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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Creamer and Lux: Dems Must Learn the Lessons, Act Boldly

No election post-mortem would be complete without insights from a couple of Democratic luminaries and occasional TDS contributors named Mike Lux and Robert Creamer, both of whom are posting at the HuffPo: Here’s Lux’s take:

Let me try to explain this to the caution captains in my party. There are two reasons we lost those Governors’ races yesterday, and they are closely related: voters are in a foul mood, and base Democrats – young folks, unmarried women, minorities – didn’t come out.
Let’s just spend a minute talking about the economy. Unless we start to produce a whole lot more jobs than even the optimists are projecting right now, voters are going to be in a really foul mood a year from now when they go to vote…And for the young people who haven’t found decent jobs, economically struggling single women, and minority voters who overwhelmingly voted for Obama and other Democrats in 2008 and 2010, they could well be feeling that they haven’t seen change they can believe in, that they haven’t seen the Democrats they voted for and in many cases worked for delivering anything that matters to their lives, and that will make them very tough to get out to vote. That’s what happened in NJ and VA this year, and it is incumbent on Democrats to change that dynamic in time for the election in 2010…In the face of a weak economy, angry voters, and a discouraged Democratic base, Democrats have exactly one chance at surviving the elections a year from now: deliver the goods.
…We are going to need to craft a strategy for winning that is based on deserving to win because we delivered important, tangible things that mattered to voters, things that make angry voters understand that we share their anger and are doing something to change things so their lives will be better, and things that help Democratic base voters feel like it is worth voting again.

And from Creamer’s “Four Lesson’s for Democrats in Tuesday’s Elections“:

First and foremost, the results show that it is critical that the Democratic message be framed in populist terms…Not surprisingly voters are unhappy. Ten percent unemployment, rising health care bills and shrinking incomes will do that. All of these problems resulted from the Republican policies of the previous eight years and the conservative values frame of the last thirty years. They have been caused by the concentration of power in Wall Street, the big health insurance companies and the dominant role of corporate special interests in Washington…But if Democrats do not clearly frame the debate in those terms, it is easy for voters to vote against whoever is in power at the moment — which now happen to be Democrats.

In Creamer’s point #3, ‘inspire the base,’ he notes:

Without an inspired base, Democrats cannot hold our own in 2010 — it’s that simple…Success at making change will help renew the faith of Independents and also help energize the base. But to be inspired, the base of the Democratic Party must be convinced that the president and his party are the champions of core progressive principles as well. A hopeful populist frame is critical to motivate mobilizable voters.

Creamer’s points #2, addressing how to win independent voters and #4, a cautionary note that comes with benefiting from the Republicans’ ‘circular firing squad,’ also merit a read. Both Lux and Creamer are saying that the wrong take-away from the ’09 elections is for Dems to embrace centrist timidity and fear of real change in the mistaken belief that the election indicates that moderation is the wave of the future. Instead, winning in ’10 and ’12 will require a bold, unmistakable commitment to fighting for jobs and reforms that benefit working people, instead of Wall St.

2 comments on “Creamer and Lux: Dems Must Learn the Lessons, Act Boldly

  1. pjcamp on

    Creamer is wrong. It isn’t about framing the damn debate. Democrats always think this. “Oh, we can engage in business as usual, as long as we’re in the right frame.”
    No, you have to BE the change you ran on. But we do notice that the people who have been placed in charge of fixing the economy are the very people who wrecked it. We do notice that when we saved civilization by bailing out the banking industry, the only people that didn’t suffer were those who drove the industry into the weeds in the first place. We do notice that every single bit of legislation that promises to help average Americans, from cram down to consumer protection to the public option, are being killed or slow walked by the very Democrats who worry about their damn frames. We do notice that the very agent of change in our times, the visionary president who was going to sweep all the criminal, anti-American policies away, was no sooner in office than he adopted Bush’s domestic espionage and indefinite detention policies lock, stock and barrel. Anyone who turned on the radio today heard our Democrat-led, liberty loving government arguing in the Supreme Court, with a straight face, that Americans have no right not to be framed by their government for crimes they did not commit.
    We see the Agent of Change In Our Times, of Boldness, and Leadership Into The Future engaged in indefinite dither mode on everything from Afghanistan to health care . . . . and you’re worried about the damn FRAME?
    Give me a break.

    Reply
  2. Kuyper on

    Some observations. First, Obama has to deliver, but it has to be real — not just a piece of paper and a photo op. And it has to be substantial — “He got us half a loaf” is not a campaign slogan that will energize anyone. Further, Obama has to get aggressive. The base is sick and tired of watching the “cool kids” in the White House give away everything it worked for, and get nothing in return. Preemptive capitulation is not a winning strategy. A final note — it may already be too late. The base isn’t just apathetic. It is furious. Many feel betrayed. Many of Obama’s key constituencies (gays, progressives, labor, the youth vote) feel that Obama is only too eager to throw them under a bus in order to placate an implacable opposition. Many have already decided to sit out the next presidential election, sitting on their hands, their wallets and their votes. Put bluntly, they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. I really don’t know how Obama can turn this around, but I can say this — nice speeches aren’t going to do it anymore.

    Reply

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