Monday, January 24, 2005

A New Coke Moment

Mr. M at Left of Center has a good rundown of the DNC chair race and offers some of his own opinions on who should win. I was particularly struck by his comment that  "we need someone passionate, someone willing to invest time and effort and money into not redefining the Democratic message, but in repackaging it."

I think that really is the heart of it. The ideological battle within the Democratic party, as far as it impacts this race, is a battle over whether the core Democratic message needs to be "redefined" or whether the message is just fine as it is, it just needs to be "repackaged" to appeal to a new generation.

The Democratic Party is facing a New Coke moment.

Coke dominated the cola market for so many years that it got complacent. In the meantime, Pepsi came forward and stole the mo'. The Coca-Cola corporation responded to this threat by tossing out its old formula and putting out New Coke, a sweeter, more Pepsi-like alternative. In other words, Coke was replaced with Pepsi-Lite. The market responded with outrage and Coke's fortunes went even further south until they re-packaged their original formula as Classic Coke and became competitive once again (eventually they dropped the Classic adjective and pretty much act like the whole sorry incident never happened).

The Democrats dominated the political scene in America for so long that it got complacent. In the meantime, the Republicans came forward and stole the mo'. The Democratic party responded to this threat by tossing out its old formula and putting out the New Democrat formula, a sweeter, more Republican-like alternative. In other words, Democrats were replaced with Republican-Lite. The electorate responded with outrage and the Democratic party's fortunes went even further south.

Isn't it about time for us to introduce Classic Democrats and become competitive again?

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