Beloved blogger Angry Black Bitch (I hear there’s some type of movement to have her declared a National Treasure – It could just be a rumor) recently posted her criteria for choosing a presidential candidate. It got me to thinking about an academic discussion on the mid-term election that I recently attended.
By the way, I attend academic discussions often. In my mind, it counts as “working” instead of, you know, actually working. I am an academic. They are academic discussions. Therefore, it’s part of my job. Plus, being totally broke, they are free entertainment. Sometimes they even serve snacks.
Anyway, one of the key speakers had previously been a strategic consultant for Democratic candidates. Though Democrats clearly dominated the audience (It is Boston, after all), the general reaction was surprise at the recent win. This particular strategist argued that it was really not the Democrats who won, but rather Republicans who lost. He stated his belief that the only way for a Democrat to win the presidency in 2008 is to focus on “the middle” and ignore the lefty base. The key, he suggested, was for a candidate to figure out what all those undecided people in the middle wanted to hear.
See, here is where I start getting all pissy over the established Democratic leadership. Why should we cater to the undecided folk? If that can’t decide, why should they be given the power to decide for everybody else?
Being elected as a leader should involve showing and explaining why you are the best person for the job. I don’t like the idea of a candidate being elected because he mastered polling. To be honest, most Americans don’t have enough information to form solid judgments about the nation. We don’t have time. That’s why we elect people who are supposed to know more than us. Most Americans couldn’t even answer who the U.S.’s biggest trading partner is (Canada, btw) or when it acquired Puerto Rico (1898, fyi). So, why should we try to base a campaign on what they imagine to be the major world issues? Why not just break out a Ouija board? You would probably get more informed answers.
Republicans don’t bother listening to what Americans actually think. Instead, they just sell the hell out of their candidate. No matter which way you slice it, Georgie Bush should never have won any election, ever. Technically, of course, he did not even win in 2000. Somehow people managed to vote for him in 2004 despite his obvious inability to do the job.
Everything Bush junior ever touched failed horribly. Large sections of his life are unknown, even to him, thanks to some serious drinking between the ages of 16 and 40. I think that he currently divides his day between Playstation, coloring books, and trying to figure out why his etch-a-sketch won’t draw a diagonal line. He should have been unelectable.
Still need convincing about how unelectable Bushie was? Consider this – His own father has never shown much emotion about his son in the White House. Yet, today he broke down in sobs over Jeb. When it comes to tears, Bush Senior apparently feels more pride for the son who has been a mediocre governor of Florida than the son who is President of the United States. You just know it has to do with the fact that Bush, Sr. secretly suspects that Laura ties George, Jr’s. shoes every morning.
Yet, people voted for the dumb-ass in 2004. The Republicans didn’t bother to care about what direction that the “undecideds” thought the country should go. Instead, they just buzzed the local NASCAR stadium with Air Force One a couple of times. When that didn’t work, they tapped into people’s racism and homophobia. They delivered a message to the undecideds. They did not take one from the undecideds.
So, the Democrats should have it easy. After all, the basic goals of the party would actually improve the daily lives of most Americans. Yet, Democrats are scared to have a message. The Bush camp labeled Kerry a “flip-flopper.” How did he respond? Well, first he took some polls to find out how Americans wanted him to respond. Then he ran it by a focus group. After that, he did a few media tests. Finally, after several weeks, he had an answer.
Hey, Democrats, instead of running campaigns listening to polls, why not field a candidate who is actually ethical and committed to some basic civil rights issues. After that, learn to sell his or her actual strengths. If you have a candidate who is stiff, don’t toss him in a cardigan and call it a day. Explain why the nation would actually benefited from having somebody so level headed. If somebody says that they imagine that they would rather “hang-out” with the Republican, tell them that’s great! Remind them that the “boring” candidate wants to guarantee all Americans’ basic access to medical care and work on reducing the national debt. Or, just ask them who they would rather hire to watch the store. If the Democrat is more boring because she was never a drunk frat boy, she is likely going to be a better employee. At least use the same criteria to pick a president as 7-11 does to hire clerks: No lushes, no felons.
I recognize that "spin" and "selling" are part of the game. Winning elections, however, does not need to be about catering to the lowest common denominator. I am not even really sure when that started happening. I am going to guess that it occurred about the same time as when somebody invented the job title “Political Consultant.” Let’s try an old fashioned approach of trying to sell a good candidate rather than trying to make one out of pollster play-dough.
Or you all could just install GayProf as your new Emperor and Overlord. Whatever.