Skip to main content

[UPDATE: I wanted to post here the email I received from Josh Trevino on this issue (I have his permission). I felt it was important for folks to see it for clarification from the man himself...
You got it pretty much right. Nice post, and thanks for the kind words. I'd only add three caveats:

a) It's a method for creating political possibilities, not winning elections or passing legislation per se. A lot of your critics seem to miss that.

b) While there is massive overlap between the GOP and the think tanks, it's the latter that originated and use this specific methodology (though not the concept, I think, which is an old one). The party is a bit more short-term and tactical. I wouldn't wholly conflate the two.

c) On DHinMI's specific comments, while I can't do anything about his particular dislike for me -- and it runs deep -- I can say that in response to his critique of the Mackinac Center, its political kneecapping of the Michigan teachers' union is a signal accomplishment.

Most resp.,

Josh Trevino

I am dismayed, my friends.

Almost every time a Democratic leader opens his or her mouth I am dismayed.

I am dismayed because there are two opposing political strategies being played out in America's politics with two vastly different philosophies--and it's clear that one side is definitely winning.  And it ain't our side.

I am dismayed because even most of the Progressives here in the liberal blogosphere don't really have a full grasp of the true nature of what is going on, or don't talk as if they do.  I am dismayed because the authors of wonderful books like Crashing the Gate and Off-Center mistake the realities of the Republican strategy.  

I know that these are bold statements--and they are not meant to offend.  They are meant as a wake-up call--and a call to action.  Let me explain to you what I'm talking about.

The conventional wisdom among progressives goes like this: The DLC-led Democratic party "triangulates" toward an elusive center, thereby making it appear weak, ineffective and unprincipled; the GOP, meanwhile, plays strongly to its base and rallies its reliable voters.  Progressives understand that the center doesn't matter: almost every election is about rallying the base to achieve voter turn-out.

We can see this thinking all over the place: in Crashing the Gate and Off-Center, and all over the liberal blogosphere.  From The Economist's View, we see an all-too typical encapsulation of this worldview:

The Dems are still trying to 'triangulate' - hold their base and play to the middle - which might work if the 'other side' wasn't playing to their base so strongly. So instead of winning over BOTH the middle and their base, the Dems get tepid support from both middle & base and their head handed to them.

There is also a corollary to this premise: that by playing too far to their base, they will alienate the unnerved middle of the country.  This is the sort of thinking mirrored in diaries like this one, which was on Diary Rescue--basically arguing that movements like Concerned Women for America will create an anti-GOP backlash.  It's the sort of thinking that says that the GOP will never overturn Roe v. Wade.

Both of these ideas are misguided--if not deadly wrong.  Allow me to explain why--straight from a Republican operative's mouth

On the contrary: the GOP knows that the middle DOES matter.  They know that by playing to their base in very well-crafted ways, they can shift the very definition of what the middle is. By introducing radicalism into the public discourse (and taking initial heat for it), whatever used to be radical within this context becomes moderate by comparison.

By far the most enlightening thing I have read on the blogosphere in the past two months came from Republican Operative and founder of Joshua Trevino, on Armando's and Trevino's new blog Swords Crossed.  In an incredibly instructive piece--and I encourage everyone to read the whole thing--Josh Trevino does us all the favor of introducing us to the Overton Window. The Overton Window, in my opinion, is basically the key to the Republicans' success over the past twenty years--and it comes straight from the Republican think tanks.  I am posting more of this piece than perhaps fair use allows--and my apologies to Armando and to Joshua Trevino for doing so (please email me if you have a problem, guys!), though I hope this will draw more attention to Swords Crossed.  At any rate, the piece goes as follows:

As some may know, I work at a free-market think tank, and as such, qualify as a full-fledged member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. While places like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and others are justly famous for their national-level work, it's the network of state-level think tanks that are, to my biased mind, the unsung heroes of the movement.

So, with that being said, and mindful of my business-related absence for the latter half of this week, I'm going to share with you a little strategizing exercise from the bowels of the VRWC.

The mission of a think tank is to introduce ideas into public discourse and normalize them within the public discourse. The steps an idea takes to full legitimacy are roughly as follows:


No namby-pambying.  This is a systematic, no-nonsense approach to political ideas and discourse.  To continue, after skipping a bit:

One useful tool is the Overton window. Named after the former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy who developed the model, it's a means of visualizing where to go, and how to assess progress. Let's say, for example, that you want to make education as free and choice-based as it can possibly be. Let's start by developing a continuum of educational states, from the desired extreme of total freedom, to the undesirable extreme of total statism. It might look something like this:

--No government involvement in education.
--All schools private with government regulation.
--Voucher system with public schools.
--Tuition tax credit with public schools.
--Homeschooling legal.
--Private schools restricted.
--Homeschooling illegal.
--Private schools illegal.
--Children taken from parents and raised as janissaries.

Now, obviously, I violently dispute Josh's framing of this issue: when no public education is available, that's hardly freedom. That's a form of oppression.  As a homeschooler myself, I also disagree with the bulletin points of his continuum, but that's another story.

But the key thing to consider here for a moment is the systematization of these ideas and policies.  

To continue:

Now, back when Joe Overton drew up this notional list (which is meant to be illustrative, so don't get hung up on its particular accuracy), the range of actual, reasonable possibilities as perceived by the general public in Overton's state of Michigan were the items bolded below:

--No government involvement in education.
--All schools private with government regulation.
--Voucher system with public schools.
--Tuition tax credit with public schools.
--Homeschooling legal.

--Private schools restricted.
--Homeschooling illegal.

--Private schools illegal.
--Children taken from parents and raised as janissaries.

The bolded items, representing the politically possible amongst all conceivable options, are the Overton window. The idea is to shift that window in the preferred direction. In Michigan today, the Overton window looks substantively different:

No government involvement in education.
All schools private with government regulation.

--Voucher system with public schools.
--Tuition tax credit with public schools.
--Homeschooling legal.
--Private schools restricted.

Homeschooling illegal.
Private schools illegal.
Children taken from parents and raised as janissaries.

Do you see how this works?  Systematically, piece by piece, the GOP takes what had been considered impossibly radical positions and makes them worthy of consideration just by talking about them--and then makes what had been considered outside possibilities truly possible.  Now, I happen to believe that legalization of homeschooling is a good thing (though there should be oversight)--others may disagree.

But the important thing to remember is that the Republicans are carrying out this same exercise with every public policy debate today--from invading Iran to making birth control illegal to eliminating Social Security.  The once unthinkable becomes possible--and they don't care if they take some heat for it initially.

To finish:

Step by step, ideas that were once radical or unthinkable -- homeschooling, tuition tax credits, and vouchers -- have moved into normal public discourse. Homeschooling is popular, tuition tax credits are sensible, and vouchers are acceptable. (On the latter, they've been soundly defeated in Michigan of late, but the point is that they are a part of normal public and political discourse.) The de facto illegality of homeschooling, by contrast, has gone the way of the dodo. The conscious decision to shift the Overton window is yielding its results.

So there's your tip from the VRWC for the day. It's a methodology that could work for the left as easily as the right, although I'm not aware of a single left-wing think tank (and they are few) that operates so systemically. If you're of an analytic bent, and want to figure out where a legislative or policy strategy is heading, try constructing the scale of possibilities and the Overton window for the subject at hand. Change can happen by accident, true: but it is just as often the product of deliberation and intent, and it does all of us well to understand the mechanisms by which it occurs.

Amen, Josh, and thank you.  This is something that the Democrats still do not understand.  You win policy debates by crafting arguments for extreme positions--and then shifting the entire window of debate.  You do not win by trying to figure out which position is most popular among Americans right now.

When Concerned Women for America does its thing, that's exactly what they're doing.  They're taking some heat today, in preparation for tomorrow's very real policy battle.  They're priming the public to even talk about the idea of eliminating birth control.  And far from turning off moderate voters, they're going to sway them.  They're going to WIN moderate voters by playing to their base.  But playing to it with careful calculation.


And this stands in stark contrast to the Democrats: When the rightwing attacked the Democrats for promoting "Hillarycare", and the Democrats started to take some heat, we just slinked back into a corner and didn't raise the issue again.  To this day, we are afraid to talk about single-payer health coverage, for fear of offending the middle.

Meanwhile, the progressives among us insist that our leaders simply come out swinging in favor single-payer health coverage to rally our base--without priming the moderate voter for the idea in advance.

Both strategies will fail miserably.


Democrats and Progressives think that winning elections comes down to one of two alternatives: a) taking a principled stand of leadership; or b) listening to focus groups.

The truth is that we need to do both. It is not an either-or scenario.  We cannot achieve victory by playing to the base and ignoring the middle, nor can we win by playing to the middle and ignoring the base.  We need to do both--and the GOP understands this.

Remember that Frank Luntz is the master of the focus group--and that there's many an election they would have lost without him.

To win, we must take principled stands of leadership--using phrases and frames that are calculated to shift the Overton Window to our side.

To win, we must sway the middle by playing to the base--and we must understand that this is a difficult and heavily calculated process that requires time, money and manpower.

To win, we must realize the power of the Overton Window, and stop kowtowing to the antiquated thinking that pits the Middle versus the Base.

To win, we must understand that there is no conflict between playing to the middle and the base--so long as our messaging is clear and well-crafted, and our positions are principled, memorable, and consistent.

It is time, in short, for an evolution in our thinking that matches the subtlety and genius of the GOP machine--wihtout its concomitant evil.  Thank you, Mr. Overton!

