Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 2, 2006

10 WORDS....I'm glad to see the fine folks at National Journal's Hotline are back after a holiday break with a pretty good round-up of political/campaign news from the last two weeks. But like Ezra, I thought one of the items stood out.

Best Good Question To Which I Don't Yet Have An Answer: IA Gov. Tom Vilsack, who asks in a Heartland PAC e-mail "What are your ten words that define the Democratic Party's message?"

Ezra suggests it's crazy to think "a major political party in the world's most powerful country should be able to define its message in ten words." I'm not so sure.

I don't think it's controversial to believe that Democrats need to do a better job with message development and party sales pitches. Matthew Yglesias noted some months back that The American Prospect solicited ideas from readers for a liberal counter to the conservatives' "low taxes, traditional family values, and a strong military" frame -- and the results were hardly encouraging. It'll surprise no one to hear that the left is still dealing with the whole "elevator pitch" problem.

With this in mind, it's not necessarily absurd to think a party's general approach to government can be summarized quickly and easily. Using Yglesias' question, the right's pitch of "low taxes, traditional family values, and a strong military" is only nine words. If you take out "a" and "and," it's seven. Does it even begin to address important policy questions like the environment, the judiciary, health care, the budget, and poverty? Not even a little.

But when the typical voter wants to know what the Republican Party is all about, the GOP has these nine words. The nation won't necessarily hear these nine words and understand where the Republicans fall on every important policy question, but it's a quick summary of what drives the party.

Of course, it doesn't matter whether these ideas are good, fair, or even accurate; it's about whether the Republicans have a coherent idea about guiding principles that they take to voters. They do. Dems are making progress -- admitting you have a problem is always the first step -- but I don't think they're there quite yet. I hope they keep trying.

Over a year ago, Kevin laid out a rough pitch for the left that read, "Equal rights, economic security, personal liberties, and protection from huge corporations." Sure, that's 11 words, but it's clearly on the right track.

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (204)

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Comments

Those 11 words are often contradictory. Republicans make no shame of their motto: Might makes right. Democrats needs a catchier phrase than 11 wonk points, all of which are admireable, but perhaps in opposition to each other.

Posted by: Chris on January 2, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's first attempt is good but there are two avenues for improvement.

1. 'security' is a overloaded and overused term.

2. the last phrase would be less anti-corporate and therefore more appealing to self-described moderates if it's changed to 'corporate responsibility'

Posted by: lib on January 2, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats value peacemaking and justice over warmaking and brute power.

Posted by: bluebird on January 2, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

How about this:

Better jobs, more security, a democratic and sustainable world

Posted by: Brandon Claycomb on January 2, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I can sum it up in 4 words.

Republican Culture of Corruption.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

maybe 'raw power' is better:

Democrats value peacemaking and justice over warmaking and raw power.

Posted by: bluebird on January 2, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

A level playing field.

Posted by: J Bean on January 2, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Liberty, equality, fraternity?

no, too French...

The Prairie Angel

Posted by: Arachnae on January 2, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

of the people, by the people, for the people

Posted by: Emma Zahn on January 2, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Really, can someone tell me why 10 words? Or 20?

Yeah, political parties need an easily understood and coherent message, but isn't this really entirely an exercise in foolishness? How is reducing the whole basic message to 10 or 20 words a sign of anything but verbal facility? Isn't this just political Scrabble?

Posted by: frankly0 on January 2, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans hate America.

Posted by: nut on January 2, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"The corporations that own us are nicer than defense contractors!"

Posted by: redacted on January 2, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats have lost their main power force: unions. Democrats have often defined themselves in relationship to republicans. That needs to stop, unless they want to remain an opposition party. They need to actively rework themselves to be the Constitutional Party. This will mean 1) giving up the bizarre idea of outlawing guns, 2) distancing themselves from the "right" to an abortion 3) working to promote equality of opportunity, if not outcome. 4)maintaining an inclusive concept, rather than promoting exclusiveness (i.e. christianity over all others)
5) focusing on the rights of individuals.

Posted by: Chris on January 2, 2006 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

> Really, can someone tell me why 10 words? Or 20?

Because that is the attention span of the average American. And during campaign season, even Americans who keep an eye on the news tune everything out except the one message driven most powerfully by modern marketing techniques - that is what they have been trained to do, after all (Simpsons had a good episode on that: "the new billboards are telling me what to buy this month!").

Ever been in one of those interminable corporate mission statement meetings? If the mission statement is more than 15 words long, and particularly if it has a subordinate clause, it will not only not work but do actual damage. Same thing here.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on January 2, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

How about this? 'Give & Get A Fair Share. No Free Ride to Freedom.'

The Thugs and their ilk are the ones living off the blood, sweat, & tears of others these days.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on January 2, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I kind of like Kevin's
- Equal rights. I can't wait to see the Dems engaging in the class warfare this one will take. Opposing class warfare by engaging in class warfare...
- Economic security. From the government, right, same stuff Marx offered.
- Personal liberty. The liberties you want here are in direct opposition to the 70% of religious people in America.
- Protection from huge corporations. Enforced by a huge government, good plan. It'll be interesting watching you guys explain how big business is a major problem for Joe Average.

And Brandon, better jobs? How do you think government is going to give people better jobs? Reality might want to intrude on your thinking. More security? It's past time for the Democrats to have any credibility on security. Sustainable world? See if you can sell that one world government to achieve this.

I love you guys.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 2, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats, with the consent of the governed, protect unalienable rights.

(with thanks to the Declaration of Independence)

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 2, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Guns Puppies Beer War Boobs Jesus America

Posted by: Goran on January 2, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly, a 10-word slogan isn't going to save the Dems.

They have to dump the DLC jerkwads first.

The DLC gives the Americans 1 choice. Vote for Republicans, or vote for Dems-in-name-only.

If the DLC dems are not going to advance the Liberal agenda, then what's the point? Clinton sold us out to NAFTA and the DMCA. Too many Liebermans, not enough Feingolds.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"We fight for the common good."

Posted by: Andy James on January 2, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

lib - i really like "corporate responsibility", but no matter what there are going to be excellent angles we can't cover in less then ten words. if, however, we divide it into domestic and foreign policy spheres, that gives us twenty! =D so...

- collective security, defending the vulnerable, and fair trade abroad
- civil liberties, economic sustainability, and a level playing field at home

what am i missing? is "economic sustainability" too similar to "a level playing field"?

Posted by: sayke on January 2, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Equal rights, economic security, personal liberties, and protection from huge corporations."

This is a great summary because while it encapsulates the Democratic party platform, no Republican could agree with any aspect of it without sounding disingenuous or like a sellout and no Republican could disagree with it without coming across like someone dangerous and loathsome.

Posted by: Constantine on January 2, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Tom Delay, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Bill Frist. Not Dems."

or simply:

"DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay DeLay"

Posted by: Boronx on January 2, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Since we can't say everything, how about dropping "protection from huge corporations" and substituting "open, honest government"? Gets it down to 10 words and takes a jab at one of the rethugs' worst crimes.

Posted by: Judy Keim on January 2, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

air, water, food, shelter, safety, security, health,life, liberty, privacy

Posted by: Gerald on January 2, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

We won't torture your children for freedom and national security.

Posted by: Gerald on January 2, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Does it even begin to address important policy questions like the environment, the judiciary, health care, the budget, and poverty? Not even a little.

That's the beauty of it! Contained in the negative space of the GOP pitch is the between-the-lines message: we don't care about those other things.

Except where "the judiciary" is subsumed by "traditional family values" and "the budget" is contained "low taxes."

Posted by: Grumpy on January 2, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"open, honest government"

"In the land of the free, sunlight shines on government business, and the government stays out of yours."

Posted by: Boronx on January 2, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's not the 10 words or 20 but a catchy phrase that Dems should be after.

It should definitely point to the fascistic tendencies and total lack of integrity of the people who are currently in charge.

Posted by: lib on January 2, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Kings are for European fops. If old fashioned American democracy is good enough for you, vote Democrat this december."

Posted by: Boronx on January 2, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Balanced budgets, equal opportunity, rule of law, security through strength.

I think there is much to gain from going back to the "nothing to fear but fear itself" idea. Bush invaded Iraq becuase bin Laden got away at Tora Bora--he panicked, imagining Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons.

We make it clear that Iraq was a panic attack, we can go back to "nothing to fear but fear itself." That's not just good for the Democrats, that's good for America.

Posted by: theorajones on January 2, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

For the Thorocratic party: "Our god wields a mystical hammer. Your god got nailed to a tree. Any questions?"

Posted by: Thorson on January 2, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

kosacks had this very discussion last year..

wrack your brains -- bang your head against the wall
you are trying to answer the wrong question.

the problem isn't the message it is the messenger.

as long as media in us is controlled by corporations there is NO chance of Democrats getting any message across

Posted by: smartone on January 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

You're not a Democrat? Funny that. I thought you were, Steve.

Posted by: Matt Stoller on January 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK


Throw their slogans back at them:

I'm a uniter, not a divider
I'm a war president
It's because they hate our freedoms
It's my job to protect the American people
death taxes, junk lawsuits, blue skies initiative, healthy forests act
On and on they go. Slogans and misleading program names. It's all they have. Fighting for the powerful, as they themselves are powerful, Republicans give you slogans. Fighting for You the People, Democrats give you Peace and Prosperity. Peace and Prosperity. Don't vote for slogans, vote for Peace and Prosperity. Vote Democratic.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

For the first 40 years or so of its existence, the Democratic Party platform, in its entirety, fit on a single page. It has replaced this with reams of detail. The Preamble to the US Constitution contains that document's entire statement of purpose in a single paragraph; the remainder of the Constitution is about process. Today's Democratic Party needs a simple one-page platform that clearly states principles and purposes that all Democrats and most Americans can agree upon, and leave the process to other documents. This would not be a 10 word slogan, but it would certainly be a giant step toward uniting Americans of good will in a common effort to restore honest representative government to this country.

Posted by: Jim Burt on January 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, scrap the DLC, dump the nuance and compromise, rip open your shirts and let your Inner Commie out. That'll work.

For the Thorocratic party: "Our god wields a mystical hammer. Your god got nailed to a tree. Any questions?"

