our children are being poisoned by pro-Corporation legislation that eases restrictions on food producers.

Those just kind of came off the top of my head. For every point, which I tried to frame positively at the strategic level, Democrats can cite real efforts on their part to deliver these powers and point out real intrusions on the part of Republicans at the tactical level. I tried to keep the list primarily to what I consider the "weak spots" in the current Republican regime.

The list is not exhaustive - I am not a PR person so chances are it's not even very good. That is where the ACTION ALERT part of my title kicks in.

I would welcome (hell - beg for!) input from the dKos community. What should the central theme of the Democratic party be as we move towards the '06 elections? The theme should be broadly applicable to the platforms of Democrats campaigning at the local, State, and national levels. Personally, I adhere to the 80/20 rule. 80% should be common to all National issues, it can be applied at State and local levels with very little effort while always having the national issue (which will be better-known) to fall back on for emphasis.

I would like to send this to Howard Dean and the DNC once (if) I get enough comments to make it worthwhile. I'm sure I'm not alone in the general eye-rolling every time a Republican mouthpiece comes on the TV and spews yet another litany of talking points. Often these points are only barely relevant to the questions they are being asked. But I'm big enough to recognize that it's an effective strategy, and would love for Republicans to be rolling their eyes at the degree to which Democratic candidates and mouthpieces are on-message.

I did wind up visiting the DNC website to see if I could find a theme. Ironically, "Stop the Abuse of Power" is one of the headlines on the DNC front page, but only as it pertains to the filibuster. As far as an over-arching theme is concerned, I didn't find one.

Our adversaries have given us plenty of winning tactics which we can steal and then adapt. I think the theme, being consistently on-message across all Democratic campaigns is a good one that we can easily 1) identify; 2) adapt; and 3) turn against the Republicans and build a winning strategy.

Your turn. I would appreciate ideas as to theme/strategy and, if you so choose, associated tactics.

posted by RenaRF @ 2:16 PM,




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