[Cross-posted at my blog There Is No Blog: Bending Left]

Originally posted to thereisnospoon (David Atkins) on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:52 PM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  tips (396+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sharoney, pontificator, beedee, Malacandra, jm1963, Devilstower, Loudocracy, davidb1224, Canadian Reader, Kestrel, Spit, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, leenie in va, trillian, tsackton, Ed in Montana, sj, Kagro X, Donna Z, citizen lehew, aisling, Go Vegetarian, SteveLCo, keirdubois, pb, SWicklund, Inky, jmaier, stonedown, matt n nyc, fouro, vivacia, ferg, SeanF, RW, copymark, sheba, Bryan in CT, Rita in DC, Trendar, gogol, Subterranean, AlanF, cedubose, Marlboro Lite, moon in the house of moe, human, mickT, Geenius at Wrok, espresso, thebes, Gooserock, pHunbalanced, TrueBlueMajority, kainah, RunawayRose, MikeHickerson, sacrelicious, Avila, RNinNC, Shockwave, LionelEHutz, SanJoseLady, Victor, genethefiend, maddercow, Beet, philinmaine, John Campanelli, kineticdissent, djinniya, frsbdg, LesIsMore, chicagochristianleft, IreneNC, d3n4l1, frisco, logorrhea, sobermom, RFK Lives, 2lucky, Matilda, musicsleuth, bumblebums, technopolitical, bostonjay, hubcap, brianxucla, BillyZoom, Nonie3234, Lanya, sardonyx, Thistime, vinifera, jpiterak, DaveV, TrollKing, Mooncat, redwagon, northcountry, Blue Texan, cardinal, justme, Raddark, matthewc, rktect, mentaldebris, dlcampbe, daisy democrat, SamSinister, megs, Diggla, jem6x, sfgb, Ti Jean, bhlogger, josemonkey, jiffykeen, brown girl in the ring, HippyWitch, pdrap, metal prophet, biscobosco, highacidity, peacemom, CalNM, stevej, shanikka, moiv, JJG Miami Shores, high5, LickBush, roses, samddobermann, Fatherflot, slatsg, peraspera, sgilman, lanellici, Boston to Salem, drdave, House, Fe, MadEye, librarianman, fumie, splashy, bewert, Cedwyn, high uintas, Alna Dem, sidnora, imagine80, bato, wader, CydeWeys, mayan, WeatherDem, kharma, Moody Loner, milofischi, sockpuppet, TexDem, draftchrisheinz, Eddie in ME, Tracker, dwcal, casperr, StuartZ, elmo, etorrey, terran, TXsharon, hoolia, hairspray, Rico, smash, PaulVA, Dale Read, Black Maned Pensator, ohiolibrarian, hazzcon, The Zipper, rockhound, papercut, Mrcia, kalmoth, horsewithnoname, Timbuk3, sommervr, Dood Abides, 4jkb4ia, BWasikIUgrad, inclusiveheart, dcookie, walkshills, One bite at a time, General Disarray, bwintx, deep6, ChiGirl88, Raine Hawking, Bluefish, dft, jesses, Sopiane, nycdemocrat, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, Jimbob Kinnikin, montanamatt, Rusty Pipes, kd texan, Krum, xndem, bibble, Marc in KS, Timroff, FlawedAI, donailin, greeseyparrot, cjohnson, weelzup, MichDeb, nehark, Fabian, paige, tergenev, joesig, Bluesee, Auntie Neo Kawn, Comwest, jrooth, kingubu, Rick Oliver, jrieth, Elise, Five of Diamonds, asskicking annie, RobotsRUs, ArchTeryx, Halcyon, PBen, Geronimo, Philoguy, ejmw, don the tin foil, KnotIookin, BCO gal, Alien Abductee, clammyc, Simplify, rjo, station wagon, ChemBob, drewfromct, libertarian soldier, Ranting Roland, wildcat6, ejsmom, FutureNow, boofdah, curtadams, wintergreen, majcmb1, teknofyl, Pam from Calif, JoieDe, Karmafish, CarolynC967, Mr X, jimreyn, dunderhead, skralyx, Magicmike888, ivorybill, illyia, bmaples, Jawis, The Bulldog Manifesto, Jaboo, Geekesque, dspivak, fotyc, collapse, Thursday Next, DEVO9SAM, pacotrey, LivesInAShoe, gpm, LithiumCola, bartman, Jizzol, MLDB, JanL, gazingoffsouthward, JOSHBinPG, Erevann, viscerality, RainyDay, jay23, Hazardman, Mehitabel9, kubla000, berko, makeitstop, wahuwa, pmc1970, occams hatchet, mikeypaw, Progressive Liberaltarian, dus7, pico, esquimaux, Sanuk, BobzCat, kraant, The Sinistral, Stephan Kuttner, Taunger, PatsBard, Fasaha, midvalley, bdmac, FishGuyDave, andydoubtless, Barry Welsh, funhaus5, cazimi, HoundDog, chemsmith, Dvalkure, Fitzmas Elf, Catesby, Slartibartfast, theyrereal, Magnifico, XStryker, Jordan LFW, js noble, Albatross, xopherma, EthrDemon, greenearth, EuroPerspective, KazHooker, souldrift, jguzman17, OffTheHill, curmudgiana, aldpol, nilocjin, Joe F, imabluemerkin, condoleaser, justalittlebitcrazy, happy camper, NearlyNormal, BalkanID, armadillo, MO Blue, el cid, vcwagner, Andy30tx, doinaheckuvanutjob, vox humana, Southern Son, spotDawa, FloridaVoter, Jiminy Cricket, jazzeroo, buckeye blue, BB10, NJwlss, righteousbabe, thewhiterabbit, means are the ends, grokgov, cherryXXX69, frankzappatista, kurt, DanC, Picot verde, kidneystones, lorenzodow, lookingglass, lev36, NativeOak, audemocrat, Eryk, Joelarama, goon 01, Brownian Motion, Amory Blaine, darrkespur, Only Shallow

    for ingesting, digesting, and using the Overton Window!

    •  Good Points (98+ / 0-)

      One thing you neglected to mention is that one of the biggest reasons that the Democratic Party has trouble being anything other that Republican Lite, is that many of them are beholden to the same corporate cash.

      Because they feed at the same trough, they cannot truly distance themselves from the Republicans. And at the same time, they come in second to the Republicans at that game every time.

      This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

      by Mr X on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:05:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  this is often true (46+ / 0-)

        such as with Joe Biden and the bankruptcy bill.

        But more than that, it's just a simple myopia problem with the Dems.  We're still stuck in the political strategy of decades past--and, as Crashing the Gate rightly points out, the current crop of consultants are the biggest offenders.

        •  It's not just myopia (46+ / 0-)

          To me, the thing missing in this Overton Window analysis that explains how the Repugs do what they do  (basically be summed up as innoculation) -- is this bedrock fact: Republicans lie. They lie. Outright.

          Oh, yeah, everyone does it, Dems too, you might say. Posh. Dems may nuance the truth here and there, but it's antithetical to their nature (one of our problems). Republicans don't nuance. They lie. The Overton window simply demonstrates how they get away with it. Over and over again.

          "It's the Supreme Court, Stupid!"

          by Kestrel on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:48:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, there's also the inconvenient fact (23+ / 0-)

            for Trevino that the GOP has a vast Noice Machine, which includes one cable news network that works off the GOP script, and a second one that keeps looking over the shoulder of the first network to copy that script. Meanwhile, corporate ownership of the broadcast stations and networks has reached such a peak of concentration that it's virtually impossible to get broadcast news to consider any perspective that conflicts with the interests of coporate owners.

            As for Trevino's idea that it is state think tanks that are doing the heavy lifting: Ha, haah, haaaaaaah. It is the national organizations, with their deep pockets, and their ability to place their paid goofballs on all that cable and broadcast TV inside the corporate tummy.

            Sure, Goopers keep hammering away at crazy ideas for as long as it takes, sure Dems often give way eventually out of cowardice or fecklessness. But they're not going to be able to catapault any propaganda until they retake political control and the media corporations sense they have to play ball with the Dem Party.

            I'm not so sure, however, that Dems are strangers to the incrimental approach to getting one's way. That is precisely the criticism that was leveled against them so often in my youth: The nation needed major changes, and all the timid Dems could bring themselves to do was to nibble around the corners of reform. I'd say it's time for bold reform, not more nibbling.

            Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

            by smintheus on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:36:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Offense vs. Defense (6+ / 0-)

              You can shift a window one of two ways by owning the media vs. simply getting mike time.  Labeling normal policy as somehow 'extreme', such as allowing partial birth abortions, called offence, or Defense by insiting on an Ownership society, something oddly familiar but not quite real, to push against gov't intervention into life.

              I honest think that few Democrats truly understand republicans.  I was one, and I post over at Red State occassionally to test the waters.   Knowing the opposition is critical to winning, and that involves thinking through both extreme positions, and thereby defining your other party's extremes. Enabled to do such, the party in power can change policty midstream by simply shifting the debate.

              This makes total sense.  Are we sure the Democrats really don't understand this?  It's oddly familiar, but strangly new.

              The Bush Years have been An Inconvenient Truth. I want Change. 22 to Open the Doors of Congress

              by kubla000 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:09:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  this is the key (15+ / 0-)

              It doesn't matter what your message is if you are going to be smeared and cut up regardless. And that is what has happened to the Dems. Purple fingers and purple band-aids said it all last year.

              The Democrats must go on the attack against the MSM. Colbert has shown them how to do it. Hackett showed them how to do it. Gore is showing them simply by returning, speaking his mind, and reminding everyone that he was right all along. We should trot out Jimmy Carter at every opportunity to show that he was right in 1979 about our oil economy - and that we have the GOP to thank for unaffordable energy.

              •  Yes. People keep with the old saw (8+ / 0-)

                "Democrats are also part of the problem too"

                The falsehood inherent in that statement is that it is an over-generalization. Yes, some democrats are certainly owned by various corporate interests - many democrats have caved to political pressure on issues such as Iraq

                But the democratic party is a big tent. It also  holds the corner on the  "Truth teller market"

                • John Conyers on many issues such as illegal wiretapping and election fairness.
                • Barbara Boxer and Maxine Waters on 2004 election problems, Bolton.
                • Feingold on Patriot act, Censure
                • Congresional Black Caucus on Katrina and Fema failures
                • Al Gore on global warming..
                • Rockefeller on senate failures to do intelligence oversight


                Democrats  have been the ones  to step up and take the heat and the media smear to get the facts out.  To demand oversight -  that the federal gov't do its job

                It is only in the last few months as Bush's numbers have fallen that Repubs have taken timid steps.

                The truth is that if you look at the democratic and republican parties as they stand right now you will find virtually no one in the GOP who deviates more than a few milimeters from the party line which is unified along many policies which are leading our nation to disaster.

                I include so called mavericks such as John McCain who has been caving like mad lately, and so called moderates such as Arlen Specter who completely caved on pro-choice stance so as not to lose his judiciary role. Also Collins and Snowe who supported Alito.