Haw! I got pictures of Thor dressed up like a girl at that giants' party.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 2, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Since the Democrats are the closest thing to a Euro-style coalition party, the chances of coming up with a 10 word summation are nil. Don't you remember the Daily Show from indecision 2004 at the Dem.Convention where Rob Corddry got 15 democrats together,asked them what their #1 issue was and got 15 answers? That IS the Democratic Party,and that's why any gains in 2006 will be short-lived.

Posted by: TJM on January 2, 2006 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

to elaborate on my earlier post, "collective security" seems pretty unambiguous - it means not going it alone. it acknowledges that the international reputation is america and it's government is almost as important as its internal reputation, and that american citizens are not the only stakeholders here. america created the UN with this exact concept in mind.

"defending the vulnerable" is also obvious, and relates most directly to prevention of genocide, slavery, child trafficking, and death by famine/natural disaster. doing so would cost but a pittance, and would improve our reputation much more effectively then feeble attempts at planting stories in newspapers... not to mention that it would actually save precariously dangling lives!

"fair trade", aside from the obvious worker-protection and living-wage implications, means seeking to raise developing nations to developed-nation status as a matter of policy. we should be working towards a world in which foreign workers are paid enough to afford american-made goods. it's that simple.

"civil liberties" has obvious the implications associated with keeping the government out of people's personal lives, including guidelines like don't spy on people without warrants, don't harass gay people or women who want to get an abortion, reduce government secrecy, etc...

"economic sustainability" means aside from the obvious, looking at the economy in light of the larger ecological system which is it put a part of. it means acknowledging that resources are limited, and that foresightful, prudent innovation is the only way we're going to keep ourselves out of some very hot water.

"level playing fields" have a lot in common with defending the vulnerable, actually. more specifically, though, it has to do with returning progressivity to the tax system, returning quality to public education, promoting small businesses, working towards public health care, cutting down on corporate welfare, fighting tax havens and money laundering schemes, and generally seeking to apply the law evenly across the board.

if you've got more to add i wanna hear it! =)

Posted by: sayke on January 2, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Liberty and justice for all" has a nice ring to it...

Posted by: fogey on January 2, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I've flogged this one before: "We're all in this together." The rest is commentary.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on January 2, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

You only need seven or eight words to define what the Democrats' overall message could be and should be:

Democrats: A better life in a better land.

If we go on with the GOP, we'll all continue to lead lesser lives in a lesser land.

Posted by: Jeff on January 2, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I kind of like Kevin's
- Equal rights. I can't wait to see the Dems engaging in the class warfare this one will take. Opposing class warfare by engaging in class warfare...

I can't wait to see the Cons coming right out and arguing against equal rights.

- Economic security. From the government, right, same stuff Marx offered.

Right, the entire broad concept of a social safety net belongs completely to Mao and Stalin. FDR was such a terrible Marxist, wasn't he... thankfully, Bush's views on stuff like Social Security are in the minority.

Out of curiosity, have you ever read Marx? I haven't either, except for some some page-long excerpts. So what exactly do you think Marx offered? Do you know?

- Personal liberty. The liberties you want here are in direct opposition to the 70% of religious people in America.

It's true that they don't want to exercise those rights. And unfortunately, some of them don't agree that those rights exist or should exist. But those people (which is fewer than 70% of all religious people, I think, evinced by the anti-intelligent design consensus) are wrong, their views are unconstitutional, and with a little skill and luck it'll become more apparent that the Republicans are just paying lip service to them anyway. Explain what practical effect all those anti-SSM amendments had, again? Also, Republican [mis]management of government is the best example you could ask for of why bringing government into peoples' personal lives is a bad idea. You really want sodomy laws written by the administration that shipped soldiers' bodies home as freight?

In the end, though, we're both guessing about this part. There's no way to tell who's right about what America "really" values until 2006. And even if there was, that just tells you what's popular, not what's right.

- Protection from huge corporations. Enforced by a huge government, good plan. It'll be interesting watching you guys explain how big business is a major problem for Joe Average.

I didn't have a great feeling about that phrase, but upthread someone suggested replacing it with "corporate responsibility," which I like a lot more. Who could disagree with that? And what [sane] person would argue that today's Republicans encourage it?

... Sustainable world? See if you can sell that one world government to achieve this.

I agree with you that all the "sustainability" blather is really stupid and annoying, but that's because I was an editor of my college newspaper, and the word would appear in every article by certain people. One article that couldn't have been longer than 600 words had the damn "s" word pop up literally ten times. Policy aside, that's just bone-stupid, bad-even-in-high-school writing.

I love you guys.

Posted by: conspiracy nut

We love you too.

Wait. No I don't.

Posted by: Cyrus on January 2, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Better Jobs, Higher Wages, Honesty, Fighting for You

OR

Better Jobs, Higher Wages, Standing up for the Little Guy

Posted by: MattW on January 2, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

The party that will guarantee you won't lose your house if your kids get sick.

Posted by: Al Smith on January 2, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

It is practically an impossible problem. If I were to reduce the Republican slogan to basic emotions I would say (with apologies to my friend Mr. Brosz) the driving motivations are greed, exclusion, and fear. To take it a step further I would subsume their formula as an appeal to selfishness that has very effectively cemented an odd coalition of seemingly disparate groups. I'm not sure there is a Democratic answer to this, nor am I sure I want one. Appeals to selflessness, i.e. preserving resources for future generations, or balancing a budget, or fighting AIDS in Africa, or even preventing Pakistani families, potential jihadists, from freezing in the Hamalayan winter, are fuelled by spiritual conviction, empathy, or enlightened self-interest, none of which are easily captured in jingos.

Forget jingoism and concentrate on issues: good jobs, a post Neanderthal energy policy, health care, realistic foreign policy, etc.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP: radical, war-mongering incompentents hell-bent on making sure you have a terrible quality of life and no economic security whatsoever so their rich friends can live in even larger mansions while you get stuck with ever larger credit card balances.

Posted by: Al Smith on January 2, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

It's easy to exaggerate the message problem Democrats are supposed to have. In fact, the proposals here are remarkably consistent and in line with the historical heritage of the party. Just look at this quote from Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech (1941):

"The basic things expected by our people of their political
and economic systems are simple. They are :
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.
The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a
wider and constantly rising standard of living.
These are the simple, the basic things that must never be
lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of
our modern world."

(http://www.libertynet.org/edcivic/fdr.html)

That's a good platform to build on, isn't it?

I can't resist quoting the four freedoms themselves from the same speech since they bring out the foreign policy aspect; apologies for the length:

"In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human
freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere
in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his
own way-- everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world
terms, means economic understandings which will secure to
every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants
--everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into
world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to
such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation
will be in a position to commit an act of physical
aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the wold.
That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite
basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and
generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of
the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators
seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception --the
moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of
world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
Since the beginning of our American history we have been
engaged in change, in a perpetual, peaceful revolution, a
revolution which goes on steadily, quietly, adjusting itself
to changing conditions without the concentration camp or the
quicklime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is
the cooperation of free countries, working together in a
friendly, civilized society."

Posted by: Antti on January 2, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Equality, Liberty, Security" pretty much sums it up for me. It really doesn't need to be any more specific than that. We are talking sloganeering here ...

Posted by: David on January 2, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Out of curiosity, have you ever read Marx?
Oh yes, know thy enemy. He also wanted to do away with class warfare by implementing class warfare. And thought that wealth was fixed, eerie parallels with Dems. You can easily Google The Communist Manifesto, the rest you can find at your local libray.

As for FDR, I'll happily go back to the level of social spending we had right after the New Deal.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 2, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Creative Capitalism vs. Crony Capitalism.

Open, transparent government.

Shared sacrifice.

Posted by: Moonlight on January 2, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Peace, Prosperity and Privacy for Everyone!

Catchy phrases hardly do the job of governing justice. But, for campaigning it can relay the jist of the goals.

Posted by: MarkH on January 2, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

I think democrats definitely need an identity on foreign policy, since terrorism is on people's minds. Bush has tried to take the mantle of democracy promoter, I think we shouldn't relinquish that, because spreading democracy is really important.

Bush has the reputation of a badass enforcer guy, it takes a little work but you could probably dislodge that. I think that's a matter of rhetoric. The end goal is "we want to use the power of the U.S. to spread democracy, just like Bush. (Oh, and we'll be more responsible with that power.)" You have to be careful with the second part because enough people do like a badass enforcer, even if they say he's gone too extreme. The reality is, we'll be more prudent, but I'm not sure if prudence sells over badass-ness.

The overall theme could be "A better democracy at home; the spread of democracy abroad" or something.

With "democracy at home" you're tying together the ideas of fighting corruption, and "democratic" people-empowering policies like health care/civil rights/economic security/etc. I think you can use the word "democracy" as a touchstone there-- it's not precise but it's frankly what we mean. For us these things (which empower ordinary citizens) are the logical outgrowth of democracy. There's a real philosophy there. (Okay, it's sort of socialism. But just like republicans are reformed yahoos, we're reformed socialists).

Abroad you have to fight for the democracy-promotion ground; you will never win pushing realpolitik.

Posted by: mk on January 2, 2006 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Equal rights, security for all, personal freedom, and rule of law

Posted by: DiesCat on January 2, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I'll give 'er a shot.

Dems are the Abortion, Taxation, International Test, Appeasement, Hollywood, SoHo, Arrogant, Busybody, Mommy Party.

Where's my prize?

Posted by: Birkel on January 2, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

How about something simple, tried and true, liberty and justice for all.

It touches on the democratic core notion of protection individual freedom, and encompasses the range of democratic voting patterns: economic justice, environmental/intergenerational justice, equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed and sexual orientation.

Posted by: jk on January 2, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I like Kevin's ideas except I would drop the anti-corporation bit and replace it with honest government.

Posted by: spencer on January 2, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Where's my prize?
Posted by: Birkel on January 2, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bend over and drop trou in front of a mirror, use a flashlight, and you'll be able to locate your prize: George Bush's schlong.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

jk suggested "How about something simple, tried and true, liberty and justice for all.

It touches on the democratic core notion of protection individual freedom, and encompasses the range of democratic voting patterns: economic justice, environmental/intergenerational justice, equal rights for all people regardless of race, creed and sexual orientation."

I'd agree with this wholeheartedly. Not only does it sum up our core values, it does so in lines from the Pledge of Allegiance, subtly undercutting those constant Republican attacks on the Democrats' patriotism.

Posted by: The Bouncing Beatnik on January 2, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

OBF,

Are you saying I mischaracterized things? Or do you just like making homosexualized quips? (Not terribly liberal, that. tsk. tsk.)

