Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dem's Big Tent Still the Way to Go

Out front, my main premise:
  • The Republican Party has been for some time developing into a rump party, as in "a small and inferior remnant or offshoot; a group (as in parliament) carrying on in the name of the original body after the departure or expulsion of a large number of its members." This is demonstrably true. Yes, both parties have lost a good deal of its membership to the independents, but the Republican Party's numbers have been trimmed the most. The independents are looking to belong, and the Democrats can give them something inclusive to belong to.
  • What remains of the Republican Party is a religiously, racially, and ideologically isolated contingent, despite their clinging to power based on a number of factors, not the least of which is its effective use of strategy and messaging. Yet it's quite vulnerable because of its isolation.
  • The Democratic Party, though weakened by its inability to outmaneuver the more politically competent rump Republicans, has a distinct advantage that can help them win over the longer term.
  • The Democrats can come to dominate American politics again -- as it did in the Roosevelt years, Kennedy-Johnson years, and most especially during the 40-plus years it controlled the Congress -- because it can embrace the hopes and needs of the largest numbers of Americans because it, and only it, can welcome so many seemingly disparate contingents.
There you have it. But there are keys to this longer-term strategy that should be no-brainers but strangely aren't, given the Democrats' history:
  • Maintain or even broaden the big-tent concept of inclusion. It's always been a blessing and a curse because shepherding the disparate members of the greater coalition takes work and a constant keeping an eye on the prize, which is difficult in good times and desperately hard in bad ones. Plus, the media has devolved into a group of gotcha-he-said-she-said-race-horse-what-the-hell-are-issues-and-policy stenographers for the whoopy-cushion set. That doesn't mean we can't manage them. The Republicans do well enough, right?
  • Big tent means everyone, at least everyone possible. We can't waste time on the folks inclined toward the Tea Party or the Islamophobes or the Southern white Christian blue-collar workers who think that they have to protect the prerogatives of the 1% just because they're gonna win the lottery some day. But we do need to embrace all that are excluded: GLBT's, Latinos, African-Americans, and, well, you know the drill.
  • This strategy gives us the keys to the 99%, a group that if properly leveraged can be a godsend in rousing the troops. Social and economic inequality link so much of our population together, and the narrative is compelling. Why waste it? Run with it!
  • Build and maintain a strong narrative: Republicans are what they are, and the world should be told about it until their ears fall off. The Republicans are an ever-decreasing minority who are, in effect, bullies. They bully the poor, elderly, and the middle class, and they bully the world with their insistence on do-it-our-way-or-we'll-blow-you-up-USA-fuck-yeah military-based diplomacy. They've lost the connection between working for the welfare of our entire society -- or the greater world, for that matter -- because their allegiance to moneyed interests and outdated religiosity doesn't allow for social programs (that cost the wealthy money, oh noes!), and they cover it up with shouts of socialism, when all socialism means is a government dedicated to the goals of society at large, not just the elite few. Fine, avoid the word socialism and say "we're for all the people." See, that wasn't hard, was it?
  • Make it clear as we press the narrative forward that we mean all the people, even the 1%. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and dozens of Hollywood millionaires don't mind paying taxes and working for the greater good. If you're actually in the 1%, welcome aboard!
  • Majorize the big-tent Democratic Party and marginalize the rump Republican Party. Don't bully but do remind Americans that we want you because they don't, pure and simple.
I could go on, but the point's made. There has been no greater time for an inclusive party, and there has been no time when the people are looking in greater numbers to climb on board. Give them something to believe in -- and that means believing in them, too, which is the essence of inclusion -- and they will join with a vengeance. Let the people know, we're in this together. And let the people know that the Republicans speak in code, and we've got the decoder.

And we don't get fooled again.

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