See article on Politico.
There is a fundamental problem with being a Democrat. The problem is quite simple, yet complex in an ironic sort of way. The issue is Democrats' inability to discuss positions in short, mind-numbing, explanations. There are two main reasons why Democrats struggle with delivering a clear, concise message:
- Democratic ideas are more complex and difficult to deliver in one line statements.
- Democrats, as a party, are splintered into several groups made up of various demographics.
Democrats have a fundamental problem of controlling the message. There is a saying which sums up debate in politics, “If you are explaining, you’re losing.” Republicans understand this concept and have perfected it in all aspects of conversation. Here are some uniformed Republican responses:
-How would you strengthen the economy? Cut taxes so employers have more money to hire.
-Talk about your stance on government? Inefficient and should be cut.
-How would you improve education? Remove teachers unions and develop charter schools.
Right wing talking points are precise and effective. Republicans believe government is the problem, so obstructionism is an effective part of the strategy, and help reinforce the right’s platform of smaller government. Republicans have a better chance of taking House and Senate seats the lower the approval rating is because “government does not work”.
Democrats have a much different perspective. Government has the ability to solve many of our Nations’ problems, so explaining the role of government in any conversation becomes difficult. For example, Obamacare has critical pieces of legislation that protect consumers and lower costs of prescription drugs. However, discussing a Democrat’s perspective of healthcare legislation takes several minutes as one tries to identify the issues, and then explain the solution.
If there is one fundamental problem President Obama has encountered, it is controlling the message. Today, very few citizens can recite what the stimulus package or President Obama’s education legislation accomplished for this nation. These types of programs cannot be explained in short 45 second sound bites which allow the opposing view to crowd out the rationale. President Bush was the opposite. Most of his policies were highly problematic for the country, but the messaging was so effective it won him reelection in 2004.
The second problem surrounding discussion is the demographics of the Democratic Party. Democrats as a whole have varying views on key social issues and platforms. Ask ten different Democrats a question, and you will potentially hear ten different responses. Some might argue this demonstrates how disorganized the party is. Democrats would argue this is what makes the party great. Politics is not about perfect alignment, it’s about constructive discussion that resolves in a unified solution. The founders of this nation were splintered in discussing the role of government, but they were passionate about compromising which led to a collective decision. Democrats won in 2008 largely because moderates flocked away from the rigorous views of the right and were welcomed with open arms by the left. You could be pro-life and be Democrat (Harry Reid is). You could support corporations and be a Democrat. You could be a fiscal conservative and be a Democrat.
Regardless of these varying degrees of opinions on key Democrat platforms, government has the capacity to solve many of our Nations’ problems. This is the only unformed principle fully supported by all party members.
Democrats need to understand these two principles when sharing their ideas in conversations. Although the immediate and easy response is to leverage anti-Republicans slander in debates, Democrats have the data and vision to be leaders of solutions and change, not part of the cynical problem and robust pessimism. Republicans use short, concise talking points to paint problems black and white in one quick stroke. Democrats should take the lead in fostering debate and discussion, understanding that internal differences place the party in the best position to represent the majority.
Each election year, the Church predictably issues statements affirming its political neutrality, which I find both refreshing and reassuring amid all of the mingling of scripture with the philosophies of men that we see in many churches. A few decades ago, during a presidential election season, President Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency stated the following at a BYU commencement address:
You young people are leaving your university at the time in which our nation is engaged in an abrasive and increasingly strident process of electing a president. I wonder if you would permit me, one who has managed to survive a number of these events, to pass on to you a few words of counsel.
First I would like you to be reassured that the leaders of both major political parties in this land are men of integrity and unquestioned patriotism. Beware of those who feel obliged to prove their own patriotism by calling into question the loyalty of others. Be skeptical of those who attempt to demonstrate their love of country by demeaning its institutions. Know that men of both major political parties who bear the nation’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches are men of unquestioned loyalty and we should stand by and support them, and this refers not only to one party but to all. Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion and a depth of spirit which enables you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of your definition of religious orthodoxy variation of political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent. (emphasis added)Read more
I was asked to critique why Barack Obama's Speech on Race was good/great - March 18, 2008
Where we should start is the assumption that this speech is good/great. I guess the issue I have always had comes not with the content (I think the content is remarkable) but the timing. I remember quite clearly the context that drove these remarks (and even more problematic for Obama were the comments that came after). This entire speech was a deflection and a political maneuver around Rev. Wright’s salacious comments. Does the context then taint the content?
In this speech, Obama is masterful at playing both sides of the race argument, from society's grind on minorities, to reverse discrimination found in programs like affirmative action. He is amazing at positioning himself somewhere in the middle as you would expect a pragmatist would. His speech intends to unify, not divide, and he delivers the remarks from a vantage point where one would not question his experiences or his positioning.