Posted by: Birkel on January 2, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Dems are the Abortion, Taxation, International Test, Appeasement, Hollywood, SoHo, Arrogant, Busybody, Mommy Party.

Birkel's oh so clever contribution illustrates my point. Jingoes convey negative passions far better than positive ones, which are a little embarassing. In the Republican model even the overt positive of "traditional family values" is only the tip of the iceberg - in actuality it appeals to exclusion and xenophobia. In reading the suggestions so far the best, IMHO, are those that are either so vague they could mean anything, like quoting the preamble to the constitution, or clever attacks on Republican failings.
Jingoes are not the answer.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Well, whatever the words they pick to use, let's hope they honestly believe them...or at least earnestly work to implement something along the lines of...

"Responsible government, a corruption free zone."

Posted by: parrot on January 2, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans don't cram everything into one coherent sentence; rather it's an itemized list of "values" like fiscal responsibility that they profess but do nothing to advance. Go with what works - and constrast yourself to the Republicans' falsely professed values. Maybe something like this (12 words what with all the "real" modifiers):

Democrats:

Real fiscal responsibility. Real accountability. Real family values for real working families.

Posted by: Augustus on January 2, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed there seems to be something wrong with American liberals who can't say anything succinctly or clearly.

How about a three-point program:

1. National Healthcare
2. Abolish the Second Amendment
3. Be more like Canada

That is what you want, isn't it? Say it!

Bengt (a Social Democrat from Sweden)

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Not ten words, but try these:

The Party That Works.

We can debate principles, or the trade off between liberty and security. But at the end of the day for most people, a society has to work. Can you say that a society that has the most powerful military in all of human history but is unable to protect its people works? Can you say a society whose citizens have to fear getting old works? Can you say a society whose citizens have fear getting sick -- or choose between recuperating and keeping their jobs -- works? Can you say a society that lets its infrastructure fall apart works? Can you say that a society that deliberately chooses debt over income, superstition over fact works?

I didn't think so...

The Democratic Party is the party of people that work. The forty-hour workweek -- Democrats did that. Overtime pay? Democrats again. Social Security? Democrats. GI Bill? Family Leave Act? Minimum Wage? Child Labor Laws? Democrats, Democrats and Democrats, respectively. All programs & laws that benefit people that work.

The Democratic Party is the party of programs that work. See the above list. Add Medicare. Head Start. The Peace Corps. Popular programs. Helpful programs. Programs that work.

Under Democratic control, FEMA responded effectively to emergencies. The EPA actually protected the environment. We had an army that wasn't broken. We turned a deficit into a surplus. Government did what it was supposed to -- or did more of it -- to "promote the general welfare." Under Democratic control, government worked.

The party of and for people who work. The party of programs that work.

The Party That Works..

Or so it seems to me...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on January 2, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with "Equal rights, economic security, personal liberties, and protection from huge corporations" is that we have I have most all of that. I don't have low taxes. I do think traditional family values are under attack. I think I have a strong military. But I've got equal rights and a fair amount of economic security as of right now. Even with the Patriot Act, I have a tremendous amount of personal liberty. I could probable use a little more protection from huge corporations, but it has to be in the right places and I'm not sure the Democrats I ready to fight for those places. (Being able to freeze credit reports is a great example from Kevin.)

Over all, though, advantage Republicans.

Posted by: Chad on January 2, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Here's my suggestion. For what it's worth...

"It's the Energy (independence), Stupid"

Multi-pronged attack on our energy usage. Diversify, green, conserve, explore, research, etc. Why? Because...

Cheap home-grown energy = prosperity = security

Make more at home and also use less

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 2, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'll come back tomorrow to see if anybody actually debated any of the points I made above at 5:09pm.

(I'm guessing against it, fwiw.)

Posted by: Birkel on January 2, 2006 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

1. Economy:
A robust, vibrant "trickle outward" middle class.

2. Security/Defense/Military:
SMART defense, healthy agile military, preemptive diplomacy.

10 words:
Vibrant trickle-outward economy, healthy military, smart foreign policy.

Posted by: AF on January 2, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

That is what you want, isn't it? Say it!

Nope. I think you're right to define issues rather than slogans, but you're wrong about several of them. Have you ever tasted Canadian cooking?

I like the tripariate division but I would list our issues as thus:

1. Ecology - huge issue, particularly global warming. Includes alternatives to petroleum which would have the side-effect of taking hundreds of billions a year out of Wahabbi and Iranian hands. This years hurricane season started yesterday, and if its anything like last year, and it is predicted to be worse, there are going to be a lot of voters in the Southeast rethinking the Republican refrain of "junk science".

2. Economy - three major issues: health care and globalization/utsourcing, absurd budget defecits

3. Integrity - Includes both crony capitalism, and civil liberties.

I haven't mentioned Iraq and GWOT, but to me they fall under all three.

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

One of the problems that progressives face is that liberal values are inherently more difficult to articulate. They are more complex, and appeal to the higher sensibilities, which are not easy to tap into.

The Right has a simpler task-- if you're selling fear, greed, nationalism, and racism you just have to develop a few code words and phrases, and you can push the 'nasty' button in the electorate.

Posted by: cosmo on January 2, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK


BIRKEL: I'll come back tomorrow to see if anybody actually debated any of the points I made above at 5:09pm. (I'm guessing against it, fwiw.)

I'm guessing against it, for what your points are worth.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 2, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike, GWB has instituted an extensive program investigating alternative energy sources.

Posted by: WhoSays on January 2, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Strong nation, strong economy, privacy, freedom of choice, universal health care.

Posted by: Michael on January 2, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

My 10:

Equal rights, personal liberties, economic and national security for all

Posted by: Christopher French on January 2, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

How about something simple, tried and true, liberty and justice for all.
Sure, rush out there and explain to the voting public how bad America sucks, and how you Dems can make everything right.

Yell from the street corners that we're subjected to a fascist government that has usurped all our rights and driven us to the poorhouse. And Dems, and only Dems, can put us back on the right track to freedom and prosperity.

That'll work well.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 2, 2006 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike, GWB has instituted an extensive program investigating alternative energy sources.

Who says?

Anything close the billion a month he's spending to aid Islamic theocracy?

Posted by: LW Phil on January 2, 2006 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Two words:

Soidarity and Accountability. We need to have each other's backs, and we need to hold each other's feet to the fire.

Posted by: Rich 3 on January 2, 2006 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK


RODDY MCCORLEY: The Party That Works

Works for me. (Your slogan, not the party (not lately, at least))


Posted by: jayarbee on January 2, 2006 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

you guys are all on the wrong track, i don't vote republican because all they have is propaganda, they do NOT do as they say. A good phrase or definition of the democratic party is not going to get my votes either, I WANT ACTION. The only way the democrats can win my vote is by doing something BESIDES talking! Better words are simply NOT the answer!

Posted by: Rick on January 2, 2006 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom, prosperity, the leader of the world.

Posted by: Calling All Toasters on January 2, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Are you saying I mischaracterized things? Or do you just like making homosexualized quips?
Posted by: Birkel on January 2, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, both.

(Not terribly liberal, that. tsk. tsk.)

Wasn't actually homosexual. More homoerotic. But it seems to be what floats your boat: (ie. masochistic worship of a perceived strong leader who actually abuses you without mercy, to satisfy some twisted self-loathing tendency apparently arising either from psychoreligious guilt or childhood abuse - hey, now that's on-topic, a concise description of the Republican psyche!).

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

The only way the democrats can win my vote is by doing something BESIDES talking! Better words are simply NOT the answer!

But since they don't own the White House and are the minorities in the leg. branch, all they can do is talk.

But not in the states. There are democratic governors. That's where the action needs to be.

Posted by: Red State Mike on January 2, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

... GWB has instituted an extensive program investigating alternative energy sources.
Posted by: WhoSays on January 2, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

. . . each and every one of them a poorly disguised subsidy to huge oil companies. None of them directed at any realistic or meaningful solution, like wind or solar. Coal is not an alternative energy source. Hydrogen is not even an energy source at all - it's an energy storage medium, which does absolutely nothing to solve the problems that acquiring and burning petroleum is causing. In fact, the only true energy SOURCE is the sun.

Everything else is just temporarily stored energy.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Emma summed it up nicely: "Government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

If you're going to instist on just ten words, "of the people, by the people, and for the people" areI would submitthe right ten words.

This is, of course, what Republicans hate the most: the concept of "big governement" becauseif we have the governement that the founders drafted, then *everyone* is part of the government, which is about as big a government as I think you could have.

Posted by: Pad on January 2, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

OK, here's what seems to be an actual communication before 9/11, just to make my point about the sheer idiocy of expecting data mining to do a damn bit of good:

CNN reported on June 20 that in one communication intercepted by the National Security Agency on Sept. 10, 2001, an individual was overheard saying, "The match begins tomorrow" while in another that same day, a second person said, "Tomorrow is zero hour." In both, the speakers were in Afghanistan and were speaking to individuals in Saudi Arabia. The intercept was not found until Sept. 12, 2001.

Now I ask, what kind of "data mining" has ANY kind of chance of picking out phrases such as "the match begins tommorrow" or "tommorrow is the zero hour" from a bazillion emails and phone calls?

THAT is why this whole data mining thing is going to catch only the cretin terrorists.

And who is going to fear a cretin terrorist? Why, cretin wingnuts, who find something to piss themselves over everywhere they look.

"Please take our privacy, PLEASE!! We don't want it anymore!! We're so afraid, Jose Padilla is on our tail, we know it!!! You can find us under our beds when you finish!! Yes, we'll clean up afterwards!!"

Posted by: frankly0 on January 2, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

10 words: Preserve, Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States.

Posted by: Gomar on January 2, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Less Hat, More Cattle

Middle class wages. Time for the family. Internationalist foreign policy.

Don't start Wars -- war-by-choice is a drug.

Real security and real Freedom (conservatives only care about freedom of property)

Conservatives - freedom of money
Democrats - freedom of speech, freedom of religion

Conservatives spit at the poor - Liberals are the real Christians

1. To be conservative is to be incurious
2. To be incurious is to be easily led
3. To be easily led leads to death in unnecessary wars.
4. Do you want to die?

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

you guys are all on the wrong track, i don't vote republican because all they have is propaganda, they do NOT do as they say. A good phrase or definition of the democratic party is not going to get my votes either, I WANT ACTION. The only way the democrats can win my vote is by doing something BESIDES talking! Better words are simply NOT the answer!