                I agree that Democrats need to push the envelope. But I especially agree with thereisnospoon that we need more voices such as think tanks from more outspoken perspectives to "widen the field"

                no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

                by biscobosco on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:27:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Silly (30+ / 0-)

        "The corporations" are not a block. They are competing within and across industries. Given that corporations have real power, what the Democrats fail to do is identify the corporations which would be winners under well-constructed, progressive, left-libertarian Democratic strategy, and gain the support of those corporations.

        As long as too many progressive Dems are ideologically hostile to all corporations, we lose. It means that the best corporations can do is prop up centrist Dems to hold off the progressive takeover of the party. On the other hand, if we progressives would make some true corporate allies - not out of compromise but out of legitimate joint interests - we would, quite simply, win.

        •  Yes, exactly! (19+ / 0-)

          I'm tired of this "corporations are evil" attitude. Corporations aren't alive and they only make decisions to the extent that the people running them make decisions. It's those CEOs and other executives whose morals can be either progressive or destructive.

          If anything, I get the impression that the CEOs and executives of America are practically begging for more regulation from the government so that they will all be forced to do the right thing, instead of today's "Walmart economy" where they are all encouraged to do absolutely the wrong things (as far as paying living wages, providing health care, not excessively polluting the environment, etc.) or else they lose marketshare to the competition that doesn't care about any of those things.

          "This sig intentionally left blank."

          by Coherent Viewpoint on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:12:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  By its very nature.... (19+ / 0-)

            ....a corporation is undemocratic. Their only purpose, by law, is to make money. Working for their benefit is not to the benefit of the American people.

            •  weak brained bullshit (22+ / 0-)

              is this. yes, corporations react to the market place. how does their making money by definition not benefit the american people? Show me another way to organize capital & talent, then I'll listen.

              what Coherent is saying is that a well-intentioned corporation, even if most corporations WANT to do the right thing, can't, if regulations don't exist that protect them from those who won't. Cuz the ones who won't are the ones who will set the price or the standard, and the market always favors them, extinguishing the others. What we need is effective, inspired regulation to harness the power of the market for utilitarian benefit.

              All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

              by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:47:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am not convinced.... (11+ / 0-)

                ....that corporations are the best way to organize capital and labor. However, a well-regulated capitalist system with strong human rights law, labor law, and employment law is accpetable to me.

                •  care to flesh (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  PoliMorf, hairspray

                  out a better way to organize capital and labor? I'm just curious where you're going with this. If you actually had something in mind, I'd be mighty impressed and would totally rescind my previous subject header! ;-)

                  All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

                  by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:41:01 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  hmm (8+ / 0-)

                    ...when a CEO makes 550 times what his worker makes, well, I would start there, especially in light of how execs salary seem to go up as the "greater benefits" to workers goes down.

                    Also, since when is there a "free market" if 2-3 companies have a stranglehold on the share.

                    We've been carefully marketed and tested to believe that the invisible hand will take care of all; the problem is when oligops move in and claim the "mantle" of a free market.  No one was watching.

                    ---looks like I said the same thing as Boru virtually, ah well, read first, post later (from now on)...

                    As I am fond of saying frequently~the capitalist doesn't want to be a capitalist-they'd much rather to be a monopolist....

                    "The last 1/3 is usually backwash..."-Colbert

                    by lookingglass on Wed May 10, 2006 at 05:21:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What SeanF said above: (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      What we need is effective, inspired regulation to harness the power of the market for utilitarian benefit.

                      "We must become the change we want to see." -Gandhi

                      by larryrant on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:12:45 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  We need to look at them differently (5+ / 0-)

                        I think that the overarching problem is not the structure of corporations or their existence per se, BUT we need to realize that the oligarchic, aristocratic Right Wing has manipulated and corrupted the marketplace in the same way that they have corrupted the political process for their own ends.  Corporations are not the problem, but the people who own and run them are and how they have structured the marketplace to game the system in their favor.  They have used the corporate structure to enrich themselves at the expense of society, the environment and the very marketplace itself.  The clarion call for the "free market" is simply a red herring.  It is used to create a very lopsided market in actuality, to demonize and dismiss those who call for regulation as "anti-capitalists", and to bludgeon people into accepting unrestricted, monopolistic practices as a "good thing".  These people are taking their shareholders and the public to the cleaners in the same way that their political equivalents are taking their constituents.  Robber Barons are NOT capitalists.  They are con men who have manipulated the market until it has been skewed ridiculously and have convinced the population that not only it is good, but it is the best possible way.

                        THIS is why the VRWC is, in fact, a two-headed beast.  It has as it's first head the Corporatized thieves who infiltrate the market and as it's second head the corrupt politicians who skew the laws to distort the marketplace for their partners benefit (who then funnel some of the wealth their way).

                        It helps to think of it this way to me, so that I dont get distracted by the feints and false targets they present (like "Wealth is bad!")

                  •  Partnerships (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    SeanF, redwagon, ohiolibrarian, dus7

                    are one example.  Employee-owned companies, like International Cars Ltd, is another.

                    I'm not sure how you define "better" because I don't know what standard you're measuring against, but these types of company structures in today's environment may offer a positive alternative solution to incorporation, one that prioritizes employee needs, has decision-makers more directly accountable to the general public and employees, and has a less harmful environmental impact than other companies in the industry while still turning a profit.  If you haven't seen the film "The Corporation" it's worth the money to rent it because it discusses a lot of what people in this part of the thread are discussing, in a much more detailed way than I could do in a short post.

                    One important thing to remember about corporations is that proxy voting is an extremely powerful way to get them to change business practices.  Unfortunately, as most equity in US companies is owned by investment managers (or broker-dealers) in the form of 401Ks or other major investment vehicles, it's really mutual fund portfolio managers who are put in the position of having to bear the primary burden (or wield the power) of making decisions about a company's social responsiveness/responsibility, rather than Joe Schmoe American, holder of 100 shs of Microsoft common stock, who doesn't have nearly the voting power of the major investment companies.  PMs also often employ proxy voting advisors like ISS to make recommendations on how to vote their shares when issues are put to the shareholders.  NOT that I advocate this, but if you kidnapped all the PMs in the world and had some way to rewire their brains so that they linked negative externalities and social effects of corporate behavior to stock price valuation we'd see big changes in how things are run.  Sadly, laying off people generally RAISES a public company's stock price, because it frees up capital and allows the company to reorganize as necessary.  If the unvalued harm of that were actually figured into stock price (aka laying off people is bad for communities in all sorts of ways, so company stock price should be lowered to reflect that harm) then there would be a worldwide change in all sorts of nasty corporate behavior - everything from discrimination to environmental practices to offering comprehensive health care.... you name it.

                    I should mention the makeup of the Board of Directors of any corporation is something to monitor, because rules about how the BoD makes decisions directly affect the democratic nature of the company's decision-making.

                    The conscience of the shareholder is what is supposed to be the check on corporate anti-social behavior.  So long as shareholders only care about the bottom line, the corporation will never do more than is necessary - i.e. follow its one rule which is to turn a profit - and will continue to exact the kinds of harms on society that make people anti-corporate in the first place.

                    There is some hope here though - check out Domini Funds and research Socially Responsible Funds or index funds (SRIs) or go to the Sierra Club to learn more about how money management and investment can be geared toward companies who DO try to maintain socially responsible practices.

                    Progressivism: be on the right side of history.

                    by deep6 on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:05:56 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  The original diary was about winning (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  public opinion and elections. If you are ready to change the structure of American business you may want to head over to a socialist or communist blog site and start planning a revolution. Let's be real here, yes?

                  •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

                    The argument always seems to fall into those on the very left accusing those leaning to the middle.  The diarist is trying to transform the petty bickering into a strategy for compromise using a language/phrasing model.  I like it.  I am a moderate and the very left are always gazing at their bellybuttons.  If you want more of what we now have, keep ruminating about corporations and their moral culpability.

                    Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

                    by hairspray on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:31:23 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  *yawn* (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      "I am a progressive and moderates are always gazing at their bellybuttons."

                      Can't you find any legitimate points?

                      Why does Shrub never talk about his first wife, Reality? He divorced her with prejudice and all of his alimony checks to her have bounced.

                      by nepolon on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:23:02 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  While America.... (6+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sj, opinionated, nasarius, Blueiz, dus7, Eryk

           admittedly unlikely to embrace communism anytime soon, polls show that Americans are far more suspicious of big business than you seem to think. The average American is a populist and the sooner progressives figure that out, the sooner we'll go back to winning elections.

                    •  There are quite simply (0+ / 0-)

                      many realities underlying our systems of government and economic structure that are commonly ignored on this website. Ideology is great, but it must be grounded with the reality of the current day first, in order to gain any momentum towards change.

                      "Our way of Life" in America is heavily invested in by more than just money. In order to maintain the status quo even at a 50% level
                      certain "unpleasantries" must unfold. The Replicans know it, the Democrats know it but they both must hide and spin it, else the populace gets jumpy.

                      The left pushes, the right pushes and the best that one can hope for is a centroid that is tolerable.

                      •  That's nonsense (8+ / 0-)

                        Take a look at some public polling. Most striking to me is that large majorities of Americans favor some sort of universal healthcare plan EVEN IF it means raising taxes. Americans don't trust big corporations and do support increasing the minimum wage. A lot of Americans, particularly blue collar Americans, are very much opposed to GATT and NAFTA and CAFTA. I'm not talking about nationalizing all forms of production here. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are to the right of the average American on economic issues.

                        •  I agree with everthing you just said (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          I was speaking about our country's current socio-politico-economic reality- AKA-The Big Picture

                          All of us will have to deal with some big nasty issues in the next few years regardless of who is controlling the Congress or the Whitehouse. Issues greater that minimum wage and health care I'm afraid.

                •  metal prophet, I think I understand what you are (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  nasarius, dus7, blueoasis

                  saying, but the evil of corporations is  profit and
                  the shield against abuse. You can't put a corpoation in jail or see it die in human years. This increases the incentive for unlevened greed.

                  Half billion dollar retirement packages for a CEO while the employees (and not even all of them) can loo forward to a miserly subsistance minimum wage?

                  Get a grip.

                  We can't have a National Health plan because of greedy insurance companies. More babies and old people are killed because of the absence of a health plan? It's alright because insurance companies make more profit.

                  Baby formula behind lock and key at the grocery. It's alright. Gotta make the profit ya know.

                  Why not socialism? it works just fine in Europe in case nobody noticed.

                  America has the worst per capita health car of any developed or semi-developed country in the world except Latvi.

