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ThoughtsOnline

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Apparently, there is a challenge for Democrats to create a ten-word phrase to define what they are all about...

Mark Kleiman, as shrill a Bush-hater as there is, proposes "Honest, competent government to defend the country, families, and liberty". I'll give Mark credit for being able to count to ten, but his skills at jingle-writing makes me think of the old cliche, that it is best if he keeps his day job...

See, to be effective, a motto/jingle/slogan has to capture a niche that (1) is not already identified with a competitor and (2) is not easily usurped by a competitor. For example, as Kleiman says, the GOP pretty much stands for "low taxes, traditional family values and a strong military". Nobody hearing this slogan would think of Democrats. And it's all but impossible for the Democrats to outflank the GOP on any of the three legs of that slogan (although I would love to see them try to out-tax cut the GOP).

But Kleiman's slogan doesn't do that for the Democrats. EACH PLANK is either an issue on which the GOP first comes to mind or an issue on which the Democrats have no credibility. The Republicans aleady own 'defend'. The GOP owns 'families', at least the way most people define families (now, if the Democrats wanted to claim non-traditional families as their base, they're welcome to it). 'Honest and competent' are legs on which both the GOP and the Democrats have used, so much so that the Democrats can't hope to claim it as their own (and the Democrats won't be able to claim 'honest' as their own, not so long as the two Clintons are still on the scene). And the Democrats will go nowhere with 'liberty': combine the Republicans who have staked out the high ground on liberty (defined as freedom from government intrusion into one's life) with the Democrats historical bias towards more and more involvement in every aspect of life today (It takes a village) and the Democrats just aren't credible here either.

Now, what would work for the Democrats? Well, let's start by looking at what they are now associated with. High(er) taxes. Minority group entitlements. Antipathy towards using the US military in anything but 'peace-keeping' activities and then only if the 'world community' has blessed the mission. Elitism (defined as thinking they ought to be able to tell us how to live our lives). Thinking that most businesses are evil. Hatred of organized religion and of those who actually go to church.

Ah, that's more than 10 words.... I guess I'll have to start editing...