Conservatism is about digging ditches for freedom.

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

oops, sorry, my previous post was meant for another thread.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 2, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Balance.

*the rich and the poor
*the weak and the powerful
*the wise and the foolish
*the fair and the selfish

That gov't of, by and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

C.J.Colucci: I've flogged this one before: "We're all in this together." The rest is commentary.

Hey, I've also flogged that one. You and I really are in this together. It's this exact sentiment (though really more of a Rubik's Cubean intellectual journey) that compelled me to throw off my chains of Independent/Libertarian and become Big 'D' Democrat in 1995. Also, the Big Dog was easy to love, no pun intended.


Posted by: The Dad on January 2, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Nope. I think you're right to define issues rather than slogans, but you're wrong about several of them. Have you ever tasted Canadian cooking?

I like the tripariate division but I would list our issues as thus:

1. Ecology - ...
2. Economy - ...
3. Integrity - ...

I haven't mentioned Iraq and GWOT, but to me they fall under all three.

No, I'm afraid this illustrates what is wrong. The above is very contemplative, but it will never appeal to anyone who isn't already curious about your message or who agrees with you already.

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: Are you saying I mischaracterized things?

He's saying GO FUCK YOURSELF YOU IGNORANT SACK OF SHIT. And you can use GWB's dick while you're at it.

At least that's the way I read him.

Posted by: Charlie's Uncle on January 2, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

... And you can use GWB's dick while you're at it.
At least that's the way I read him.
Posted by: Charlie's Uncle on January 2, 2006 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

... precisely, and if you should find yourself suffering from hemorroids as a result, try to find a way to blame Clinton.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on January 2, 2006 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Get America Back on Track"
Two overarching benefits:
1) Everone already knows exactly what it means -- since it will mean something a bit different to every person who hears it. Don't forget that polls right after the election demonstrated that most people who voted for W thought he favored specific policies that were THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what his real policy goals were. We need to master not the same level of obfuscation, but at least the same level of lack-of-specificity -- let the listener fill in the blanks however they so wish. With us, at least, they'll actually be on the right track...
2) It plays directy into the way the "right track / wrong track" polls are always presented, so the meme is pre-sold.
What we're selling is the same thing that we've successfully sold for most of the last century -- peace and prosperity; and government that works; all that actually made America #1 in the first place -- which is why the right always has to lie to sell what they're selling.
They've gotten away with it with large shares of the population for long stretches of time -- but the truth will always inevitably win out, eventually.

Posted by: smartalek on January 2, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

O, and of course I forgot to mention: shorter is better -- and it's just five words.
Of course, smartone's 4:18pm post is also absolutely correct: neither slogans nor policies nor candidates nor the Finger of God Himself will do jack until/unless we own our own media.
The corporatocracy, as currently configured, will never let us win. We have to own our own.

Posted by: smartalek on January 2, 2006 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

"The Republican Party is a totalitarian conspiracy against the Constitution."

I don't know or care how that will poll. It has the overwhelming advantage of being true and it casts every other issue completely into the shade.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on January 2, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Here are the ten words Democrats are communicating: "Higher taxes, gay marriages, more abortions, hate Bush, retreat, defeat."

Gee, why doesn't this appeal to more Americans?

Posted by: Gary Imhoff on January 2, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

I usually stay out of such things, but here's a good one:

SECURITY AT HOME AND ABROAD

Tie together the ideas of "national security" and "homeland security" with "economic security" and "social security." Dems are the party that believes in protecting Americans from both terrorists and heartless corporations. Not that you want to say that in a way that implies an equivalence between the two. (You want the voters to make that connection for themselves.)

Posted by: Brian on January 2, 2006 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

How about:

"Do as I say, not as I do"

I think the Democrats first need to find leaders with credibility.

The hypocrisy of the Democrats trotting out mega-wealthy, hyper resource consumers like Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dean, Moore, Carter to articulate a progressive vision of wealth transfer and environmental stewardship is truly laughable.

Can anyone give me the name of a Democrat that does not consume the earths resources at a rate they believe will destroy the planet?

I'll throw this out.

The definition of a Democrat is someone that consumes the Earths resources at an unsustainable rate. If that is not the definition of a Democrat, can anyone please give me the name of any Democrat leader where the above definition does not apply?

Posted by: mark on January 2, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

With regards to protecting us from large corporations, how about a pitch praising them for their historical accomplishments (good wages, world leading products and technology) but suggesting that properly enforcing existing laws ( la NRA) is the way to protect Americans from the excessive power these companies often wield. No new government programs; just an agressive Justice Department enforcing existing law. That's what Clinton did. We are no longer the party of big government but rather of strong, efficient, and yes, smaller government. Any American of average intelligence knows the difference between the past decade and the current one. In 2008, they'll vote for the economic policies of our previous Democratic president, but only if our candidate embraces that legacy and doesn't act like s/he's allergic to Bill Clinton and his record. Hillary maybe?

Posted by: Gabriel on January 2, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The suggestions fall into two categories, from the sampling I read. The first category are the bland, a statement that applies to either party. The second are the attacks on the opposition.

Current Democrats believe in using government intervention as the first recourse to correcting apparant injustice. But that may ber because they are out of power and are seeking to regroup with the disaffected.

The Clintonists were the first democrats in 100 years to emphasize less government, and they emphasized less government than Bush-1, actually running as the small government party against George-1. But, alas, that was an unusual time and an unusual politician.

If the Dems chose Clintonianism, they would say:

Progressive taxation and less government.


Posted by: Matt on January 2, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

How about this:

Balanced budget, strong defense, health care, opportunity, responsble government.

Posted by: Jonathan on January 2, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK


"Get America Back on Track"
Two overarching benefits:
1) Everone already knows exactly what it means "

I think the author has disguised his message properly, for getting back on track means a return to policies from Clinton's eight years. This one actually works, people will think of Clinton when they hear this.

"Less Hat, More Cattle"

This falls into the same category, representing a return to sound fiscal policy.

"RODDY MCCORLEY: The Party That Works"

This one, too, has that subtle message.

"Real fiscal responsibility. Real accountability. Real family values for real working families.:

Another sort of winner, differentiating Clinton from Bushes. Shyorten it to:

Family values are fiscal responsibilitiy and accountability.

The Dems will win on economic issues, nothing else gets them a victory.

Posted by: Matt on January 2, 2006 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

Demography is Destiny:

http://www.newcriterion.com/archives/24/01/its-the-demography/

I'd recommend that the Democrats campaign for the "Survival of liberalism".

Posted by: contentious on January 2, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sound economic policy, personal privacy, civil rights and fiscal responsibility. (Ten--done; lets move on).

Posted by: charles on January 2, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know, did the Republicans miss Nixon when he was impeached? Did Republicans consider Nixon an kind of icon any more that they'll consider Bush an icon when Bush gets impeached.

What the hell has Bush done except mire the nation into war that we cannot win and spend the nation into incredible debt with nothing to show for it except a lost war. Now Bush is breaking laws - and not makes a pretense that that is security. What is so secure about a government that wiretaps US citizens without court warrants. With Bush there is NO real security.

Why don't Dems just talk about the truth, they are better at security, better at protecting our historic laws, the rights of US individuals, better at being "conservative" with taxpayers money and better at make the nation prosper as a whole, not just the nations corporations. Clinton didn't have problem getting NATO to help him. Bush will NEVER get NATO or the UN to help him do anything. The rest of world knows that Bush is nothing but liar, Powell and Bush help make the point at UN with the pre-Iraq war BS.

Bush has NOT done one good thing for this nation since he has been in office - not one thing, not one damn thing.

Posted by: Cheryl on January 2, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

How about:

"Do as I say, not as I do"

I think the Democrats first need to find leaders with credibility.

The hypocrisy of the Democrats trotting out mega-wealthy, hyper resource consumers like Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dean, Moore, Carter to articulate a progressive vision of wealth transfer and environmental stewardship is truly laughable.

That's almost like an MBA President who was a failure at business. Re Moore I didn't think envy was a conservative trait ;-)

Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Equal rights, economic security, personal liberties, and protection from huge corporations."

You'll never win with national security omitted from the list.

TEN WORDS: National security, clean elections, civil rights, economic rights, scientific research. TEN WORDS

Posted by: contentious on January 2, 2006 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Emma Zahn: of the people, by the people, for the people


"shall not perish from the earth" was why the memorialized soldiers had perished, and what Lincoln was calling all citizens to work and sacrifice for.

Still, it's a step forward for Democrats to recognize the call of a war president to preserve the existence of the country.

Posted by: contentious on January 2, 2006 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean said it a long time ago: "Social and Economic Justice" That's all you need.

Posted by: marc on January 2, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK
Using Yglesias' question, the right's pitch of "low taxes, traditional family values, and a strong military" is only nine words. If you take out "a" and "and," it's seven. Does it even begin to address important policy questions like the environment, the judiciary, health care, the budget, and poverty? Not even a little.

Indeed, it covers nothing. It features one specific policy preference (low taxes) and two vague goals that can be rhetorically adapted to easily cover any situation ("strong military" is more often framed as "natural security" or "strong defense", which is even vaguer than "strong military") and justify exceptions to the only specific policy preference that the framework includes.

It has no actual substance whatsoever, and is a pure feelgood rhetorical trick that can justify any imaginable policy -- very few exceptions to the "low taxes" (sometimes framed as "small government") framework cannot be justified either as pertaining to security/defense or "family values".

Can Democrats build a similar rhetorical framework? Sure. Heck, Democrats just as easily adopt the exact same framework, with no changes in substantive positions.

But its a mistake to view that as an actual encapsulation of the Republican agenda, and while it might be possible to encapsulate the actual Democratic mission in ten words, the common Republican rhetorical framework provides no indication of the plausability of encapsulating even an outline of a substantive description of a major modern political party mission in such a brief statement, since it doesn't do anything like that itself.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 2, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

As a revision of the slogan I suggested earlier, how about:

"Spreading democracy abroad, strengthening democracy at home."

