Friday :: Mar 4, 2005

Death to Focus-Group Populism!


by rayman

This morning's must-read comes from Liberal Oasis, which neatly dissects the latest Democracy Corps memo (warning: pdf) which laments the Democrats' inability to reap substantial political gains from the massive unpopularity of the administration's Social Security phase-out scheme:

The heart of the matter is the role of our government. But the poll-vetted principles never even mention the word.

That’s because Democracy Corps is still running scared -- of being tagged as liberal, of being seen as supportive of a role for government.

[...]

But the party has been too afraid to stress this, too afraid to make a case for responsive government, for fair and adequate taxation.
Too afraid to embrace its liberal underpinnings, and define it for today’s times, the way the GOP has for conservatism.

It is that fear which has hampered the Dem messaging, in Social Security and elsewhere.

It is that fear that leads Carville and Greenberg to think they can graft principles on the party through polling.

Until the party is willing to use big confrontations over issues like Social Security to exemplify the importance of government and shift the parameters of debate, we may win some more battles, but we won’t win the war.

I've always been amused that Greenberg and Carville (along with Bob Shrum) are considered "populists" within the Beltway. It's precisely their brand of synthetic, focus-group populism (or "tone-deaf Chardonnay populism" in the case of Shrum) which prevents Democrats from developing a comprehensive message. Fortunately, Howard Dean understands this deficiency by repeatedly stressing over-arching "Democratic values," instead of simply slicing-and-dicing individual issues like prescription drugs and Social Security. Hopefully, the rest of the party will get hip to this approach.

rayman :: 6:03 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!