                  Somebody better get a grip.

                  My li'l Overton Window.

              •  Corporations are human too. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                redwagon, lookingglass

                the problem is not that corporations exist.  They organise capital and talent but are allowed to do so in a distorted market and anything that is distorted, favoured, corrupt or poisoned will lead to further imbalance the very idea that the market can fix imbalances is untrue.  The market only corrects an imbalance whan it is allowed to operate freely, this has never and will never happen fully.  The current Oil situation(crisis/opportunity/windfall) is a case in point: By administration after administration  being beholden to the Mighty Oil we have all partaken in the delay of humans natural innovation and progress.  Any situation whether it is political or economic that is interfered in to favour one over another will result in at best stagnation at worst revolution. No?

              •  curious header (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Inky, biscobosco, peacemom, nasarius

                Corporations are self-interested actors in the marketplace, accountable only to their shareholders.  Why would the default position be that they "benefit the American people?"  Is that the "weak brained bullshit" that you are advertising?

                •  not true (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  opinionated, redwagon, Russgirl

                  Corporations are accountable to the societies in which they are allowed to operate. Just because the USA has become a third world country in this regard don't assume it is universally true. What corporations are expected to do in a given society is simply a reflection of the society's leadership. (Moreover, shareholders, at least in larger corporations, often consist of many average members of that society, and share common values with that society's workers.)

                  For example, in the US, corporations such as ATT, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google are expected to turn over private data about their customers to the government. That three of those four gave in without a whimper says a lot about our society; but so does the fact that Google could resist and become heroes in the process. That is, except that they cratered to China, the price of operating in THAT society.

                  Corporations that want to play in the EU have a whole different set of rules to play by, as US corporations like GE and Microsoft are discovering.

                  Just as there is nothing inherently superior in the private sector's ability to accomplish projects (for every Bush-era FEMA there is an Enron; for every 80s Microsoft there is an Internet, moon landing, WWII), there is nothing inherently evil about the corporate structure, and certainly nothing inherently good about state ownership of the means of production. If anything, the decentralized nature of corporate America is a blessing, which is why the cronyism and fascist consolidation of Bushco is so alarming.

                  •  Somewhat true (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    opinionated, biscobosco, nasarius, dus7

                    Corporations are created and granted limited liability by governments.  If you want to see a rapid walkback from the position that governments don't matter, just threaten to repeal the corporate registration and limited liability laws on a nationwide basis.

                    This can be done.  There is no inherent right in the Constitution that states grant limited liability to corporations.

                    The idea that the private came first and that governments represent theft from private individuals is just contrary to the history of government institutions.  What has really happened, in fits and starts, is the wresting of areas of life from the "public" sphere and the growth of the idea that the purpose of government is to benefit everyone.  Conservatives are flat-out lying if they argue otherwise.  The current administration is committed to reversing this historical movement.

                    •  ha - or what about copyright laws - and trademark (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      we dont need those stinkin peices of government regulation.

                      If I want to call my hamburger stand mc donalds I should have a right. Free enterprise right?

                      no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

                      by biscobosco on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:30:30 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Dead on. (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      opinionated, redwagon, blueoasis

                      It's the enclosure movement all over again. Now they're trying to do it with the internet.

                      I think that one of the goals of the current kleptocracy is for a small number - the few, the proud, the thieving elite - to amass so much wealth and to so deplete the public treasury that the people who matter to them (i.e., themselves) will be effectively insulated from any future change in who controls political power. Without the king, the feudal lords get to wield their measures of power unchecked. So, "ha ha, let the Democrats win. We don't care! We've got all the money, and the public has all the debt. Those suckers will be paying our bills for generations. And if they think they can come after us with their puny laws, they've got another think coming. Laws are for suckers. The laws will be caught flat-footed by our ability to hide and move our assets. And if they get too close, we'll just spend what we must to reclaim power until the dirty little upstarts are brought back in line." That's what I think they think. I have a jaundiced view, I know.

                      •  Also consider 'private security companies' (0+ / 0-)

                        Condottieri anyone?

                        "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

                        by ohiolibrarian on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:46:00 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Everything old - really old, middle ages old - (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          sj, dus7, blueoasis

                          is new again. Dungeons, torture, no habeas corpus,   the impunity of the powerful, no middle class, impoverished powerless serfs, interlocking church and state, and, yes, private security to protect the wealthy from, ahem, everyone else.

                          Rachel Maddow, on Air America, has been trying to drum up enthusiasm for the rubric "New Monarchism," obviously referring to W's disdain for law or anything else that would constrain his will. I don't think she's seeing far enough into our neocon future. What they want is a New Feudalism, not a New Monarchism. They don't want a strong central authority. They are inimical to the state. W's overreaching is supposed to break the system and discredit central state power. Once that's been achieved, the center will wither away, and the new feudal lords can stride the earth unfettered by the Leviathan. We'll drift into a postmodern state of nature with hi-tech distractions.

                •  being organized (0+ / 0-)

                  is always better than being disorganized. Disorganization almost always means resources are not efficiently used and low productivity. So that by definition is a benefit to the american people. Doesn't mean it couldn't be done better. But it could (and has) been a whole hell of a lot worse.

                  if yer gonna trash it, gotta come up with a replacement.

                  All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

                  by SeanF on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:33:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

                Corporations are tools, literally; they need not be capitalist tools, even. They are legal tools to protect their owners from liability, and more often than not this is to the benefit of small business owners.

                There may be a better way to organize economic endeavor, but markets have been with us for 10,000 years and have evolved with us.

                Attacking corporations, like attacking the cut in the capital gains tax (made by Clinton), is a losing strategy. Instead we should focus on reforming our society away from being oil- and war industry-dominated and thus provide lower tax rates to everyone; work with the EU and Latin America and Oceania, who would probably all be willing, to develop a uniform living wage and environmental laws that encourage sustainable economic development (we all gotta eat, and people who talk about doing away with corporations scare a lot of people who like to not starve); plan for a future that is about to hit us like a shit asteroid - cloning, pocket nukes, nanotechnology, viral warfare, the natural weather disasters spawned by our oil addicition of the past 100 years, and the rise of machines that will outthink us.

          •  corporations aren't evil... (8+ / 0-)

            They're just a conduit for evil.

            Take this, for an analogy... do you think any sane human being could go to a wedding and shoot all the guests?  Obviously, no.  But can a sane human being drop a 500 pound bomb on that selfsame wedding from an airplane?  Demonstrably, yes.  It has happened in Iraq.  The airplane-dropped bomb DEPERSONALIZES the killing.  It insulates our sense of morality.

            By the same token, would any sane human being devise a machine to put mercury in the water in order to cause fetal nerve damage?  NO!!!  But the human beings running corporations, looking not at babies but at balance sheets, have their morality insulated.  They think of it in terms of costs and regulations, not brain-damaged babies.  And hence, we get mercury in the water.

            So corporations aren't evil.  They just make it much, much easier to allow evil to happen.

            "Finally, a sex scandal!"
            - Stephanie Miller

            by Leggy Starlitz on Wed May 10, 2006 at 07:38:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Indeed. (0+ / 0-)

            Not all of them, certainly (there are plenty of Enrons out there); probably not even most of them. But there are some.

            And it's not even all about finding the right companies; some of it is about finding the right issues. For instance, I think the concept of universal healthcare would gain a lot more traction if its proponents lined up some major corporate CEOs behind it... the auto industry is just the most obvious example of companies that are being bankrupted by health insurance costs, and finding it infeasible to keep jobs in this country even when they want to. Take the cost of health care off their balance sheets, and the U.S. would suddenly look a lot more competitive with other (developed) countries.

            (Plus, as a side benefit, that change would leave behind a more realistic picture of employee compensation... putting an end, e.g., to the Heritage Foundation's insistence that "total compensation" is growing fast -- since employers keep paying more each year for insurance -- even though real wages are actually falling.)

        •  Good Point. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sj, BlackGriffen

          For example, I am certain that established companies like GM, 3M, and IBM are tired of indirectly paying for the cost the health core of Wal-Mart's exploited employees.

          I bet global consumer products companies like P&G and McDonald's may not appreciate the black-eye that the Bush administration has been giving the America's image around the globe.

      •  No Agreement on Progressive Goals (14+ / 0-)

        The more general point is that there simply is not agreement on pursuing progressive goals among elected Democrats.

        Take healthcare. thereisnospoon writes:

        And this stands in stark contrast to the Democrats: When the rightwing attacked the Democrats for promoting "Hillarycare", and the Democrats started to take some heat, we just slinked back into a corner and didn't raise the issue again.  To this day, we are afraid to talk about single-payer health coverage, for fear of offending the middle.

        Meanwhile, the progressives among us insist that our leaders simply come out swinging in favor single-payer health coverage to rally our base--without priming the moderate voter for the idea in advance.

        Both strategies will fail miserably.

        But this discussion assumes that there is something approaching consensus among Democrats that single payer is a good idea. In fact, there's no such consensus at all.  The Clinton administration completely shut single payer advocates out of the healthcare discussion in 1993. And they did so not merely for strategic reasons.  Plenty of Democratic leaders want nothing to do with single payer healthcare. And unless progressive Democrats grapple with that fact, talking about how to craft a strategy for getting to single payer healthcare is really putting the cart before the horse.

        The same is true on countless other issues. Iraq. Missile defense. The war on drugs. Reestablishing a welfare safety net. The right to organize.  Israel-Palestine. Media consolidation. Intellectual property.  Bankruptcy. Taxation. Global climate change. Fair trade.  Even reproductive freedom.  On any major issue, progressives find important opponents within the Democratic Party itself.  

        First they came for the human-animal hybrids...

        by GreenSooner on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:11:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right, and no message discipline either (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wary, proximity1

          Not only does this "window" technique require agreement on policy goals, it also requires message discipline. Everyone has to be occupying a place on the specified continuum. The right wingers are perfectly happy to march in lockstep, spouting scripted nonsense in order to move the goalposts. Fortunately or unfortunately, many Democrats like to think for themselves. Would they subjugate their thought processes to achieve electoral victories? I think the question answers itself. In general, they would not.

          To judge whether Democrats should really try to damp down all that diversity of opinion, it would be useful to know whether agreement on policy goals was characteristic of earlier phases of Democratic dominance of Congress. I suspect that orthodoxies such as "labor good, management bad" and "fund social change" did in fact unite Democrats much more in the past (say, in the sixties) than now.

          •  Message Discipline? (6+ / 0-)

            I'd say the problem is a related one - communicating coherent vision.

            This diary makes what I think is a mistake - looking at things in terms of being to the left, or to the middle, etc.  Even when it talks of the right "shifting" the middle, that's no the most important thing.

            i think the important thing is that people will take a coherent, principled, passionately argued positive vision over a bunch of focus-grouped disconnected flim-flam.  Whether it's 'left' or 'moderate' is of secondary importance!

            •   absolutely right!!! (8+ / 0-)

               This post, by BleedingKnuckleLiberal, and the two just above by Dratman and GreenerSooner, all get my highest praise for their clear thinking and their good sense.

               Let's look again at their points:

              " i think the important thing is that people will take a coherent, principled, passionately argued positive vision over a bunch of focus-grouped disconnected flim-flam.  Whether it's 'left' or 'moderate' is of secondary importance!" --BKLiberal

              "Not only does this "window" technique require agreement on policy goals, it also requires message discipline. Everyone has to be occupying a place on the specified continuum. The right wingers are perfectly happy to march in lockstep, spouting scripted nonsense in order to move the goalposts.
              ...    ...
              " To judge whether Democrats should really try to damp down all that diversity of opinion, it would be useful to know whether agreement on policy goals was characteristic of earlier phases of Democratic dominance of Congress. I suspect that orthodoxies such as "labor good, management bad" and "fund social change" did in fact unite Democrats much more in the past (say, in the sixties) than now." -- Dratman

              " But this discussion assumes that there is something approaching consensus among Democrats that single payer is a good idea. In fact, there's no such consensus at all.  The Clinton administration completely shut single payer advocates out of the healthcare discussion in 1993. And they did so not merely for strategic reasons.  Plenty of Democratic leaders want nothing to do with single payer healthcare. And unless progressive Democrats grapple with that fact, talking about how to craft a strategy for getting to single payer healthcare is really putting the cart before the horse.

              The same is true on countless other issues. Iraq. Missile defense. The war on drugs. -- GreenerSooner

              A little history for those who don't know what "Tammany Hall" was.

              please see the link :



              In the 19th and much of the 20th centuries, politics were run--both locally and nationally--by powerful local "machine-like" organizations which firmly controlled their respective party's operations.  Thus, every large city and most medium ones had a Democratic party machine and a Republican one and these fought it out using similar techniques.  Patronage in the form of job distribution and public works programs, and all manner of public services were the "goodies" which ruling local, state and national administrations had "to offer" their partisans--the incentives to work hard to organize down to the block level each and every household.  Cities like New York and Chicago had "Ward bosses" hand-picked managers in each municipal electoral district.  It was the task of these bosses to know at all times everything of political importance that was happening in their ward and to keep their superiors informed and, of course, put into effect the party establishment's programs.  

               In such a system it is obvious both that power is very well centalized and managed, and that the opportunities for corruption (graft) are enormous.  Of course, the corruption ran amok until it was so bad that even the political leadership had to do something.  Theodore Roosevelt made much of his political career on reforming the deeply corrupt patronage system of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

               What came from that was an overhaul of the system and the introfuction of the civil service system, by which government functionaries, once entirely the creatures of the ward system and the ultimate party leadership, began to obtain their posts based on exams and supopsedly merit-based pay and promotion.

               In addition, and much more recently, the once much more centralized party management of the House of Representatives and, to a lesser extent, the Senate, underwent a profound decentralization of control in the 1970s--basically with the departure of Speaker Sam Rayburn.  Ever since, office holders and office seekers have essentially had to demonstrate their electability to the top leaders (local, state and federal) in their respective parties.  Thus, if you had money or influential friends willing to back you, you could mount an effort to win a slot as a major party nominee in a general election by going and making the rounds, raising funds, speaking to various civic groups and trying to flesh out your policy aims and gain name recognition.  In all of that, you might be an outsider from the existing party leaders' point of view--as was Jimmy Carter, who, though Governor of Georgia, was not necessarily the Democrats' first thought as a presidential candidate.  Similarly, Bill Clinton had to develop his own base and manage it over the course of gaining the Arkansas statehouse.

               That is the sort of thing--the sort of work-- which well-oiled party machines would once do for the parties' candidates.  The top party bosses decided among themselves who the candidates should be for all available offices and simply tapped them.  The rest of the machine mechanically went to work for the election of those candidates and policies and other fine details were none of their concern.  

               Where, you may ask, did the average man and woman on the street come into the picture?  They came in as people who were known to the ward boss, as were their families needs and strenghts.  That, of course, was predicated on their being card-carrying members on the party's member rolls.  And, on election day, the ward bosses' repsponsibilities were to see to it that those "votes" turned out at the polls and that they supported their party's candidate--policy questions be damned.

               So, now we have, once more, a party systyem mired in extreme corruption yet one which is essentially ad hoc in nature compared with what was done in the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.

               National campaigns coalesce around candidate which, typically, the mainstream press designate through the not-at-all-accidental routine of repetitive mentioning as "leading" or "strong" or "front-runner" or other terms by which a few are winnowed from a larger initial field.  The importance of that role to the overall power of the press is hard to overstate.  Without it, the press should find itself as a mere and uninfluential bystander in the process of determining which candidates become seen as "presidential" or whatever the office in question may be.  To give up so powerful a role is not something the press shall do quietly.  It is a mainstay of its political power.

               Thus, parties have far different operating procedures than they once did.  Instead of a handful of very powerful party bosses determining what policies their party officials shall promote, policies come out of a mix of contending interests --think-tanks; corporate lobbying; meetings with large contributors; the results of professional polling; and some academic imput from experts in various fields.  These make up the bulk of the policy input.

               You and I now have even less influence than the families of the wards of the early 20th century; we aren't typically organized, we don't likely belong to a union--decimated in the processes of the 1970s and 1980s--and many of us have never met our elected officials' office aides let alone the office holders themselves.  As for influence over policy we have practically none, like in the century and a half past; but we also don't belong to any organized movements apart from those such as AARP, NOW, or other so-called "single-issue" pressure groups.

              ( I'll repost the bulk of this--or all of it--as a diary entry.)

               Many thanks to those cited above: GreenerSooner, Dratman, and BleedeingKnuckleLiberal.

              "All life is problem-solving." (book title) --Karl Popper

              by proximity1 on Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:10:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Isn't the point more that (7+ / 0-)

            We lack seemingly credible groups on the far-left that can take very hard-left positions and justify them, lending those ideas credibility, whilst Democratic politicians can therefore take positions further to the center on the spectrum and seem moderate in comparison? Not message discipline but just tolerance for ideas further on the left without endorsing them specifically?

            This definitely seems to be what the right does - Think Cato or Heritage - they put out academic-sounding work on social policy to lend really wacky ideas credibility, and they therefore shift the debate so that people on the "moderate" right sound centrist.

            I've definitely noticed the way that the center in America can shift but I've never been able to understand it in as coherent a way as the diarist, so I'm really thankful for this analysis.

            But I'm a little unsure about the ramifications for democratic politics - don't we in a way already have far-left issue groups that act sort of like think tanks? Instead of shifting the center more towards the left, these groups are usually seen as Democratic baggage, rightly or wrongly, repelling voters with centrist. Think about the way that the feminist/prochoice movement is demonized as feminazis. Perhaps this is another aspect of the strategy, and we should use the same tactic - Republicans are beholden to their radical libertarian think-tanks?

            I definitely agree that the diarist's analysis is how the right is winning - what I'm unsure about is how we can make this strategy work for us.

            Perhaps we need fewer policy advocacy groups, which appear to just be interest groups, and more academic-sounding, more "credible" think tanks who put out real "research?"

            •  Good Points! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Actually at one time the very term 'conservative' was on the very same basis as 'liberal'--particularly during FDR's time, as well as during the Civil Rights time--it wasn't necessarily a "Party identification' label, it meant those who wanted to keep the 'status quo' and fought against changes.

              All the 'messages' assosciated with the 'status quo' which worked so well for decades, centuries even, then were eventually replaced by the newer more 'liberal' messages.

              Those in the 'center' while they might not have 'approved' of the ravaging 'poverty' after the great Depression, nor 'approved' of 'segregation' in the south, the 'center' didn't necessarily want to do 'anything' about it, they had to be convinced by much more than simply a message and message discipline.

              And messages were the result of more than a fous group, in each of the cases I've mentioned it took people power to 'win' over the 'center'.

            •  It's not clear that the 'center has shifted' (3+ / 0-)

              What's been happening in recent years is that the Republican party has been winning elections not by "shifting the center", but by using attack-dog smear tactics.  There is only so much mileage that can be won by insisting that the wacky ideas your think tank has been developing are actually good for the American people.  If the only task required is to make progress in the human psyche, well, that's a relatively easy task.  But there's also the problem of governing.  The Bush administration shows the limits of a party that has become extremely skillful at winning elections, but has no skill whatsoever at government.

              Rather than cooking up some long-term scheme based on the tired metaphors of "left" and "right", which appear to be completely outdated as the "right" increases spending at a rate equally any actions in the past by the "left", why don't we simply insist on honesty and accountability in government?  

            •  A good start for policy research (0+ / 0-)

              is The New America Foundation.

              Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

              by hairspray on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:39:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The religious right (0+ / 0-)

              has used this extensively.
              For example, I had not heard of "The Rapture" until the 1980s or '90s.  Pre-Millenialism had the status of being little more than a cult. Now "The Rapture" is a mainstream idea.  The same with many Dominionist ideas.  

              Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility. --Ambrose Bierce

              by JaketheSnake on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:02:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Important part of the window shifting (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tmo, Enough Talk Lets Get Busy

            A key mechanism for the GOP's window shifting, would seem to be that the elected repubs are not the ones taking risks to shift the windows.  They have think tank propagandists for this purpose.  When some asshole from the Heritage Foundation gets on NPR and tells people that the government should only exist to fight wars, few people link such a statement to the GOP.  It's just some random "expert" talking.  In fact most people probably think of think tanks  much like they do academia, so they are not even expecting propaganda - but that's exactly what it is!  Flat out propaganda!

            When the democrats try to shift the window, it's usually a candidate putting his nuts on the chopping block.  For example, take Dean's statements about Iraq.  He successfully changed the debate on the war, but the media labeled him a loose cannon/looney lefty nut-job in the process.  

            This diary is so great - I'm forwarding it to everyone I know.  Thereisnospoon rocks.

            "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty..." ~Thomas Jefferson

            by Subterranean on Wed May 10, 2006 at 08:50:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  This will prove very very useful (31+ / 0-)

      I had not heaard of this, but we will begin looking at how our positions play in the Overton Windows.
      Thank you again.

      Barry Welsh Indiana 6th District Democratic Party Congressional Candidate

      It's simple Math PENCE=BUSH=MITCH=Bad for Indiana+Bad for America

      by Barry Welsh on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  good to hear it (5+ / 0-)

        See what are acceptable and unacceptable ideas in your district, and see what works to create acceptable messaging in your area!

        •  This is useful for Energy Policy (0+ / 0-)

          Increasing gasoline taxes slowly would make sense in that it would decrese demand for gasoline and increase demand for more efficient cars.  This would be good for global warming, pollution, etc.  It might even result in better planning so there are towns instead of suburban sprawl.  Before this can happen though, it needs to be accepted.  Right now increasing gas taxes in almost inconcevable.  I do not expect any politician I vote for to vote for increasing gas taxes (except for a very small amount) right now.  I would be like watering ground without planting any seeds.  The seeds need to be planted first if we expect to achive what we want.  

      •  Barry, please read this article (0+ / 0-)

        and the report it refers to. It's all about reclaiming the middle class votes we have lost. The report is a PDF of a report written by " the Third Way " a centrist democrat group. It made a lot of sense to me, and may be of help to you.

        -8.63 -7.28 Vote+$.01 I will vote Dem., but in protest and support.

        by OneCrankyDom on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:26:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  OMFG!!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A democratic candidate with a BRAIN inside his head!

        We need more candidates like you, Barry Welsh.  Thanks for taking some time out from your campaign to think.

        "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty..." ~Thomas Jefferson

        by Subterranean on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:08:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well (12+ / 0-)

      This is really an argument for incrementalism by another name, which doesn't really play around here, although maybe some people will look at it in a different way.

      The stuff we care about is often a matter of civil rights, basic human dignity, etc. (Of course, the wingnuts see the issues that way from their point of view, too.)  So when you focus on the sub-issues that are politically possible, when you get the victories you can today in hopes of moving the political center for later, you're basically a sell-out in the eyes of anyone who isn't in on your plan.

      That's why issues are generally all-or-nothing here at dkos.  If you take what you can get, you're an appeaser, and people are dying, losing their liberties, etc. while you play your little political games, so the only option is to go full-throated and let come what may.

      The big-picture strategizers on the Dem side seem to be these awful consultants who lose time and time again, so there's no point in listening to them.  And a community like ours is great for a lot of things, but it's not a great place to formulate a strategy of incrementalism, because there are always too many people who don't want to compromise.  Incrementalism basically has to be fed to us as a bitter pill that hopefully we learn to swallow at some point.

      •  Democrats also have a problem... (15+ / 0-)

        with being wrong. Or rather, with being told they're wrong. Especially in the short term.

        Oppose our policy recommendations, and we look for ways to make it right with you. Or, we withdraw bitterly from the debate.

        Our think tanks also have taken the worst possible piece of Republican advice: "running like a business." The "investors" in our think tanks want to see policy results before ponying up again. Their "investors" play  a longer-term game, and just need to see movement in their direction to think of it as a net gain.

        Some of that is definitely due to the difference you cite: that our issues are things we don't view as appropriate to approach with half-measures. But I think we also are just constitutionally predisposed to a greater need for validation for our ideas.

        With regard to those ideas that aren't tied to notions of basic fairness, maybe we're trained to recognize that as "consensus," and to regard seeking consensus as the best possible outcome in anything. Whereas Republicans no longer play that game.

        •  Yes! Shopping is not investing. (11+ / 0-)
          Fine point, X. But, also, we have a fetish for being right, and then, footnoting our "rightness" to death. And people leave the room, leaving us gasping--"But, but, the facts! The facts..."

          They leave the room.  Why? Well, because of our love affair with facts, we therefore get wigged out by "emotional" appeals--the kind the other side incessantly uses:

          * "Death tax"
          * "Defense of Marriage Act"
          * "Patriot Act"

          This is aslo the nut of Colbert's gig.  But his appeal is a sideways one--the man uses the absurd truth, that's all. It is ridiculous to us, but it's also only 5 degrees out of line with the reality of today. He is a man of the information age, understanding that no-one reads the body copy (I'm an ad guy, believe me, it's true), but everyone responds to the visual and the whiplash-inducing soundbite.

          Republicans (and Colbert) know that no one wants to eath their spinach, nor suffer through a shopping list of footnotes and nuance.  

          No, it's not right, nor fair, nor how one dilligently gets anything done. But, you see, they win hearts, and they worry about the minds later. They do poetry, if you can call it that, but they suck at policy and governance. They never get a round to the mind part, because, by and large, they can get away with it. And have, until lately.

          We are not winning right now. They are losing.

          Sure, we predicted it. And many did not recieve our transmissions excepting bats and dogs.

          We are just victims of our own tin ear and a clumsy, insistent peddling of spinach. Yes, spinach. That's what it reveals as. Especially when we have no credible artful and soulful parry when a Chris Matthews chews it it up and spits it back as "only whack-jobs don't like Bush."

          He's a perfect example of the simple-mnded filtering that goes on right under our noses and out of our visible and audible frequency range: Flightsuit Bush. Tweety was giddy, downright aglow in pride and man-crush, as were most other media types. Why? Visual poetry. Lame, sure. The worst stereotype of swagger and macho kicking fact,  thought and reason's ass? Ubetcha.

          And it worked. Mike Deaver said the same about Reagan--"the visual is key, Andrea Mitchell can say what she wants." The policy was shit, but it worked. And if the policy had been 50% less shit, it would probably still be a fine moment. That matters because politics is a succession of  such moments--emotional bookmarks.

          Question is How many opportunities for those moments have we created lately? And how many white papers have we written?


          Look, we could decimate forests writing books  about what's fucked up about our country's leadership apparatus and decisionmaking. But at its root, the DNC is a victim of it's modernity and its "professionalism." The old term and lost art is "management by walking around." You hear things and hone your mouth and your ear that way, not to mention the way your brain processes that input. Markos has a fine book on this lament I hear.

          A Window? Pert Charts? A Cray XMP?

          Fuck that.  Our poetry--truly American poetry, not (R) Lite--sucks. We stopped writing it. We thought--Bob Shrum and Donna Brazile thought--it didn't matter anymore. We had credentials! And so what? We'e reduced to waiting for the other guys to saw their feet off.

          No, we're not robots. Fixing healthcare is job one, for instance, and the public resoundingly thinks so along with the Business Roundtable. That public also believes we're the guys to fix it. We must balance our policty acumen not with yet another process and more sets of boxes to check, but rather with poetry and prose that's a sherman tank around the hearts of people who tiptoe toward a future heading at them at breakneck speed. But when do they hear us at full throat? When do we become a chorus? When we tell them what they alrady know: that things are fucked up.

          Too late. They know that. To their ears we are too often parrots not poets. All squawk, no song. MSOC got this treatment, brutally. Why? Because it's a narrative and a visuall already parked in people's heads--the media just borrows it and drapes it. Voila! Instant "Liberal" in all it's clashing glory.

          Again, why? Because we asked for it many senses--we wanted political science to be science. And probably because some well-meaning guy had a "window" he wanted to sell--an improved mousetrap. Perhaps, he was progressive--quite curious and future-minded--but felt uncomfortable with his oratory or interpersonal skills. He distrusted "Gut." He thought speeches and gladhanding were artifacts, remants. Maybe he believed, like the Scarecrow, that brains were what mattered. Nah. The Tin Man knew he had tin ears, and he wanted the one thing that could make a difference, heart.

          King wasn't retailing Brains or a process. Lincoln, FDR or Kennedy didn't need a window or an algorithm either. Brains come second. Heart, gut, poetry comes first.

          wow. sorry for the incoherent rant and I'm sure plenty of typos

          •  Wow. Your explanation of how visual (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and emotional props work, how they are the language of modern politics, is very lucid.  

            It also seems like a good argument against democracy.  If voters refuse to think because it's like eating spinach, then why bother with voting?  

            "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty..." ~Thomas Jefferson

            by Subterranean on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:25:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Democracy is hard work. Kinda like truth is hard (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peacemom, dus7, lev36

              Thanks for the props. I probably shouldn't have defanged my argument with the "incoherent rant" comment tho--perhaps it's a perfect example: my own knee-jerk self-deprecation stomping on the message.

              But I'll tell ya Sub, it's not just voters. It's everybody. Some of the finest and most powerful diaries I've read here on really piercing republican armour get virtually no attention. That's because they they require a pause to think and compare their assertions with what we think we know... "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know, it's what we know for sure that just ain't so." --Mark Twain

              Thought, not Truth, is really the first casualty of war. And it's a precious rare comodity among humans because we are ultimately creatures of habit and pattern. We buy off the rack. We choose based on our cohort or family choices usually. Very little thought involved. Sure, lots of mental processes and subliminal calculation. Just not near as much rational cognition as we'd like to believe. That's why we fail: Democratic leaders are techincians, not poets; they calmly present facts and features in a noisy, crazy bazaar and wonder why they're ineffectual. They also fail to understand, much like most of the business class, that leadership is not inspiring others but, instead, leading others to self-inspire.

              Colbert's "gut" and his playing out of it on TV is one of the most incisive American observations since Twain or Mencken.  For a practical explanation, check out Wiliam James. I use his 19th Century wisdom everyday cuz I market stuff and work with business leaders who need people to self-start, self-sacrifice, or follow. And people only do so for their own reasons, not mine, nor those of their bosses. Democracy only works when self-interest is engaged to common good. Self-interest alone leads to Republicanism. Common good alone means you're a political bridesmaid. Seriously, check out James' How an Individual Settles on a New Opinion.

          •  Excellent. I promise to sing, not footnote. (0+ / 0-)


            "Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail." --Stephen Colbert

            by gazingoffsouthward on Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:59:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  'If you take what you can get...' (16+ / 0-)

        If you take what you can get, you're an appeaser, people are dying, losing their liberties, etc. while you play your little political games, so the only option is to go full-throated and let come what may.

