What Democrats Can Learn from Canadian Conservatives
Kenneth Baer, a former speechwriter for Al Gore, thinks his party can learn a lot from the current political flap in Canada. While I disagree with much of his analysis, he’s right on the main point:
The lesson for Democrats is that while scandal may tarnish the opposition, anger and revulsion is not enough to win an election. No matter where they live, people want national leadership that can offer a vision of where the country should be going, and that is unencumbered by the battles of the past. For instance, arguing about what went wrong with the intelligence leading up to the war is important; but it’s politically worthless if Democrats can’t put forward a plan to stabilize Iraq and present a coherent view of America’s proper role in the world. Sweeping the bums out is not enough: You must say what you will do once you occupy the capital. And if the vision offered is neither in sync with the times nor the underlying public philosophy of the country, it will go nowhere–no matter the depth of the opposition’s misdeeds.
Quite so. The Republicans did this right in 1994, capitalizing on various scandals involving the Democrats by offering the proactive Contract With America but then did it wrong in 1996 and 1998, trying to make hay out of President Clinton’s scandals while offering little new. The Democrats did it wrong in 2004, rightly criticizing President Bush’s weaknesses but not presenting a better alternative vision.
We’ll see how 2006 goes.