Wednesday :: May 28, 2003

How to Beat Bush-Part Two


by Steve

Since I wrote the post about going after Bush head on regarding his lack of integrity and directly at his two presumed issues of tax cuts=jobs and terrorism, I have been thinking about how to sell it. In other words, how can a Democratic candidate eviscerate Bush and Rove on their issues, inoculate themselves from attacks from Rove and the media about class warfare, directly remind voters that Bush is a lying snake, and do it in a way that recommends them for leadership of our people.

I have come up with a couple of points that I want to run by you. First, Rove has created an argument for election in 2004 based on folks’ basest instincts: fear and greed. There is no over-arching message or calling to our greater selves here, just a pitch based on “I want mine; you’re on your own. Don’t ask questions.” I think people are yearning for more than that out of their political leadership, and the polls reflect that. When voters tell pollsters that economic growth and jobs are now their number one concern, and health care is now a rising issue, with tax cuts near the bottom, it is clear that people still want the safety net beneath them and jobs ahead of them.

Second, it struck me today after re-reading the Ipsos poll results I posted yesterday and seeing the job outlook for college graduates reported by ABC News today that the GOP is on the verge of losing the important 18-29 age bracket. While I was thinking how the Democrats could recapture this age group, something else struck me that pointed to an even more effective campaign strategy. Because of Bush’s actions and squandering of the prosperity that Clinton left to him in 2001, the GOP not only has a problem with the 18-29 age bracket. The GOP is vulnerable with all age brackets. Why?

To the 18-29 age bracket, those entering the job market will find a stagnant economy with mediocre job prospects for college graduates. This can be contrasted against the last several years under Clinton, where college graduates faced much brighter prospects and futures. The situation facing non-college graduates under Bush is bleak: your choices appear to be between enlisting in the military to fight wars serving conservative political agendas based on lies, or to line up for a job at the nearest mall or fast-food restaurant. There are no new industries to train for, nor vocational or trades programs to teach you a skill that will provide you with a good life without college, assuming there were jobs in those trades or skills.

To the 30-44 age bracket, you are the ones most likely to support Bush on his “Top Gun” routine. Yet as you raise your family, do you really feel safer now than you did on September 10, 2001? As you are raising your kids, has Bush delivered as the “Education President” or has he lied once again about his commitment to “Leave No Child Behind?” Are you sure that you and your family will have access to affordable health care, or are you one job loss away from joining the ranks of the uninsured under a President who broke another campaign promise by not offering a solution to the problem of the uninsured? Will your children have a clean and safe environment to grow up in, or has this man lied to us and broken those promises also? As the economy gets worse and worse, and with this president doing nothing to help the states and local governments deal with problems that are largely the creation of a irresponsible federal government, do you feel your communities, schools, and roads are destined to become more unsafe, impoverished, and poorly serviced? And do you feel your privacy rights, including a woman’s right to control her own body, will be threatened by another four years of this man and his religious zealot friends?

To the 45-54 age bracket, as the baby boomers near retirement, you have seen the entire prosperity and surpluses racked up by Bill Clinton squandered in a blink of an eye on tax cuts for Bush’s rich individual and corporate campaign contributors. That money was supposed to go to shoring up Social Security and Medicare, in other words, your entitlements. Bush’s stewardship of the economy has seen a destruction of your 401 (k) and the crushing of your plans for an early retirement, all occurring while his administration watched his corporate friends raid your pension funds while they blew up your companies under the nose of his regulators. In this economy, if you lose your job, how likely are you to find another one without suffering serious changes in your family’s way of life. If you lost your job, you would also lose your family’s health care. And with your kids heading to college, and with reductions by Bush in student aid, how would you be able to ensure that your kids will have a better life than you? And do you really feel the world that George W. Bush has created for your children and their children will be safer as a result of our constant search for new wars?

In the over-55 bracket, you also watched Bush drain the Treasury of the funds necessary to shore up Medicare and Social Security. But more importantly, because of Bush’s choice to lavish tax cuts on his campaign contributors, he has chosen to break another campaign promise to provide you with a meaningful Medicare drug benefit. As a result, he now says there is only enough money to provide you with a drug discount card that will still enrich his Big Pharma campaign contributors while making you vulnerable to large drug bills that will require you to choose between food and medicine. And worse yet, you are watching all of this and no longer have the assurance that your kids and grandkids will have a better life than you did, while you worry that you will be a burden to your kids because of a lack of real medical coverage. And if you are a veteran on top of that, you find that this administration is underfunding your retirement and cutting back on your VA services, throwing you to the mercies of the safety net that is being shredded all around you. That is the thanks you get for serving your country.

Therefore, instead of basing their attack heavily against Bush on class warfare or pandering to interest groups, a Democratic candidate can mount a “generational” challenge to Bush, showing voters across all age groups that Bush has abandoned them and his campaign promises to pursue a climate of fear and rewarding a select few. In this way, such an attack will withstand the lapdog media backlash frequently spurred on by the GOP that a Democrat is engaging in class warfare or practicing interest group politics. Such an attack made on generational grounds will be based as I said last week on Bush’s actual record of breaking promises to all Americans in all walks of life across all age groups.

Therein lies the hook to hammer Bush on his lack of integrity and to show voters that his actions have adversely affected the hopes and dreams of Americans across all age groups, from children to seniors. And in this way, the Democratic candidate can hit Bush on the gravest weakness in Karl’s game plan: by building an election campaign on fear and greed, Bush is offering Americans and their children little if anything in the way of one critical thing: Hope.

As a result, the Democratic candidate can beat Bush by offering hope, optimism, and a vision of how to return our country to where it was just a few short years ago. Quite simply, are you and we as a nation better off than we were just four years ago? Under this administration for another four years, do you feel things will get any better for you or your children, and can all generations of Americans afford another four years of abandonment so that the few can be rewarded?

Bill Clinton understood this better than Bush ever will. The Democrats need to spend the summer attacking Bush’s character and pattern of lies to establish the negatives on him and use his own record against him. But they need to also begin immediately offering optimism and a sense of how to get back to where we just were, so that voters can see how to crawl out from under the fog of fear that Rove has created. And if the Democrats can show voters across all age groups that they all have a stake in making that journey together and buying into the dream of a better life than Bush’s limited vision can offer, then Karl and his two-prong strategy will be worthless.

Steve :: 10:34 PM :: Comments (21) :: Digg It!