Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Fallacy of the Vanquished Democratic Party

Click here for AmazonThere appears to be a new GOP meme wafting through the new media that goes something like this: the Democratic party "has been completely intellectually vanquished". That "we [continue] to tally up the 'I told you so’s.'". Or reveling in the seeming surrender of the MSM with their refrain that, "maybe Bush was right." And, of course, celebrating victories over partisan hacks disguised as unbiased newsmen.

But I think it's a mistake. There are legitimate opportunities for the Democratic party to make inroads, albeit on issues not quite so critical as national defense. Here are four issues on which I believe that the GOP is increasingly vulnerable:

  • Reliance on Oil - the GOP needs to put its money where its mouth is, and dramatically raise the fuel economy requirements for automakers. For years, lobbyists for GM, Ford and the usual suspects have been successful at preventing major changes in fuel economy standards. And that's an opportunity for the Democratic party to make real inroads on an issue that's hitting every American smack dab in the wallet. There's no good reason that fuel economy standards aren't aggressively raised each and every year... and that vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks aren't classified correctly.

  • Social Security - Rather than insisting 'there's no problem' (instead of taking the intellectually honest, though ineffectual, line that Bill Clinton and Al Gore took in the late nineties), why don't the Dems stake out a plan that resonates with the American public? It doesn't have to be private accounts... but something that can salvage the system. After all, anyone with a grade-school education knows we have a problem.

  • Medicare - No one in either party is talking about the five trillion pound gorilla - Medicare. Look up unfunded liabilities in the dictionary and you'll probably see a picture of the Medicare logo. How about someone -- anyone, for goodness' sake -- coming up with a plan to attack the problem?

  • Bankruptcy Protection - The GOP is ramrodding a bankruptcy bill through Congress that appears to deliver a gift-wrapped box o' money to the credit-card companies, whose business practices already border on the obscene. Because most bankruptcies are caused by legitimate, catastrophic disruptions to personal cash flow (extended illness, job loss, etc.), the GOP is doing the public, especially senior citizens, no favor with this sort of tripe.

  • The Democrats need a beachhead. They can pick one or more of these issues -- all of which resonate with the baby-boomer generation -- and make hay. But simply opposing anything the Administration does is not a strategy. And that seems to be the only play in the Howard Dean playbook thus far. If the Democratic strategists get their act together, though, watch out. There are plenty of vulnerabilities in the GOP defensive line.

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