Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 20, 2010

HAVEN'T THE ELECTIONS ALREADY BEEN NATIONALIZED?.... The New York Times reports today that White House officials, still hoping to "alter the course of the midterm elections," are considering an ad campaign that would "cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists."

Depending on the specifics of the ad, that might be a good idea. (I assume that the ads wouldn't come from the White House -- which doesn't run ads -- but rather, the DNC.) Much of the country may still not know much about the anti-government zealots shaking up Republican politics, but mainstream voters may think twice about backing GOP candidates if they perceived these Republicans are catering to the demands of fringe extremists.

The article notes, however, that congressional Democrats aren't sure about the idea.

Democrats are divided. The party's House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections when high unemployment and the drop in Mr. Obama's popularity have made the climate so hostile to Democrats.

That sentence may accurately reflect Democratic fears, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. The midterms have already been largely nationalized -- that is, voters' focus is less on local issues and more on national ones -- as evidenced by the "climate so hostile to Democrats." The cycle is likely to be awful for Dems precisely because national issues -- most notably the struggling economy -- are already driving public attitudes.

So why fear tactics that would nationalize elections that have already been nationalized? Indeed, the opposite attitude might yet make a difference -- tying Republican candidates in competitive races to an unpopular national GOP, unpopular Bush/Cheney agenda, unpopular Party of Palin, and an unpopular wish-list including shutting down the government and gutting Social Security, might well give Dems a boost.

Efforts to prevent a nationalized cycle have already failed. So why not play the strongest hand?

Steve Benen 9:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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"The party's House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections . . . " -- NY Times

Nope. Congressional Democrats want to to what they always do -- act like freakin' rabbits. As soon as they see a wolf (or a puppy, or a squirrel, a butterfly, or . . . ), they hunker down in the grass, tremble and hope not to be noticed.

No wonder the United States is turning paved roads back into gravel roads. Voters are forced to choose between a party of cowards and a party of sociopaths.


Posted by: SteveT on September 20, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Heavens, we can't do a thing like that!
What would David Broder say? Bobo? Why, how not in the 'spirit of bipartisanship' can you get?

They won't do it. Because they are spineless fools who wouldn't know how to send the right message.
Dumbasses!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 20, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Efforts to prevent a nationalized cycle have already failed. So why not play the strongest hand?

Because the Dems don't have the foggiest idea how to play a strong hand as they are too busy wriggling theirs...

Posted by: stevio on September 20, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

This is real simple Steve. In the run up elections Democrats have done very well when they keep the elections local while the Republicans have been working very hard to nationalize the elections. It is a strategy that has been emerging for months. Where have you been?

Have the Republicans been successful in their efforts to nationalize the midterms, well as noted a liberal blogger as Steve Benen has bought into the meme. Of course, the national press wants to nationalize the elections. They won't have to miss their afternoon cocktails at their favorite watering hole in Washington or New York if the campaign is national.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 20, 2010 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

It is vital for the Democratic leadership to realize that the Republican party has a national media entity that nationalizes every political race and paints the Republican candidate in each race in an absurdly positive light. And this goes on 24 hours every single day.

The only way to hang onto any of the Democratic seats in any race is by creating a national [and nationalized] response to the dismal FOX tide. Politics is not local when a large number of political candidates have sworn an oath to shut down our nation's government during the largest economic crisis in 70 years.

For the Democrats, this cannot be a question of "should we or shouldn't we?" It can only be a question of "what the fuck has taken us so long?"

Posted by: chrenson on September 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK
That sentence may accurately reflect Democratic fears, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Not much that comes out of this sad sack of shit of a party makes sense anymore.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on September 20, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

The late -- and fictional -- Leo McGarry said you fight the fights that need fighting, not just the ones you can win. That means you do it because it's the right thing to do. And that also means standing up for people who are fighting for their political lives right now because they won't be fighting for you two years from now if they're out of office.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on September 20, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

"All politics is local." Truer words have never been spoken.

If the Democratic National Committee wanted to rouse itself from its slumber and fight Fox News and the Tea Party it should have started doing it last Spring. If the President wanted a base he could count on he should have shown the base that they could count on him. Instead the national committee fired Howard Dean and hired a faceless party functionary whose biggest claim to fame is making sure the right tickets get passed out to the "right people" for the national convention and the administration has backed the banksters and insurance companies at every turn and has done next to nothing to give the base anything to cheer about.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 20, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Because this is the Democratic party we're talking about here, not a real political party that knows how to fight. God forbid that they say something that might upset the other side. How unseemly.

