Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Lessons learned from this election

Looks like Bush has been re-elected. Damn. While it is not officially over due to the provisional ballots, it looks like a very long shot that Kerry can overcome the amount of votes he is behind right now. Given that it is 51% to 49% in Ohio the odds of the provisional ballots being 75% in Kerry's favor is not likely.

So what can the democrats learn from this election?

  1. Dirty tricks work: the most lop-sided and "dirty" effort to elect Kerry was Fahrenheit 9/11. It gained a lot of attention, but was disowned by the party. There was also the "Hitler/Bush" spot that was on the website briefly before being disowned by the party and removed. Meanwhile the Swiftboat liars hammered Kerry's military record with lies and distortions, the VP continued to claim Iraq-Al Quaeda ties and to tell the people that a vote for Kerry would be a terrorist victory, and the gay marriage amendment successfully energized evangelical Christians to cast their "family values" vote. Lesson we should learn? Fight fire with fire. More Michael Moores, not less. Next campaign whomever the right-wing candidate is we should accuse of ties to the KKK, of ties to the Mafia, of drug problems, we should have a 527 organization play the most negative and deceptive ads we can think of. So what if they aren't true. Neither was the Swiftvets or Cheney's claims, but it worked. Fight dirty, as dirty as we can. We need a Karl Rove to plant false stories with plausible deniability. We can't depend, as this election shows, on voters seeking the truth. Instead we need to muddy the waters on any issue that might make the radical right look good, and truth be damned. Just as with the Swiftvets and Kerry's heroism. It doesn't have to be true, it just has to be sensational. NO more disowning ads like the Hitler/Bush ads. When our candidate is asked if they approve, don't say they disapprove, just say "all negative ads are bad, such as" - and then mention a right-wing attack ad, and ask the right wing to stop. Did you hear that Dennis Hastert has been seen at Nazi rallies and giving the Hitler salute? No? Well, I heard that rumor. I don't know if it is true of course. Did you hear that the far-right has plans to re-instate debtor's prisons for those who fall behind on credit-card payments? I heard a rumor. I don't know if it is true. Did you hear that the neo-conservatives want to end all taxes on the wealthy elitists but raise taxes on the middle-class through such tricks as a flat-tax or a national sales tax? See, even if only one neo-conservative lawmaker suggests that (or even just a slightly-well known radical right pundit or think-tank suggests it) we need to immediately characterize it as the position of the entire far-right (far-right = all non-democrats.) And when they deny it simply say "It is good that the neo-conservative elitists have abandoned that plan, because the democratic pragmatists would never permit such an attack upon the middle class. We applaud their change of heart and hope they continue to move closer to the American mainstream."
  2. Appeal to our base: the gay marriage and other "family values" issues energized the right-wing base. We tried to get undecideds. The undecideds didn't show. Neither did minorities in Florida, or in Cleveland - that was the difference in victory. Our majority stayed home. The snake-handlers voted. Next election we need to energize our base. Howard Dean, not a middle of the roader like Kerry. We need to give up on the overwhelmingly red states and start referring to ourselves proudly as liberals, and change it from a dirty word. The generals who supported Kerry need to be identified as liberals. We should use the term again and again and again and take out the negative connotations, just as Clinton did in '92 and '96. We need to stop letting the right-wing set our agenda and start setting our own. Have Hillary run in '08, and don't give a damn that people who hate her might be offended - why worry about hostility from already hostile voters?
