The Original “L Word”
David Adesnik of OxBlog finds Nancy Pelosi running away from the term “liberal” in the run-up to the November elections.
The president’s approval rating hasn’t seen the brighter side of 50% in years. Confident liberals installed Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic party and threw their weight behind a successful anti-Lieberman insurgency. So, has the day finally arrived when the Democratic leadership is no longer afraid of the “L-word”?
The question is whether this strategy will be effective:
Now, one could argue that this is good strategy. Polls consistently show that there aren’t enough self-identified liberals to put the Democrats over the top.
But if the Kos-Dean-Lamont message is that Democrats must get tough, can they do so while rejecting a label in public that almost all of them would [embrace] in private? Can you be assertive if you don’t have a clear identity? Or is putting on a different face for the cameras just part of being tough?
I generally agree that the Democrats have to make this election about competence and policy rather than ideology to win; while there are probably more liberals in the electorate than people willing to wear the “liberal” label, realistically the Democrats will need to demobilize traditional Republican voters and recruit swing voters to have a chance at control of Congress, and neither of these groups are likely to be excited by a wholehearted embrace of the “L word.”
Then again, this is the party that tossed Joe Lieberman aside and turned a safe seat in Connecticut into a toss-up, at least in terms of who the winner is likely to caucus with, so it’s not entirely clear this message has gotten through to the base.