I. Democrats know what they stand for and so does the electorate. They know we deal with corporate cronyism and regulate the environment. They know we'll improve schools. They know we'll balance the budget.
What they don't know is what we stand against. The Right Wing Media like to shout about our Bush-hating and alienation from the mainstream, but the fact is that no one knows who and what makes us angry. Which aspect of society is inimical to our idea of America?
I, for one, am happy to take a stand against creationists and everyone else who hates knowledge. Those people are not consistent with my America. Neither are rapacious CEOs who loot their employees' pensions. We should take advantage of the symbolic strength of opposition--it's a shortcut to a clear-cut position that doesn't require years of think tank position papers.
That's a point I've been harping on for awhile. In New Jersey, where Democrats are in power and have a functional machine, our politicians know what the hell they're doing! Circumstances have been bleak (McGreevey etc), yet the Republicans never gain the upper hand because we move to counter events as they occur and bend them to our benefit. Take the pay-to-play legislation that just passed the state senate: it probably won't make government too much cleaner, and that's a good thing. But it does ensure that NJ Democrats don't become the party of Charles Kushner, and it was passed a week after a mass arrest of corrupt Republicans.
Why are national Dems, especially so-called moderates, so bad at politics? These southerners see one another drop like flies and STILL play ball with Republicans. Why did the Democrats run one sparsely-attended hearing on bad accounting of Iraq war spending? The country won't punish us for highlighting government waste and cronyism in wartime; quite the contrary, they didn't punish Harry Truman in 1944 or Lyndon Johnson in 1952. Why aren't the Democrats loudly celebrating an election in Iraq and Palestine and democratic inching in Lebanon and Egypt? All the better to remind people that the President went to war based on lies about weapons of mass destruction, and it's the Democrats that are the party of idealism here and abroad.
The electorate isn't stupid, but we continue to treat them as though they are. Democrats seem to have a pathetically basic conception of politics: you either go to the left or go to the center. If you're from a red state, it has to be the latter. Politics is a sophisticated field, and we cannot master it. Our party has very skilled doctors, lawyers, economists, web programmers, electricians, corporate leaders, musicians, airplane pilots, engineers, architects, biologists, and mechanics. Where are our fucking politicians?