  3. Characterize the opposition and hammer our position home again and again: Bush labeled Kerry as weak and a flip-flopper from the start, and never let up. The left was labeled as hippies and cream-puffs, and we didn't recover. We should start, now, referring to conservatives as "extreme right-wingers" and "far-right neofascists" and "radical republicans." We should never use the word "conservative" again. It suggests safety and a lack of change and appeals to the "good old days." And that is not what the Bush presidency is at all. Use the term "neo-conservative." The words "far right" and "radical" and "extreme" and "neo-" should be used by all democratic leaders whenever they refer to the opposition. We should seek to make it unpopular to be identified as a radical, just as we were labeled radicals this election when in fact Kerry was the centrist and Bush was far, far right. Never use the word "right-winger" without the addition of the word "far" or "radical." We can also start using words such as war-monger, profiteer, oppressor, etc.
  4. Class warfare is ok: We lost the "culture war." Every time the radical neo-fascist tax cuts (see, I'm using #3 already) were criticized the far-right wingers accused the liberal pragmatists (our new title) of inciting class warfare. The tax cuts ARE a war against the middle class and the poor, but we were on the defense. Fuck that, no more. ENGAGE in inciting class warfare, but don't use the word "poor." Americans don't like to think of themselves as poor, and the poor don't vote Republican anyway. Use the word "middle-class" and make it a democratic appellation. Point out the inequities between the middle-class and the country-club set. Hammer on the unfairness, any time we speak of a radical republican (all republican leaders should now fit that description) we should point out how he hurts the middle-class. Notice how I didn't say he fails to "help" the middle-class. Americans don't like to think they need help even when they do. But they don't like being hurt. So anything that doesn't HELP those not rich should be an attack by the radical right upon the middle-class. And when we are accused of inciting class warfare we should agree proudly and state that we will continue to defend the middle-class against the country-club radicals who seek to harm them. Oh, and all neo-conservatives are "elitists" and "luxury suite silver spooners." I don't care if they were born in a log cabin and have $8 to their name, and worked at a non-profit all their life. They are now to be described only as elitists. Wal-Mart shoppers (and workers) voted Republican, even though the Democratic party is the party of the common man and the radical extremists are the party of the inherited wealth country-club elitists. So call a silver-spooner a spoiled silver-spooner, and ask him why he thinks middle-class Americans should be his servants.
  5. Any negative news that voters don't like should simply be denied: Is the economy bad with the first president to preside over a net job loss since Hoover? Claim a strengthening economy, just like the neo-conservative radical right has done this election. A military conflict going wrong due to idiotic missteps? Declare victory. The truth might be obvious to you and me, but in the "heartland" most voters simply assume the truth is in the middle. So we were clearly telling the truth and the neo-conservatives were far, far right. Voters simply assumed the truth was in the middle - meaning it was to the right of center. No more. Truth doesn't work, just as this election shows.
  6. Attack the patriotism of the radical neo-conservatives: We should have had more attacks on Bush's NG service, not less. We should have asked again and again "Why didn't you serve your country? National Guard members today are doing so, why didn't you?" Lather rinse repeat.
  7. Titles: Democratic legislators should start putting forward any bill they want regardless of its chance of success. The quality of the legislation isn't as important as the title. Have an act that takes away civil rights? Call it the Patriot Act. See? And if your bill doesn't pass attack the radical rightists for not supporting the "Defense of the Middle-class Justice for All" tax bill, even if they actually pass bigger tax cuts. "Why didn't you help defend the middle class?" "Uhh, I did, I voted to pass bigger tax cuts." "First you say you did, yet you voted against the Defense of the Middle-class Justice for All bill? Why don't you support justice for all and not just justice for your fellow elite country-clubbers? Don't you know that not everybody can lounge by the pool all day and be served drinks, that some people have to work for a living?" The "American Strength" bill, the "Defense of Children" act, the "Support for Working Mothers and Stay-at-home Moms" bill, the "Freedom" bill, the "Independence and Liberty" bill, the "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" bill. Be sure and have a popular issue that everybody wants (a military pay-raise for instance) and