Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Democrats Cede the Ideas Market to the GOP - That's a Feat!

Democrats apparently failed to turn out their base in Florida and elsewhere. How much of a surprise is that given that, as usual, the Democrats did not seem to stand for anything and therefore let the Republicans frame the issues?

It seems all the Democrats talked about was “outside money.” The Koch Brothers failed spectacularly in 2012, when Obama was on the ballot. The Democrats said nothing this time to get their base voters off their couches.

The Democrats ran scared of Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and their entire legislative record. They therefore let the Republicans, who offered no program but not-Obama, totally frame the debate. 

Did Democrats say “I’m for Obama when he’s right, and he’s been right more than he’s been wrong”? Or “the Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, but are they willing to allow the insurance companies to return to the bad old days of refusing to insure people with pre-existing conditions”? 
Did Democrats remind people that it was the Republicans who prevented this country from rebuilding its infrastructure back in 2009 and 2010, preventing a jump-start of the economy that could have meant millions of good jobs and laid the framework for decades of economic growth, or did they run from the issue?
Did Democrats talk about global warming and show that Republican opposition to dealing with it created a present threat to us? 
Did Democrats point out that the Republicans had gutted our public health system?
Did Democrats defend the reforms in the financial markets and show how the Republicans threaten another financial collapse if they dismantle those reforms?
If so, I didn’t hear it or see it.

As usual, the Democrats seemed to be afraid of talking about ideas. As usual, they ceded the “idea market” to the Republicans. Now that was a feat.

How many times can you expect to rouse people with little more than “they’re going to take away your Medicare and Social Security!”? Is there a single Democrat who said “Yes, in the next ten years it looks like we’re going to have to make some changes to Medicare and Social Security, but there’s no need for panic now”? If so, I saw no evidence of it.
Democratic strategists will say that these issues are too complicated to talk about in campaign commercials. Well, if that’s the case, how do plaintiffs ever win lawsuits involving complicated scientific or financial issues? And the messages that the Democrats did deliver surely didn’t work.

[A modified version of this post appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Miami Herald, November 8, 2014.]

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