It is time for the Dems to start thinking about buzzwords. These are simple phrases that the public can rattle off to each other by the coffee pot. Since by and large, the legacy of Karl Rove is to grab the public discussion with their own catch phrases, the Dems are playing catch-up.
Very little of what I ask for has much to do with reality, truth, or actual national political priorities. Those things are wholly different realms from the points of view of right and left. The left must take into account all the half-truths which have been coined by the right already, and how to counter them. Obamacare is the first negative to correct. Perhaps the people who pay little attention to political dialogue and the strong left are not aware just how negative a connotation this phrase has become in right circles. The right has nearly no concept of what is in the new law, nor are they likely to care. The National Health Care Reform law – Obamacare – is, to them, labeled 666, Satan incarnate. Given that the new law is fairly complex, making a simple case for it does not have much face value.
Bigger government in general is another huge issue; something 66% of Americans is worried about bigger government. Obama must show that his administration has been fixing, improving, making government more efficient if he is to gain any upper hand in this area.
Let’s make something else clear to the left; nobody likes W. Obama cannot remind the right that W screwed things up any longer. In essence, both the right and the left agree on that. Those were his wars, his near depression, his deficit, his Patriot Act, and his tax cuts, but now, Obama must own them and deal with them. What to do about W’s bumbling is the actual issue, and the two sides see the proper response differently. One favors the help of the government; the other sees the government as the bumbler.
Obama knows very well that incremental gifts to the farther left (JP!) will satisfy them, and he is already their choice. Any major step toward the left – condemning nuke power, major immigration reform that smells like amnesty, major protection of federal lands, shrinkage of the military, another increase in entitlements, etc. – is not in the cards for him before the election. The majority of Obama’s efforts need to be in making him look presidential and wise. He needs to inspire not only the thoughtful independents who follow issues, also the moderate but less involved ones too. And the way to reach them is through lines they can chat about and remember.
The right seems to have two choices: (1) an evangelical, who inspires the lower income southerners and limited issue-evangelicals, and (2) a chameleon who is a Mormon, who passively inspires the moderate right. Santorum should continue his rise, then the Dems need to play to anyone who thinks about more than God’s politics. If Romney gets it, then Obama needs to appeal to anyone who thinks at all.