Sunday, November 09, 2008

Getting The Gloat On

The last few days have been full of stories of cataclysims, tsunamis, and catastrophes of a political nature. The Republican Party is dead, the country has gone left, a lot of pretty exaggerated themes. Yes, a 6% loss and decreased electoral country isn't good and neither is having a party starting fractures over versions of itself. But let's not get crazy thinking the other side is dead and gone and we're seen as America's saviours. We get to have a chance to do well and if we don't we'll get handed our heads. The Republican propaganda of 30 years hasn't suddenly ceased to have resonance with very large percentages of the population. The Republicans have had a fairly simple presentation they've made over that time, it isn't complex and it isn't involved. (sure, you may find it complex to get from less governmental interference to say who can get married) Advertisers will tell you that simple messages work best, even better if you can mix sex or fear in. Democrats don't have such a simple message to sell.

It looks as though the House Republicans are going to go with the Cultural Warriors theme - Boehner, Cantor, and Pence, not surprisingly. If they do it without gettiing all caught up in hypocrisy again they'll hang onto that 23% that still loves Bush, the self-identified Evangelicals. Now you can scoff at that, but it is a pretty solid base that will turn out and will raise money. It won't win a national election, but there are areas where it is nearly sufficient, in itself. If you toss on top of that dedicated base an electorate subject to the 30s years of Republican sales pitch you have something unpredictable. The difference between dead and stunned is real meaningful whether you're dealing with a bear or the Republican Party.

Starting any action on the basis of false or misleading information is a sure route to failure or worse. The House Republicans may be in a very minority position but that doesn't begin to keep them from making mischief or taking their case to the media. The Senate Republicans are almost sure to keep enough seats to preserve the fillibuster option, particularly with Democrats ability to fracture on issues. Everything the Republicans think about and try to do will involve regaining power. Even with the 'Country First' rhetoric, don't count on it.

Democratic organizations and activists should look to every success and every situation as an opportunity to spread a message. It is important to cement gains and important to find new areas to gain in. Areas that look hopeless in two years could be possible in four or six. Howard Dean's 50 State model was not aimed at short term gain, it was a long view strategy. Looking at this last election as a huge success encourages the idea that the long term is less meaningful. The Republicans may have proved they have no idea how to govern in the long term, but they have certainly shown that they know how to set a long term narrative. That is what we have to look at. The ability to win in the 10,500 electorate of Baker County may not be meaningful in a national or even state wide election, but it is meaningful in terms of the success of messaging.

Knowing what to do with government is important, damn important as proved these last eight years, but in order to put that into effect you need to win. You need to have a winning narrative so that you can continue to win, not just now and again when situations favor you. You cannot continue to win when you are simply an alternative, the "not the other guy." If that is the case, the moment things straighten out, you are disposable.


Anonymous said...

Hey Chuck,
Did you get to see Jeff Merkley today? He was in Bend this morning and then left for LaGrande. I didn't ask if they were also going to Baker City.

He gave a short talk emphasizing his priorities, similar to what he said in his acceptance speech and took few questions. I think he'll be a really great senator, especially paired with Ron Wyden.


Chuck Butcher said...

He made LaGrande not Baker and I was too tied up to have the 2hrs travel time to spare. I'd have liked to, though.

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ThePoliticalCat said...

Hey, Chuck -- tagged ya.

gsp said...

Now where is the fun if we have to lay off the profanity and no name calling. You trying to impress Bill O'Really? You feel good liberals, I don't know about you.

Anyway, just found your site through Balloon Juice and look forward to reading it. However, you really gotta loosen up on the profanity and making fun of people thing.