With that being said he touches very little on the new race that divides our nation, and he focuses on areas that are safe. He ventures very little on the new Brown vs. Board of Education or the segregation developing in politics. The greatest divide we currently face in this nation, is not color or creed, but political affiliation. It’s hard to deny that Obama is a beneficiary of race, or his personal story places him in the persuasive middle of the color argument. This is why the race subject is safe for him. But the destructive forces of political posturing are overcoming this nation and dividing us from within.
Why have we come this far? Why does Obama’s name create sudden divide in the masses? Why do we venture to the point of routing for failure just to be right? Why do we fill the pockets of the egocentric individuals whose sole purpose is to divide this great nation? When will we arrive back to the point in time when compromise was the end solution and not a “my way or the highway” mentality? Obama starts his speech with an illustration concerning the Framers of our Constitution. He elicited memories of the first signing of the Constitution by individuals who were no more philosophically divided then the people are today. The difference? Compromise was sought in all matters. The original patriots were able to lock themselves in a room and work together to arrive at a common outcome. No 24 hour CSPAN to record what today would be perceived as weakness. No media filtration to paint a picture supporting their viewer’s perceptions. No posturing that would not be called out for what it really is. Obama has often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. But selective sunlight creates flawed arguments and black marks on political discussions.
We all agree that healthcare needs to be fixed. We all agree that illegal immigration is a problem. We all agree that terrorism threatens our moral standards. We all agree that poverty can be corrected. And we agree that greed is overcoming our capitalistic roots. What we disagree on is government’s role regarding solutions to these issues. But disagreement is not foreign to our political dialogue. Do you think the conservative right was aligned with Reagan’s decision to provide amnesty to four million illegal immigrants? Or the liberal left was aligned to Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act? With 300+ million citizens disagreements will come. The problem we now face is our tolerance with reaching across the aisle to come to a unified agreement.
Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech details very little of this national crisis. Part of me believes that he was naive or miscalculated the political divide we now face. He misjudged the alarming influence the media has on steering opinions instead of presenting facts. Case in point: Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do while on the campaign trail. He passed a stimulus bill. He passed healthcare reform. He passed cap and trade legislation. He increased troops to Afghanistan. Yet his popularity has never been lower.
We as Americans have disingenuous dialogue based on differences not similarities. We seek opposition not unification. We are color coded, not by skin color, but by geography and ideology. We seek to stereotype, not by pedigree, but by affiliation.
The hard reality is that we have no one to blame but ourselves. We do not demand the serious conversation needed to repair the divide. We cater to entertainment instead of enlightenment. Our sources of information are limited to 45 second sound bites; hardly enough information needed for compromising and identifying. In Obama’s speech I remember distinctly his awareness of the success this great country afforded him. He stated that no other country could have vaulted a man from his background to the levels he has now ascertained. As fear and anger creep into our discussions I wonder if ideology becomes the new skin color, and party becomes the new religion. If there is one overarching theme I share with Obama’s speech, it’s that reality needs to drive our perceptions, not perceptions driving our reality.
(My favorite speech Obama has ever delivered was right after he lost the New Hampshire primary to Hillary Clinton)
I think I could safely say that one of the things that prompted this discussion in the first place was the regret that’s felt about the decline of the Democratic Party [in Utah] and the notion that may prevail in some areas that you can’t be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time. There have been some awfully good men and women who have, I think, been both and are both today. So I think it would be a very healthy thing for the church—particularly the Utah church—if that notion could be obliterated.
With the 2008 presidential election coming into play, I thought I would write five reasons why each candidate will win in November:
- Money.Money wins elections. Money allows the candidate to reach even the most remote constituents, and control the strategy of the election. Barack Obama is on course to raise more money from donors then any other presidential candidate. Even more remarkable, is his refusal to take lobbyist and PAC money. Many are projecting him to double the intake of opponent John McCain. Barack’s war chest will allow him to play in states previously deemed Republican strongholds. The most recent whisperings is that Obama is trying to putArizona, McCain’s home state, into play!
- Voter Turnout. Perhaps the most remarkable statistic in this year's primary season was voter turnout. The Democratic primaries recorded 40 million voters compared to 20 million Republican voters. It is fair to say that the main driver of the vast amount of Democratic votes came from a tight race between Obama and Clinton, however, voter turnout was astounding.
- State of the GOP. The GOP’s popularity is alarmingly low. Scandals over the past several years have predominantly come from the GOP side, and President Bush’s approval ratings are at an all time low. History shows that incumbent parties with low popularity numbers have a daunting task toward reelection.
