Friday, November 05, 2004

Change politics, keep policy

In the post below, I don't suggest any substantial policy changes. That's because I think they simply aren't needed. If we had lost 61-38 instead of 51-48, there'd be some reason to change our policy stances. As it is, we lost by just 100,000 votes in Ohio. The only real losing policy stance we had was the right to marry, and that's an issue where demographics are trending slowly in our favor. Terrorism doesn't really count -- Bush's advantage there comes out of personal identification with him rather than any kind of policy difference.

Furthermore, one thing that we can all learn from Bush is that your political rhetoric and your policy only need to meet at a few points. Bush talks about democracy promotion while weakening the hopes for democracy in Iran, Russia, Central Asia, and much of the Middle East. He talks about fighting terrorism while blowing the obvious opportunities to kill Zarqawi and Bin Laden. He talks about NCLB but fails to fund it. Your signature policy proposals only need a tenuous connection with the rhetoric you use to sell them, and you'll do just fine. Since it's the rhetoric that voters hear, that's what we need to change.

There might be some issues in our current policy portfolio we need to emphasize more, though. Raising the minimum wage always seemed like a political winner to me, especially if we have John Edwards to sell it as a moral issue of giving hard-working Americans what they deserve.


Neil Sinhababu said...

Justin, is there any way I can get you to either start your own blog or post here more often?

Mary said...

Regarding finding someone who can talk about religion without sounding like they're trying too hard: I don't think Kerry did that. I think Catholics and non-"evangelical" Christians as the media uses the term 1)have a history of having to explain themselves in this country and 2) often have nuanced beliefs and interpretations of Scripture that don't lend themselves to easy sloganeering, and might sound like "trying too hard." I think the non-"evangelicals" in this country have to get more vocal, but our very nature is not to try to impose ourselves on others. It's a problem.