Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Democrats Reframing the Message

Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before (intentional Morrissey reference there). "Democrats, as a national party, have no vision for the country nor any concrete policies, that is, outside of constant obstruction of Republican policies and voting against the president’s initiatives." You must have heard that one before, since it is oft repeated in Republican-controlled media outlets and even internalized by Democrats. Even Evan Bayh, the moderate-to-progressive Indiana senator who would make a superb presidential candidate, seemingly has internalized the Republican message about the Democrats, stating in an address to the centrist Progressive Policy Institute that "We still have a hurdle to cross with the American people in convincing them that we can be both tough and smart when it comes to securing America." In other words, in a post 9-11 age, Republicans have a better grasp of how to protect the country, and voting Democratic, until now, has been the equivalent of voting against national security interests.

Of course, nothing can be further from the truth: the neoconservative war in Iraq has resulted in the depletion of American resources and personnel and the furthering of the anti-American ideology. Worldwide terrorist acts, in fact, were up in 2004 in comparison to 2003, perhaps partly due to the misguided war in Iraq. The truth speaks for itself: Republican foreign policy is a lesson in abject failure for protecting this country. Democrats need to ensure that they are the party of the future when it comes to national security, emphasizing that a plan that has mobile, specialized forces for fighting terrorists in an intra-national war (with the host country’s approval, of course) rather than an overextended force bogged down in a country that doesn’t want American help (Iraq). All of the recommendations of the bi-partisan
9-11 commission need to be enforced to ensure better safety and security against a terrorist attack rather than the failing grades that have been received by the Republican-led leadership in implementing these changes.

Reframing the debate will mean, inevitably, that Democrats will need to fight against the conservative echo chamber that begins with Republican leadership in Congress and ends with repeated Republican talking points in the media, ranging from Fox News to right-wing radio. Republicans control both houses of congress and the presidency, a rarity in political history that will hopefully be rectified in 2006 and 2008. The echo chamber for Republican talking points is far and wide, judging how so many Americans actually believed there was a War on Christmas because Fox News hammered this point repeatedly in their daily broadcasts. But the media and the American people are becoming more savvy, and the media, both old and new, is finally beginning to do its unstated job: providing a type of checks and balance against the political machine, whether it be Republican or Democratic. Reframing the debate will mean not only pointing out the many failures of the Republican leadership, but also offering a clear, concise alternative, one that will resonate with middle-of-the-road America, an America who is waiting for the Democratic party to regain leadership and right this rudderless country.