- Voter’s number one concern. Barack is favored when the economy is America’s number one concern. Democrats have always been associated with a stronger economy. This can be attributed to two reasons: theory and luck. If there is one positive aspect of the Bush presidency, it will be the crumbling of supply side economic theory. Democrats have always followed a Keynesian approach to the economy, which offers a more stable solution to our economic woes. Luck is also a factor, as the association of a Democratic president controlling the White House through the tech stock boom of the 90’s offer voters a false sense of security.
- Lack of experience. I have been approached with concerns from friends and family about Barack’s experience. From my point of view this is one of his greatest assets. When the elections heat up, Obama will have more of McCain’s votes to scrutinize then McCain will have of Obama’s. Many political pundits believe this is exactly why Kerry lost in 2004. There is a reason that the last five of six presidents never served in congress. Compromise and activity are fundamentals of Senate members, each leaving a political trail that can be dissected and rehashed. Obama’s lack of experience also allows him to be painted as an outsider. With Americans disenchanted withWashington’s current political state, electing an official (McCain) deemed part of the problem is favorable to the inexperienced.
- Voter turnout (I know I put this for Obama):Over the past several elections Republicans are better at turning out the vote in November. This is largely due to the voter population and key constituents of the Republican Party. Many voters assume that the lower class would provide a boost to the Democrats, given their dedication to bigger government. This is incorrect. The dirty little secret is that the poor do not vote. Republican turnout is also strongest where needed most, in swing states.
- Independents. Rewind four years prior and you will find a very different John McCain. McCain was very persuasive in the Senate and deemed the title of Maverick. He worked across party lines and was the first to blast incompetent members of his own party and their policies. It was during this time that he won the respect of Independents, and has managed to keep their loyalty through his current positions. Independents are the sole group that determines the presidency, and McCain has their ear.
- Security. The GOP and John McCain are associated with stronger security. With the War on Terror resonating in voter’s minds, McCain is viewed as the candidate tougher on our enemies. The vast stance on Presidential visits to rouge nations between McCain and Obama is one disagreement that will be capitalized this election season.
- A Real American Hero. What US citizen is not enchanted with John McCain’s POW story? The son and grandson of Admirals, McCain comes across as the more patriotic candidate and a leader in times of fear and distrust. McCain will prey on Obama’s lack of military experience and paint his opponent as soft on crime and terrorism.
- Republicans are better at politics. From Swift Boat malice, to talking point propaganda, the Republicans are better at controlling the conversation. Their sales pitch is sweet and direct, while Democrats are more theoretical and not as constrained. Media outlets are Republican controlled and influenced. Cutting taxes, banning abortion, and stopping gay marriage are direct and unmistakable. WithAmerica’s short attention span, Democrats do not carry the ear of the voter long enough to explain their position.
There you have it, five reasons as to why each candidate will win in November. It will be interesting to watch the election unfold, and I am sure I will have many more posts in the months to come.
You seem quick to give up the crown. With McCain winning the Republican nomination, I am not so sure Obama can pull it off. He still has to get by Hillary, who I believe, would have even more trouble against McCain.I will take the idealist comment in a positive light, but its more then that. I am tired of partisan politics; I am tired of compromise not being the underlying principal of the congress. What I am really tired of is exactly what we need more of...shorter memories. I find it interesting the current flack that Democrats receive when Republicans have proven themselves even more inept at managing fiscal policy. Earmarks are out of control, and have been for the past decade. I commend your boss' work on this subject, but do not get caught in the trap of partisan rhetoric. I am sure, for the next couple of years, Democrats will mimic their opponents past behavior.But remember, I sat on the side screaming into an abyss through the previous six years when legislation such as the Medicare 2003 bill was passed, and from 05-06 when real legislation was replaced with pork. Does that justify the Dems actions? Probably not. But let's not sit on the side and convince ourselves that the Republicans would not be doing the exact same thing if they still maintained power.
There will be waste, I do not disagree with your comment. But realistically, what corporate entity is running at 100% efficiency? Not even my company would state that waste is not a problem. Short of running every federal agent through six sigma (joke), waste will be a problem. However, do not believe for a second that this is a partisan problem.
Government should be there to help the people it represents. Unfortunately, all I see is corporations being the true beneficiaries of recent legislation. And government should be very leery when dealing with business. Even the passed bill for the mortgage bailout did little to help the people, but much to cut the losses of the banks that undertook the risk. Talk about anti-capitalism. Or how about the fact that the largest buyer of drugs, pays the highest price...Adam Smith is probably rolling over in his grave.
Yes, Democrats might not make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but they never should have passed in the first place. They were based on conditions that were preposterous to begin with (ie. economy would continue at the trajectory of the 90's), and when in the history of the US have tax cuts ever been enacted in war time? I commend John McCain for voting against them. And let's be honest, how much does rolling back the Bush tax cuts impact 90% of the people? And no, I do not believe the Bush tax cuts served any real purpose, especially when discussing impacts on the economy. As far as the comment about looking forward to more tax increases...a solid talking point with minimal credibility. I guess the majority of the right sees the expiration of the Bush tax cuts as raising taxes, but I disagree. Its time for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, and though the Dems might not be perfect in this regard, I can not believe it can be any worse then the previous seven years. (I would love to discuss with you the hidden tax of inflation...)
