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Right Intention: Democratic Tactics

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Democratic Tactics

Fred Barnes makes an observation:

Dean is delusional. He and other Democrats cannot confer or deny legitimacy. Nor do they really understand the lessons of the Gingrich era. True, Newt used rough tactics to tear down Democratic proposals and challenge Democratic leaders. He was relentless. But he was also an idea factory of conservative concepts and initiatives. His goal was to attract conservative voters who weren't Republicans. And he succeeded.

The 1994 breakthrough "was the culmination of a long process in which voters' ideology finally got in line with their partisanship," columnist David Brooks explained recently in the New York Times. "The Democrats today . . . have all the liberals. What they lack is support from middle-class white families in fast-growing suburbs. But by copying the Gingrich tactics--or what they think of as Gingrich tactics--of hyperpartisanship and ruthless oppositionalism, they will only alienate those voters even more."

Brooks is correct. Democrats misunderstand their situation. Their view is that Republicans have been mean and bruising while they've been too nice and forgiving. That's right. They think former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who was plainly obsessed with obstructing Bush at every turn, was too kindly. The lesson of the 2004 election for Democrats, then, is that they need to play rough. The real lesson, of course, is that blatant obstructionism is a failed strategy. It's what caused Daschle to lose his seat.

Translation: Being even bigger assholes than you've been for the last four years is unlikely to help the Democratic cause.

Somehow I doubt they will listen.


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