Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Too Late for Dems to Save the Election: Do Something for the Base

Used to be, Democratic politicians knew how to win elections, even as incumbents in a Depression. Against the imploding cesspool that is today's republican party, they could do it in their sleep.

But today's corporate-owned DINO Blue Dogs need instructions. Step-by-step, words-of-one-syllable instructions.

Thomas Geoghegan at The Nation:

Yes, the country is in a foul mood, with 15 million unemployed. The Democrats may get clobbered in 2010. And even if we survive, how do we hang on for the long term? If our great founder, FDR, could come back to us, he might remind us of the three simple rules that once, long ago, Democrats used to follow:

1. Do something for your base.

2. Do something for your base.

3. Do something for your base.

Seriously: why can't we do something for our base? It's been almost a half-century since we Democrats did something for our base, when Lyndon Johnson pushed through Medicare, i.e., "socialized medicine" for seniors.


By the way, FDR would be the first to tell us it's not enough to do something for our base. Here are three other little rules we should follow when we do something for our base:

1. Keep it simple. The healthcare bill not only did nothing for our base; it was hard to understand. Every initiative should be capable of being put down in a single sentence or two. "Financial reform" is fine, but the Dodd-Frank Act is too hard to sum up coherently to our base on even an index card, much less a bumper sticker.

2. Make it universal. People on the left have all sorts of ideas for programs that turn out to be available only to a select few. By contrast take FDR's big ideas, like Social Security. Not everyone is on it, but sooner or later we all are headed there. If we're not there, our parents are. Likewise, Medicare: we'll all get there. The public option, which was left out of the healthcare law, was a nice idea and all, but in the end it would have been available only for a few.

Finally, the last and most important rule:

3. Make it add up to a plan. I mean, let's go beyond "the vision thing" and let people know we have a plan. Obama will not bring back the American economy of golden memory. The deficit will be horrendous. We may have to get used to unemployment of 7 percent, a 7 percent that covers up a bigger percent of people working just three instead of five days a week. FDR did not end the Depression, either. But people were patient because they knew he had a plan. He was rebuilding the economy from the bottom up, and it paid off, not in the 1930s but in the unionized, high-benefits postwar decades after he died.

People will be patient with us and keep us in power if they think we have a plan.

In this spirit here are ten things the Democrats could push this fall that not only do something for our base but (1) are simple, (2) appeal to at least half or more of the country and (3) add up to a plan.


And if we, the great-grandchildren of the New Deal, can bring all these things to pass, then FDR will smile upon us and say, "At last, children, you've done something for your base." Then our base will be glad to let us take on other things—perhaps even, before it's too late, to dial down global warming.

But we have to be in power. So if we want to save the planet, we better save the country first.

For the details of all Ten Things, read the whole article here.

No comments: