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All  my life I had been a large corporate guy. For fun, I started a software design company doing work for public utilities and local authorities. Mainly in Visual C and C++ (don't worry, I never could handle stuff like that either).  It was fascinating. I didn't even know how to use Excel when I started. I translated the customer's needs into a model and the programmer's turned it into something usable. No system design engineers. Too fancy. Too expensive.

Prototyping? We invented it. Except we didn't know that was what we were doing. Talk about iterative modelling. We were back and forward to the customer every second day.

But it worked. Our software reflected the needs of our customers in a way that none of your big software company stuff ever does. No fancy systems manager telling the customers how it should work; just the customers telling us how it should follow the way they worked. We developed some good systems. It was fun.

Except it started not to be fun. With up to a dozen people employed, we had to sell the product. At least, I had to try and sell it. The sort of brilliant geeks who worked for me hated leaving their monitors. I was all they had. In any case, I was the most dispensable. Trouble was that I had never sold squat in my life.

I usually took Graham with me in case they had a systems guy on their side. One day we got a call to go up North to do a sales pitch. For some reason most of our customers were always on the other side of the country. Each sales visit cost us $2000 dollars a time. Not clever when you grossly under price your product because you don't know how to sell it.

So Graham and I went North. It seemed like a great potential customer. I had just come off the back of a visit to Manchester that was a complete downer.  I had pitched to a manager who had assembled eight of his people into a nice little lecture room. I gave them my best shot. At the end, after two hours of questions, the response came "Thank you. That was one of the best monthly seminars we have had for a long time. We like your software as well. We just wish we had the budget for it in the next year."

As my company was making no money, the $2000 spent on the visit came straight out of my pocket.

Now look, I don't want you sniggering at me. I know that you yanks are the best sales people in the world. I don't joke. You are. The Brits can sell a bit too, so don't take my performance as indicative. I was just a human resources guy who was one of the best industrial relations negotiators of his time. I was just a dumb salesman, that's all

So we went into this customer and he was a nice fellow and gave us a cup of tea and we chatted away and then he invited me to explain my software and how it could help him. By this time, I felt a bit churlish about doing so. After all, he was a nice guy and it was a pity to spoil our blossoming friendship by asking him to buy something.

Still I was excited. He had shown me his current system and ours was exactly the advanced application that he needed. I had a field day telling him all that it could do. Way beyond the capability of the machine code, steam driven thing on his network.

He was nice at the end as well. He was definitely going to discuss it with his people.

In other words I had bombed. I had screwed the whole thing up and I knew it and I admitted this to Graham in the car. I pulled the "How to be Successful in Sales" paperback book out of my pocket. "Look at chapter seven, the sales review section, and tell me what I did wrong". I asked him.

I set off down the motorway for the long drive home as he read to himself what the book said. When we stopped at a motorway café, he told me his conclusion. "According to this", he said "you told him what was wrong with his current system and what was so great about ours, but you never asked him what problems he wanted to solve. It was only luck if you hit any of the issues that were critical to him."

I didn't fire Graham for telling me that, George W, I just felt an idiot and told him so. We never did as badly again.

If you have got this far, you may be wondering how the title relates to all this? Probably not much, but then another kindly email last night reminded me that I don't do diary titles very well either.

But you see, I worry about the dialogue going on here and other boards. They are so damn depressing. Everything is going wrong and everything is going to get much worse. The only relief is when someone on the other side says or does something so outrageous that even our sleeping media wake up for a minute.

Just look at our diaries for the last few days and pass the Glenfidditch or the Southern Comfort. It doesn't matter which, it's not the taste that I'm after.

Our blogs are choked with negativity. Our most recommended diaries are those which seem to feed our misery the greatest.

Yet at some stage the concerns of members of the Democratic Party had better stop looking at the doomsayers and start taking a positive and progressive view of what is and how it can be made better, rather than the awfulness of what could be.

No solution to avoid a downturn in the economy or prevent a future crisis in oil or to make right what has been done in Iraq is going to emerge by 2006. Accept the fact and work within the current boundaries of the possible.

These 2006 elections really are not that far away. The transition from appearing to be just a party of opposition into a party of government must be made, and made now.

It is not that the concerns aren't right nor that they don't need urgent addressing. It is just that there are a few short months left until 2006.

You stuffed the world with the result of your  04 election, we Brits are going to stuff it next by voting Blair back into power in 05. Please, please don't let it happen again in 06! We have to change mode.

So what was the point of the introduction showing what a stupid, dumb idiot I am? It was a bit of honesty that allows you a laugh at my expense in order to persuade you not to go down the same path.

You see, when we start talking of becoming positive, what do we say? We talk of defining our values, of framing issues in a way that we can address them. We are writing diary after diary about what is wrong with their product.

Oh, sure. You know better than any Republican the misery of just getting by, of facing unemployment, or coping with the cost from the sudden sickness of a child. You know because you care and, if you haven't suffered these things yourself, you are more empathetic than others to those who are facing these difficulties.

Yet these aren't the votes you are trying to turn your way. It's those on the margins of the right that you want to get. The tiny number, the 1.8% that you spend millions of dollars to try and reach with your advertisements. These are the ones. The voters who heard something in what the religious right said that resonated with them, the ones that still think the social security plan of George Bush makes some sense and the ones who don't go to church but somehow feel that all this talk of proper values has some meaning for them.

Heck, most of you have better degrees than me so I don't have to spell it out for you. You are currently presenting to the customer at best the great bells and whistles of your product. You are not talking about what you can do to solve the issues and concerns that are really concerning them.

Why did some of these voters that once voted for you, vote for George Bush? Well, start asking them what they are looking for that the Bush product seemed to offer them, not turn them off by enquiring why they supported dumb policies.

Let me have a couple of guesses, although from here I can't possibly know enough to get the right ones. Aren't you the slightest bit concerned about the youth crime and kids carrying guns to school and seeming to have lost respect for everything? The right wing religious nuts addressed it. Addressed it stupidly, but at least they addressed a concern that these voters had. Aren't you a little bit concerned that companies are running out of the ability to fund their pension schemes and benefits are going to suffer? Well George Bush addressed, stupidly but he addressed it. Aren't you a little bit concerned about homeland security? Well.... you know the rest.

If you think I am suggesting meeting these people half way toward Republican policies, I'm not. I just want you stop spending your time telling your customer what is wrong with the product he or she has now. I want you to stop telling your customer how great your values are and how wonderful for them your product would be.

I just want to see diary after diary investigating not Gannon/Guckert but what the concerns and issues are for this 1.8% marginal swing voter. You can't laugh at them, deride them or otherwise be snide about them. They are real people with real concerns who somehow allied themselves to the right rather than to you.

Forget the fact that you would never hire a PR firm to promote your message in the media because of your Democratic ethics and consider which of these values of yours creates a policy that can address these individual anxieties of theirs. Then you can play the Dog Whistle Politics that the brilliant Aussie invented like you were a master of the instrument. Without having to flex one damn knee towards the Republican agenda.

Then we will see positive diaries, diaries full of bright ideas and solutions. I can stop drinking and need not flee to Cheers and Jeers for light relief from the interminable gloom.

The bordellos? I lied about going there. My mum told me never to go into one.  

Originally posted to Welshman on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:02 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  darn good, and recommended (4.00)
    but, I read all the way to the end hoping for the story of the Welshman and the Bordello.  Guess you are a good salesman after all. :)

    ..."no, but I have a sticky Warhead in my pocket."

    by getmeoutofdixie on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:13:00 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, who's not a salesman? (4.00)
      Welshman, you're not a salesman like Chimpy's not a power-crazed imbecile. Fantastic diary-- and that's by your own high standards.

      I donated to ePluribus Media. Support citizen journalism!

      by Sandia Blanca on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:23:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Strongly Disagree (4.00)
      At least with the absoluteness of the point.

      I fully agree that the left in general needs to be brainstorming solutions to people's problems. I've advocated that here repeatedly. And I think the DKos is a good place to do it.

      But, the Daily Kos serves another funtion that is at least as important if not more: to keep power in check.

      The "negativity" or, more appropriatly, the focus on that which is wrong, is nothing more than compensation for the fact that the mainstream press isn't going to do it.

      Does anyone believe that the press, or the Washington Democrats for that matter, have done a sufficient job of holding the Bush administration and their cronies accountable?

      The Daily Kos is filling a vacuum. And as many of the scandals that have emerged from the blogs illustrate, if we don't do it, who will?

       Now, I agree that we need to offer "the other half": solutions. I've personally tried to live up to that with some of my post.

      But this isn't just a sales pitch. This is war. We have an enemy who will do everything in their power to destroy everything we believe in. They will cheat, lie and steal. They will use billions of dollars to do it.

      So holding them to account is one of the most important roles we have here. And again, no one else is going to do it.

      If it gets depressing at times, I suggest we follow the advice of Lewis Black  at the other night's correspondence dinner and have a sense of humor.

      Now, keep in mind this is coming from someone who has posted solutions many times. I had actually planned, upon Kerry's victory, to spend this year posting a series of essays on policy, how to make government work. I had wanted to be talking about decentralization, open sourse government and a new era of democracy. But instead we're stuck playing right-wing watchdog's. So be it.

      I still plan on having those discussions if people are willing. I look forward to it. But let us never waiver in our commitment to hold the right to account. No matter how negative it seems.

      And besides, we always have Friday catblogging.

      Here's my cat Zippy

  •  Now you've gone and done it (4.00)
    With all this talk about meeting needs, I'm going to have to post my big essay on how to take over business with progressive capitalistic values.

    C'mon!  Don't do that to a guy!

  •  Recommended (4.00)
    Finally someone gets it right without using all that turnoff conceptual jargon from the small frog pond political bestsellers that are actually more negativity.

    Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

    by Rolfyboy6 on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:22:13 PM PDT

    •  Can anyone prove Bush won? (3.33)
      That's the latest wedge being ignored by Democrats.

      Half, if not more, of the party thinks the election process has been corrupted. (Including the candidates wife)

      So when the other half pleads to them to get over it and work for 06 it falls on deaf ears.

      How can anyone move past all the crimes committed in the first four years when people think there is no evidence that any remedy can be found at the ballot box.

  •  you are right! (4.00)
    But more important, have you picked up any C&C wedding tchotkes yet?

