The results of last Tuesday’s elections have Democrats running with their pointy tails between their legs. Of course, it is natural to stop and reflect on what went wrong for them. Now is as good a time as any to do that – they will have plenty of time on their hands now that several of them are unemployed. And the ones who aren’t unemployed might as well be. Republican leadership wouldn’t cooperate with Democrats before the elections. They took the unprecedented step of eliminating Democrats from bill negotiations. Now that Republicans have larger majorities in both the house and senate, Democratic input is largely going to be limited to their work in the Sit-On-Your-Thumb committee.
When the Democrats get around to reflecting on what went wrong, they’re going to have to confront some painful truths.
Democrats don’t have a clue what moral values are. As you have already heard, voters whose primary concern was “values” went Republican by an astonishing margin. Or so we’re told. Is it really astonishing that voters recognize that Democrats don’t have values? Who can really be sure what the Democrats stand for when they change their minds so much? John Kerry’s flip-flopping around both sides of issues was typical of the Democrats – as a party, they stand for little other than badgering the Republicans. They vote for war in Iraq, then get mad about it later. They vote overwhelmingly for the USA PATRIOT Act, then change their minds. Aside from reinstating socialism and pandering to labor unions, it’s just not clear what Democrats plan to do.
It’s high time that Democrats realize just what liberal elitists they have become. They sit in their cosmopolitan dens, sipping French wine, completely oblivious to the experiences of the average American. Their most loyal supporters – college students – need to put down the Riesling and try working like the rest of us. If only the party wasn’t so enthralled by the liberal biases of CNN, NBC and Dan Rather, they might realize just how out-of-touch they are. They need to model themselves after a real party that doesn’t pander to the rich – the Republicans.
To be fair, Democrats were fighting a steeply uphill battle. President Bush is a strong leader who acted heroically on 9/11. He, not natural tendencies in times of disaster, brought the nation together. The president clearly had an advantage when it comes to fighting terrorism because he had experience doing exactly that. Testimony to the contrary by the more experienced counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke was politically motivated by his loyalty to Bill Clinton. There weren’t really very many weaknesses for the Democrats to attack. Bush is a straight-shooter – exit polls show that nearly twice as many voters who value honesty gave him their votes. Voters weren’t able to reject our fine leader, because as Larry King says, “You can’t say ‘no’ to the Commander in Chief.”
You might not agree with these statements. In fact, you don’t deserve a degree in higher education if you do. But they are firmly grounded reality in the minds of enough voters that they might as well be facts. The reason why Democrats were so thoroughly routed is because they are losing the information war. Democrats can’t control the image of their own candidates, let alone those of their opponents. Democrats don’t have a news studio on their side or the vast network of partisan magazines, newspapers, and talk radio hosts that Republicans do. Democrats don’t have the funding to compete with Republican advertisements. They have been so completely dominated that the language of debate itself is against them. It’s difficult to convince voters to support a “death tax” when you are fighting for the “right to life,” no matter how good your arguments are.
It is unlikely that this will change any time soon, so Democrats are going to have to improve their grass-roots organization something fierce. Democratic values are much more in line with the average American’s than most people think. Since Democrats can’t count on the current media to help them, they’re going to need more volunteers and a whole lot more word-of-mouth for a shot at the next election.
Loren Williams is a Daily Nexus columnist.