Posted by: B on September 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

What does "nationalizing the election" even mean? Surely you don't run the same ads in Kentucky as you do in Connecticut.

Posted by: Christopher on September 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Has the Americanist (anti-immigration lobbyist Paul Donnelly) been around here lately?

Posted by: Paulie Carbone on September 20, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Both hands are busy, one is cupping and the other is, well... Kaine is a jack-off (lite) too, I want Howard Dean back please.

It seems to me that nobody is going to be pleased with anybody until we get a new party and no, not an astroturf bunch of retarded ball garglers either.

Posted by: Trollop on September 20, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'd love to see a 60-second montage of red-faced right-wing shit-heads screeching their hateful gibberish, everyone from Beck to Paladino to Angle, followed by the tagline, "This is what you'll get if you vote Republican."

Posted by: hells littlest angel on September 20, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

The President is has higher approval ratings than the Congressional Democrats. The Congressional Democrats have higher approval ratings than the Congressional Republicans. But there are some districts where the Democratic congressperson is more popular than Obama, but in general -- Dems win if the election is nationalized. Beside, we have no choice.

Posted by: tom in ma on September 20, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

"All politics is local." Truer words have never been spoken.

Yeah, right. Pay no attention to the huge success of the GOP in '94 when everyone ran against Jim Wright and the House bank (remember those "scandals"?) -- or, for that matter, the success of the Democrats in '82, '98, and '06 when they successfully ran against the White House.

"All politics is local" is a lovely truism. Alas for poor dead old Tip, it's not true.

Steve, this post is 100% on target.

Posted by: Steve M. on September 20, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

"What does "nationalizing the election" even mean? Surely you don't run the same ads in Kentucky as you do in Connecticut."
Posted by: Christopher on September 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK


It means making sure the voters in Kentucky AND the voters in Connecticut AND everywhere else know that the choices they make locally will have national implications. And when the Republicans are lock-stepping as much as they are, with precious few willing to vote for a Democratic bil, work with Democrats, compromise with Democrats, just basically hold the nation hostage - "do what we want and nobody gets hurt...except you, you pussy" - this holds a tremendous amount of truth. There may be someone in, for example, New York who thinks Paladino is a heckuva guy and would be good for his business, but otherwise thinks the Republican party's policies in general are DISASTROUS for the nation, which will in turn effect his business more negatively than Paladino will effect it positively. In which case, how does that cat vote?

I'm not saying the Dems will be successful taking this tactic - what it's now boiling down to is an admission on the national level: "we know you're not excited about voting this year, but for our sake AND yours, vote" - but it's a better strategy than the head-in-sand approach they've been taking so far this cycle. I say give Franken, Weiner & Grayson a war room and let 'em show Dems how to fight. They're not brutal, but they're amongst the best/loudest/most passionate in the group, and in a nation where too many voters value people who seem to care in what they're saying, if they're not practicing what they're preaching (HELLO, Family Values Republicans with extra marital affairs, don't all of you crowd the buffet!), a little coaching on passion might be a good idea.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 20, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

My bad -- obviously Democrats weren't running against the White House in '98 -- it just seemed that way, as the GOP tried to usurp the presidency. But the larger point holds -- Democrats nationalized that election right back at the GOP, and gained seats in year 6 of a presidency, which rarely happens for a president's party.

Dems who are hesitant to do this are nuts.

Posted by: Steve M. on September 20, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

So why not play the strongest hand?

Because the Scared Rabbit Party wouldn't dream of doing anything bold or assertive. It's just not in their DNA.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 20, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Run ads asking when the Republicans have sided with the American middle class against the health insurance companies, oil companies or the wealthy. Run ads warning that if the Republicans have their way and we have Herbert Hoover's policies, we will have Herbert Hoover's results.

I think Republican strategists must laugh among themselves at the ineptitude of Democratic strategists. They always play offense and never play defense.

Posted by: david1234 on September 20, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

What chrenson said. I tried to explain to a friend in Mass. that voting for Scott Brown was voting for Jim DeMint. You put a party in power when they can wield enough votes to stop bills, etc..

