Tuning the Voters Out & In & On

On Jul 31, 2011, at 12:29 PM, Jim wrote:

John, how do you react to this column in the New York Times:

Why Voters Tune Out Democrats, by Stanley Greenberg


On Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM, John wrote:

Essentially I see him saying that Democrats need to start acting like Democrats rather than like Republican lite. If Democrats are failing it is because they aren’t fighting for Democratic values, policies, ideals. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy are now Obama’s tax cuts for the wealthy. Obama has moved in the debt compromise to the right of the average American Republican. What’s for a Democrat to get behind and support? As I’ve said before they completely misread the results of the 2010 elections. They believed the Republican meme that the country wanted to move to the right, even as this column points out polls show wasn’t true. They lost the 2010 election because ten million people between 18 and 30 who voted in 2008 simply stayed home and gave up. They thought Obama would hold Bush and the banksters accountable, and instead they did nothing, and no one from the financial scandal has gone to jail or been held accountable. He didn’t close Gitmo. He hasn’t ended our torture policies. He extended tax cuts for the rich (nice rhetoric saying he won’t do it again, but now he’s in office and we go by his actions, not campaign promises). He’s fallen into the Republican trap that all taxes are bad, so he can’t utter the word; he has to use dishonest euphemisms like revenue reform or whatever. If he wants the people to back him all he has to do is act like a real Democrat.

Americans understand that Republicans hate government. Democrats are supposed to be the party that wants a good government that helps people. When they see the Dems acting like Republicans, they can’t then wonder why the country abandons them.

Jim wrote:

The heart of the American public is captured by whoever makes them feel that government is responsive.

Clinton knew this, it is why he had any success. Republicans are the default party when government seems big and unresponsive. The Tea Party is the radical version of this.

The public’s heart is not captured (except for ideologues on the fringes) by:

· Strict adherence to unfettered market principles

· Standing up for the little guy/middle class

The essential American tagline is “No taxation without representation.” The mainstream public – either party – is fine with the right kind of taxes, they are fine with bills that bring benefits to those worthy. But if things seem bloated in any way, the door is open for the Less Government mantra and spin doctors to place their feet. And should the left – who want government to be responsive, they are just slower to recognize any bloating – tell the public that government is good and benevolent, the feces hits the fan. Neither side can see things any other way than their own.

Obama and the Dems can only grab the public debate by declaring and proving that they are responsive. That is, that state programs can change with the times, they eliminate waste, they are doing actual good in places and for people that need it. Then the “Government is the Problem” label no longer sticks.

Obama thought he was doing this when he repeated the word compromise so often recently. But the public demands more than that. Principles can be more important than compromise. E.J. Dionne reminds us today that Moderate and Centrist are not necessarily the same thing. Just finding the middle of the poles is not governing, but rational debate, coupled with give and take, tempered with wisdom, is. The public will only applaud politicians when they see that they receive what they ask for.

Squeaky wheels are being greased right now. Though in this rush to trim government, led by business interests, so are palms. All of government needs to return to transparency and be nimble, responsive. Whoever shows initiative, gains this reputation and gains the public heart.


About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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