01/26/05 Democratic State of the Union Address:Redux
I had proposed that our party come together about two weeks ago to attempt to sabotage the big Coronation party. My thought was that we could very easily buy airtime on all the major networks, perhaps with a lot of the election funds that were left over, and preempt anything that the Bush administration had prepared for the inaugural speech for the following week. I just used my imagination and tried to anticipate what the White House would have to say on that day. You know what? What Dub came up with to say, in my humble opinion, wasn't even as good as the propaganda that I came up with.
The really sad thing to me is that I know in my heart this party could have come together on a moments notice and given a preemptive state of the union, if you will, that would have put RoveCo on its heels, and totally ruined the Coronation. More importantly, in so doing we would have seized the initiative and opened a true dialogue in this country in the press that could have transcended the partisanship of the Republican Party. If you are impressed and heartened by Bush's poor approval rating today, just imagine it being 10 points lower after two weeks of concerted effort from our party!
It would have been really great to have begun this on Coronation Day. The wonderful thing about life though, is that it is really never too late. That being said, I'd like to float some ideas about possibly ruining the Republican State of the Union address coming up. There is still plenty of time, and I think it would have a devastating effect. I would also like to offer some gentle criticisms of some things that I've noticed that seem to destroy us before we can ever take a step forward.
First off, much has always made about “the dark and mysterious wizard”, Karl Rove. Do not be so quick to assign any good fortune or twist of political whim to presumed strategy from this man. He is a very good consultant, nothing more, nothing less. If he were honest, he would probably delight in the way that we assign him credit for every minuscule victory that we perceive. The reality is that he has had the frequent fortune and skill to benefit from happenstance and misdirection. I will be the first to say that I am guilty of this aggrandizement as well, and actually have a lot of fun doing it; but overall it can be fairly counterproductive. This being said, some of Karl Rove’s main tenets, although dirty, are quite sound and powerful. If we do not make an attempt to master, answer, and counter these, we will ultimately be doomed. One of his main tenets, which is absolutely correct, is to attack your opponent's strengths. Another very useful one that he has borrowed is his,” If you were explaining, you are losing”. The Democratic Party needs to understand that these do not apply just during the time of an election. Perhaps it would be most useful to think of the next election as having started on November 3rd. Think of an election as something that is occurring and continuing whether you like it or not, 24/7/365.
All of this being said, the traditional, perceived strength of the conservative Republican Party is one of fiscal responsibility. Like it or not, they have mastered the successful ability to promote and stand on this illusion, so much so that, incredibly, there is not rioting in the streets over the fiscal irresponsibility and deficit spending that they have amassed in four years. We are now also faced in this country with the news that our own economy is rapidly being placed in the hands of Communist China through their continued willingness to finance our debt. I would like to propose a very simple and powerful frame for the party to adopt: George Bush:The Red Menace. Red Menace resurrects many fears (admittedly unfairly, but this is hardball!) of the Cold War, communism, and political repression. Picture George Bush handing over financial control to a communist country and avowed adversary! As well, it ties in with the current reality of the GOP run amok in Red Ink. Tying the whole thing in to a nice and distastefully gory package, we have the Red of the blood of our own sons and daughters and innocent Iraqis spilled needlessly to stave off moral and fiscal bankruptcy.
Minor criticism here: in a browsing around I have come across very, very intelligent people with incredibly passionate and well thought out diaries about specific topics such as a Social Security as but one example. The command of the details and these topics are mind-boggling! It is very good that we all become more knowledgeable about these things, as we become more powerful in so doing. But, I think the important thing that we need to make sure of is that we never lose sight of the central message of fiscal irresponsibility of the other party. In my humble opinion virtually all the topics that we discuss so passionately are ancillary and derivative of this main point. Another Rove pointer: “Keep it Simple.”
Another minor criticism here: When I proposed the Democratic State of Union the first time, some people thought it was a good idea (Which I was happy about!), but it quickly disseminated into who would be the best person to present this, and the whole thing very quickly died afterwards. Respectfully, I would submit that ‘who is the best person’ makes no difference whatsoever. We are in for the long haul. You can be guaranteed, however, that the first tactic from the other side will be to simply try to discredit and mock the messenger. This should be accepted as a given. If we do not have politicians in our party who are ready to step up and take a chance at surviving this, we truly are not ready to lead.
Yet another minor related criticism: If we continue to wring our hands and worry and cogitate over ‘who will be the one leader that can defeat them’, we are simply and mindlessly continuing to perpetuate the “W. authoritative father figure frame”. Do you want outside of the box thinking? Well, allow me to tear the sucker up and throw it away! If we are to be the party of inclusion, we must project that leadership does not depend on any one person, either man or woman. The Democratic ideal should be leadership by consensus. This promotes empowerment for everyone, and is highly contagious. One of the most powerful images than I can think of would be to have any Democratic State of the Union address delivered in tandem, by three of our best. To have three people in unified discourse stating the truth calmly and plainly is more powerful and reassuring than anything any one person can do. To demonstrate to the world true unity, cooperation, and consensus sends W. and the propaganda machine scrambling. In my humble opinion, the mixture of leaders is not important, but it should be made up of both sexes with the clear perception that many more are available and interchangeable at a moment’s notice. In the long run, with subliminal repetition, the message gets across that anyone in the Democratic Party can be a real leader as opposed to one George Bush.
Now, for my vision! I welcome criticism and other opinions as well, but honestly, I can see this so clearly in my mind. The Democratic State of the Union should be delivered in a very serious but relaxed and informal manner and setting. We should not fall into the trap of the fireside chat with well appointed mahogany library or executive office in the background. I envision three of our party's best with at least one or more being a woman. It would be outdoors and live, if possible. My ultimate fantasy would be to have the huge hole in the ground of the former World Trade Center in the background.
Insert in front of this your three favorite Democratic Leaders of the moment
The hole in the background would effectively symbolize the moral bankruptcy and waste of plunging our country into debt and war over the last four years. In so doing we will effectively bring closure to this tragedy for America on our terms. Bush and the Republicans would never be able to resurrect 9/11 again; if they do it will be effectively reframed as their fiasco, and they will do so at their own peril.
I think our appointed leaders should launch into a presentation of our interpretation of State of the Union limited to a handful of points which they will elaborate upon. These will be crafted in anticipation of Bush’s major points in the Republican State of the Union speech. What follows are five simple things which I feel would be powerful and useful for the Democratic party to champion and effectively draw a line in the sand about. They also represent issues which the Bush administration is quietly hoping to bury, have us forget about, and move on.
1) There were never any weapons of mass destruction, and we listened to you, believed and supported you to our country's peril. We were deceived.
2) There is no coalition of the willing. We have largely done this on our own.
3) We have “broken and bought” Iraq, through the misguided misadventures of this administration. The integrity of our country and our people and theirs are at stake.
4) The future of our children, and indeed our country, for generations to come, is being bought and sold in a futile pursuit of maintaining dependence upon oil rather than pursuing aggressively alternative renewable energy sources for the good of everyone.
5) Our party proposes to champion all of these causes and promote one central plank, "No more fear".
I won’t go into or elaborate on any of the points, because these are just my examples, and there may be others that would be better at it than I.
If I can only convince you of one thing, please let it be that this would work. Ideally it should happen immediately, to get past the first salvo of name calling in the press from both sides. The next move is to restate over, and over again. In so doing, the rhetorical thunder is stolen from the State of the Union Speech, and the speech writers are forced to commit to substance and addressing issues, something that Dub will never be able to pull off. Their only viable alternative will be to have Cheney give the speech! What a hoot!