Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Hearts and Minds

Liberal Oasis has an important post today about the whole question of electability. He quotes a New Hampsherite who says that his heart belongs to Dean but his head is going with Kerry. Why? Because of the old electability conundrum.

Look, I think the vast majority of Democrats will agree that the most important issue in this nomination battle is electability. There are few things that piss me off more than for another Democrat to accuse me of being a latent Naderite and not caring about electability. Where the fundamental disagreement appears to be is what "electability" means. My basic problem with John Kerry is that he feels like a continuation of the same electoral strategy that has been so successful for the Democrats over the last four years (alert for the sarcasm impaired). The finger in the wind, hyper-sensitivity to over-polled issues that has resulted in a Democratic party that looks craven and cowardly to the casual political observer (and, in many cases, is exactly that). Democrats have been losing not because of their stands on the issues but because they are, in general, afraid to take stands that they aren't sure will be winners.

I will support John Kerry if he gets the nomination, but of the four leading candidates today (Kerry, Edwards, Dean and Clark) I consider him the least electable of the four precisely because he epitomizes this political philosophy. Yet the media meme of the moment is that Kerry is the electable candidate and thus a lot of voters are, like the New Hampsherite LO quotes, going with their heads over their hearts.

The Democrats, both the party and the rank-n-file, are suffering from analysis paralysis. You have to use your head to keep from doing anything really stupid (like nominating Al Sharpton or Joe Lieberman), but your head can only take you so far. In a close race it is the heart that needs to lead and it is the heart that will give you the best chance of winning.

I had hoped that 2004 was the year the Democrats finally figure this out. They still might. But, so far, the signs are not good. It may require yet another shellacking at the polls before it finally sinks in.

God I hope not.


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