combine it with 500 things you know the radicals won't agree to, such as a national motor-voter bill, or a ban on certain pork-barrel bills in the districts of powerful extreme-right wingers. Or a tax on oil company windfall profits that will be used to lower the price of gas for the middle class. The "Honor and Respect the Warrior" bill will lose, and then endlessly repeat that the elitists Washington insiders voted against the Honor and Respect the Warrior bill. Have a veteran democratic pragmatist lawmaker do this while naming the elitist silver-spooners who didn't serve in the military who voted against the bill. Whenever the radicals sponser such a bill simply try and add a rider increasing the amount and also including a proviso you know they won't go for - increasing the power and staff of the SEC and including a new law that they right will hate - such as a law forbidding CEOs to cash out stock options until they have been out of the position for five years, etc. When this fails let every reporter know that the right-wing elitists voted against a larger raise for the military (you don't even need to get it out of committee - just suggest it and when it fails you raise hell).
  8. While we are doing all this make constant calls for more bi-partisanship and decry the lack of cooperation from the radical right who are out of touch with the middle-class backbone of America. While we plant stories of millions spent on parties for elitist politicians (we are always "lawmakers" and "public servants," they are always "politicians" and "right-wing Washington insiders) we should at the same time ask the radical republicans to stop their negative attacks. And be sure to note their "elitist hypocrisy" when we do so. Such as "Our middle-class pragmatist lawmakers want to defend the American family. Negative and misleading attacks that sling mud don't help America. We ask that the radical extremists cease their attacks. We don't like it when they hurt America and our freedom. And the fact that they accuse us of such deplorable tactics shows how hypocritical and out-of-touch the far-right neo-conservative Washington insiders really are. We demand that they cease such destructive and negative campaigns now and campaign as the American people want - honest, clean, and morally straight. We are tired of politicians attacking instead of helping Americans. We need to come together and do what is right for America." Ignore any twinges of guilt, as this election shows a conscience won't help us win.
  9. Start campaigning for 2008 NOW - by pledging support and loyalty to the president and then blaming the radical republicans for everything. Anytime anything bad happens we should be sure and point out that the extreme right-wing controls the House, Senate, and the White House. Even if it isn't related. "Floods in Ohio." "Well, the radical right controls the House, Senate, the White House, and the judiciary, yet they did nothing to prevent this and aren't helping the middle class like they should. Elite neo-conservatives living in a luxury suite don't know what it is like when a middle-class American loses a home or a business, and we call on the far right politicans to support the "Ohio Recovery and Protection" act granting Ohio more federal assistance." NOTE: the bill can be anything, such as stuff totally unrelated to the flood that was already going to Florida, such as homeland security money - simply do something like have the bill dispense the already-allocated funds 30 days earlier than planned, stuff like that. Or better, if you know the radical right will support the bill make sure you "thank them" and "encourage them" in their "change of heart." Stuff like "we are glad that the extreme right-wing has decided to put the needs of the nation above the desires of their party and will now support the "Honesty and Fairness for the Middle Class" act. We applaud their brave stance and hope that they continue to move closer to the American mainstream and help us defend the middle class and encourage them to also support the "Strengthen America" act as well." The Strengthen America act doesn't have to be remotely related to the other bill, and it is even better if it is a bill that the extremists won't support.
  10. Reduce everything to a 30-second sound bite, or even better, a 10-word statement. Twist the words of the extremists, just as the "global test" cudgel used by the elitist radical Bush was the exact opposite of what Kerry actually said.
  11. Again, start now. Take our country back and end this national nightmare.

