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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Democrats and candidates

An anonymous poster left a comment that deserves further attention:

Ok so if Democrats don't win elections on issues then why do we care about healthcare, women's rights, and the environment (etc)? Should we just pick the 'prettiest, most charming, and voted 'most friendly' in high school candidate no matter what they stand for? It might be interesting to hear from the people who don't think Amy resonates with anyone. It is January and yes Amy has gotten the calls from Washington (Chuck Schumer) anointing her as the candidate. OK my venting is complete, but when it comes down to it I think as Democrats we should look at all the ISSUES and choose the candidate who will stand up for all Minnesota Citizens not choose a candidate just because they might win some kind of personality contest.
Well? The majority of people in this country want to keep Roe vs. Wade. Large majorities (I think over 70%) of people in this country want universal health care and to do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. People in this country do not support huge tax cuts for the top 1% of earners, or huge tax breaks to corporations in all likelihood.

So Democrats are on the right side of most issues. However, I can't help but notice that we control nowhere close to 70% of Congress, or even a majority. We don't control anything. So why is this?

Contrary to what the anonymous commenter says, citizens do NOT choose candidates based on issues. They simply don't. Most people don't sit down and follow a budget, or even comparison shop based on price at the grocery store; it's a bit of a stretch to think that they are going to sit down and carefully consider a candidates position on the issues before they vote.

So if they don't vote based on issues, what do they consider? It's not "personality" per se in the mold of whoever was most popular in high school. I think that people choose the candidate that best expresses that they care about the same things that the voters care about, that they share the same values. For Republicans, they may not share the same values when you get right down to it, but voters think they do. And, more importantly, voters think that these candidates will stand up for what they believe in and "do the right thing."

When a candidate is nothing more than a walking conglomeration of issues, with not much else holding them together, the candidate is not going to win, no matter how good his or her stand on the issues that matter. You need a fighter, you need somebody who will make a stand. That's why the Democrats are in such disarray in Washington; just look at them. As Dayton pointed out quite well yesterday, they aren't willing to take a stand on anything if there is a chance they might lose. So why would voters vote for people like this? Do you ever see Republicans backing down on anything? Is Michelle Bachman giving up on her constitutional amendment on gay marriage because it hasn't gone anywhere yet?

When Democrats are afraid of their own shadows and give weak explanations for what they do, they will lose elections. Democrats need to strongly and forcefully explain why they do what they do, speaking not in the language of issues but in the language of what is important to them personally. They need to live the life that they are preaching, too.

Paul Wellstone won here not because the people who voted for him agreed with him on the issues; a lot of them didn't. He won because he was a person who stood up for his beliefs and didn't apologize for them. He was strong, and he was genuine. I doubt he was voted "most popular" at his high school, but that's not important. He didn't back down, and he was somebody that people could rely on. That's important in a candidate.

Of course, issues matter. The Democratic party is made up of people who have similar views on many issues. But it has to be more than that. DFLers don't get together merely because they happen to have the same views on universal health care. It's about family, it's about community, it's about living lives with those shared values. Why Democrats don't emphasize these aspects of the party, instead of just relentlessly harping on issues, escapes me.

There are other reasons why Democrats don't win: corruption (as we are seeing now), the right-wing noise machine, and so forth, but in the end those are all just cop-outs. Democrats still somewhat arrogantly think that voters are as wise and conscientious as they themselves think they are. But that's just not true. We need to move beyond issues, or else wait for Democratic opponents to screw up. That's not a winning strategy.

4 Comments:

At 7:45 PM, January 28, 2006, Blogger mndem1 said...

Check out the new Rasmessen Poll. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/State%20Polls/January%202006/Minnesota%20Senate%20January%2016.htm
Really makes me wonder why Amy has dropped 7 points. Maybe she is feeling the heat from the Bell Campaign.

 
At 9:24 PM, January 30, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"DFLers don't get together merely because they happen to have the same views on universal health care. It's about family, it's about community, it's about living lives with those shared values."

Huh? You're describing everryone else who isn't a democrat as well. Wow, you're fairly out of touch here. Yet, that is the problem with the DFL in general; what are their core beliefs?

Are they to stand on their own two feet, sacrifice, work hard to get ahead? Or simply whine and beg for more social programs to further their state of government dependency.

Universal healtcare? Why settle for mediocrity? Huhh, I just figured out the DFL's core value; mediocrity.

 
At 9:56 AM, January 31, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well said, and very true. People want to see our leaders willing to fight for what they believe in.
To the previous 'anonymous' poster, who said "Are they to stand on their own two feet, sacrifice, work hard to get ahead? Or simply whine and beg for more social programs to further their state of government dependency." I have only this to say. What complete and utter bullshit.

 
At 1:27 PM, January 31, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right, the DFL is nothing more than bullshit.

I saw what my DFL party was fighting for, dependency and social engineering. The DFL no longer holds the values of our grandparents, that gave way long ago. The only thing worse than a republican is a democrat.

 

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