My analysis of the convention: We’re going to win. You can stop reading now if you like.
The Democrats are in a delightful position of having 1.) a pretty decent record to run on, under the circumstances, 2.) A fairly clear focus and message, and 3.) laughably inept — if extremely well-funded – opponents.
The messaging this week was pretty tight, pretty easily formulated, viscerally understandable, and substantive:
- GM is alive;
- Bin Laden is dead
- Dems arrested the freefall of the economy — we’re still recovering but getting better
- The health care bill is protecting people now, and will do even more in the future.
With regard to a statement of values:
- We’re all in this together;
- Everyone deserves a fair shot in life; people shouldn’t be exploited
- Everyone needs to pay their fair share;
- Women should be treated like fully human adults.
It seemed so clear and easy … like the Dems were really proud to run on things they genuinely believed.
Contrast this week’s pride and optimism with the grouchy, doddering, self-loathing GOP convention: In the process of trying to turn Obama and the Democrats into a socialist collectivist dependency-craving caricature, the Republican ticket has mostly succeeded in caricaturing themselves. If one is motivated only by spite (as expressed so purely by Mitch McConnell), one can get led around like a dog chasing a steak, and end up looking pretty silly. And it’s no one else’s fault.
- No one made the GOP oppose the continued existence of the US auto companies … but they did.
- No one made them oppose all these popular aspects of the health care law, where it’s real easy for the Dems to trot out a young kid or sympathetic adult who is benefiting from the numerous protections.
- No one’s making them side 100% with the wealthy versus the middle class and poor with regard to taxes. But that’s how they roll.
The fact is that Republicans could have acted with the President on any number of initiatives, the President’s approval ratings would be higher, yes. But so would the Republicans’. For instance, Romney and Obama would both have a plausible claim on the mantle of health care visionary. And rather than the current vicious cycle of spite and obstruction, we’d see two parties competing with each other for how productive, reformist, efficient, and responsive they could be. That’s how it’s supposed to work … and without romanticizing or sugar-coating our history, it often has worked that way.
The GOP is a party in thrall to its corporate media creations: Fox and Rush and Beck and the 24-7 parade of ConservaPorn. Endless Conan-the-Barbarian* politics is excellent for talk radio ratings, and sells lots of gold bars and stuff. But it leads to a race to the margins, a kind of political correctness where it’s seen as treason to hold something other than the “purest” spite for the “enemy”.**
It is also a crazy, silly way to govern. It leads nowhere. The party cuts itself a smaller and smaller slice of the ideological pie — making itself more dangerous when it is swept into power, but also more prone to long bouts in the political wilderness. It’s entirely possible that we could have three out of four elections be decisive elections for Congressional Democrats. Isn’t that remarkable?
*(Cush enemies. See them dwiven before you. And hear the lamentations of da wimmen.”
**(To a much lesser extent these days, this also exists on the left in the form of firebaggers and the emo-left, but they are without signficant influence, even when they’re right.)