2010: A Referendum On Governance, Not Messaging

In 2010, political consultants should have a hard time. Why? Because political messaging will be a blip compared to the real issue - the referendum on Democratic governance. As Kos puts it:

Republicans have broken our country, both militarily and economically. If Democrats deliver on their promises and start repairing the damage, the talk of "San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi" will be as effective as it has been the last two election cycles. If Democrats fail to deliver, then that will be taken into consideration by the voters, as it should be.

The only messaging issues that matter are the messages the Democrats will need to enact an effective agenda - an agenda that addresses the needs of the country. I believe that agenda is a progressive agenda. And indeed, the country thinks so too. The progressive agenda is now the Centrist agenda. The question now is do Democrats in power believe that too. I think that most do. We will see if that is true.

Speaking for me only

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    I agree totally... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jackson Hunter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:55:39 AM EST
    and that's what irritates me about all of this "Let's reach out to the Lizard Brains" that so many of Pres. Elect Obama more devout followers are pushing to defend the Warren pick.  The Liberal Agenda has swept two straight elections in massive landslides (in '06 not one Dem incumbent lost) and an impressive 7 point win in this cycle (which I admit surprised me, I thought it would be a 3 to 4 point win).  If "Elections have consequences" like we heard ad nauseum after Bush's narrow win in '04 (and outright theft in 2000), then it is Goose and Gander time people.  I'm not saying we should try to get everything on our wish list by '10 (probably not possible with the spineless Caucus and a Pres Elect determined to throw the Regressives every possible lifeline he can, at least for now, although once Obama finds out the the Regressives can't disagree without being disagreeable, hopefully that will change. Bill Clinton worked with them all the time and they still impeached him for being guilty of being a Democrat.  You would think that Reid, Pelosi, and Obama understand this, but so far they have given me little hope.)

    This is literally an once in a lifetime chance, if we show weakness at all the Regressives will pounce and attack as viciously as they can.  Count on it.  We must not flag or fail, but push the Agenda which is the best for the majority of the people.  The 1% had their party, now it is our turn to dance.


    Yup. Never mind what they say.... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by oldpro on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:57:03 AM EST
    watch what they do.

    In theory, the message sells the product (The Democratic Party) and its messengers who need a majority to set/enact their agenda.  Means to an end.

    Governance is the end.  The opportunity is to contrast competence with incompetence and make those brands stick.  FDR did it.

    Can Democrats do it again?  Time will tell.

    As BTD says, "...we will see."

    The politics of low oil prices (none / 0) (#1)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:25:24 AM EST
    are not helpful to the Democrats, IMO.
    Obama has promised that an energy policy will be his top priority;however, the singularly stupid American public has no interest in changing energy policy when gas is cheap.

    that's where leadership comes in (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by ruffian on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:24:23 AM EST
    Energy policy is too important to let slide due to a complacent public,

    Whose leadership?? (none / 0) (#16)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:36:33 AM EST
    Bingo. (none / 0) (#24)
    by dk on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:28:13 PM EST
    Obama's promises will be empty not because of the "stupid" public, but because of his own failure of leadership.  

    TANSTAAFL (1.00 / 0) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:31:33 PM EST
    You can fund R&D on new fuels, remove restrictions that are preventing new nuclear sites being built and encourage the use of natural gas no matter if the price of gasoline is a nickel or a $4.00.

    It is just a matter of desire and leadership.

    The facts, or course, are that if gasoline price is the former the economy will be producing the taxes to pay the bill. If the latter, the economy will be producing nothing.

    The technology on ethanol based E10 fuel is fairly straight forward. Perhaps the Democrats can eliminate the import duties on importing enough sugar to remove the roadblock to cheap ethanol that doesn't cause food shortages and price increases.

    E85 is another story. For it to be used in existing US based cars requires extensive and expensive modifications. Plus, the gas mileage of E85 is around 40% less that E10, and about 75% more ethanol is required. Then there is the fact that alcohol is a water scavenger and will mix with it. Currently water contamination is fairly easy to fix. Draw a pint into a glass container, shake it and look at it and you can see the "slugs" of unmixed water. Plus water sinks because it is heavier than gas so it is fairly easy to remove. Still possible, to a degree, with E85 but it's difficult. That portends big changes in distribution.

    The most immediate solution is hybrids. Everyone is making them and they will slowly replace the existing fleet of ICE vehicles. There is no reason that a hybrid can't produce plenty of power and not ask the buyer to give up anything. They should increase MPH overall averages by 30-40% in 5 to 10 years which would remove a huge demand for crude.

    Plug ins for local travel are still mostly a dream, plus there are remaining technology issues, chiefly in the batteries. Plus, batteries are heav7y, bulky and their parts are not environmentally friendly.

