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Author Topic: Where Was The Failure
Godot
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I was watching some post-election mouthpieces today and in one segment they asked a question that piqued my interest: Where did the Democrats go wrong?

Well, I think I have a partial answer. I think part of the problem or blame must fall on the media. Now before anyone goes ballistic thinking I’m nattering on about left-leaning media or right-leaning media, bear with me, that’s not where I’m going.

Harris Poll #79, 10/21/2004:

In the poll:
(1) 62% believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda.
(2) 41% believe that Saddam Hussein helped plan and support the 9/11 hijackers.
(3) 37% believe several of the hijackers were Iraqis.

USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll , 10/5/2004(?):

In the poll:
(1) 42% of those surveyed thought Saddam involved in the 9/11 attacks.
(2) 32% believed Saddam had personally planned the attacks.
(3) 62% of all Republicans said they thought Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

I think that part of the reason for the failure of the dems was that they weren’t pushing the truth out there. Whether they were stupid or short-sighted or just not paying attention, I don’t know.

However, whatever the dem's shortcomings in getting their message out, I think these types of polls illustrate that our media has failed us. I’m not Bush-bashing here. Most of these claims were never made by Bush or anyone in his administration.

So, how did this happen? (I told you I only had a partial answer.)

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ben5
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ignorance and dick cheney
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WarrsawPact
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In no particular order:

*John Edwards - esp. being a trial lawyer
*John Kerry - esp. running on his war record
*"global test"
*"flip flop"
*"nuisance"
*failing to separate family security from national security
*inability to sound convincing -- which brings us back to flip-flop

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A. Alzabo
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The Dems are too cautious. Kerry ran a good campaign -- better than I thought he could -- but he came across as complicated and calculating.

Bush came across as simple and resolute.

The Dems are also too reactive. There is no "core" to the party. Too make a history analogy, Republicans are party Republicans and Democrats are party Federalists. Strong centralization often wins out over a loose confederation in a "war of aggression".

The Dems need to get a message that resonates. They need to stop thinking that people who don't support them just need to be "explained to". Listen to what people want, don't just show up before tough elections to register a bunch of people.

They need to stop thinking that Democrat is the "default setting" that people come in, and actually compete for voters (and get them to the polls). Democratic politicians need to stop coming off as being defensive on issues they believe in and support -- but they need to make sure that the issues are worth taking hits from the opposition over.

Most of all, frame a set of values the Democratic party stands for , rather than just pointing out the Republicans' crappy ones. People want to vote for something; you're not going to move anyone by just pointing out the flaws that the "other guy" has. Have a better idea, and then you can hammer the other guy. But don't pull any punches or be polite when you do, or you'll seem like a wuss.

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Redskullvw
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Kerry's problem? He didn't have enough faith in himself, what his policy plans were, or his original campaign staff. He dumped em mid stream and repalced the staff with Clinton administration/campaign retreads.

The rest is history now.

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Godot
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Perhaps a different question:

Would the election have turned out different if more of the electorate wasn't divorced from reality regarding Iraq?

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EvanWeeks
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Hell, if they'd taken a stand on any issue other than "Anybody but Bush", I think they might have won.
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Gaoics79
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Based on what I've been hearing, it sounds like Bush just did a damn amazing job of mobilizing his evangelical base. Seriously, as implausible as it may sound, gay marriage and abortion may have been the key factors in this election. These issues alone gave him the edge he needed to win. Not Iraq, not terrorism, not healthcare, not the economy. Amazing, isn't it?
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aupton15
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Amazing is one word you could use...