A few points about this:

1) It directly and up-front references the war on terror and articulates a long term strategy for winning.
2) It captures the most appealing part (democracy) of Bush's foreign policy while allowing you to differentiate yourself on things like whether democracy promotion is primarily a military operation or primarily about carrot-and-stick diplomacy. (Hint: we believe it's the latter.)
3) It uses the same word (democracy) for foreign and domestic policy, reassuring people that our foreign policy strategy is not going to take our eye off the ball of domestic policy.
4) As mentioned before, it uses the catch-all term "strengthening democracy" to encompass anti-corruption measures, as well as "pro-people" measures like health care, social security and civil rights. After all, our philosophy is that health care is a civil right, correct? There's your philosophy: we stand for democracy, which in a modern world means respect for human rights, including positive rights like health care and a safety net.

Posted by: mk on January 2, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Emma hit the nail on the head:

Of the people, by the people, for the people.

Posted by: curious on January 2, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

mk:

Spreading democracy abroad isn't going to win any goodamn war on terrorism.

It is going to exacerbate a war on terrorism.

We've got to stop piddling in their sand.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

A chicken in every pot, two cars in every garage and 250 channels on the satellite TV, er, waitaminute ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Information is not Knowledge
Knowledge is not Wisdom
Wisdom is not Truth
Truth is not Beauty
Beauty is not Love
Love is not Music

Music is THE BEST

--Frank Zappa (cribbed from a Greek chorus)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK
With regards to protecting us from large corporations, how about a pitch praising them for their historical accomplishments

Good point, Gabriel.

Add to my list of balances:

-Balance criticism with praise
-Balance the stick with the carrot (particularly with regards to foreign policy)

Posted by: obscure on January 2, 2006 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Bush holds the trump card of security from terrorism, even though he has done little to protect us. Democrats need to counter this. Emphasizing that they are for effective efforts to protect the country is important, and illustrates the failures of Bush. It would be an unspeakable irony if Bush's failure to effectively protect the country allowed another attack that secured the Repubs inept hold on the country.

How about some slogans to counter his fearmongering:

Where's Osama?

Let's get the real terrorists - where's Osama?

They've been looking for three years - he's not in Iraq! Where's Osama?

Who let Osama get away? Have they forgotten about him? Have they forgotten 9-11? Do they think he has retired? Let's get serious!

Democrats make government work, for defense, for the economy, for the environment, for people.

Effective government, honest government, accountable government - best for defense and the economy.

Posted by: RJOC on January 2, 2006 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1:

I'm not too sure whether democracy promotion really is the best strategy, but it sounds good and doesn't commit us to very much except trying to back away from the tactic of propping up unsavory governments. (In particular, it does not commit us to war and adventurism. The whole point of saying this is that it sounds like what Bush is saying, but when someone mentions that, you bring out the critical difference: democracy promotion is not primarily a military operation).

If democracy promotion is not the right strategy, then that's very interesting because it's a huge difference between us and Bush. So rather than avoiding this difference you'd need to state outright the underlying philosophy. Is it:

1) Get out of people's business abroad? (not only militarily but diplomatically)?
2) Assume a defensive posture militarily and use law enforcement and the CIA to fight terror?
3) something else?

I think what was missing from Kerry's campaign was a clearly stated foreign policy philosophy. So if you're going to say you disagree with democracy promotion, you need to say what's the underlying philosophy. (Kerry himself may have had one-- he made that comment about the war on terror being a law enforcement operation -- but he often backed off of those statements rather than doubling down on them, which fed the perception that he didn't have a deeply committed perspective on foreign policy.)

Posted by: mk on January 2, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

BIRKEL: I'll come back tomorrow to see if anybody actually debated any of the points I made above at 5:09pm. (I'm guessing against it, fwiw.)

Is anyone else tired of these stupid, selfish, bigoted, can't-get-a-date, fratboy losers who believe the reign of Dubya the Simple is some sort of golden age for idiots?

How about you don't come back tomorrow, you psychoseptic toad.

Posted by: The Snowshovel of Bullshit on January 2, 2006 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

I agree you guys haven't had a good slogan since acid, amnesty and abortion, but I don't think Kevin's idea's really cut it either:

Equal Rights - to a critical mass of Americans these are code words for a racial spoils system. They will immediately think of shakedown artists like Jesse or Al or "By Any Means Necessary, Inc." the latest not-for-profit thug boutique.

Economic Security - promising, needs to be fleshed out, sounds too much like coddling of the public employee unions in present-day parlance.

Personal Liberties - too much weenie waggling in public, people want personal responsibilities highlighted these days.

Protection from huge corporations - How about protection from trial lawyers, busybodies, anti-religion fanatics, tree huggers and unions? That dog won't hunt.

Posted by: minion of rove on January 2, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

A Song of Ten Words

What makes us great is freedom

What makes us great is justice

What makes us great is democracy

What makes us great is accountability

What makes us great is understanding these words

What makes us great is walking the talk

Posted by: Charlie's Conscience on January 2, 2006 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

minion of rove:

I wasn't aware that weenie waggling was much of a public nuisance these days.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK
Is anyone else tired of these stupid, selfish, bigoted, can't-get-a-date, fratboy losers who believe the reign of Dubya the Simple is some sort of golden age for idiots?

How about you don't come back tomorrow, you psychoseptic toad.

Nicely turned phrases IISSM, SSOB.

minion of rove, why don't you stick that in your backpack while you're at it.

Posted by: An oozing goo-monger on January 2, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

minion of rove:

"Racial spoils system" ?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats Love You and Your Family. Republicans Will Burn In Hell.

Damn, that's 11 words!

Posted by: reino on January 2, 2006 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

minion of rove:

"Thug boutique?"

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives - freedom of money, no privacy
Democrats - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, privacy with consenting adults

---------------------
 Vote for a Democrat
Less Hat, More Cattle
---------------------
Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 2, 2006 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

For the minion:

Democrats: Weenies Waggling With Worldly Wisdom, Without Weitschmertz.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

4 words:

Security
Equal Opportunity
Jobs

Posted by: Robert on January 2, 2006 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

The Minion of Tubby spews forth:

Equal Rights - to a critical mass of Americans these are code words for a racial spoils system. They will immediately think of shakedown artists like Jesse or Al or "By Any Means Necessary, Inc." the latest not-for-profit thug boutique.

Something a racist would say. No surprise. Bastard.

Economic Security - promising, needs to be fleshed out, sounds too much like coddling of the public employee unions in present-day parlance.

sounds too much to you maybe.

Personal Liberties - too much weenie waggling in public, people want personal responsibilities highlighted these days.

Show me one member of the current upper-level GOP who's an exemplar of personal responsibility. They only use this phrase to attack and deny.

Protection from huge corporations - How about protection from trial lawyers, busybodies, anti-religion fanatics, tree huggers and unions? That dog won't hunt.

The average working American has no reason to fear trial lawyers, anti-religion fanatics (are you serious?), tree huggers and unions. And the GOP is now the big-time busybody party.

Personally, I would change "huge corporations" to "corporate theft or economic warfare (a la Walmart), but it's not an easy one. We are all pretty wrapped up with our corporations.

Posted by: The Snowshovel of Bullshit on January 2, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Weenies Waggling With Worldly Wisdom, Without Weltschmertz: a Wistfully Wonderful Weltanshaang!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 2, 2006 at 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry 'bout the missing "'s. If I had more personal responsibility, I would preview more carefully.

Posted by: The Snowshovel of Bullshit on January 2, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death"

Posted by: Patrick Henry on January 2, 2006 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Give Me Librium Or Give Me Meth"

Posted by: Matrick Penry on January 2, 2006 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats stand for nothing but empty pleasure, empty wallets, empty skulls and empty promises.

Posted by: Ann Coulter's twelve-speed dildo on January 2, 2006 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

I don't usually post comments, but the message SHOULD be... "a better life for the average family.." That encompasses jobs, housing, medical care, the environment, national security, and everyhting else that goes into " a better life". If dems asked themselves, "how does this proposal make the average american better off?" and then could explain it to the public, they wouldn't be the minority party.

Posted by: RDY on January 2, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

He hasn't worn me since he used to read Heiddeger while chain-smoking Dunhills and shooting Jack Daniels

Posted by: Bill Bennett's turtleneck on January 2, 2006 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

"We heal cripples!"

Oh wait, that one's been tried.

Posted by: XDEM on January 3, 2006 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK


How's this:

"Trust negativity. Whiners get things done". And we're not Bush"

10 words!

Posted by: Mcaristotle on January 3, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Responsible fiscal management, our soldiers' welfare coming before Halliburton's, and an end to the Republican homeland security gap.

Posted by: Hieronymus braintree on January 3, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

" "a better life for the average family.."Posted by: RDY on January 2, 2006 at 11:45 PM |"

Forgive me, because I know you mean well, and I'm sure we'd 90+% agree on policies -- but this perfectly exemplifies what's wrong with the Democratic message today.
The word "average" is NOT a selling word. Do YOU want to be "average"? Do you want your kids to be? I sure don't.
A better phrase would be "normal Americans" -- or even "REAL Americans." Both of those are selling phrases -- everyone wants to be, and can relate to, "normal Americans" and "real Americans" -- and will also recognize what the alternatives would be; the Repukes are for the richest, sleaziest, slimiest, phoniest Americans -- the ones who want to spend their huge tax cuts on foreign-made goods that won't create American jobs, while they send YOUR kids off to war, cause there are no other jobs here! THAT will sell.
Oh, and we really shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the contributions of posters like Minion of Rove either, people. There are real reasons we've been losing elections -- it's not ALL Fox and Diebold, although of course a lot of it is. Of COURSE there are people out there who ARE going to hear "equal rights" as a code for what they (wrongly) perceive as a racial "spoils system" -- but the fact that they're wrong to perceive it that way won't make our ignoring their perceptions a winning strategy. Perception IS reality in politics -- so it's up to US to make sure people get the word that we are for equal OPPORTUNITY, and not "equal results." Pissing all over posters like Minion may feel good at the moment -- but we'd be better off learning from him and people like him how to communicate the reality of our positions -- and not the parodies of them that they now hold, after decades of Repuke disinformation -- more effectively.

Posted by: smartalek on January 3, 2006 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

"Trust negativity. Whiners get things done". Posted by: Mcaristotle on January 3, 2006 at 1:03 AM |"

That approach has worked brilliantly for the Repukes; why do you think it would not work for us?

Posted by: smartalek on January 3, 2006 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

smartalek,

I wasn't "ignoring" the minion's perceptions, I was refuting them.
I was drawing attention to his bigotry. By "pissing" all over him, if you want.

