Sunday, December 05, 2004

Republicans are the ones who need to change

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the incoming Minority Leader, was on Tim Russert today. Russert played a tape of a comment Reid made in 1994 and queried Reid about it (note: transcript is courtesy a poster over at the DalyKOS. It is not official):

[Reid in '94] We have to all swallow a little bit of our pride and go toward the middle.

Russert: Is that still your advice to the Democrats?

I think there's no question about it. You know, we don't accomplish anything on the far right or the far left. Things are accomplished in the middle. We have to work toward the middle. And I think that that's clear. I feel no differently than I did ten years ago.

Now, it is correct that. in order to get anything done in government, you need to be able to meet the opposition in the middle. It is the extremists who throw the wrenches in the works that keeps the government from getting the job done. So Reid is not incorrect in stating that Democrats need to go towards the middle. But what he leaves out in this comment is that the Republicans need to do the same. By leaving out that essential point Reid implicitly supports the frame that Democrats are still under the sway of the most extreme elements of their party and that is the only reason they are out of power. This public posture by Reid continues to support the idea that it is the Democrats that need to be more accommodating.

This is the posture of the loser. But with a slight modification, it could be the posture of a winner (my additions are in bold):

[Reid in '94] We have to all swallow a little bit of our pride and go toward the middle.

Russert: Is that still your advice to the Democrats?

I think there's no question about it. You know, we don't accomplish anything on the far right or the far left. Things are accomplished in the middle. We have to work toward the middle. And I think that that's clear. I feel no differently than I did ten years ago. The Democrats have swallowed their pride. We are now the party that represents the middle of America. It is time for the Republicans to swallow their pride and meet us there.

The truth is that it the Democrats do represent the middle in this country. All the public opinion polling backs this up. The only reason the Republicans have a slight advantage in the electoral arena is because they are simply better at selling themselves.

Our government is in a shambles. But the reason nothing gets done is because the Republicans are dominated by the extreme right. Democrats should always present themselves as the ones who are waiting patiently in the middle for for those silly Republicans to "swallow their pride".

Of course this would lead to a lot of Republicans scoffing at the idea that the Democrats represent the middle. But then that's the kind of public discussion we'd like to get into.

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