Of course I will support whomever is elected by the American people. I call on the far-right wing to do the same and cease their negative campaigning and efforts to prevent middle-class Americans from having their votes counted.


Jericho Brown said...

Once again, TWD, you are right (not neo-fascist right, but CORRECT). We should have known that the only way to fight someone who fights dirty is to do the same. When a guy's hitting you with a chair you can't keep asking him to hold on a minute and discuss the problem rationally. You've gotta pick up the nearest piece of furniture and hit him back.

cheeky monkey said...

TWD— So true, so correct.

But it’s funny in the sad funny way, to remember back to a post you wrote about not wanting to win this way. I’m not calling you a flip-flopper (!!) just trying to sort out for myself how to get what we need, what the country, people, the environment and the world NEEDS, without reducing democracy to what the far-right wingers have done. These radicals are ruining the country, but also the way politics works. Do we fight fire with fire? Do we turn the other cheek? What is the best road forward? I don’t know, but I think winning in the “short term candidate sort of way” will require blatant and fierce tactics used by the ultra-right wing zealots.

I feel your pain.

citygirl said...

thanks for your post. I haven't laughed very much today (your posting and the Daily Show bring some much needed humor). We better get busy because four years is long enough for Bush to REALLY screw up our country but it's not very much time to organize the Democrats again.

I don't know what I'm upset about more - Bush winning or knowing that 51% of the voting population would actually put that man in office for another 4 years. They are crazy dangerous - just like Bush.

Jdavies said...

I hope people remember that not all that is popular is right, and not all that is right, popular. thanks for the good read...

I quoted this on my blog, and I had hoped you have a trackback URL. anyways i's over.

R said...

Amen Brother. If you don't find your way into the Dem party leadership on these views alone, then I may have to turn Republican. I have been saying this to my friends for YEARS. We always, always, get bullied in elections (thank you Al Gore). I'm tired of it. This is now a cultural "war" (according to CNN) not a difference of views. The masses are asses and sometimes they need a little education, not propaganda.

Johnny said...

Heh. Exactly.

I predicted that the Democrats would lose because they were bringing a knife to a gunfight. That is, indeed, what happened -- the Republicans plonked away from a mile away from the truth, spewing stray bullets everywhere but eventually making an impact through sheer weight of lead, while the Democratic knife mostly swished through thin air as their candidate took hits left, right, up and down. So you had on the one hand a candidate who dodged the draft by volunteering for combat in Vietnam, and on the other hand a heroic warrior whose manly codpiece under a "Mission Accomplished" banner showed just how much a warrior he really was.

The Democrats will not win as long as they run against a candidate. They're not running against a candidate. They're running against an entire alternative reality created by deceptions and lies, where Saddam and Osama were butt-buddies rather than enemies, Kerry was a cowardly liberal too soft to protect us from terrorism rather than a decorated war hero, and George W. Bush's wise invasion of Iraq is keeping terrorists from attacking us here at home. All that the Democrats countered with was the truth.

Look, the American people don't WANT the truth. The truth is sickening and horrible. As long as the Democrats maintain allegience to little things like "truth" and "facts", they cannot win. Lies will always win over truth, because lies are what we really, in our heart of hearts, want to hear. We WANT to hear that we went into Iraq for righteous reasons and are winning. We WANT to hear that opponents of that Iraq policy are un-American. We WANT those cool, soothing lies. The American people want lies, cool soothing lies, lies to tell them that hey, you're not bad people, you're salt of the earth, and everything is alright. Truth? We don't want the truth -- and will punish any politician, and any party, who dares rub our nose in unwanted truth.

- Johnny

lonelyshade said...

Very Good Analyse , the Democrats just have to be less Liberal , when challeging Republicans.

We became too soft , instead of people understanding facts.
They rather have fictions and lies .
And our facts are being undermined with Lies .

lonelyshade said...

we start with this one :D right now.

FOX News' Bubble Burst

During a short segment intended to cover the grand presidential party plans of the inauguration, contributing editor at Vanity Fair Magazine Judy Bachrach surprised FOX News anchorwoman Brigitte Quinn by discussing the budget, and not the fashion, faux pas at the presidential inauguration.

"We have soldiers who are incapable of protecting themselves in their Humvees in Iraq," Bachrach observed. "During a time of war, ten parties are not appropriate, when your own soldiers are sitting ducks in very, very bad vehicles."

View the clip available on Oliver Willis' blog here.
or directly to the video .

Read the full transcript on Daily Kos here.

There are People who do speak there mind and use the freedom of speech