It's not implausible though. It was a big issue in 2000. It's why Bush won WV then, and why he won it this time. There aren't a lot of people getting help from his tax cut here, and no child left behind hasn't had an effect either. But by God we won't have gays married here! Bush is going to have ZERO impact on gay marriage in West Virginia, because our state legislature could get a law against it through between lunch and the 2:00 potty break. It should have been a non-issue, but it's the issue that evangelical preachers and televangelists used to get people out to vote. I think it went a little under the radar nationally, but there was a huge push by pastors to get church members out to vote. They couldn't endorse a name, but they really didn't have to. And the other thing about church that is different from public debate is that there is no other side. If you want an opposing view you have to go looking for it, and most of the true believers don't. They have such faith in their messengers that they don't question the issues of importance.

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FIJC
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quote:
"Based on what I've been hearing, it sounds like Bush just did a damn amazing job of mobilizing his evangelical base. Seriously, as implausible as it may sound, gay marriage and abortion may have been the key factors in this election. These issues alone gave him the edge he needed to win. Not Iraq, not terrorism, not healthcare, not the economy. Amazing, isn't it?"
It's true. In the 2000 Presidential election, 4 million Evangelical Christians sat out, for no *real* particular reason. Karl Rove and many other political strategists understand the important role Evangelical Christians still play in the success of the Republican Party. I have always thought that Karl Rove was correct in his concern over the missing 4 million Evangelical votes in the 2000 election. Personally, I have grown up in Evangelical Christian circles my entire life. My parents are heavily involved in the Church and I have attended Christian schools from pre-school through college--moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion come before any other political concern for a great number of Christians. The Bush team would have been foolish to not have agressively pursued the Evangelical vote this election. I am greatly heartened by the results of this election. [Smile]

[ November 04, 2004, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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The Drake
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I'm not sure that "where the Democrats went wrong" is *linked* to public misperceptions on Iraq, but I'll address the poll numbers which are obviously baffling to anyone who actually pays attention to commission reports.

An article in the Washington Post, while dated, is a very thoughtful piece of writing.

quote:
A number of public-opinion experts agreed that the public automatically blamed Iraq, just as they would have blamed Libya if a similar attack had occurred in the 1980s. There is good evidence for this: On Sept. 13, 2001, a Time/CNN poll found that 78 percent suspected Hussein's involvement -- even though the administration had not made a connection. The belief remained consistent even as evidence to the contrary emerged. ... even a gentle implication would be enough to reinforce Americans' feelings about Hussein. "If we like the conclusion, we're much less critical of the logic
I would say that perception was reinforced with footage shortly after 9/11 of Iraqis celebrating while most other countries mourned with the US, coupled with the rhetoric of Saddam Hussein.

Ultimately, people believe what they want to believe. That's not a failure of the media.

"A friend of my enemy is my enemy."

After all, isn't that exactly the same way that Arabs assume that the United States was directly involved in the assassination of Ahmed Yassin?

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aupton15
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FIJC, do you believe gay marriage and abortion are the two most important issues facing the country over the next 4 years? If that's your belief that's fine, but I don't think this is the case at all. There is a real danger of alienating ourselves from the entire Arab and Muslim worlds, and this could result in a greater impact on our future that either of the "moral" issues you mentioned.
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FIJC
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For me personally, the gay marriage issue is not as crucial as many other of my Christian friends view it. However, I view the abortion and War on Terror debates to be equally important dual realities that America must face and overcome.

[ November 04, 2004, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: FIJC ]

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zip
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Maybe ABX, anybody but x, campaigns just don't work. Happened with Dole and now with Kerry. I think the problem is that they start long before there is a candidate and tend to fire harden X's base. By the time an oppisition candidate is chosen X's base is so used to tuning out the BS that they can't be moved anymore. Thats my theory anyway.
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aupton15
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So then is it safe to say you feel they have the potential to be equally, or nearly equally damaging to the country? I guess that's what I'm having difficulties with. I'm not a passionate pro-choicer, but I would prefer a sane pro-choice candidate who was going to make efforts to maintain a reasonable relationship with the rest of the world. I respect the pro-life stance, and I find some of the arguments for abortion to be ludicrous. I just don't think the issue is on par with the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq.
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