So why does it feel like the Democrats lost in 2008?
I think it’s because the Democrats have turned losing into an art form. You know how they say a good dancer makes it look easy? That’s the Dems. They make winning look like losing, and losing look like the eternal hell-fires of damnation.
The left could learn a few things from the right. To wit:
1) The right talks to average people.
Even unabashed progressive Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) thought that it was smart to talk to the people. A while back he went to a Tea Party to see what all the fuss was about. His takeaway was that the Tea Partiers felt pushed aside and forgotten by their government.
In the last three decades, the middle class has been trampled and is currently on life support. Families that have never before had trouble are homeless and bankrupt. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently laid it all out in “This Is Not a Recovery.”
Krugman begs for government action before the economy gets any worse, but a reader makes this salient point: “As enlightening as your commentary always is, it assumes that policy makers have the interest of the average American, and in particular the unemployed, at heart.”
The pernicious influence of lobbyists and big donors is well documented and, by now, firmly entrenched. Woe is us.
Since the Democrats are in up to their necks in fundraising, just like the Republicans, I suspect action is out of the question for either party. But talking? Republicans win by a country mile.
2) The right is putting moves on every female with an ounce of political ambition.
Anna Holmes, founding editor of jezebel.com, and Rebecca Traister, author of the forthcoming book “Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women,” make this point in “A Palin of Our Own.”
Sure, the Grizzlies sound somewhat progressive on paper. But from their opposition to reproductive rights to their work against health care reform and labor policies that would empower American women, their ideas are just antiquated clichés dressed up in designer suits. Like Ms. Palin herself, their talk about being ‘mama bears’ and ‘tough as an ox . . . wearing lipstick’ simply reduces female candidates’ political prospects to maternal worth and sex appeal.
But Holmes and Traister don’t let Democrats off the hook. Look, they say, at the way Hillary Clinton was treated by her own party: “Indeed, [Clinton] is most appreciated when she plays well with others in the Senate or the State Department; when she behaves like a fierce competitor, she is compared to Glenn Close’s bunny-boiling virago from ‘Fatal Attraction.’ ”
So what’s the deal, Democrats? Spinal problems again? You know what they say: If you want to be loved, you gotta love yourself first.
4) When the right tells lies, they do so in plain language, not bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. Obama is not an American citizen! There — simple. Glad that’s settled.
The mush-mouths in Obama’s circle of money men are insufferable. Banks are kicking homeowners to the curb and the unemployed will soon begin their second or even third year of job hunting. And what’s the verdict from Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve? Just a few days ago, he came down from the mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyo., to address the American people:
Falling into deflation is not a significant risk for the United States at this time, but that is true in part because the public understands that the Federal Reserve will be vigilant and proactive in addressing significant further disinflation. It is worthwhile to note that, if deflation risks were to increase, the benefit-cost trade-offs of some of our policy tools could become significantly more favorable.
I think Mr. Bernanke was really saying: You’re hosed. While there are things the Federal Reserve can do, none of them will help. If they did, we’d have done them by now. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some hot chocolate waiting for me in the lodge.
5) The right acts like they own the American narrative.
Why? Because they do own it. And possession is nine-tenths of the law.
The Republican party used to be the home of libertarians and businessmen, but in the 1960s that message lost its mojo. As they flailed around for an alternative, they came across freedom, honor, sacrifice, integrity and love thy neighbor just dumped out on the lawn at the Democratic yard sale.
I read Sarah Palin’s D.C. rally speech about the three soldiers who stood in harm’s way and lived to tell the tale. It’s impossible to be unmoved by stories like these. But I’ve written such stories myself, and any Democratic firefighter or cop in New York City could claim the exact same motives for their work.
Brotherhood, sisterhood, the desire to protect the weak and the longing to make the world a better place isn’t about being a Republican or Democrat, or even American. It’s about being a decent human being.
There’s no question that our country is deeply divided. You may find yourself wondering how so many respectable, intelligent people could be so fiercely on opposite sides of an issue.
Author and geneticist Spencer Wells has a theory that dates back to our hunter-gatherer roots. Our brains are hardwired to take off at the first sign of trouble, Wells explains. Nature designed us to live in groups of about 150. More than that, and we flip out to greater or lesser degrees.
Responding to an article on our foundering economy, a Slate.com reader advised: “[Beware] shifts in political power following the economic earthquake. Our debt binge transferred billions from ordinary taxpayers to the wealthy, and from democracies to totalitarian states. It’s made politics less rational as people get more upset. It’s given Western democracies less room to maneuver in policy terms, reduced our soft and hard power, made us more vulnerable to crises.”
If you really listen to the left and the right, you’ll conclude both sides feel abandoned and dismissed by our government. Neither side believes they have a place at the table, no matter which party is in power.
What if people on the left and the right feel powerless not because of propaganda, not because of hate radio, not because of liberal media, but rather because they sense it’s the truth?
[originally published by Politics Daily in 2010; this post was included on abcnews.com’s list of must-reads for September 2, 2010.)