Tuesday, October 11, 2005

How to: for Democrats

Haven’t thought about what Democrats need to do to get back control of Washington for a while now.  In some ways I don’t care if they figure it out or not, but I don’t think that I’ll be voting Republican forever, so I observe the other parties, with emphasis on the Dems, and wonder when that time will come.  After all, the Democrats were the party of the evangelical Christian back in the 60s, why not again 30 years from now?

But for now they have some things to get over.

      Instead of arguing from principles, and letting policies emerge, liberals tend to want to argue policy. I think this is partly institutional - liberals tend to come from places where policy is actively studied, argued, or practiced. Ideas are usually expressed in policy - it's not concrete otherwise.

      As soon as Kevin & I started discussing it, his issue was: "What would the winning policies be?" (and my responses, when pinned down like that, were relatively lame - as you can see on his blog).

      It's the wrong question.
      The issue in politics ought to be "what are the principles" and "why do I trust you to carry them out?"

Voters don’t respond well to large policies, as we can see where that has gotten us in the past.  They respond well to principles, however, and you can see that in election campaigns where candidates that win usually have very simple, but value driven, principles.   Bush is like that, but it doesn’t limit itself to any party or ideology.

      The arcane and complex policies we suggest - like the 'kludge' that Hillarycare represented - are suspect by the American people, not because they aren't smart enough to understand them, but because they are smart enough to be suspicious of this kind of effort. The track record for grand policy just isn't very good. And average people may want more accessible health care, but they also don't like the idea of Tom DeLay or Hillary walking into the Congressional clinic while they fill out the fiftieth copy of a nine-page form for the third time in order to see a specialist.

Oh, yes.  And stopping the constant barrage of criticism of the Bush administration for long enough to get those principles out would be a pre-requisite.

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