This equal opportunity/equal rights/equal results crap just confuses the message into nothingness and it makes you sound like a Dem apologist for GOP thuggery.

No more pithy slogans, please. More politicians who believe what they say, please. We're acting like a damn focus-group here.

Posted by: The Snowshovel of Bullshit on January 3, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Fairness, opportunity, security, and competence.

Posted by: Kobe, Ellensburg WA on January 3, 2006 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

The 21st Century Democratic Party: Fair, tough, practical, innovative, inclusive, competent.

Need to substitute "lean" for "weak" on defense.

Also, it would be good if we could find a word that made our disdain for the sex scenes in Bill O'Reilly's novels clearer:

"He was speaking hushed tones, telling her how much he enjoyed her body, using words that in polite conversation would have been vulgar, but in this context were extremely erotic. His hands firmly gripped her buttocks."

God, President Clinton's impeachment hearings were sexier than this dreck.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats - we kill one hundred times the number of Asian's they can. Place America's future in red hands.

Posted by: professor-rat on January 3, 2006 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to deal with this part:
[
...conservatives' "low taxes, traditional family values, and a strong military...
]

Taxes for non-elites are higher; traditional family values are lower in red states where divorce and abortion rates are higher; the administration has virtually destroyed the armed forces (something Al-Quaida couldn't do).
In other words, they talk the good shit knowing that they don't have to deliver any of it. These are all empty promises.
Second, does anyone think that there might be something wrong with politics as simply an advertising campaign?

Posted by: Les on January 3, 2006 at 6:38 AM | PERMALINK

A direct response to the Republifuckers:

Fair taxes, inclusive values, security at home.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Freedom
Responsibility
Community
Justice
Truth

Oh yeah-- and those 3 words that strike fear into the hearts of today's Republicans

Rule of Law

Posted by: bluewave on January 3, 2006 at 7:44 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans - "Every man for himself."

Democrats - "We're all in this together."

Posted by: Andrew on January 3, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Fair taxes, individual rights, sensible foreign policy."

Posted by: Matt Lantz on January 3, 2006 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

NO NO NO

First, we need a good adjective. That's what makes the GOP message work: LOW taxes, TRADITIONAL family values, STRONG military. Note that the GOP values emphasis used to be phrased as FAMILY values, but that was successfully neutralized in the early 1990s.

Democrats are all about economic equity and opportunity, so go for it: FAIR. We've got "fair trade" already - just extend the brand.

"Fair taxes."
"Fair markets."

We need to avoid the nanny-state overtones of "regulation" "safety" "protection" etc. Avoid references to specific groups like consumers, workers, or minorities because those will only alienate other voters. Also, avoid issues that are too loaded with baggage for centrists and independents: any kind of "justice" (social, criminal, civil, etc...) and the environment. Yes, of course Democrats stand for all these things - but saying so first is silly.

"Smart government" - to contrast against classic "big government" stereotypes, but also to highlight the current administration's incompetence.

The values issues are tough for Dems to work on - they risk becoming too broad or multi-culti. "Tolerance" is great, but it feeds back into the old "permissive liberal meme". So I'd choose "family values," just for the irony of it. Plus, it forces the GOP to retreat to "traditional" family values, and that's good because it highlights their intolerance and too-conservative social agenda.

...and, of course, a "Strong Military".

So there you go:

Fair taxes, fair markets, smart government, family values, and a strong military. (12 words)

I'd drop "smart government" to get to 10:

Fair taxes, fair markets, family values, and a strong military.


If you need a sports metaphor: Level playing fields, an honest ref, and instant replay. (9 words)

Runners-up: "civil liberties" or "civil rights" - both are very good for hitting their respective issues, but they have risks: "civil liberties" may create a "soft-on-crime, pro-terrorist" weak spot for Dems, and "civil rights" risks appearing like identity politics. Still, very good choices for local candidates, depending on their districts or states.

And let's go back to the old standbys for attacking the GOP: "out-of-touch", "corporate welfare", "special interests", and "corrupt political machine".

Posted by: Silent E on January 3, 2006 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

of the people, by the people, for the people
Hey, that might work. Until everyone remembers that Lincoln was a Republican.

But I'm going to be serious for a minute, because I'm a nice guy. You all should go with your hearts and kill off the DLC and start handing out copies of Mao's Little Red Book and Marx's Communist Manifesto. Explain to everyone how good people have it in Cuba because they have universal health care. Explain that Stalin had the right idea, he was just a tad aggressive about it.

You know you want to.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to thank smartalek for coming to my defense last night. Despite my moniker I do support the idea of two legitimate parties in this country. In fact, if you guys had run Gephardt, even Edwards, I would have swallowed hard and votec Dem.

Equal rights -- blow me off as a rscist if it makes you feel better, but I was talking about perceptions/reactions to words and phrases, not to reality. In 1964 Senator Hubert Humphrey swore that it was preposterous to think civil rights legislation could ever be used for reverse discrimination, but you guys have been more elastic with legal definitions than Rumsfeld could be in a wet dream. To a large majority of Americans, not all yaboos or wingnuts, the phrases "equal rights" or "civil rights" are as loaded with negative conotations as "national security" is to the left. Railling that it's unfair does not change it.

Personal Liberties - same problem, letting your freak flag fly was fun in the '70's but this is a new era. People are more afraid of the tyranny of the flamboyant, the cranks or the oddballs than any real restriction on personal liberties these days.

Economic Security/Protection - if you guys are ever going to make a comeback this is the door you will have to come through. Income inequality, golden parachutes, pension rip-offs, etc. are the Repub's achilles heel, try to find something that mines that vein and you might have a chance.

Posted by: minion of rove on January 3, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Equal rights, economic security, personal liberties and transparent government.

Posted by: gar on January 3, 2006 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Life isn't fair. Democracy should be.

Posted by: John McCreery on January 3, 2006 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The trouble with buzzwords like "equal rights", "economic securiity" and "personal liberty" is that they don't stir the masses.
Instead of a ten-word piece of chanted rhetoric, we need a hundreds of sound bites from prominent Democrats that might wake conservative Americans up to the enormous changes that have taken hold in this country.

I'd like to see short jabs at Democracy being for sale in Washington; the world being a far more dangerous place under the Bush Docrine; the U.S. being plunged deep into debt and borrowing from the Chinese!

The general public understands that kind of language.

Posted by: LeRoy Ferguson on January 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

One of the phony claims is that Democrats didn't have any better idea of how to wage the war on terror. That is bunk. The Democrats all but one supported going into Afghanistan where al-Q was actually based, and we were on the verge of success there (not just toppling the Taliban but nabbing OBL - whom Bush once vowed to get but later mumbled that he didn't care so much about - remember?) Then, the neocons pulled resources out of Afghanistan for the Iraq invasion, just in the middle of Saddam's containment by the Inspectors and the international community - a situation which could have been held for a few years while we got a handle on the real war on terror elsewhere. Congress only authorized the invasion of Iraq because they were tricked by the Bush administration, who and whose apologists continue to spread the now known lie that "everyone had the same intelligence." Then we lost the chance to really nab al-Q (Google for operation jawbreaker and see what you get.)

Kerry would have at least used more troops going into Iraq, if he had gone in, because he would have listened to real experts like General Shinseki and not borderline-ill cranks (literally) like Rummy and "stupidest person" Doug Feith. Control of the country would have come sooner and at least not cost as much money and blood in the long run (I'd like to think Kerry would have been smart enough not to, despite his execrable political claim that he would have also invaded.)

If the invasion of Iraq had been well-executed, it might have been more worth it. However, it was bungled, in almost every way, and now is a mess after spending over 200 billion dollars that our kids will have to pay (since BushCo did not ask for any sacrifices from the current taxpayers, at least the already wealthy ones, but put Grover Norquist's project to destroy the government's services but keep the pork at the top of his priorities.) Actually, even if the whole thing "was successful" in execution, it still might have turned out to be a bad idea since that wonderful democracy can lead to religious parties (like the Iran-oriented Shias) gaining ascendency, in like vein to Hezbollah in Palestine and Lebanon, radicals in Egypt etc. - and that is what is happening in Iraq after all. Rememeber that voters in other cultures may not pick the sort of goverment that might be good for US interests.

Posted by: Neil' on January 3, 2006 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: you really are a nut, and a fraud, which no nice guy really is (well, by rightwing standards, anyone not as slanderous as Ann Coulter or Mike Savage is "nice" - I get it.) Any wanker jackass can just make up snarky trash talk about who really wants to do what, ignoring of course who really did what to mess up our country. As for Cuba and universal health care: *every* other industrialized nation has some form of universal health care - why can't we?

Posted by: Neil' on January 3, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Who needs 10 words? I'll name that tune in three notes. What should the Dem's central theme be?

"The Little Guy."

We are the party of the little guy. Everything we do can be pitched that way. Lower taxes on the poor? Standing up for the little guy. Environment? Standing up to the big corporations for our childrens' future (and who's a bunch of littler guys than our kids). Equal rights/civil rights? Little guy written all over it.

And maybe most importantly, it seems to me a hell of a smarter way to sell our economic policies than "vote your own economic self-interest, stupid." People want to feel like they're voting for other than selfish reasons. We (Democrats) all do, that's why more wealthy democrats speak in favor of a progressive tax system. So don't pitch it to people as a vote for themselves. Pitch it as a vote to help the little guy. Something like this, off the top of my head--

"I know I'm speaking to a lot of hard-working Americans. People with families, putting in long hours to do right by their children. It's tougher than it's ever been. Health care, more expensive than it's ever been, college for your kids, more expensive than it's ever been. Still, most of you are getting by, and I salute that. You get some tough breaks but you keep on going. That's how this country came to be.

"But all of you know some folks that aren't doing so well. You know how it is today. You can lose your job with no warning. Even if you've worked your whole life for the same company, you can wake up on the eve of your retirement to find that criminals at the top have stolen your pension. At any time, health care costs can snatch away the life you've planned for yourself.

"You know there are people like this out there. Hard-working, honest, decent people that have gotten caught in the gears of the system. We want to help those people. In the words of one of our greatest presidents, not with a handout, but with a hand up. For them and their children, all of our children.

"We want to improve educational opportunities to help people adapt to changes in the job market. We have to make sure that employers make good on their promises to their workers, and hold them accountable when they do not. We have to fight corporations who are stealing nickels by poisoning our environment, to make sure that our kids can have playgrounds to play, streams to fish, and national parks to breathe in the wonder and magic of the world.

