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Hullabaloo


Sunday, November 14, 2004

 
The Pageant

Atrios is full of 'tude these days and rightly so. This nonsense about finding leaders who are immune from GOP criticism is just ridiculous. I thought we all understood that the attack machine has no relationship to the truth. There is no such thing as an acceptable Democrat anymore. There isn't even such a thing as an acceptable moderat republican anymore. Look what they are doing to Specter.

I simply cannot believe that after the last twelve years any Democrat still believes that there are limits to what the Republicans will say to assassinate someone's character or how far the SCLM will go to promulgate it if the story is juicy enough. Perhaps Mr Nelson needs to make a run for the presidency and see if all that Red state love sees him through.

And ditto what Josh said, too. Loyalty is a principle, guys. Not blind loyalty, but that good old fashioned notion that you don't trash your friends for personal gain. If there is one thing I admire about the Republicans is that they treat their candidates with respect. As far as I'm concerned, any Dem who goes out there against the Republican attack machine and puts himself or herself on the line for us deserves at least that.

Marshall also makes some good points here.
...Democrats don't do anywhere near as good a job 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.


I think it's true that our movie just isn't as good as theirs. But rather than being a great production without a plot, I think we are one of those disjointed, arty films with lots of great moments, but afterwards you really can't explain what it means to someone who hasn't seen it.

The Republicans do big technicolor blockbusters with a big predictable plot. It's called "They're Comin' Ta Git Ya!" (Parts I through XX.) It's a franchise in which the government or the blacks or the gays or the liberals or the terrorists are trying to tear apart your way of life and the Republican party is all that's standing between you and them. It's not about self-sufficiency, it's the opposite. It's about being a perpetual victim.

Democrats can make a wonderful, big budget picture for the whole family, called "America." It's about freedom and courage. It would be an uplifting tale starring ordinary individuals working together for common goals and achieving success through equal opportunity and hard work. Our heroes insist that the community should help the less fortunate because it is the right thing to do. Period. They are Americans who live by the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights --- individual liberty, inalienable human rights and an equal playing field. When those ideals are attacked from without or within they fight like hell. In the end, we all live together peacefully because our freedom, rights and responsibilities as Americans to live as we see fit are what make us strong. Our democratic government becomes a force for good because it reflects those values. It reflects us.

It's true that we have lost sight of how to tell our story. Indeed, we are still consumed with the idea that if only we adjusted our positions on the issues, then we would win --- even though we already poll higher on most issues that people say they care about. But this has gone way beyond issues. It's about what people think we stand for vs what we actually stand for. We have not recognized that we are living in brand America and we have to sell people on the "idea" of our brand. Civics isn't even taught anymore and nobody knows jack about history. What they know is story and we have to tell them ours.

And one thing simply cannot be overlooked again, by those of us on the left who tend to blame our party and those in the middle who ..... also blame our party. This is the fact that we are competing with an organization and a movement that has no limits. If we tell our story perfectly with total clarity and beauty and we present it with the finest production values and the best candidates in the world to embody our national character, we still have to contend with a professional character assassination machine that is not hindered by any if the so-called morals and values they pretend to revere. This is a formidable obstacle and one that we will have to learn how to deal with before we can hope to break through this morass.

Therefore, we take this on from both angles if we expect to win this war. We must disable their noise machine and we must put on a bigger, better pageant. Both of things will be required to break through the static and get the attention of those people in the country who are part of OUR story but have been subsumed in propaganda and programmatic rhetoric for so long that they think that we don't have one.

One of these requires a willingness to go for the jugular and another requires a big creative vision. They aren't mutually exclusive but this might be a case for some division of labor. Any ideas?





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