    Seriously, I think (hope, expect) we'll all get to a more "constructive" phase (which many are indeed already doing).  But at the same time, we're probably still somewhere in the "building disgust with the ruling party phase", which unfortunately seems to be critical these days to get the public even to pay attention to the opposition (Dems)in the first place.  The "negative" diaries are important to the extent that they provide info that the MSM chooses not to disseminate, which we in the Dkos community can then pass around to our less-well-informed brethren/sistren (sp?).  And the action alerts are equally important.  To the extent that diaries just rant and rave and curse without adding anything to the discussion at hand... well, that's what the "back" button is for!

    At bottom, as well, it's up to our Dem policymakers to start to actually make a difference when they introduce legislation (whether it passes or not, of course), or take a loud, principled stand FOR a certain issue rather than AGAINST one (and stop relying only on "the politics of No," as I've heard it described) -- and do whatever it takes to get the necessary media coverage!

    In the meantime, I'm sure this Greek Chorus that we call Dkos will reinforce the positive as well as the negative when the opportunity is there-- (just like with the B. Boxer diary earlier this am...)



  •  donkeys (4.00)
    I just posted this comment also on BooMan. Hope it is of interest here too.

    I once had teacher in psychology who said human beings are like donkeys, you can get them to move in two ways, one is by hitting them with a stick from behind and they will start running just anywhere away from the stick, however they might end up in a place even worse than before. Or you can tempt them with a carrot or a sugar into moving toward it.

    To me democrats seem to be like the donkey running away from the stick. The carrot would be a vision or goals - but at least from abroad they are not visible to me. What I consider important is to create a vision that is worthwhile moving towards. I am sure then democrats can be successful again.

    •  you got the idea (4.00)
      ... and packaged it into a great metaphor.  There's even a Donkey involved!!  

      There is a vision that is worthwhile moving towards.  I think that many of us have a vision like this in our heads that gives us motivation in our everyday life.  It gives leaders the fuel to carry on.  Call it the American Dream, or whatever you want.  But the vision is there.

      All the Republicans are doing now is using fear as a cudgel.  9/11 and the post-9/11 atmosphere (pollution is what I call it) created an enviornment where enough people are swayed by fake macho bravado and wouldn't know real leadership if.. well if they were clubbed with it.

      Perhaps people on DKos can start focusing on their personal visons.  Talk about their positive personal stories.  I'm talking about what their dreams and aspirations are... and how they are going to acheive them.  In doing this a positive dialog can begin about how our visions relate to each other.  Then perhaps we can find common ground to what the Democratic Party should be doing to help us acheive our goals.  

      Because lets face it, every Democratic leader of the past century had a compelling personal story that they used to gain power.  FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton.. we could relate to their stories.  They were genuine, real, and while they had their flaws, they were overwhelmingly positive.

      Democrats are the natural party to harness this positive national vision.  Somehow we've gotten away from that.  I think we all can list some reasons for this.

      But we've got to get that sugary carrot back.  Because the next Democrat to win the presidency will need a positive story to tell and the "PR" and great communication to do it.    

      "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society" -- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

      by wintersnowman on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:58:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent, just plain ol' excellent. (none)
    I cannot add to it.  I did giggle at the sales scene.  You did an admirable job of trying to focus actions and thoughts.  Let us see if anyone else thinks so.

    You really should put a tip jar out.  Some people may need a bit of time to internalize what you just said, but it is definitely worth tipping.

    ePluribusMedia Support citizen journalism!

    by kfred on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:31:03 PM PDT

    •  Nah! Nice cup o' tea would be better! (4.00)
      Or of course some of that Southern Comfort.
      •  Or some Southern Comfort IN that cup o' tea! (none)
        (Not for me, thank you - one of the worst drunks I ever had was when I chugged most of a bottle of SC I was given for my 19th birthday, back in the days when that was a legal drinking age. The smell of Comfort still brings back waves of nauseau. But I could easily drop a touch of whiskey - either bourbon or scotch - in a wee hot cuppa...)
        •  sc (none)
          Me too I once threw up on a cops feet after chugging southern comfert to this day I can't even look at a bottle without wanting to run for the bathroom.Give me a 7&7.

          Why do liberals hate America?

          by kerry on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 09:16:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  hey welshie (none)
        great diary. Good for giving props to the Yankee traders. My old man could sell bottled water to a fish, and for me, Pimpin Ken said it right. I have something for you to try, it's called Mississippi Mud. You make the biggest, richest, Chocolate shake, then pour in half a pint(sounds like some of you should use a quarter pint) of New Orleans best, better known as SoCo. It tastes much better than it sounds. Knowing how you Brits like to booze it up caution should be used, 2 of these make for a great night, 3 make for the lousiest ever, and 4 in one day is just plain dumb(trust me).once again great diary, I agree so much that I have nothing to add(Y)

        mother do you think they'll drop the bomb

        by dog on Sat Apr 09, 2005 at 06:58:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Trouble Is... (4.00)
    Most Americans are too stupid to know or care about the issues.  They choose based on which salesman strokes their ego more, and which buys them a better lunch.

    This isn't a downer comment -- I homestly believe we have to get away from the issues altogether.  
    Look at advertising these days.  You can't even tell what they're selling.  They just leave you with an emotion connected to a logo, so later you'll buy their product without even knowing why.  And it works, whether selling Republicans or killer pharmaceuticals.

    We've got to dumb it down if we want to appeal to more people.  Make our candidate Edwards and our ads like those for Kotex: "With John Edwards as president, you'll be able to water-ski without embarrassment."


    •  What a sad comment. (4.00)
      Most Americans aren't stupid, they just aren't as obsessed with politics as the 4 or 5% of the electorate (on both ends of the spectrum) made up of political junkies.  

      We don't need to get away from the issues, we just need to explain briefly what our side offers -- not explain briefly why the other side sucks.

      There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right with America. -- Bill Clinton

      by ThirstyGator on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 01:08:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Gas prices (none)
      It's too true that most Americans are oblivious to politics. One thing that does get their attention in a big way, though, is gas prices. The recent skyrocketing numbers at the pumps may have a lot to do with BushCo's plummeting approval ratings. Filling those SUV tanks is getting damned expensive! The hard, unspoken calculus- "We paid for this lousy war because we thought it would keep our gas prices low- WTF?!"
      I would love to see the Dems in Congress take this opportunity to push some energy conservation measures- starting with stricter fuel standards. Republicans might even get on board now, knowing the simmering resentment among their constituents. So much the better if they could actually get something passed. But if they didn't, this would help to remind people of one of the values the Democratic Party stands for.
  •  You. Nail. Head. Hit. (4.00)
    I just want to see diary after diary investigating not Gannon/Guckert but what the concerns and issues are for this 1.8% marginal swing voter. You can't laugh at them, deride them or otherwise be snide about them. They are real people with real concerns who somehow allied themselves to the right rather than to you.

    Can it be more obvious? Yet we don't see it. Forest. Trees.


    "If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" -- Will Rogers

    by Ten Buddhas on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:37:14 PM PDT

    •  Missed. By. A. Mile (none)
      They are real people with real concerns who somehow allied themselves to the right rather than to you.

      They are in fact false people with unreal concerns -- like how oppressive Northeastern liberals are!

      We're never going to get anywhere if we don't wake up to the fact that tens of millions of Americans are certifiably demented.

      If we face the harsh realities of what kind of a country we've become, maybe, just maybe, we can find ways of making the U.S. a good country once again. But pandering to the allegedly "real needs" of that sick 1.8% is just going to lose us more elections, not to mention our self-respect.

      •  Which 1.8% do you mean? (none)
        Welshman spoke of 1.8% of the swing voters, right on the edge of voting Dem. Not Dem-haters, just a little bit turned off.

        If I read you right, your 1.8% consists of the certifiably demented or those who think Northeastern liberals are oppressive. I don't think that you and Welshman are speaking of the same people.

        I've seen many comments that change the subject from wooing swing voters, which makes sense, to winning the love of Dem-haters (good luck!). Let's not confuse a workable strategy with a hopeless fantasy.

        I support decentralist media: ePluribus. You can too.

        by technopolitical on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 09:22:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Still not convinced (none)
          that there's 1.8% or even 0.08% of Bush supporters who are separable from the rest. 2004 presented the starkest choice in candidates since Johnson and Goldwater. Anybody who voted for a lying, torturing, robbing and, most of all, incompetent president like Bush was more than "a little bit turned off."

          That's not to say that ALL of them are beyond redemption. Look at David Brock or, for that matter, any number of Kossacks who used to lean right. But the only effective tactic is to shock these voters (back) into their senses, NOT to try to wheedle them into moving "a little bit" left.

      •  I think the two of you (none)
        must be talking about a different 1.8%.

        I've met some of the people Welshman is talking about. The ones you're talking about, well, I've only really run into them online, but then I'm living in Jersey, where demented folk are kinda thin on the ground. Wait... well, scratch that, but I guess it comes out in their driving instead.

        Massacre is not a family value.

        by Canadian Reader on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 09:26:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read this diary, and today's Stirling Newberry.. (none)
    ...diary, and honestly, the job in front of the left seems enormous.  It's hard to not only present a viable alternative, but to even come up with a viable alternative to begin with when the people you're trying to convince essentially make their living off of the other side's system of doing things while seeming incapable of noting the long-term ramifications of living by said system.
  •  Excellent (none)
    Great observations.  It's been difficult to read dKos the past couple weeks because of the oppressive negativity.  Events that were largely out of our control have led us to this place we now find ourselves.  Rather than waste our time lamenting the sad state of the union, we should be looking towards the future to see what we can do to make things better for everyone.

    "I feel your scorn and I accept it." - Jon Stewart

    by starkness on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:40:41 PM PDT

  •  No bordellos? (none)
    Shit. Then what's the fucking point?

    Oh, yeah. Positivity. Like I give a rat's ass.

    There is a certain providence in the fall of a sparrow

    by mrblifil on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:42:17 PM PDT

  •  I'm doing what I can, sir. (4.00)
    Locally, at least.

    From now on, I'll only write positive political diaries.

    Oh wait, I have yet to write a negative one.

    And don't go blaming your drinking and non-whoring ways on me.

    I get enough of that crap from my husband.

    Many suffer from the incurable disease of writing and it becomes chronic in their sick minds. --Juvenal (AD 60-130)

    by mentaldebris on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:43:35 PM PDT

  •  A Welshman diary (4.00)
    is an experience in elegant reading. Discursive, full of detail, with examples that may seem only tangentially related. I always settle in for a good read, and chortle at the end when I realized I've just been smacked upside the head. It's a bit like watching Jane Austen encounter I.F. Stone.

    "Dog whistle politics" is a good description. And I think you've hit the proverbial nail -- we need to find out the what and the why of concern to people who vote for the right. Anger and shouting just shut everyone down. Only when we start listening, without trying to impose our agenda on them, will we be able to hear what they are saying.

    How to do that, I'm not quite sure. But toning down the anger and shouting is a good start.

    There's a nice-ninny priest/at tea in everyone,/all cozy and chatty as auntie,/but a saint comes/and throws rocks through the window. -- John Ciardi

    by Mnemosyne on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:43:45 PM PDT

  •  But, but, but I LIKE being negative!!! (none)
    It's so much more fun to dwell on what a moron Bush is, to talk about how corrupt and criminal the GOP is, and vent about how could people be SO STUPID and actually vote for Bush!!!

    That's only part snark. It is fun to vent like that, especially sitting in front of the computer at the end of the day. It's hard to give that up.

    Welshman, you raise a great point. If we aren't looking ahead to solutions to create a new progressive coalition, we aren't doing much good.

    But I would be curious to see how many Kossacks view this site as a place to vent and how many see it as a place to plan a new grassroots strategy?

    - "You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?"

    by Hoya90 on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:48:24 PM PDT

  •  I have a feel we will be happy with May 5th (none)
    There is a decent chance that Blair is going to get a wake up call on May 5th - I also think there is a reasonable chance that the Liberal Democrats will do better than expected...

    let's hope,

    good excuse for a celebration and a few london prides!


  •  You know what you've done, don't you? (4.00)
    I can see a wave of "Here's my solution Welshman" diaries coming soon to a DKos near you.


    It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.

    by Steven D on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:49:21 PM PDT

  •  Let Me Send You Straight to the Distillery (4.00)
    I doubt there are many interesting solutions that simultaneously benefit the common people and much of any major interest in the rest of the economy.

    With the people essentially out of the business of supplying most goods and services, they're an expense that the productive side of the economy needs to minimize.

    Whatever eventual benefits there might be to the economy of greater freedom, a higher standard of living, or more opportunity for the masses, it seems to me that they can only be had at a significant immediate cost to almost any leading economic force or sector we might name.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 12:53:04 PM PDT

  •  Looking for some cheers without the jeers (none)
    I work in Sales and Marketing as well and my partner is more of the name dropping, what you can do for me, look at my accolades type which works well in terms of getting after the business and finding ways to promote our products by getting his name out there.  I am the opposite, the closer of the two that goes on the charm offensive as I have a folksy colloquial way of speaking that qualifies the clients needs and then shows them how our product fits that need because of my own experiences using the product. I have just started posting to C&J and I do find it hard to find Jeers sometimes because (1) I don't want to repeat an outrage that someone else can eloquently state better than I and (2)just one of many character flaws is my need to find something positive to balance out the overwhelming sense of forboding that is inherent in a website that tracks the many peccadillos of this administration and the GOP.  I live according to that "Life is short" philsophy so while I may want to rant and throw objects almost every time I read about Bush, I can still spare some brain cells in recognition of the many wonderful things that I see every day and see nothing wrong with sharing them with this wonderful community.  I may be a bit Utopian in this line of reasoning or I may need some decaf.
  •  I have problems with this (none)
    Great diary.  Recommended.

    My issue is that we, as Democrats, should not focus on the...the...misinformed voters who switched from Clinton to Bush.  Please, the last thing I want to do is reach out to those...those...people.

    I would be far happier if the party made a concerted effort to bring in citizens who have never voted before.  Not only is the potential pool of Democratic voters far larger, but much more importantly we would re-affirm our bedrock principles.

    Where the fuck has Labor gone in our guiding lights?  How come unionization of Walmart is not in our top five goals?  Holy Christ the voters we could bring in from all the minimum-wage workers if we just proved to them we were on their side.

    Are we on their side now?  We say we are.  What do we do?  Nothing.  Of course the Walmart workers stay at home on election day (I'm generalizing here, I realize that).  We never really demonstrate how minumum wage humans are truly important to us.

    Instead we get Democratic assholes voting for the bankruptcy bill, 'cause the freaking party doesn't care about Little People.

    WE are the little people!  That is OUR PARTY, right there, the ones who never vote.  I want to go get them--badly.

    •  I can see your point (none)
      But I would express it differently.  Part of what I see this Diary doing is motivating those that hold similar opinions and are likely to vote.  

      While I feel that Welshman's Diary represents a very important fuction of reaching those that could switch votes in 2006, I also think it is important to get out those voters that would have voted for Dems but didn't feel the need to get off the sofa.

    •  We need both of them (none)
      Both the folks that went for Bush in 2000, and those that have never voted at all.

      For the folks that went for Bush, we need to find out why, so we can show them how they were sold a bill of goods.

      And the ones who have never voted...we need to convince them that it's not a waste of time.

      Most important, we're not going to attract the voters by becoming Republican Lite. We need to show why we're better than the competition, not become a weak imitation.

      "It's an unnerving thought that we may be the living universe's supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously." -- Bill Bryson

      by Cali Scribe on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:11:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  suggestions for what to talk about and what to do (4.00)
    from Jared Diamond's "Collapse", which if you were not already depressed has a fair chance at shooting you right down the last legs to flat on your back misery. ... if you try to plow right through all 560 pages + index.  Instead, I picked through and found the stuff I wanted.  OK, things are not looking so good ...  What to do?

    We need to publicize and face up to the real situation we are all in together.  As the books subtitle reads, we are in the next period together engaged in a process of whether we "... Choose to Fail or Succeed", which in this case means collapse or continue.  The right has been feeding us distractions, fairy tales, and false issues.  We have to insist on the truth and discussions of things that actually matter.  I think this is what you are getting at in the part of about asking people what their problems are rather than plumping for your great solution: focusing on real problems rather than chimeras.  Back to the big book o' badness.

    Under "further readings for chapter 16", on page 556 (yes, page 556 ...) we get to the heart of the matter at last.

    But what can I do as an individual, that might make a difference?... the vast majority of us who lack wealth and powre tend to feel helpless and hopeless in the face of the overwhelming power of governments and big businesses.  Is there anything that a poor individual who is neither a CEO or a political leader can do to make a difference?  Yes ... but plan to commit yourself to a consistent policy of actions over the duration of your life.

    Here's Diamond's suggested action list.

    • Vote
    • Regularly (monthly) communicate your views to your representatives.
    • Consider what you buy.
    • Draw public attention to companies policies and products, not only negative ones, but especially positive ones.
    • Discover which links in a business chain are most sensitive to public influence, such as those that sell directly to consumers, rather than those that sell from business to business.
    • Talk to other people who also vote and buy.  Start with parents, children, friends.  Try to reach people in positions of power.
    • Develop support within religious institutions you attend: church, synagogue, or mosque.
    • Invest time and effort in improving your own local environment.
    • Donate money to organizations promoting policies of your choice.

    I hope this fits your developing business sense of what matters and what sells.  Diamond goes into much greater detail on each point, but I think we get it hereabouts.  Remember to do more than post diaries.

    The book has a lot more to say, but these are the recommended action items.

  •  My whinge (4.00)
    One of our biggest challenges is that movement conservatives have so successfully (not to mention invidiously) framed the debate for so many years that any positive message or product we can offer has been pre-empted smartly and repetitively.

    Any time we bring up universal healthcare, we are a hair shy of being communists.  Any time we offer tax schemes that are progressive or propose programs to aid the poor, thereby leveling the economic and political playing fields, we are "engaging in class warfare" -- always by entrenched conservatives informed by hard-working, well-funded think tanks, and abetted by corporate media outlets.

    The biggest challenge IMHO is just thinking up salable language that circumvents this established Republican rhetorical advantage.  Now, I've read a lot of good suggestions here and elsewhere, but that leads us to the next biggest challenge:  actually disseminating our messages through a media infrastructure that's lazy, increasingly consolidated, and definitely on the side of those with wealth and power and without scruples.  This is an enormously steep uphill battle.

    Just sayin'...

  •  No one has said this before (none)
    In all of the time I've been on dKos this has never even come up.  Great catch, Welshman.

    Fucking duh (smacks self in the head).

    And I work for the person who trains our sales reps.  

    Now, how is this outreach thing supposed to work?

    I think  the problem may be that we no longer have a shared vision of what America should be, so we don't bother to speak or listen to the "other side" in any meaningful way.  Maybe that's not true.  Maybe we've just convinced ourselves that it is.

    (Thinks about PNAC.  Thinks about Halliburton.  Thinks about Fred Phelps.  Thinks about the bankruptcy bill.)

    Maybe it is.

    "Get your American flag out of your blind spot, bitch!"

    by KB on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 01:21:35 PM PDT

    •  Dean seems to agree (none)
      Dean mentions this in his speeches now.... at least he did in Toronto and according to a diarist who watched a live broadcast of another of his speeches.

      He uses the example of the 27% voters who are highly anxious about values for their children, as well as highly anxious about national security. By listening to what their real problems are and addressing them specifically, we can show how the Democratic Party can help them.

      The key is to appeal to a positive approach that they can't find elsewhere. It's there, we know it's there because we know our party, but we haven't communicated it effectively to this 27%. Yet.

  •  keep drinking welshman (none)
    the diary is a delight. & i really wish there was some tiny bit of reason to our electoral process on this side of the pond. sadly, there is scant logic applied when voting day comes here, least of all by those 1.8% who just can't quite figure out who they like or who likes them. american politicians are dutch whores who baffle you with rouge.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:01:08 PM PDT

  •  Great diary, Welshman! But about your title... (4.00)

    ...aren't those in reverse order??
  •  Nice diary (none)
    This is the most productive diary I've read in about a month.

    It's clear that you put a lot of time into this; thanks for the work.

  •  My compliments and a random question (none)
    Compliments: Very good diary; you make some great points that certainly need addressing.

    Question: I've been watching lots of Sky News recently, and they always have the polling numbers in the bottom-left of the screen.  I know the LibDems are the yellowish color, and I'm pretty sure the Blue is Tory and the Red is Labor(?), but what does the gray mean?  Is that undecided, other, or one of the wierd nationalist third-parties?

    Does George Bush remember he put his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution, and not the other way around? -- Bill Maher

    by ragnark on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:18:52 PM PDT

    •  I don't watch Skye news (none)
      ..but your guess is almost certaintly right. Welsh and Scottish Nats and the Irish parties. Never significant - until there is a hung parliament!

      On which some people are betting. Not me....yet.

      •  that's what I though (none)
        Just basically a combined "other" category.. upon reflection, I couldn't picture any actual party deciding that their ideal color would be grey.. it's so drab and does not lend itself to the "powerful politician" image at all!

        Does George Bush remember he put his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution, and not the other way around? -- Bill Maher

        by ragnark on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 03:03:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent! (none)
    Reccommended.  We do need to become a party of government, even in a "shadow" configuration.

    And yes, I posted a "gotcha" diary today, so I'm a guilty party also.  (It was Mel Martinez compared to Sgt. Schultz in the Tampa Tribune--I couldn't resist!)


  •  My diaries are usually about ideas ... (none)
    not "gloom and doom."  Perhaps, I should include "IDEA" in my subject line.  Maybe, the time has come for this community to have "an idea exchange/marketplace"; a place where ideas are floated and discussed.

    Greenspan is "one of the biggest political hacks we have in Washington." -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

    by slip kid no more on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:27:36 PM PDT

  •  You'd think that liberals were the doomsayers (none)
    When we know that conservatives in power get off on negativity.  If you read this site everyday as an independent observer you'd think we all wear black, hang our heads low and plot against "BushCo."  If that is the case in reality, we are in big trouble.  This is something I've been worrying about for a while.  

    In many respects, the community here at DKos gives me optimism about the vibrancy of liberal thought in our country.  So many people are tuned into the pressing issues in our country and have great ideas on real solutions to those problems.  

    On the other hand, it gives me pause to think that so many people are so handicapped by negative thoughts that our side may be doomed to repeat as losers over and over.

    Look at Bush... where is his well of boundless, inspiring energy??  

    When you stop laughing ask yourself when you look at Clinton don't you feel good?  Doesn't his constant optimism make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy??  Just look at this diary and tell me how it makes you feel:

    Clinton Mobbed U.S.A! U.S.A. ! U.S.A.!

    This is the Clinton that Americans could relate to.  This is the last Democrat that had great PR and used a positive message along with traditional Democratic values to win on a national stage.  Personally, I would vote for him again and again.. screw the 22nd Amendment.  

    This can happen again.  This will happen again.  The only question for us is how soon.  Start thinking in this manner... positively.  I know you all can do it.

    Bush on the other hand... he enjoys the worst ratings for a second term president since WWII.  He will go down in history associated with a dark cloud of war, fiscal debt, diminishing U.S. power and prestige, cultural conflict, increasing inequality, more risk, less security and prosperity, etc. etc. etc.  His legacy is a big pile o' shit.  The diaries that populate the right side of DKos harp on this ad-nauseum.  To what purpose??  

    Our main focus should be to create a positive image of the Democratic party.  How do we do it??  Those should be the focus of diaries on DKos.  What can we do to help raise the positive national profile of progressives and Democrats all across this great country of ours??

    Thanks for writing this diary Welshman.  I think that DKos is too negative and it's a heavy drag on its powerful potential.  

    "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society" -- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    by wintersnowman on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 02:30:31 PM PDT

  •  Gud Lawd, Welshman (4.00)
    You had to go any say it!

    The analogy of asking 'what can I do for you?' is an excellent one, but the problem for liberals and progressives extends way beyond that.

    For too long, two things have happened:

    Democrats has spoken "for" those they were were trying to uplift instead of on behalf of them.


    During campaign cycles we try to "teach" instead of lead.

    It is true that we should reach out to unregistered voters, but the problem with the last two presidential election cycles has everything to do with not communicating properly with the under-educated and under-acheiving in our country.

    It really is not about value issues or terrorism...the primary difference between me and a voter who pulls a "red" lever is that they feel the need to protect what they have in an economic sense.  And they honestly believe that Republicans are better at it.

    Middle class liberals and affluent conseratives do not understand the working poor, but the Republican message has consistently had more appeal to this set of voters, particularly poor whites.

    The white working poor are tired of being ignored or talked down to(i.e., let me explain how the world works) by the 'liberal elite'.
    I never thought I'd ever use that term myself.

    But it is easy to understand how they can wrap their brains around such a term when 28% of my local community have a high school diploma or less and 60% of households have a total income of under $40K.

    So, when a guy doing yardwork for $7 an hour is called an independant business man or the guy who hires his son to do office janitorial work, an entrepenuer by our President, you can see how they might be lured in.

    Yes, we need to work on message, but we also have to work on being better messengers.

  •  Two things. (none)
    #1--I understand what you are saying.  There does appear to be a great deal of negativity.  But what else can the minority party do?  The Democratic agenda can only manifest itself as pitiful attachments to existing Republican legislation.  There's not a whole lot we can point to and say "See!  We did this and it worked!"  When your legislative voice is non-existant there's only so much you can do.

    #2--I think that perception of negativity is why this website has a 'bad reputation.'  I doesn't have a bad reputation really, but I've had people tell me "You should post your stuff on 'x' website because no one will come to dKos.'  

    I don't know what the answer is. I'm not even entirely sure what I'm trying to say.  I just think if there's negativity it's justified, but you're still right.  We should focus on what we would do better instead of what they do wrong.

    Politics: It's all fun and games until somone dies.

    by advisorjim on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 03:32:34 PM PDT

    •  news to me (none)
      who is this noone who won't come here?

