Thursday, November 04, 2004

So Now What? Part III 

Things to Keep in Mind
I've been thinking about the election (1,2). So have other bloggers. Here are some more blogospheric postmortems, these in the category of "yes, but":

Mindles H. Dreck and Jon Kay point out that not all Bush voters are redneck homophobe troglodytes.

Fair enough. I don't think anyone has ever suggested that they are. It's just that there are a lot of redneck homophobe troglodytes out there, and the current administration has won reelection by successfully getting them to vote. Thus focusing on this fact isn't necessarily a sign of lazy stereotyping: it can also be plain old realistic strategic thinking.

Mark Kleiman makes the case for Democrats to put on their obstructin' shoes:
Unite behind the President? Help him dig himself out?

Are you kidding?

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.

Show me a Democrat who's helped George W. Bush, and I'll show you someone with Karl Rove's knife in his back. And if we unite behind him, he will claim to be vindicated in his role as a uniter.

We should give our duly re-elected President the same loyalty the Republicans gave Bill Clinton.

Our goal should be to have Bush leave office with the popularity level of a Nixon (or a Truman) and be a long-term albatross around the neck of his party, as Carter and Clinton are around our necks. No lying is required to accomplish this; we just have to figure out a way of telling the truth persuasively.
I'm a bit torn here: I worry that the longterm stakes may be too high for this extremely attractive philosophy to guide us well in every issue area.

There's also the problem of actually turning this call to action into action: we don't have any institutions of party discipline in this country, unlike in Westminster democracies such as the UK. The "loyal opposition" role adopted by British parties when they're out of power is in large part made possible by the discipline rules, and without them it's tough to imagine how we can herd Democrats in the House, Senate and state legislatures and governors' mansions into presenting a united front. The GOP under Clinton had the enormous institutional advantage of controlling Congress from 1994 on: in Clinton's first two years in office, the president and House leadership basically did the GOP's public affairs work for them.

That being said, I do think that some of the GOP's tactics (calling for hearings on every teensy possible misstep by the White House, overdramatizing the extremeness of minor administration policy proposals, etc.) can be effectively adopted by a minority party. It's worth thinking about tactics.

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