        Although in an ideal world, "the good guys" could throw a Hail Mary pass, restore respect for the Constitution, stop all torture, fix the healthcare problem, and purge all the criminals from Congress, that just isn't going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, people are dying, losing their liberties, etc, because we aren't willing to play politics effectively!

        It's the story of the tortise and the hare.

        Democrats are the hare. They demand that it all be done quickly. Race fast, or lose. There's no in-between.

        The Republicans are the tortise. Keep making little gains, even if it seems hopeless.

        And we all know how that race ends.

        congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

        by bartman on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:00:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see it differently. (19+ / 0-)

          I think Republicans accept incremental progress gained by advancing a radical agenda.  Democrats invite defeat by refusing to advance an abitious agenda in favor of taking what little they can get as a minority party.

          Democrats - applying common sense to common problems for the common good.

          by Rick Oliver on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:23:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  to me the difference is (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            biscobosco, Sam I Am, bartman, bluebrain

            the repub strategy is, don't reveal the end game, ever. Only say things that will move the public towards your end game. They shouldn't even know what the destination is cuz that is by definition still "unthinkable".

            Dems on the other hand tend to talk about issues as issues, discuss merits, and try to actually come up with a plan. But that seems to get steamrolled when the definition of reasonable always keeps on changing.

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:54:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think we're kind of on the same page... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila, samddobermann, Rick Oliver

            but my metaphore had some flaws.

            We need to make slow and steady progress (like the tortise) by having our issue groups play the role of the radicals, redefining the window of what's reasonable, while the mainstream stays in the window, while being careful not to undermine the radicals.

            Instead, we have the radicals demanding that our representatives embrace them completely and publicly, trying to shatter the window completely.

            The radicals need to learn patience, and the moderates need to learn not to disrespect the radicals.

            congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

            by bartman on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:10:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              biscobosco, bartman

              But I see the problem as less one of the
              "radicals" demanding complete embrace and more one of the "moderates" direspecting the "radicals."

              I don't think there we be so much anger against Democrats in Congress on this site if elected Dems weren't actively undermining progressive agendas.  

              For example, though I disagree I don't fault Pelosi for not supporting Feingold in his censure efforts.  There are reasonable arguments to be made for taking that position.  However, I am absolutely furious with her for going out of her way to publicly undermine Feingold's efforts.

              Democrats - applying common sense to common problems for the common good.

              by Rick Oliver on Wed May 10, 2006 at 08:05:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Play the game... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann, hairspray, bartman

          One problem that the dems have is we try to play by the rules....even Roberts Rule of Order..

          The rPugs do not do that.  They want to win and will do or say anything to do that..Swift Boat..even when they are proven wrong the talking points go out and accuse us of lying.  

          I cannot count the times i've heard are lying..I watch Faux Knews and they said you are lying. At that point they are gone..nothing you say will reach them.It is like they put their fingers in their ears and say ...I cannot hear you...

          •  I agree. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila, biscobosco, dus7

            In sports, one of the things you learn is that the Refs won't adjust to you, you need to adjust to them.

            So, if one side plays rough, and the Refs are letting them get away with it, you'd better be able to give as good as you get, or be willing to sacrifice any chance at winning.

            In sports, not being willing to play rough is OK. In politics, the stakes are too high.

            The difficulty is playing rough, but still honorably. Go as far as the other side, but no farther. Don't start it, but be willing to finish it. Don't escalate. Don't be dishonest. Just play the game according to the rules being called by the Refs.

            I'm not sure exactly how this metaphore applies to politics, except for the fact that we've been sitting on the bench, crying about the refereeing for a decade now, and we're getting our asses handed to us.

            congratulations on your foreskin -- osteriser

            by bartman on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:03:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  They force us to come to them (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eddie in ME

        in such instances as Frist/Santorum's Federal Marriage Amendment.

        We must stay on the high ground, and I think that means that we must stop perusing our own navels:

        (EVEN--or especially--the vanity marriage arguments instead of basic civil rights of gay Americans, and the various state measures having to do with abortion rights.  I know I'm in the minority, but we have BIG problems to solve.  WE MUST agree to disagree on Roe v. Wade for now, where one can travel freely from S.D. to other states, etc.)

        The environment--gas prices/fossil fuels & alternatives--
        (I think the time is now for this one, and it's a first; we never seem to see beyond "the whites of their eyes"

        American militarism--Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran
        (what do we do with what we've wrought?)

        The American charter:  Who are we?

        Ameican isolationism
        The Geneva Convention

        We will have to take a stand on immigration--
        Basic 1st amendment rights for all--NSA, all-agency snooping on Quakers and peace-nics has to stop--these trump things like the marriage amendment, which detracts from issues of the basic guarantee of civil rights of civil partners to share provider health care, next of kin issues, etc.  Let's keep citizens and residents out of jail and in partnerships.

        We have to have a cogent platform--do we need to form the neogreens, or the Jacksonians (!?!)?

        World human rights--Darfur trumps marriage amendment
        World health rights--bird flu, AIDS, famine, vaccinations and basic children's health.

        Keep humankind alive, prioritize to heal the earth so we then can work on the finer points . . . .

        "Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail." --Stephen Colbert

        by gazingoffsouthward on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:04:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Barry Goldwater (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          biscobosco, makeitstop

          If more people just paid attention to their history they would see these lessons very clearly, and the most obvious example of this is the 1964 election.  Look at what the candidates proposed and what has come to pass.  LBJ spoke of civil right and human rights - creating a minimum standard for all Americans, the Great Society.  And then look at what Barry Goldwater proposed: a bigger and more active military and national security system, lower taxes, states rights, privatization of social security, a massive reduction or end to the welfare state, and more.  At the time, he was labeled an extremist, however his policies were adopted by Reagan and the core of the GOP.  While Johnson's ideas of a government that would help people are now considered radical, and when you hear them, they are the stuff of dreams.  Goldwater's ideas went from being on the fringe to real policy.  It has already happened, and will continue to happen until the Democrats set a series of goals and stick with them no matter what.

          (I apologise for not finding the appropriate quotes from LBJ and AuH2O speeches from the campaign)

          The middle is a ghost.

          by KazHooker on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:30:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and americans want to have it both ways (0+ / 0-)

            the average repub buys the lie.

            We want social security (New Deal).
            We want clean air, clean water, national parks .
            We want high wages.

            But people believe that they dont have to pay taxes, have EPA regulations or labor unions to get those things. And they believe this because of the RW message machine on these issues.

            The RW approach is dishonest.
            They are salesmen
            "We can lower your taxes but not reduce govt pork and services"
            "We can cut EPA regulations, but keep clean skies and clean water."
            "You can still have those high-wage jobs while we outsource and gut worker protections and labor unions."


            no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

            by biscobosco on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:14:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Incrementalism is the key (9+ / 0-)

        This is exactly the issue as I see it as well.  This is how 1930s Germany slowly crept into fascism, and then worse - overt genocide - all the while maintaining popular support.  By very slowly introducing more and more radical ideas into public discourse, and then also slowly implementing slightly worse ideology after slightly worse ideology.  Why speak up and dissent after policy D, when you did nothing after policy C, and policy D is only slightly worse than C, which was slightly worse than B, etc.  The RWNM are masters at this.  One only needs to turn on Fox "news" for 5 minutes (if you can stand it) to see this.  They are driving the "fair and balanced" perception of what the "middle" is farther and farther to the right every day, and we internalize and unconsciously accept it, because it is slow, deliberate, and there is no effective counter-movement.  This reality scares the living shit out of me.  Think about how the philosophy/belief of what a "moderate" is has drifted progressively (regressively in my opinion) rightward over the last six years of shrubCo rule.  The media, pundits, and editorialists are absolutely complicit in this agenda.  It must end now, lest america become Nazifascism-lite to the same extent the Democratic Party has become republican-lite.  It is up to us, here people.  DKos and the rest of the progressive blogosphere is the only free medium we have to express and promulgate our views, in an attempt to right left this ship.  Never give up.  Excellent diary!!!!!!!!!

        Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.

        by Progressive Liberaltarian on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:48:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As my husband says (3+ / 0-)

          "If you tell the people that you want only 1% of their income, they agree. Had you told them that you wanted 35% they would have stoned you. But once you open the door, all it takes are time and patience to get to your true goal." Unfortunately, most people, Repugs, Dems and all in-between can be led that way.

        •  my question (3+ / 0-)

          is there something about leftist positions that are harder to use incrementalism on? I mean, it's scary to threaten militarism, fascism, and cronyism, but is having a scary brick wall of the right somehow more sexy than the contemplative murky swamp of the left?

          And by that I mean, the world is murky and the left actually addresses that. But the right makes it all so much simpler, if you just stop thinking about inconvenient facts, they go away. I guess I'm just wondering if the left can really use this model without turning into fascists themselves.

          All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

          by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:00:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Very insightful (6+ / 0-)

            I agree.  Especially the idea that the right takes advantage of people's defense mechanism of denial by keeping "inconvenient truths" (couldn't help the blatant Gore plug) simplified away into oblivion.  The world is murky and grey, and that scares the bezeejus out of most people, so they choose an overly simplified anti-intellectual yet soothing and comfortable world view.  It also reminds me of the problem we liberals face: Reality IS complicated, grey, and often counter-intuitive.  As such, our arguments can not be simplified into easily resonating four word talking points.  Hell, it takes at least four separate rhetorical tactics just to begin to explain our complicated ways of thinking.  And so our current repeating pattern of frustration. . . One: Republican tells a lie with a catchy jingo.  Two: Democrat attempts to correct the error, however in order to do so properly must resort to a lengthy discussion of intellectual rigor.  Three: Joe Public hears four words of the Democratic response, gets bored/lost, flips on American idol, and comes to the conclusion the Democrat is either an elitist, a flip-flopper, or doesn't stand for anything.  Sigh.  I think we can still use the tactic of incrementalism, we just have to devise a different means of enacting it.  Hmmmmm thinking cap on . . .

            Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.

            by Progressive Liberaltarian on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:16:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  If the goal must be approached (0+ / 0-)

            by incrementalism because the actual end post is unpalatable to the vox populi then why is incrementalism toward that goal "the high ground"?

            We, that is the most of us, don't actually agree on the end points as regards health care, immigration (especially as it relates to jobs), security vs. civil rights, taxes, earmarks, etc. The reason that we can't come to a supportable position is because we don't support it. There is no "we" that represents the Democrat Party. Ditto for the Republicans. There is no agreement on spending or immigration for example.