"We are on the side of the average, every day American who is working, who is doing what he's supposed to do and still not getting by. The ones who the system has failed.

"The little guy."

Posted by: Chicatto on January 3, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

As for Cuba and universal health care: *every* other industrialized nation has some form of universal health care
Quick Neil, name a country with universal health care that has a higher per capita income than the US. Then watch me name a whole friggin boatload of otherwise.

Here's your clue, Neil: Socialism doesn't work. Sounds nice, but doesn't work.

One of these days you moonbats are going to wake up and realize that HMOs were the first step toward socialized medicine, and they're the biggest problem we currently have. So what's the Democratic solution? Hey that didn't work, let's do it some more!

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut:

Here are the Top 10 Countries ranked by per capita income in FY 2004 (source: World Bank Development Indicators, 2005). The first number is the PCI in 2003 (in current US $), the second number is PCI in 2004.

As members of the European Union, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland all have some form of reduced-cost, government-subsidized health care.

Real information is much more informative to important debates about health care than GOP ideology. We just can't trust you guys to tell the truth, with health care or anything else.


1 Luxembourg 45,750 56,230
2 Norway 43,400 52,030
3 Switzerland 40,680 48,230
4 United States 37,870 41,400
5 Denmark 33,580 40,650
6 Iceland 30,910 38,620
7 Japan 34,190 37,180
8 Sweden 28,910 35,770
9 Ireland 27,020 34,280
10 United Kingdom 28,320 33,940

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

We just can't trust you guys to tell the truth
Great pj, you got 3. Since there are 25 members to the EU, that leaves 22 with lower per capita incomes. Then we can throw in Canada and Cuba, and I'm not going to look up any more because I've already got 24 to your 3. Me actually researching this would get fairly embarrassing for you.

And let's look at another small item, according to the CIA Factbook the GDP of Luxembourg is $27B, Norway $183B, Switzerland $252B. The GDP of the US is $11,750B. That's 47 times the size of Switzerland, 426 times the size of Luxembourg. And if you think socialism benefits from economies of scale, you'd better check with the USSR. Oh wait, they collapsed didn't they?

The only time facts help you lefties is when you ignore a bunch of them.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Chicatto's three-word theme for the Democrats - "The little guy" - sounds great to me.

Posted by: LeRoy Ferguson on January 3, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

How about these ten words:

"fair taxes, family values, and strong military with sensible leadership"

pretty much hits at the heart of right wing fraudulance, does it not?

Posted by: GK on January 3, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

How about these ten words:
Well, the first one is more accurately worded "higher taxes" and everyone knows it, and family values are not well represented by what the Dems want and everyone knows it, and the Dems desire to gut the military and everyone knows that... I'd say those 10 words would be a hard sell.

In fact, if those 10 words were true, Democrats would be Republicans.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

riffing on Silent E and rmck1, how about:

Fair taxes, fair trade, fair play and a secure homeland.

10 words and captures most of a) what we actually stand for, and b) what's wrong with the GOP

Fair taxes: the GOP doesn't want fair taxes they want high taxes on the middle class.

Fair trade: how else to ensure a strong domestic economy while simultaneously protecting the global environment and helping other nations to develop sustainable economies.

Fair play: if we fail to take advantage of the scandal plagued GOP we deserve to lose. AND if we don't clean up our own act we don't deserve to govern.

Secure homeland: I'd prefer to state something more internationalist (e.g. fair dealings with other countries), too many voters are insecure. We can't ignore that. Plus, if we play it right, it shows why we believe rousting the al queada supporting Taliban from Afghanistan was good (they harbored people who attacked us) and why invading Iraq was bad (they didn't threaten our homeland).

Fair taxes, fair trade, fair play and a secure homeland.

if 4 thoughts are too much, drop fair trade. Fair play can cover that.

(cross pasted at carpetbagger)

Posted by: Edo on January 3, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm, why not keep it simple and just tweak the Rethuglican's motto by way of Lerner & Lowe's "Camelot"? That is:

Might FOR Right.

Simple, idealistic, strong. Protects and inspires support. Just a thought.

Posted by: Philimus on January 3, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Jobs
Energy Independence
The Environment
Affordable Healthcare
Fiscal Sanity
Privacy

Posted by: Bill P on January 3, 2006 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut:

The issue with health care, of course, isn't the size of our GDP but rather what people are getting for their health care dollar.

The table below comes directly out of the CIA Factbook --http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html. For all of the United States' largely private expenditure on health care, why do you think our life expectancy ranks us 48th, behind such "socialist" countries as
Sweden, Liechtenstein, Israel, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom?

Hard to believe, but some people around the world actually believe they get value for the taxes they pay.

Don't let your ideology blind you to facts about your own health care. That would be true ignorance.

Life Expectancy Ranking, 2005

1 Andorra 83.51 2005 est.
2 Macau 82.12 2005 est.
3 San Marino 81.62 2005 est.
4 Singapore 81.62 2005 est.
5 Hong Kong 81.50 2005 est.
6 Japan 81.15 2005 est.
7 Sweden 80.40 2005 est.
8 Australia 80.39 2005 est.
9 Switzerland 80.39 2005 est.
10 Guernsey 80.30 2005 est.
11 Iceland 80.19 2005 est.
12 Canada 80.10 2005 est.
13 Cayman Islands 79.95 2005 est.
14 Italy 79.68 2005 est.
15 Gibraltar 79.67 2005 est.
16 France 79.60 2005 est.
17 Monaco 79.57 2005 est.
18 Liechtenstein 79.55 2005 est.
19 Spain 79.52 2005 est.
20 Norway 79.40 2005 est.
21 Israel 79.32 2005 est.
22 Jersey 79.24 2005 est.
23 Faroe Islands 79.21 2005 est.
24 Aruba 79.14 2005 est.
25 Greece 79.09 2005 est.
26 Martinique 79.04 2005 est.
27 Austria 78.92 2005 est.
28 Virgin Islands 78.91 2005 est.
29 Malta 78.86 2005 est.
30 Netherlands 78.81 2005 est.
31 Luxembourg 78.74 2005 est.
32 Montserrat 78.71 2005 est.
33 New Zealand 78.66 2005 est.
34 Germany 78.65 2005 est.
35 Belgium 78.62 2005 est.
36 Saint Pierre and Miquelon 78.46 2005 est.
37 Guam 78.40 2005 est.
38 United Kingdom 78.38 2005 est.
39 Finland 78.35 2005 est.
40 Man, Isle of 78.34 2005 est.
41 European Union 78.30 July 2005 est.
42 Puerto Rico 78.29 2005 est.
43 Jordan 78.24 2005 est.
44 Guadeloupe 77.90 2005 est.
45 Bosnia and Herzegovina 77.83 2005 est.
46 Bermuda 77.79 2005 est.
47 Saint Helena 77.76 2005 est.
48 United States 77.71 2005 est.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

why do you think our life expectancy ranks us 48th
Ah, changing arguments, I recognize it. The answer to your question, however, is lifestyle. We can afford to be fat and lazy, and it isn't good for our health. But before decrying fat and lazy, you might consider the alternative.

Reminds me of an old joke.
Q: What's the fastest animal on Earth?
A: An Ethiopian chicken.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

One Word - Fairness encapsulates just about anything we would want to say.

Fairness in wages
Fairness in opportunity
Fairness in playing by the rules
Fairness in health


Posted by: jomo on January 3, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut:

Our thread reminds me of a story my father-in-law told me about: when he was returning from a lecture in Japan (I believe), about 30 years ago, he developed severe back pain on the return trip and had to deplane in Auckland. He went straight to the hospital where he was immediately admitted to the hospital.

At the hospital he underwent a quick series of tests and X-rays. It was determined he had a damaged vertebra so the next day he was operated on by one of New Zealand's leading back surgeons.

The surgery was a success and my father-in-law recovered quickly. He was discharged from the hospital within the week. When he asked how he should arrange to pay the bill he was told there would be no charge. And this was NOT a special favor he was granted -- the hospital staff told him they would have done this for any traveller with an urgent medical condition. My father-in-law doesn't even remember filling out a form.

New Zealanders are proud of their subsidized health care system. What do you think would happen to a New Zelander who develops serious back problems in the US? Hell, what would happen to one of our own citizens?

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I still think mine's the best so far (ducking from bottles hurled at my ego :)

Fair Taxes we all seem to agree on, and that's good. Fairness R Us.

I think Inclusive Values is the way to go for the cultural stuff. Unlike the minion, I don't think Americans fear the tyranny of the odd, nor do I think "inclusive" can be twisted into a code phrase for "freak." It *does*, though, signal to out-groups (*all* out-groups, which these days are almost everybody who isn't a Prot fundementalist) that we're with them. As Pat Buchanan said, we're in a cultural and religious war. Indeed. Most of us in America are on the other side of that war -- the side that the Good Guys are on against Pat Buchanan.

Security at Home I think is the idea way to encapsulate our foreign policy ideas. It means that we'll be more focused on nailing Osama than piddling in other people's sandbox. It means that we'll actually follow the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and install radiation detectors in our ports. It means that we'll use our awesome military power to protect *our* interests and not go on messianic crusades. Plus, Security at Home sounds *so* much less Orwellian than Homeland Security. It sounds like a family sitting around the living room all comfy 'n' shit.

FAIR TAXES, INCLUSIVE VALUES, SECURITY AT HOME.

I like it!

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Okay okay okay -- maybe "Inclusive" *does* sound a little ACLUish, and might imply that we're including old ladies who want to marry all of their 60 cats in a mass ceremony.

How about: FAIR TAXES, HONEST VALUES, SECURITY AT HOME.

Honest Vaues may be better. It not only separates us from the emerging Republican culture of corruption scandal, but it means that we don't use "values" as a club to bash people with. It means when we speak about our values, we're not using code-phrases that imply the opposite of what they say.

HONEST VALUES -- say it to yourselves. Nice ring to it. We mean what we say. When we talk about family values, it means that we value families -- not that we hate gays.

FAIR TAXES, HONEST VALUES, SECURITY AT HOME.

I think we have a winner, foax ....

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

pj
Very nice of the New Zealanders to provide assistance for your father.

Per capita income New Zealand: $23,100
Per capita income US: $40,100
(Again from the CIA Factbook so we're comparing apples. I keep using it because I keep a link, it's handy.)