    Not usually discussed is that the existing electric grid is nearing max capacity, assuming you can actually produce more, which would be very expensive with "clean" coal, wind or solar. Then there is the cost of adding more distribution capacity. Just imagine millions of cars being plugged in 6:00PM.... I can hear the breakers popping from here.


    I suspect that obama (none / 0) (#2)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:42:18 AM EST
    Will not attempt to push any progressive or liberal social agenda. Instead he'll concentrate on economics. Liberal interest groups will petition him but remain largely ignored. I suspect he'll also increase defense spending to quiet the general staff.

    He has to, really (none / 0) (#3)
    by abdiel on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:46:49 AM EST
    If the economy gets worse or even stays bad, that will kill his agenda and break the Democrats faster than anything.  Voters can forgive privacy violations, bad wars, and stupid policies, but they can't forgive lay-offs, lower income, or falling house prices.  

    "It's the economy, stupid."


    any merely competent... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:01:23 AM EST
    ...benign administrator can take care of the economy.  After the looting by the Piratical GOP anything will look better and be better because it will involve some honesty. However that will just be an excuse for inaction elsewhere.   The top advisors will look back at Bill's first few years when he attempted to do a few liberal things with social policy and conclude that these things were not worth bothering with.  It's really amazing because Obama pandered to every little group prepared to listen.  It's the reverends, stupid.

    You must be (none / 0) (#26)
    by JThomas on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:29:32 PM EST
    very comfortable to opine that the economy is nothing more than a minor project that ''any competent benign administrator'' could knock out with ease by 2010.

    Out here in the real world, we got 20 million unemployed and vast more underemployed working folks who are scrapping to find work when we are losing 2 million jobs in the last 6 months.

    I hope you are right that my small town city administrator could outperform FDR on the economy...he took office in 1932 and the US did not really come out of it til the early 40's with WWII as the biggest stimulus of all time.
    FDR must have been a chump...took him a decade to do what any administrator off the streat could do in 18 months.

    If the economy was strong, then I would have different expectations of how Obama would employ his political capital. As it is, alternative energy and global warming is #2...another crisis that FDR did not dream of..healthcare? well, that has to be #3...FDR did get SS afterall.

    If he does this you will still deem him a failure,I am sure. Meanwhile he will close Gitmo,wind down Iraq, address Afghanistan(your solution?) and nominate a couple of progressive supreme court nominees. Still not enough...I know.


    No, not so much actually... (none / 0) (#28)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:38:53 PM EST
    ...it's more to do with diminished expectations. The economy is the basics.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#7)
    by ai002h on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:02:57 AM EST
    He needs to spend this political capital on the economy, cause thats all anyone cares about right now, and all anyone should care about to be honest. I suspect once thats done in 1-2 years, he'll start focusing on things like EFCA, DOMA, DODT etc...

    Look at Obama's policies (none / 0) (#5)
    by ai002h on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 10:59:13 AM EST
    and they're all pretty progressive, specifically on the economy. The guy is about to have an 850 billion stimulus with infrastructure, a new energy grid, and possibly health care reform as well. He looks like he's going ahead with his Iraq withdrawal plans and has already instructed Gates to draft up ways to shutdown Gitmo. So far he's kept his promises and, besides Warren giving the invocation, I'm pretty thrilled.

    An escalation in Afghanistan... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:03:11 AM EST
    ...does not mean we are getting out of Iraq.

    He always promised (none / 0) (#9)
    by ai002h on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:06:45 AM EST
    an escalation in Afghanistan. Now if that escalation comes in the form of 1-2 brigades PLUS aid and political dealings with the local Taliban, then I'm for it.

    And I've been critical of that plan for escalation (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:13:55 AM EST
    since the start too.  It's a plan that originated with the Foreign Policy establishment that cooked up the Iraq mess in the first place, and Obama's their front man.

    well, US imperialism is a given. (none / 0) (#12)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:23:44 AM EST
    Other parts of our policy can be changed.

    I think not. (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:36:21 AM EST
    It's going to prove impossible to decouple the war powers and domestic stuff if the war continues as it has.

    Depends how much money we (none / 0) (#18)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:40:33 AM EST
    spend on the wars. Fighting in Afghanistan, of course, will be  a picnic compared to fighting in Iraq. This is because Afghanistan is the "right" war to fight.

    It'll cost a great deal (none / 0) (#20)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:52:37 AM EST
    all airpower and mountain warfare.  Blood  & treasure, blood & treasure and then some more.

    Spending money on infrastructure is (none / 0) (#17)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:39:17 AM EST
    value neutral, in terms of progressive values.
    It could be very regressive, with too money money for highways, for example.