This is not about saving the world, but helping those in need. I don't believe the Democrats have all the answers, but I will say they are a bit more transparent (you don't have to write me on this point, I know you probably disagree). But as Adam Smith was weary of large corporations, so am I (ironic I work for one of the largest). I believe that McCain is the front runner for November, but I take solace in the number of seats that will be picked up in the House and Senate. McCain or Obama are capable of running the country with my support, and even Hillary will be a vast improvement over President Bush. I must say, I like where this country is headed, which is the first time I have made such a statement in about six years.
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2008 8:11 AM
Subject: Re: FW: Off to the Races...
Obama looks great, has it all to take it. Kenyan father, Georgian white mother. Father leaves them, works hard in some of our best universities, and takes a pro-bono type job after all is said and done. He's an inspiring, charismatic- leader type. I predict he will be the next pres. Only, I don't agree at all with his policies.
You're right, Dems want to give you the moon, but sometimes there are those that would rather not have the moon--they're shooting for Mars or beyond.
Anyway, this city will be completely different next year--just like when Clinton was in the WH and Dems in majority. I'm not looking forward to more tax increases--and more government organizations that proclaim they will save the world! They are wasteful, I've seen it, lived with those that work with them who also agree. You can be an idealist as a student when it's not real life, but as soon as you start paying the bills--quickly realize sadly, it is about capital.
So congrats to you on your win...and here's to 4, maybe 8 years of "uniting America".
As many of you have probably guessed, the change in the control of the House and Senate is welcomed by me. Oversight, balance, and hopefully bipartisanship will be restored to the federal government, in hopes that the divided America will champion both sides of the argument.
I have also discussed with friends and family the expectations of the new Democratic powers. Interestingly enough, other perspectives are a bit more extensive then mine. I suspect that Democrats will work with President Bush to raise the minimum wage, find common ground on immigration, and work out a plan to fix the Medicare system. For those who believe that the Iraq policy will be reversed, or that taxes will increase, you have watched one too many campaign commercials. There is a larger focus of the Democrats’ control of congress, November of 2008.
Waiting for the Clinton/Obama ticket (just guessing), Democrats in the House will be careful with their oversight. They will not cut funding for the Iraqi war to change policy, as was done withVietnam, and they will not use any pre-war miscalculations to punish President Bush. They will use their political soapbox to weed out corruption, and try to exploit findings involving their Republican colleagues. They will not try to pass any drastic legislation that will hurt their popularity with the moderate voter. Plus, the President maintains veto power, and will probably use it more than just once as in the previous six years. The Democrats will use their renewed power to restage committee heads, and bring legislation to the floor that benefits their agenda. The leadership might sponsor wedge issues that hurt the President’s popularity, like stem cell research.
I believe that the congressional changing of the guard is not a vote for the policies of the Democrats, but a referendum of the actions of the Republicans. Democrats have earned about as much “political capital” as Bush in 2004, and hopefully will maintain a better track record. As Jon Stewart put it, “Democrats played the role of the boy who left the room as his brother is punished for burning the garage down”. I am excited to see the power shift, and hopefully it will lead to a better America.
Any Fox Network viewer will tell you that the consequences for Democrats taking back the two houses of congress are catastrophic. Partisan fighting would continue, the war on terror would take a massive blow, and the possibility of presidential impeachment would loom. And though each of these concerns are unfounded and almost laughable (do you think the Democrats would impeach President Bush to put Cheney in power?), there will be some major changes that will occur.
The legislation that will be introduced “within five minutes,” as Nancy Pelosi notes, is the proposal to let the government negotiate drug prices. In a country seeded with capitalistic roots, how does the largest purchaser of drugs forfeit negotiating power? The very idea is perplexing. In 2003 when the congress passed a bill banning governmental negotiating, the idea was to let the third party insurance companies use their understanding of the industry to navigate prices. However, what happened next did not surprise the minority party. The drug prices paid by Medicaid/Medicare increased 10% a year since the law went into effect. Even more startling, the Veterans Benefits, which are not part of this legislation, buy their drugs at 50%-60% of the prices Medicare pays, though they purchase a fraction of the volume.
Yes, Big Pharma is worried; and rightfully so. They have already poured $500,000 in to Rick Santorum’s close race (the leading proponent of the 2003 Medicare bill), and multiple others across the country. If the Democrats do impeach President Bush, it will be long after drug prices drop.
(A great article can be found in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Fearing a Democratic Victory, Drug Makers Fund Key Races.”)