      What do they fear?  Cooties?  The wrath of Mary Scott?  The doom of Armando?

      Oh, and if no one comes here, why is kos paying for a half million hits a day?  "No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded" perhaps?

  •  Enough with your Welsh negativity! (4.00)

     See, fooled you, too!  That was great and, if I may, I and several others here, since late summer '04, have done diaries and gone off on thread- highjacking screeds about the NEED to develop and, yes, market a New Populism in America -- especially in the Deep South.  

     Barak Obama (Ill) and Harold Ford (Tenn) and Artur Davis (Ala) and a few others get it, but too many cautious white breads simply don't get how easy, by talking in "fired up" terms it would be to peel off some significant portion of low- and middle-income folks from the GOP and bring them over to the side of the party and people who actually GIVE A DAMN about them!

     Will do another diary on this soon.  I hope others (especially Southerners who know what I'm talking about) will beat me to it!

     By the way, thank you, Welshman, for your diary.  This needs to be hammered home.  Early and often as we say.


    . . . religion is not a syllogism, but a poem. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 03:38:53 PM PDT

  •  Morning in America (4.00)
    Well, some of us remember that commercial set from Reagan's campaign. They were good for the feel-good, feel-hopeful side of mant Americans.

    Welchman, standing outside our forest, and also Jerome a Paris are good examples of like-minded people who don't have the unfortunate existence to have to rant-and-rave every day about how things are going in the good ol' USA.

    Right now, with the bad stuff that the majority party and President are throwing our way, maybe it IS time to try to develop (again, again) at least some positive stance on things.

    And to present it that way to voters: we have ideas, we have plans, we have visions to make America again the role model for the world. (Well, I don't believe that part, but many citizens will).

    Yes, right now we try to throw weight to get our way in the world. Well, actually that is our government, and not the people that the government is supposed to.... I just had a realization that I don't have a clue what our government is doing for us. They are supposed to protect us, as a nation. That doesn't seem to be working very well. They are supposed to encourage education for all. They manage the squabbles between states. Civics class was long ago.

    As a poster above said (sorry poster, only working in one page of the browser) carrots work better than sticks.

    Perhaps the Democratic Party should be reminded of that when dealing with the American public. Morning in America.

  •  I don't think this is about negativity (none)
    Or expressing our "vision" better.  To me that is about the product.  This is about the customer.

    What Welshman learned was that he had to ask questions and learn what his clients' problems were.  Not blather on about his product.

    What we need is to establish relationships with people.  
    On the web is great for that.  Think about all the interests you have and where you can find other people to talk about them.

    Talk shop.  Talk hobbies.  Talk kids.

    Get to know each other.  Become friends.

    When you can, ask what problems people have.  Sometimmes they'll tell you without being asked.

    Do your best to help them articulate what the problem is. Sometimes it is as simple as sharing trouble lightens it.  Lend an ear.

    Become known as a good advisor. A cyber friend.

    Then you ask about the implications of their problems, especially those that relate to the issues you know.

    How big is the problem really?
    What sort of solution do they want to see?
    Are their expectations in line with the extent of the problem?
    What kind of value would they assign to such a solution?
    What kind of costs do they foresee if they they don't deal with the problem?

    Help them determine all the costs.

    Only when they fully understand the true costs of the problem can they truly appreciate the value of the solution.

    For all of you who are politically active, by keeping your ear to the ground, you can be a real service to the Democratic party by being a conduit of information back and forth.

    Rather than swaying in the wind, reacting based upon this poll or that, the Democratic party would truly become the party of the people.

    Its platform and solutions would be ones that people would understand and not only be ready to pay for, but also be willing to get others to support.

    Don't forget, ePluribus Media isn't them, it's US. That means you too.

    by Bionic on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 04:30:10 PM PDT

  •  Damn it, I read the whole thing (none)
    just to hear about the bordellos.

    (By the way, does anybody know how prostitutes stay in business? In all my life I've only ever met one man who admitted going to one. Surely with no customers they're bound to give it up soon.)

    The less a man knows about how sausages and laws are made, the easier it is to steal his vote and give him botulism.

    by SensibleShoes on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 04:30:50 PM PDT

  •  You get a "perfect ten" (none)
    from me, but...C&J is good for you!!  

    Seriously, great suggestions.  we need to get practical,  and use our combined talents plus those of educated folks like yourself who see us from the "outside" to work for positive change. Thank you for providing a constructive "mirror."

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Fri Apr 08, 2005 at 06:26:34 PM PDT

  •  Late to the discussion - (none)

    Never mind attack ads, what the right wing has always tended to realise is that it is important to make people feel good about voting for them.  The Christian thing to do.  Because you value families.  Because we need to fight evil.  It's all hooey, but the left doesn't know how to play this game (although Labour did have one successful go in 1997, but by then people felt truly dreadful about having ever voted Tory).

    And yet we have all the best moral arguments!  It shouldn't be rocket science to convince people that voting Democrat (or Labour, pace Welshman) will make them feel they are better human beings.  And if Labour believed it, perhaps they wouldn't pursue (and headline) the rabid policies that make them attractive to the right, and might have the confidence to continue to pursue (and headline) the progressive policies for which I will vote in a month's time.

    See my new Exit Poll diary here

    by Febble on Sat Apr 09, 2005 at 02:02:24 AM PDT

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