Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Can I get an 'Amen'?

Brother Marshal gives us the word:

Again, this is not a Pollyannaish post. The Kerry campaign needs to get control of the debate back from the president. And they need to start hitting much harder. But Democrats themselves need to be a lot tougher and hardier about the cycles campaigns go through. And that applies to self-serving Democratic 'insiders' too.

Josh is right that one of the most annoying weaknesses of the Democrats is their habit of going into full panic mode whenever things start to look a little bad. This latest round of white-knuckling didn't start with the Swift Boat ads. It started with the release of an LA Times poll that showed a slight shift towards Bush. The Democrats, looking for a sign that the Swift Boat ads were hurting Kerry, latched onto this result as if it fully vindicated their fears.

But the polls over the course of this general election seasons have shown similar fluctuations, sometimes of even greater degree, in both Kerry's and Bush's favor, and on multiple occasions. There was nothing in that LA Times poll that justified the kind of full blown panic that it produced within Democratic circles.

Let's be clear about something: when it comes to policy the Democrats and the American people are in remarkable sync and the Republicans are way outside of the mainstream. But when it comes to message discipline the Republicans leave the Democrats in the dust. It's not the content of the message that matters in politics as much as the attitude behind it.

The Republicans are resolute in their message presentation while the Democrats are constantly second guessing themselves. When things start going bad for Republicans (and the last two years have been very bad for Republicans), it is rare for you to hear comments from anonymous Republicans about how their leadership is doing it wrong. But there is no shortage of fretting Democrats for reporters to quote, even when things are going well.

This is the reason why Democrats lose. The American people pick up on that lack of self-confidence. Even though they don't agree with the Republican policy, they still give them the power. Why? Because they don't want to give it to a bunch of wimps.

And yes, I am aware that this post might qualify as yet another example of self-critical Democratic white-knuckling. It's just one of those ironies that I have to criticize Democrats in order to get them to stop criticizing themselves. Have some confidence people! Your on the right side! Your on the side of the American people! They want to vote for you! They just need the confidence to feel that doing so is the right course of action. Squealing in fright at every shift in the polls isn't helping.


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