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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Geez, Now If We Only Had Some Issues

Yesterday, DR discussed how Bush’s personal standing with the public, partly because of disenchantment with the Iraq adventure, is starting to show signs of serious erosion.  That disenchantment seems likely to grow–indeed, as this article in today’s New York Times points out, disenchantment is even spreading to the families of the troops involved.
Yet Democrats–it seems fair to say–have yet to find their voice.  There’s a sense that they just can’t quite find the issue or issues to get some traction on that guy in the White House.
Can’t find the issues!  Well, howsabout this one: 6.4 percent unemployment, the highest in 9 years, as detailed in another article in today’s Times.  Or this one: the first President since Herbert Hoover to preside over a decline in the number of jobs during his administration.  (For more useful information on the administration’s job growth record, be sure to check out this report by the Economic Policy Institute.)  So far, the Democratic approach has been to criticize Bush’s tax cuts as irresponsible and clearly not helping the economy.
True enough.  But what’s their plan?  How are they going to get the economy moving–create jobs, promote robust economic growth and so on?  Especially in terms of the Democratic Presidential candidates, it seems to DR that this should be a centerpiece of their campaigns, not an afterthought.  (“Hey, check out this cool health care plan–oh, and by the way, I will get the economy moving again.  I promise.”)
And, while they’re looking for issues, don’t overlook the environment.  As reported by Katherine Seelye in Wednesday’s Times, it’s finally starting to dawn on Democrats and environmentalists alike that the more they can get voters to focus on environmental issues, the better off they’ll be.  (Doesn’t sound like rocket science, but politicians can be amazingly obtuse, particularly when they listen too uncritically to their consultants.)  Indeed, a recent NPR poll showed voters who selected the environment as their most important issue favoring an unnamed Democrat over Bush in 2004 by 40 points!
The economy.  The environment.  And regular DR readers know how important the education issue is and how Democrats mysteriously continue to ignore it.  Call it E3: economy, environment, education.  Democrats, you’ve got issues.  Now go get ’em.