Monday, April 17, 2006

Nothing on the Table

As the 2006 campaigns start in earnest, Democrats have an interesting strategy - offer nothing. Eleanor Clift from Newsweek says that Democrats killed Ted Kennedy's immigration bill so that the immigrant protests on April 10 would be all about the Republican bills already introduced.
And it didn’t take much persuading when New York Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer reportedly made the case that the failure to get a bill would be good for the Democrats. As the head of the Democratic campaign committee, Schumer is focused on getting his party back into power in November. With immigration protests planned for Monday, April 10, the thinking was that Senate inaction would leave the Republican House bill out there alone for the GOP to explain and defend. The House bill would turn undocumented workers into felons and impose criminal penalties on anybody who assists illegal immigrants.
David Sirota goes further, accusing Democrats of using a Seinfield strategy.
Because Democrats are only in the hunt thanks to gross Republican missteps--and they are going out of their way to make sure their potential election to the majority is about nothing. Call it the Seinfeld strategy.
Originally Democrats were going to win by fielding angry Iraq veterans. That hasn't worked as well as they hoped so now they are hoping to win by not being Republicans.

This may well help them with the swing voters but it still misses the big problem that Democrats have - defining themselves and what they believe in. Sirota wants to see some red meat Liberals (or is that White Tofu?). Anyway, he wants liberal candidates running on a liberal platform. He is probably going to be disappointed.

The big question is if a strategy that appeals to the moderate swing-voters will get the party faithful to the polls? When Gore tried a moderate campaign, the liberals voted for the Greens as a protest. Something like that might happen again.

At the same time, Republicans need to define themselves better, also. They've swung away from the budget-cutting, libertarian views of the early 1990s. Now they are pro-defense, big-spenders. I'd like to see more fiscal discipline. If the republicans keep their hold on Congress it will only be because the Democrats are just as disorganized.

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