Friday, July 08, 2005

Surely Dean Can Do Better Than That

Howard Dean, appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart blew an opportunity. When asked what Democrats would do if in office Dean (who is better than most Democrats at framing) talked policy instead of the broad moral values that Democrats will fight for when in office.
Stewart: The thing that I always find is I don't know what the Democrats would do, if let's say tomorrow you were in office, specifically what they would do. That seems to be the thing that people have toughest time wrapping their heads arround.

Dean: First of all I'll give you an issues list but that's not the important part. Balancing the budget, we want health care for every single american, we want a strong defense that involves cooperating with other countries instead of spitting on them.

Dean went on to say "love thy neighbor as thyself and you don't get to choose your neighbors, I mean we're all in this together." That's a fine answer in some ways at the end, but it fails to answer the question Stewart was really driving at "What is the core philosophy/values of the Democratic Party, how would you govern?" You can talk all you want about issues, and you can talk all you want about everyone being in this together, but the answer to that question has to be a short five or six word phrase that Democrats can repeat over and over again. Here's how I would have Dean answer Stewart's question:
Stewart: The thing that I always find is I don't know what the Democrats would do, if let's say tomorrow you were in office, specifically what they would do. That seems to be the thing that people have toughest time wrapping their heads arround.

Dean: Democrats want a safer world, equity, and responsible government. Republicans have failed the American people in all these respects, they have pursued a foreign policy that has made us less safe from terrorism. Democrats want a strong defense that involves cooperating with other countries instead of spitting on them. We want health care for every American, we want a balanced budget, and we won't interfere in the personal decisions of everyday Americans.

Had a Republican been on the show and Stewart asked a question like that the answer would have started with "Republicans want smaller government, lower taxes, and moral values." The Republican then would have attached that to their platform. Democrats on the other hand cannot seem to create a coherent moral/philosofical message that Americans can "wrap their heads arround." From "safer world, equity, and responsible government" all Democratic policies can come from that. Markos Moulitsas over at DailyKos has argued for the brand to be,
Smart Government
Privacy
Conservation
Opportunity
US Leadership

There are at least 1,000 other short lists of the core Democratic values that don't reduce us to our specific issues and policy positions. Democrats at the very least must use something, we can't continue to list twenty thousand policy positions and then some vague catch-phrase that we're calling a "moral value." It's got to be a specific listing of our values, not a specific listing of policies, or a vague meaningless value, but our most essential core values from which everything else derives.

Cross Posted at DailyKos

1 comment:

Abe said...

The Republicans have not fiald us on the war on terrorism. President Bush has done a good job for the most part and thank god we havn't had another attack since 9/11.