Earlier, I said we digress. Now, I'm convinced we fairly quake. With Democrats poised to throw Republicans from power on Capitol Hill and destroy the Bush Administration's day-to-day agenda with two years of hearings and recrimination, fear ripples through the ranks like an October blast across the waters of the left. See the whitecaps.
Democratic victory is not going to rescue America from America. One need only listen to the candidates grasp at the same bread-and-butter pieties of Patriotism, Security, and Constitution to know that. "Tax relief for the middle class" doesn't sell me. I am not an incrementalist. "Tougher and smarter on security" sells me even less. Why should I waste my beautiful mind, as Bar Bush put it, on the selection of the less egregious users of euphemism, when I know already that they will roll on issues of significance and spend their time hawking bastardized medical subsidies and pledging to keep social security as it is, was, and ever shall be. I haven't heard a Democrat mention our habeasless nation in weeks; it slipped from their minds as quickly as it slipped from the minds of the public upon receipt of that great gift: knoweldge that Mark Foley may well have slipped something else somewhere scandalous.
Victory isn't good enough. A national mea culpa won't do it. Investigations and self-examination don't get it done. An over-the-horizon pullback from the Iraq morass is a half-measure. Incrementally more competent, in-touch, less doctrinaire leadership is merely an infield single. It's all not enough.
IOZ's post above - Kill Democrats. Eat Republicans. - gives voice to what's buzzing through Democratic ranks. The polls are scaring us: it's like a Dolls album, too much too soon. The Foley scandal has broken the dike, but it's not good enough, damnit! We're not winning on the issues we care about! We're not winning on our own terms! Given how bad Bush has screwed up, the back bench never looked so freaking good. Ah the comforts of knowing you're always right.
But now, they tell us, we're going to win; we may win total Congressional control. Then what?
This is going to be particularly tough on the lefty blogosphere. We've built an opposition machine that is as perfect in its complexity and pitch as anything every constructed in politics. We follow every line, every scandal, every lie and we turn them inside out, open source coverage of the bads guys. We oppose very, very well indeed. And we don't invest our hearts in politicians.
My original comments tweaking Mannion and Blue Girl were semi-serious, but I think the reaction has revealed the true motivation of the lefty bloggers. We want the evil-doers vanquished, but we're not necessarily sold on our home team. The names Reid, Pelosi, Schumer and Emanuel don't exactly send a frisson of righteousness through the ranks. Neddie Jingo always has the requisite portion of cynicism (I love the crank) and he tweaks me for what he calls using the "Inexorable Power of Our Prose to demonstrate the Righteousness of Our Cause." Good stuff, and I think he sums up how the lefty bloggers really feel about Victory '06.
With something like this thought in mind, a couple weekends ago I marched up to the Jim Webb tent at the Lovettsville Octoberfest, buttonholed a woman with a clipboard, handed her $100 and allowed as to how I'd like to volunteer. I put my daytime, evening and cell phone numbers down on a signup sheet, told her I'd be happy to do phones, stuff envelopes, man tables -- everything except do door-to-door canvassing. (Bad hip and near-pathological aversion to Real Live People. 'Nuff Sed.)
I never heard back from her.
A friend of mine who's heavily into the local Democratic Party machine told me Webb's campaign is pretty disorganized. So be it.
So I'm trying again.
Early in my career as a journalist, I covered nothing but Bronx Democrats, almost no Republicans. The scandals were legion. Citisource. Wedtech. The school boards. Procurement. Cable television. There were kickbacks, and bribes, and brown paper bags. All the while, the national party was compromising with Reagan, who won his power by appealing to the remnants of racism in the south and by blaming the poor for the failings of government. Steve Gilliard knows a thing or two about disillusionment as a lifelong Democrat, and he neatly covers previous political failures as we stood by and watched:
So what did the Dems do? Nothing. They mocked the fundies, but they never figured out how to reach the ones who would listen and they existed.
But it was more than that. As the GOP built up databases and contacts with evangelicals and getting them to turn out, the Dems were increasingly restricting their efforts to "key" districts. What that did was leave the GOP free to use their financial advantage against Dems.
Ineptitude became common in Democratic efforts. Bad candidates, bad advice and more importantly, shitty strategic thinking.
Look at the Dean campaign. If the problems of the Democratic party could be summed up in one, easy to understand lesson, it was Howard Dean.
Glenn Greenwald correctly posits that the other side never worries about being wrong, while we do - all the time. And he argues strongly for saying what we really mean, running on our core beliefs, even if our core belief today is anger:
The single most erroneous and destructive premise among the Beltway political class -- which includes the Democratic consulting class along with their intellectual twins in the David-Broder-led punditry circles -- is that anger and passion are the enemies of successful political movements. They preach a mindset of fear and defensiveness -- never articulate a view too strenuously and never be driven by principle or passion because to do so renders one an unmoderate extremist who will alienate normal Americans.
Whatever else you might want to say about them, the Bush-led Republicans embrace their radical ideas enthusiastically and are never shy about advocating them. But the mentality of the Democratic consultancy and pundit class have, outside of that extremist GOP crevice, stripped our political system of any real conviction, passion, belief, and resolve.
Democrats so rarely mold, shape or drive public opinion because their consultants and pundits operate from the premise that passion and principle are to be avoided at all costs. Stripped to its essence, the core advice of these consultants, which most national Democrats have been embracing, is to follow, not lead.
Meanwhile as DemFromCT says, the media's narrative building - and it's a self-inflicted wound. Where does that leave us? I don't know, but when I'm picking up that bar tab, we'll have something serious to discuss - amidst the celebrating, for a victory that half scares us to death.