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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why Democrats Vote, Part Deux

A little while ago, I posted some thoughts on why Democrats vote. The new FISA drama has made me think again about why right-wing frames (such as "Democrats are weak on National Security!!111!!!") work so well against liberals, and what we can do to change that current reality.

One of the most die-hard of these right-wing frames is that liberals "hate America." Why in the world would conservatives think that, we liberals wonder? We love America. We love America so much that we want her to have the best government possible. Can't these idiotic conservative buttheads understand the difference between hating America and hating America's government and policies?

Well, maybe they can't. And's partially our fault, because we do things like this.

You see, we liberals don't choose our symbols wisely. If we are upset with the government, we should not burn a flag. The flag is not Democratic, Republican or Rosicrucian. It is simply a symbol of America itself. Why would we burn a symbol of America...if we don't hate America?

Now, who is the idiot - the one that draws simple conclusions from symbolic acts, or the one that doesn't understand what conclusions will be drawn from these very same acts?

No one understands the power of framing and symbols better than Hillary Clinton, who was re-elected in 2006 with 67% of the popular vote. Senator Clinton took a lot of flak from self-professed "progressives" because she co-sponsored a bill to make it illegal, in certain circumstances, to burn the flag.

Take a look, for example, at this rambling, factually-challenged screed from Markos Moulitsas in 2006. It condemns Hillary for her flag-burning bill, among other things. It's quite the rant. (Apparently Kos has been an unoriginal, power-hungry Hillary Hater for a lot longer than I thought. Who knew?)

In any case, Clinton got it from all sides. She was pandering to conservatives. She was wasting her time on stupid legislation. Etc. etc. etc.

Well, you know what? It worked. Because symbols are IMPORTANT. Why don't we get that?

We don't get that because we don't listen. We arrogantly assume that people who think liberals hate America are stupid, and unworthy of our time and attention. Yes, we do this even to registered Democrats! Hillary listened and she understood. Burning the flag is like burning the Constitution. You can make your point, but make it another way.

And here's another thing Democrats are dumb about: We don't respect our own voters. You will never, NEVER see Republicans publicly sneering at other Republicans and double-dog-daring them to vote for Democrats. In fact, McCain is now openly courting the PUMAs - pointing out how rude Obama's supporters are, meeting with 75 PUMA members privately and reassuring them that he is not the scary neo-con freak he appears to be. And let me emphasize that most PUMAs are - or used to be - registered Democrats.

So why, why, WHY hasn't Barack Obama done the same thing? Why doesn't he acknowledge the very real concerns that we PUMAs have about him? Why doesn't he reassure us that he is not the petty, arrogant, immature, religio-con thug that he appears to be?

I'll tell you why. Because Obama, like a lot of Party Leaders, blames the voters when they don't vote for him. The BitterCling remarks and the boring and oft-repeated cries of racism are just two examples of this phenomenon. Republicans never, never blame their voters for not voting for them. They do everything they can to get every possible vote - including counting votes that aren't even there, a la Ohio in 2004! (I'm not advocating for THAT, of course.)

If we Democrats don't get a clue, very soon, as to why Democrats vote, we will be on our way to Party extinction along with the Republics.

Maybe that's a good thing. Should Hillary not become the nominee, I hope that after the 2009 election of John McCain, she and Bill Clinton use their personal and political clout to push a third party into national prominence. My pick would be the liberal Working Families Party, which is based in New York (perfect for a New York Senator). Then, she could run again in 2012 without all the interference, hamstringing and backstabbing from the Democrats.

I'll bet she'd win in a landslide. Because Hillary understands...why Democrats vote.

(cross-posted at The Confluence)


Timmy B said...

Dems need to work much harder with Independents too.

I think Dems tend to be too passive about attacking first. The "We have to be nice" party. Bloggers (ahem) seem to realize this and seem to be way ahead of the game.

waldenpond said...

Obama does not need to suck up to dems, he's not a dem. With Clinton we would have something, with Obama nothing. He is a product and nothing more.

Obama has backed off on Iraq (his followers now think it appropriate to stay) and Nafta (the benefits outweigh the negatives) and BTD thinks it great that Obama has admitted he's a lying politician.. it's so NEW.

I think Obama will win easily. Fads last a year or more and that will get Obama through Nov. It disgusts me to think that people will twist themselves to justify the incompetance of Obama.

madamab said...

waldenpond - Don't kid yourself. It's going to be a very close election. Rasmussen has Obama and McCain at 44-43 in Ohio - McCain ahead.

Nothing is going to happen until after the Convention. We are in a dead time, because it's the summer and the incredibly addictive primary is over. It's a letdown that now there are only two.

Timmy B is right - Democrats have to be very proactive in order to counter the right-wing scream machine. Unfortunately, the thing to do with Obama would have been to tell him, "Get some more experience, distance yourself from your questionable associations, then run in 2016." At this point, he is a disaster waiting to happen.


Judith said...

No, WE don't do things like that. I don't know who that is in that photo but it isn't me. So I'd rather not be included in that remark.

And still I do believe in protected speech---the flag is a symbol, burning it is not burning the country. You could burn photos of yourself all day and not even get a tan. Much as I like Hillary, I think an anti-flag burning ammendment is dopey, and leads to the circular firing squad Dems are famous for. It also smells like Republican lite, to Independants and Republicans, as well as to me. I would like to see actual stats on just how huge an epidemic there is of flag-burning.

While I don't want to see that kind of political speech outlawed, I do think it is amazingly stupid, because it generally works against the speaker, sealing the heart and mind of the viewers against the speaker. Go up to your neighbor, take out a photo of their family, and spit on it-----then ask him to vote for you for mayor. Nagahappen. He won't help you fix your fence either.

We need less polarizing arrogance, not more. And while it sounds like that is what Obama is for in his literature, of course he is as polarizing or more than the next guy.