August 09, 2005

Howard Dean Admits Democrats Have No Message

I have been saying that the Democrats have lacked a message for the last few years, but now it appears that the Democrats may have come to the same realization. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Howard Dean gives Republicans credit for one thing: They have put the Democrats on the defensive and forced them to fight on their turf. That, he said, is about to change. "What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats," Dean told a gathering of Vermont Democrats. "We have to be out there. We have to be vocal. We have to be pushing our version of the facts because their version of the facts is very unfactual." [RD Note: Anyone else notice Howie's new, improved way to call Republicans "liars"]

After visiting 30 states in the first six months as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean said Monday he has found "There are Democrats everywhere."[RD Note: It only took visiting 30 states to learn this? He could have saved himself alot of time and trouble by merely reviewing results of the last presidential election. Gee, this guy is a real brain surgeon...]

The key to success is making those Democrats proud of their party, Dean said, by taking the offensive and fighting on Democratic turf. "We need a message. It has to be clear," he said. "The framing of the debate determines who wins the debate.

Bravo Mr. Dean. It is good to know that the leader of the Democratic party has finally come to recognize that a political party must have a message to win votes. Now let's hope that the insane Bush hatred is not their message....
While he is correct that "framing of the debate" is an important factor in determining the outcome of the debate, I think he is oversimplifying. The Democrats can work to frame the debate on issues it wants to address, however, this will do no good if the Democrats do not win the battle of ideas. Put simply, if the majority of voters either do not care about the Democratic issues or, do not agree with the Democratic solutions or, for that matter, give a lower priority to those issues than the Republican issues, then the public will be less likely to care about the debate no matter who wins.
For instance, the Democrats can frame the debate by making social security the most important issue in an election cycle and coming forth with sound proposals to make social security solvent. However, if the majority of voters believe that national security is a more important short term issue to address and trust Republicans with national security, then the fact that the Democrats may win the debate on social security may be of no consequence to the outcome of an election.
Another thought: how can you frame the debate on national issues when you don't control any branch of the Federal government?
My advice: The Democrats need to understand what issues Americans care about. Once they learn that, then they need to design their political platform around those issues...
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