    Energy Grid?? (none / 0) (#19)
    by ai002h on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:52:18 AM EST
    You don't think thats a progressive allocation of resources?? Healthcare reform??

    I guess Obama's (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by dk on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:29:21 PM EST
    goldilocks healthcare ads didn't air in your state?  Or do you not have a television?

    Good idea, not really progressive. (none / 0) (#31)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 04:15:49 PM EST
    Not to be a downer (none / 0) (#23)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:23:03 PM EST
    but reaffirming promises is not the same thing as keeping them.  He won't even be sworn in for another month!

    2010 (none / 0) (#11)
    by koshembos on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:14:37 AM EST
    The quote from Kos is redundant; it's such a truism that saying it almost sounds stupid. The real problem is that by 2010 relatively little will be accomplished except, at most, stabilizing the the economy and making, hopefully, some limited progress. Energy will take a least a decade to accomplish; wind turbines, solar energy require long installation times and the initial returns are meager.

    The Democrats should think hard and fast to avoid paying for Bush's destruction.

    The public will give plenty of latitude... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Salo on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:28:51 AM EST
    ...and time.  If Obama stays clear of anything that smacks of social activism he'll be free to act for about three years and if he gags the left in the congress he'll be applauded.  If he is a tough guy in Afghanistan he'll be given that time freely by the likes of GE ahem NBC.  The War in Afghanistan will heat and cool down every summer as American troops flood in and then retreat to airbases every winter. For extra credit if he overthrows a few South Americans he will be granted a second term without a murmur from David Gregory.

    Stablizing the economy (none / 0) (#22)
    by ai002h on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:57:45 AM EST
    is not a little thing though, at least to the electorate. If that were to happen by 2010, that would be enough for the democrats to run on, and run on successfully. I'm obviously hoping that much more is done than that, because I don't think Obama will ever have more political capital than he does for his first year. Even if he were to get re-elected by huge margins in 2012, it still wouldn't earn him the same political capital because republicans would view that as Americans voting for the status quo, and if the status quo has been no real change from Obama, then thats what 2012 will reinforce to many. Of course, ideally, you'd want Obama to make big changes and then get re-elected therefore signifying a mandate for even more change.

    2010 (none / 0) (#29)
    by lilburro on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:52:32 PM EST
    I hope Obama is able to lead in a partisan manner and that Pelosi and Reid find their voices as House/Senate leaders defending their choices (esp. the big stimulus packages).  There will inevitably be openings for criticism, because they won't be perfect.  And those little openings will allow Republicans to try the "balanced government" thing again - send more Repubs to House/Senate, don't give Obama a blank check, blah blah blah.  

    The attacks are already predictable.  I hope that Obama will be able to deflect them by branding his success as a Democratic one.  In 2010, campaign for Jim Martin - and throw Rick Warren by the wayside.

    Sorry but Politicians are chameleons (none / 0) (#30)
    by SOS on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 01:00:49 PM EST
    and progressive to them is considered anything that makes more money for our brave millionaires and corporations leading the fight to economic freedom and "financial independence" !!!

    Being progressive means your going to be battling life against tough odds and constantly swimming upstream and against the current.

    Not a bad life if you prefer not being a corporate robot or assembly line automaton.

    Not really true (none / 0) (#32)
    by pluege on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 05:23:23 PM EST
    The progressive agenda is now the Centrist agenda.

    bush and the republicans have dramatically lowered living standards and opportunity across the US. So the former middle class now finds itself at great risk, and is therefore receptive to policies that help it. Its not that more Americans have suddenly become concerned about the greater good. Its that been forced to be concerned about themselves. If the poor and disadvantaged get a little help, its by accident, not design.  

    IN other words, there isn't any more American centrist altruism today than there was 8 years ago. The difference today is that republicans have eviscerated the middle class and the American Dream turning the former middle class to the government for help.

    Why do we believe (none / 0) (#33)
    by NYShooter on Thu Dec 25, 2008 at 03:29:17 PM EST
    That things will get better with Democrats in control when nothing they've done so far indicates they have the stomach for doing anything but accepting the status quo?
    Sure, they might not do things as rabidly stupid as the Republicans have done, but that's a pretty low bar to cross.

    George Bush was a once-in-a-lifetime outlier. The special interest hold on our government is total, which is about the only thing that's "non-partisan" in our "representation."

    Example: Everyone knows what we need to do to bring our educational system up to world standards, yet everyone also knows it won't be done. The Democrats are owned by the unions, and the Republicans are quite happy with a stupid populace.

    Obama was the perfect non-partisan choice. With a history of non-accomplishment, unless "keeping your head down" is considered an accomplishment, many of us still cling to the notion that "deep inside" he's a real change maker just waiting to explode onto the scene with the solutions when he's given power.

    Yup.....we'll see.