With Fox, the 24/7 cycle, the "permanent campaign" concept, AND the new campaign finance nonrules, most of these races ARE national. The republicans are more effective at manipulating the rules, and strategies, to run on this playing field. Conservative money sloshed to Delaware in two days to alter the race; 2000 delagates here in Utah ousted a senator; etc. Maybe dems are stupid; maybe they just want to govern; whatever. It is a new, permament, ugly game. I am pretty incredulous that House and Senate dems took this long to figure it out.

So of course you don't run the same ADs in CT and KY; but it is worth pounding to every voter, AND the supposed base who doesn't want to vote, that if you don't get off your sorry ass in Nov., people who want to completely and utterly destroy the government will have power, even if they don't have the majority.

Posted by: bigutah on September 20, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats are divided. The party's House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections

What this means is that CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS want to be able to run against Obama and liberals too. They don't want to run as a united front, because it aligns them too strongly with what they think is the left wing of American politics. _That's_ the reason why it's so hard to come up with an overarching Democratic strategy. Roughly 40% _of Democrats_ run against Democrats too.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on September 20, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Robin Carnahan is running against Washington. Blunt is trying to paint her as Obama's girl friend.

Posted by: Ron Byers on September 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Run ads asking when the Republicans have sided with the American middle class against the health insurance companies, oil companies or the wealthy."

As opposed to the Democrats, who threw Liz Fowler out on her ear, put BP into receivership, and nationalized the collapsing-from-within finance industry!

Oh, wait, I just dreamed all that. Never mind...

Posted by: Forrest on September 20, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

chrenson, slappy and FlipYrWhig get it.

Posted by: Frank on September 20, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of sage heads on this blog, so perhaps one could explain to me how the issue of "the struggling economy" which is making the climate "so hostile to democrats" is going to be resolved by electing enough republicans to shut down the government?

Is the electorate really as dumb as that? Really?

Posted by: Mark on September 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

There are a lot of sage heads on this blog, so perhaps one could explain to me how the issue of "the struggling economy" which is making the climate "so hostile to democrats" is going to be resolved by electing enough republicans to shut down the government?

It's not. But the constant drumbeat of "We've got to reduce the deficit" coming from the GOP and most of the media has convinced a large swath of the electorate that the way out of a recession is to cut government spending to the bone. People really believe this, in frighteningly large numbers.

Posted by: Frank on September 20, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Today, I saw a couple of cars with "Fire Pelosi" bumper stickers. Since I live in Small Town, Virginia, I consider it evidence that the elections *are* already nationalized.

Posted by: exlibra on September 20, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

When polled on progressive issues, time and again the polls come out in favor of Democrats. And in many elections, as in this one, the Dems are in danger of losing seats not because their ideas don't elicit widespread approval but because so many of the voters are uninspired and stay home. Meanwhile, the rightwing noise machine is working 24/7/365 to make sure that conservatives vote in every election.
It would seem to me to be patently obvious what the solution would be that could assure progressives of a virtual lock on power: instant runoff voting. If the Dems pushed that through (and they could if they had the guts to abolish the filibuster, which they wouldn't need in this scenario anyway), it would give birth to one or (very likely) more progressive parties farther to the left of the Dems, parties that would give disillusioned progressives somebody to vote for without having to worry about throwing their votes away. Would that eventually lead to parties that might someday challenge the supremacy of the Dems? Of course—eventually. But meanwhile the rabid right would be effectively shoved off the electoral cliff. The Dems would likely end up being the party farthest to the right, which is about where they are right now if you compare their policies to those of such progressive stalwarts as Nixon and Eisenhower. Even Goldwater wouldn't be welcome in today's Republican party.
IRV would be the death of Republicans, and the Dems would enjoy a lock on power for years while the political climate shifted leftward. I can't understand why this isn't clear as day to them.

Posted by: President Lindsay on September 20, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

For several election cycles now I get requests for money from candidates all over the country. If our election laws, mores the pity, required that the only legal money into a congressional campaign come from within the district (for representatives) or state (for senators), only from individuals and no more than, say, $2,500, we might get a congress that looks more like the people, and less like bought and paid for corporate flacks.

As it is these congressional elections were nationalized a while ago, and the trend is more, not less.

The Dimocrats wouldn't know, or take advantage of an opportunity if it bit them in the ass. And as has been pointed out, they spend most of their time and energy soiling themselves and changing their underwear.

Posted by: rrk1 on September 20, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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