The Political Werewolf
If you know me, then you know I'm a big political nut. So, I've decided to add my own personal flavor to the realm of political discussion. We'll be talking about various issues - some of them having to do with current events, others perhaps more on a philosophical level. But in any case, you're free to respond to whatever you read here, either by E-mail or on the message board.
All righty, here we go.
Bitter in Beantown
Today marks the first day of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. While it's been argued recently that the whole concept of a national convention has become more pageantry than it is pertinent to the actual political process, that won't change the fact that for the next four days, our television sets will be saturated with the goings-on at the Fleet Center in Boston. (Not to say that much the same thing won't happen in New York for the Republican Convention, but in any case, this is pretty much the only thing you're gonna see on the news for a while.
In the past, conventions have been used as a means to really get your platform straight as a party. So it should be quite interesting to see what's going to happen at the Democratic Convention. For the last eight months, while the primaries were taking place, the candidates were doing their best to appeal to their base, and they didn't have to do much to accomplish that other than slam Bush. Now that their task is to appeal to the masses, I dare say that four straight days of "Bush lied, kids died" is not going to go over well with Mr. and Mrs. America.
That means that they're going to have to change their message, or at least tone it down. Ideally, they ought to be preparing their platform to attract more moderate voters. But you see, that's where they start getting in trouble. Thanks to the supernova performance of Howard Dean, the ticket's been dragged to the left quite a bit. Moderate candidates like Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt (for whom the definition of "moderate" needs to be stretched quite a bit) have been tossed on the side of the road. The stable of speakers for this year's convention are liberal through and through. Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton will be giving speeches during the convention, not to mention Bill Clinton absorbing more spotlight. And that's not even mentioning Kerry and Edwards themselves, who make up the most liberal ticket since 1984's platform of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.
The other big problem that will face the Democratic party is the reputation that they've been developing of being purely anti-Bush. If you're running for President - hell, if you're running for any office - nobody's oging to vote for you unles you give them a reason to. And that doesn't mean laying the tar and feathers on your opponent. Ask Mondale, Dole, Lazio, and Bill Simon how far that got them. If you want to win an election, you have to convince your electorate that you're the best man for the job, especially when we're deciding between the devil we know and the devil we don't know.
Unfortunately (well, not really), the Democrats aren't running on how well they can do things. They're more interested in repeating the same old things over and over:
You may not have heard all of these yet, but believe me, you will. It's the last page in the Democratic party's playbook, a strategy that they use each and every election to those voters they fear would abandon them if they knew the truth: continue engaging in a method of divide-and-conquer politics, where you make your constituents into martyrs and those on the other side to be contemptuous beasts who seek no higher cause than to invoke suffering and destitution on you.
Is it any real surprise that the Democratic party's voting block isn't really a block, but more of a mishmash of myriad little groups with one tunnel vision-like focus? You have the poor, the minorities, the seniors, the environmentalists, the feminists, the labor unions, and the pacifists. This isn't a united front. Sure, they'll go along with the party politics of the day even if it doesn't involve them directly - the NAACP doesn't tend to issues of senior prescription drugs any more than Greenpeace cares about laborers' rights. In fact, the Democratic party has gotten into hot water in the past, because issues have come up which forces them to choose between interest groups. Conservatives, by and large, derive their political philosophy from one main premise. Whether it's gun control or taxes, the war on terror or the presence of religion in public, most conservatives are that way across the line. Part of the reason why you see fewer conservative special interest groups is because we all care about the same issues equally.
Political conventions may be old hat to some, but they still have a very important function: to put a face to the party that's attending. In this year's Democratic Convention, the faces that you'll see embody what the party is populated with today: liberal elitists (like Kerry and Ted Kennedy), opportunists seeking personal power (like Hillary Clinton and her husband), weak-kneed pacifists (such as Jimmy Carter), conspiracy theorists (like Dennis Kucinich), and people blinded with rage (such as Howard Dean and Al Gore). They're all speaking at the convention, and the country isn't going to like what they hear.