Which leaves me with the question of why it is the responsibility of New Zealanders to provide medical care for your father?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I like "Honest Values" and the rest of the formulation. Can we add "Fair Play"?

Without some nod to that notion we are missing the chance to show that we believe in ethical behavior both in our governmental and business spheres. It talks directly to the abramoff scandals and protecting our environment.

FAIR TAXES, HONEST VALUES, SECURITY AT HOME, FAIR PLAY.

Posted by: Edo on January 3, 2006 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose I could give up "Fair Play" as the actual words. How about "Responsible Behavior"?

I'd love to hear conspiracy nut defend Ken Lay's or Jack Abramoff's behavior as responsible.

Posted by: Edo on January 3, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut:

Because healthcare isn't a commodity, walnut-head.

The free market is a wonderful thing when you're shopping for something that you want.

The free market makes absolutely no sense at all in an obligatory stuation with a captured market, like healtcare and health insurance.

Nobody chooses to get sick, Mr. Radical Individualist.

Radical individualism is a false ideology every bit as loathesom as collectivism.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

loathsom = loathesome.

Pity to misspell such an expressive word :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Edo:

Here's my thing on Fair Play: I think the concept is wonderful (of course), but I think it's redundant if the idea is to capture our philosophy in as few words as possible (and the fewer the better; that's why the GOP's three categories works so well for them).

I think Fair Play is expressed in both Fair Taxes and Honest Values. I think Honest Values expresses precisely the ideas in Fair Play. It's the idea that if we talk about hard work and personal responsibility, that people will be rewarded accordingly.

I don't like "personal responsiblity" because that phrase has already been overused by the right, and because it has code connotations for bashing the poor. Honesty implies responsiblity.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Privacy, security and equality ... "

  • Privacy: protect civil liberties, keep government and corporations out of your personal life
  • Security: fix homeland security, bolster economic security
  • Equality: promote civil rights, restore political fairness by ending corruption
Posted by: Guy on January 3, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Edo:

Also because your phrase "responsible behavior" has a bluenose connotation, like we'll be looking over everybody's shoulders and judging their behavior. What looks irresponsible to one person can be somebody else's whale of a good time :)

Sounds too social conservative. Responsibility in the public sphere is one thing and what we should strongly advocate; we do *not* want to imply that we cast aspersions on peoples' private lives or lifestyles.

That's why, to me, Honest Values says as much as it needs to say.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Guy:

"Equality" is not going to cut it in a three-word slogan because it implies not only equal opportunity (which we all support) but also equal results.

We're never going to write the American Dream out of the equation -- that even the poorest among us believes s/he has the chance to get rich. We have awful wealth stratification in America, but very little class consciousness. Since we don't identify with being in a class, it puts a severe limit on how much we can argue for economic levelling, even in the perfectly legitimate name of fairness.

Fair Taxes makes your point, in that the middle and working class feel utterly screwed by the tax code. I think that's about as far as we can take that message given the realities of American cultural ideology.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

NO TAXES, CHRISTIAN SUPREMACY, MILITARY CONQUEST

Posted by: Ann Coulter's twelve-speed dildo on January 3, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Because healthcare isn't a commodity, walnut-head.
Oh yes it is. People don't chose for their car to break down, either; but that doesn't keep auto repair from being a commodity. People don't chose for their clothes to wear out, but that doesn't keep shirts from being a commodity.

You can shop for price and service on healthcare just like you can shop for price and service on auto repair. You will occasionally get stuck for emergencies on either. Remarkable similarities.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

cashew skull:

Nicely dehumanized analogy.

Your car can also die, and you can get a new one.

Try doing that for your body.

Healthcare is not a commodity and it is not rationally allocated in a free market.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

pistashio cranium:

You can also choose not to own a car, and thus not to incur any expenses in maintaining one.

Try doing that with your health.

Sheesh.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

I think Fair Play is expressed in both Fair Taxes and Honest Values. I think Honest Values expresses precisely the ideas in Fair Play. It's the idea that if we talk about hard work and personal responsibility, that people will be rewarded accordingly.

But does Honest Values cover corporate shenanigans? How about protecting the environment? Maybe to the former, but its a real strectch for the latter. If you can't take "Responsible Behavior" then I resubmit "Fair Play" for consideration. A big bonus with it is that I strongly believe that the majority of Americans believe in the concept of "Fair Play."

Posted by: Edo on January 3, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Edo:

Here's the thing -- we're looking for a tiny statement that will encompass essential Democratic values for all time. While it's good to try to re-define current Republican memes in this attempt, we can't get too caught up in defining ourselves strictly in contrast to them.

Fair play is wonderful, but it's also a little bit like Mom & Apple Pie. I mean, no Republican would just flat-out admit that s/he opposes Fair Play. It's great, but it's kinda generic -- and perhaps too tied to this particular moment when Abramoff and DeLay are in the air.

The GOP have been using their Low Taxes, Traditional Family Values, Strong Military for decades. We ought to be able to do the same.

I still think Honest Values gets across the essential message of honesty -- which is fair play in a nutshell. Cheaters are dishonest.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Edo:

Also, there's the same problem with Fair Play that you get into with Equality. Often some of the most important contributions to social justice seem profoundly unfair to people whose behaviors have to change to accomodate them. To the Old South, the civil rights movement seemed to be profoundly unfair. The famous Bakke case challenging Affirmative Action admissions in medical school seemed terribly unfair to a white student who got bumped by a black student with lower scores.

Social Justice -- one of the most important Democratic values -- is only an issue at all when it overrides a local situation in the name of a larger fairness that can look quite unfair to the locals.

That's why I think it's less "everybody believes in it" and more amenable to having a negative code-meaning than it might appear at first glance.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut:

Applying free market principles to health care fails to consider that there are many, many more retail stores per capita than heart or back surgeons.

Unlike with clothing stores, competition doesn't force doctors to run Columbus Day sales on knee surgery or two-for-one specials on arteries. With a large demand for a limited supply of qualified doctors, your choice is basically between monopoly pricing, price regulation or subsidized care.

Our supposedly "free market" health care system doesn't guarantee best price. Surveys show that common operations are significantly more expensive in the US than in the UK. Furthermore, Americans spend a far higher proportion of their Gross Domestic Product on health care than every other OECD country, and our life expectancy is only the 48th highest worldwide.

Something else to consider: if everyone had access to good, preventive medical care below age 65 the cost of medical care for the elderly wouldn't be so high.

As many other countries show us, smart government involvement can improve our nation's health care and be practical as well as cost effective. A commitment to Smart Government is something important that distinguishes Dems from the GOP and should be part of the Democratic Party's elevator speech.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

How about "We are not as openly fascist as the
Republican Party." The perfect soundbite for the not-so-Nazi Party

Posted by: teammarty on January 3, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut:

And, by the way, an international treaty committing nations to medical care reciprocity for travellers would be a great and relatively inexpensive way to build peace between countries.

The more ways countries have to relate to one another peacefully the less we need to throw away on unproductive, billion-dollar bombers and intercontinental missiles.

Of course, this assumes peace is what you ultimately want.

Posted by: pj_in_jesusland on January 3, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

pj
Applying free market principles to health care fails to consider that there are many, many more retail stores per capita than heart or back surgeons.
Apples and oranges. Heart surgery is a specialty. Compare heart surgeons to gourmet coffee shops and retail stores to general practitioners and your example fails.

The problem is, we don't apply free market principles to health care. HMOs eliminated catastrophic coverage, and turned health insurance into pre-paid medical coverage. To draw a parallel, why would you want oil changes covered by your collision insurance?

The effect of doing this is that the cost of health care is masked, nobody knows what they're actually paying. They have a minimal co-pay, and their insurance cost. They complain about their insurance cost going up, but they don't know where it's being spent. You cannot control expenditures when you don't know what's being spent.


The insurance companies have no incentive to control costs, users do. Therefore cost control can only be done by users. Which means that we as health care users need to shoulder more of the burden, leaving less for the insurance companies.

Of course doctors don't run Columbus Day specials, because the people that pay them (the insurance companies) don't demand it. But doctor's did used to make house calls when the people that pay them demanded it.

Here's an interesting thing for you, I had the link for this a year or so ago and may be able to drag it up if you disbelieve. Out of pocket medical expenses are not rising. Our skyrocketing health care costs are all in insurance. In other words: the part of the costs the user sees is controlled, the part the user doesn't see isn't.

We currently ration health care by cost, socialized medicine rations health care by what the politicians want to do. I'm not fond of the idea of healthcare becoming a political football. I'd rather address the root cause than shift who I bitch about.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

And, by the way, an international treaty committing nations to medical care reciprocity for travellers would be a great and relatively inexpensive way to build peace between countries.
You're probably going to have a cardiac arrest here, but I'd actually approve having my tax dollar spent on that. I don't expect it to build world peace but I think it's the right thing to do.

Illegal aliens are another story, deport them. I'd only approve this for genuine travellers.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on January 3, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Bob,

allright. I'll go with your formulation. No we just to agree on a messenger for that message. ;->

Posted by: Edo on January 3, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom with Responsibility

Ok, it's only 3 words, and it's shamelessly stolen from my alma mater, but it's short and catchy, it's vague enough that it can be easily adapted, and I think it captures some of the basic messages.

Freedom can mean just about anything you want it to mean - my personal favorite is freedom from the government snooping into every detail of your personal life on the whim of some DOJ employee who thinks your name sounds "middle-easternish". It can be expanded to civil rights, and as VP Cheney so helpfully reminded us during the 2004 campaign, freedom means freedom for everybody.

The responsibility part is even better, because it zeroes in on all the corruption. Whether it's a congressman indicted for bribery (yes Ney, I'm looking at you), or POTUS's complete inability to hold anyone even remotely accountable to the law (including himself), I think it'll resonate.

Posted by: Gheby on January 3, 2006 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Gheby:

I dunno, Gheby. It's a fine motto for a school, but I just don't like "responsibility" as a slogan for a political party. It's entirely negative; an implied string of shoulds.

I mean, obvously a free society is impossible without responsibility, for sure. But people hear "responsiblity" and they think of their spouse asking them to take out the garbage.

I still think Honest Values hits the anti-corruption theme *and* the way the GOP has twisted the values debate, all in two neat little words.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 3, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

A final attempt:

* A better economy for all, and a Defense that is a Defense *

---------------------
Vote for the Democrat
Less Hat, More Cattle
---------------------
Posted by: Bengt Larsson on January 4, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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