            I believe there are probably a few issues that a super majority of registered Democrats would agree to (other than unseating the majorities in the House and the Senate and replacing the President) but I'd be hard pressed to state them here.

            Just take health care as an example. Is the goal a certain minimum level of health care? Are the services and drugs definable? Do we care who pays so long as it is available? Is it for citizens, or anybody who happens to be here?

            As to minimum wages, is the goal for a 40/hr/week worker to be able to support a family of four everywhere in the US? Do we define what "support" means? Does that mean with no vices?

            Is there a maximum tax rate? Is there a minimum tax rate? Should we cap the income of a CEO? How about an actor? Or athelete?

            Is home ownership a good thing? Is unrestricted free speech a good thing?
            I think we have vastly different perspectives on these and many more issues.

            Ban Intolerance Now!

            by brahma on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:05:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The story of the frog (0+ / 0-)

          placed into cold water will not respond as the water temperature creeps up is a good metaphor to your story on the nazification of Germany.  We are becoming fascistic and I have a tremendous sense of urgency about getting control of this government again before it is too late.  I think we now have a good window of opportunity, but it is not limitless.   I fear and now have come to loath the Republicans for not seeing the danger, but I am equally dismayed when a diary such as this one turns into a pissing match about the value of corporations.

          Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

          by hairspray on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:47:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It can lead to triangulation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Progressive Liberaltarian

        But it doesn't have to.

        Having more radical positions in the party to contrast yourself with can help make left-of-center positions appear more mainstream. But that is only if those radical positions stay in the party.

        The problem with the triangulation strategy is that it drove those positions out of the party with the mistaken notion that purifying the party would make the party appear more acceptable (i.e., less scary). But when that happens, the triangulator no longer has the radical position to contrast themselves with. Their position, which used to be in the middle of the party, is now at the radical exreme and thus subject to the next round of triangulation.

        The Republicans adopted an entirely different strategy. Call it the "love the sinner but not the sin" strategy. They embraced their radicals, even while at the same time disagreeing with their positions.

      •  It's not really incrementalism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In that this window shifting doesn't necessarily involve incremental policy changes.

        As I understand it, it is the propaganda of the think tanks and media personalities that works to shift the window.  This could take a few years, or a decade, but during this earlier phase the goal is simply to introduce a policy idea into the mainstream consciousness.

        Then, after the window is shifted, radical policies can be enacted.

        Think of Iran.  This talk about nukes is window-shifting propaganda, it is not really the goal, but now that the public has heard it, they are more likely to accept another war of aggression against Iran as a "moderate" and "mainstream" idea.  Whereas if the early talk was just about taking out some Iranian research facilities with air strikes, then the public would still think waging all out war against Iran is extreme.

        "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty..." ~Thomas Jefferson

        by Subterranean on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:19:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  on the contrary, this site is incrementalism (0+ / 0-)

        right?  we're talking about stuff and introducting it into the national conversation.  that's the point.  

    •  excellent ! (4+ / 0-)

      Now how do we do it? :)
      Where can I sign up?

      no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

      by biscobosco on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:51:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we need think tanks (5+ / 0-)

        and lots of them.

        I don't know if the Center for American Progress currently uses the Overton Window--but they're the best we've got right now.

        As for focus group moderators--the current crop of consultants wouldn't get a clue if it were a rattlesnake attached to its butt.  I'm one of those trying to change that.

        •  think tanks (3+ / 0-)

          Our side DOES have think tanks-- they're called universities. Right-wingers had to create these fake centers of knowledge production because (with important exceptions) serious intellectuals publishing in peer-reviewed journals don't take radical conservative ideas seriously. The problem is that Fox and MSNBC don't tend to interview academics. But Lakoff  is an example of how this cross-over into the public sphere could be done, and more academics need to follow his lead.

        •  We are think tanks (2+ / 0-)
          Think tanks are groups of people thinking about things and working together to do so. What do you think we are?

          Especially with tags or wiki we can easily be a think tank.

          I'm not entirely sure how to organize it. My initial thought is to make a category on dkosopedia: Overton Windows, and to make pages for issues. Identify the positions and then explain them a bit. When we find people talking about a position outside of the window or at the edge of a window, point at it. Then try to get politicians to notice. That last part's the hardest.

          But, this being a collaborative thing, others may have better ideas.

        •  I think we are on one (0+ / 0-)

          We need to harness, train, support, and promote the incredible talent here.  Although after having read several diaries lately from people "leaving" DKos to work as campaign strategists in increasingly more prominent campaigns I think it may already be happening.  Pick me, pick me!!!  :)

          Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.

          by Progressive Liberaltarian on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:24:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We are on two (2+ / 0-)

            I diaried this a while back, without the words "Overton Window," for which I thank Spoon and Josh. Kos and the other front pagers tend to fight the issues of the day, much like CAP might do. We read and comment.

            Diarists tend to argue the issues of tomorrow, and actually move the Overton Window. For instance, Censure is a front page debate, made possible by the ITMFA debate in the right hand column.

            Many on the right dismiss dKos as a community of wackos. Good. The front page should be about credible positions on today's issues, and the diaries should be viewed by the "center" as being somewhat out there, at least at first glance.

            An activist, by definition, is active. I'm not doing anything, but I'm actively not doing anything.

            by bonobo on Wed May 10, 2006 at 08:57:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Excellent point (0+ / 0-)

              I really like the way you separated the front page from the diaries.  Sometimes when reading diaries I cringe somewhat at the occasional well-intentioned, but totally ignorant ideas in them.  I think you are right - the front pagers need to be aware of the implications and ramifications of the ideas they post, as progressive bloggers increasingly are coming to represent the progressive movement as a whole in the minds of Joe Public.  Their words here resonate, and are open to microscopic examination by those intending to discredit.  This is not the same thing as moving to the center.  It is about credibility, reason, and legitimacy.  Let us diarists roar and vent, putting out the "far-left" ideas and moving the "Overton Windows" so that the front-pagers can incrementally persuade the larger audience of the vitality and sensibility of the core progressive principles.  Hey, I think we just solved a problem on how to implement incrementalism!!

              Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.

              by Progressive Liberaltarian on Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:04:13 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree! (14+ / 0-)

      There is no such thing as a true center.  The center just happens to be about roughly in the middle between the two extremes.  The Republican end is a lot more extreme than the Democratic end, so the middle tends to lean red.  What we need is a more extreme left-wing.  We need some real socialists in this country.  Compare this to Europe, where they have real socialists - the whole spectrum is shifted to the left of where ours is.

      •  socialists (6+ / 0-)

        Well, I don't consider myself a full socialist, but something progressive military brats (such as myself) could tell you is that America already has a socialist system: the military. Having lived in that system, there are definite pros and cons (cons: medical quality SUCKS, pros: everything is cheap; birth control is pushed really hard and abortion is easily available [how's that for a paradox]).

        I call myself a democratic socialist anarchist [democraticly elected leaders; socialist infrastructure (education, utilities, highways, medical, corporate regulation, civil liberties); anarchistic local communities].

        And mega-agree that the left-wing is way too timid in its positions. I wonder if part of this is left over from the communist era. Remember that the cold war only ended about 15 years ago and was in place for over 40 years.

    •  I mostly agree (9+ / 0-)

      Except for the mechanism. You (or Trevino) makes it sound like you can move the center just by talking up extreme positions, taking some heat for them, and keeping at it until the center gets used to your extreme views and accepts them as normal. I don't think it's quite that mechanical. The center hasn't simply become more used to right wing ideas; rather, right wing ideas became fashionable through an extremely long and slow process that started right after WWII. Initially, the new sexiness of conservativism was restricted to certain intellectual circles. With Goldwater it made its first assault on the mainstream, unsuccessfully. With Reagan, it became the mainstream. The rest is history. It's because of the sexiness of conservativism that few people nowadays think of homeschooling as an eextremist concept. And the bane of the conservative movement will be the theocrats. The religious right is not sexy, and bringing them into the mainstream will be that one bridge too far for the right. That's my prediction, anyway.

      Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

      by brainwave on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we'll see (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but they've come this far, no?  After all, Richard Nixon founded the EPA!  They've shifted the entire debate to this extreme, and I see no reason at all that it cannot shift further if we don't stop it.

      •  but then you've GOT to answer the question (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        why is conservatism sexy? What's the mechanism of sexy and why hasn't it worked on the left?

        All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

        by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:04:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If there is one question that doesn't let me sleep at night, this is it. How come the same tired old bullshit conservatives have been peddling forwever and then some all of a sudden became appealing to so many people?

          Everytime we in the liberal blogosphere discuss the inroads the right has made in recent decades, we talk about their message discipline, their talking points memos, their noise machine, their framing manuals. In other words, we focus on what they do - not on why what they do works.

          I think these discussions are incredibly helpful, as is this diary. But there's something missing, in my view. I don't believe the right is any smarter than we are. Yes, they're better organized, more disciplined, and they know what they want. We on the left got our idology all in a funk. But there is a reason for that.  The right has been on a roll because they're stuff has made sense to people for the last few decades. How do you explain that? I don't know. But I think that's one heck of an important question.

          Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

          by brainwave on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:25:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  before we all start turning republican... ;-) (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila, peacemom, McJulie, Simplify, jfadden

            Two reasons come to mind. Not sure if this helps us start winning again. And this train of thought is really asking the question, can republican strategies and tactics work for leftist positions? I'm not sure. But back to those two reasons why conservatism is sexy.

            1. It wasn't always. The 60's and 70's showed the left to be vibrant, sexy, and where culture was heading. Result: culture changed--we won. But with winning comes complacency, and now the change agents are on the right. Change itself is always sexier and scarier.
            1. Conservatism lends itself to message discipline. Just as fear lends itself to fascism. It's actually more difficult to be a liberal because contemplation and addressing the murkiness that is reality is a bigger assignment. They already know where they are going--back to the Truth©. We on the other hand are are inventing it.

            Maybe this sez, make "inventing our future" more sexy and the left gets the advantage. dunno, might all be nonsense too....

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:38:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Sorry, I was taking it for granted that the "sexiness" of an ideology is a property of a particular era. The question is, why is conservativism attractive in this day and age (by which I mean since the 1980s as far as the mainstream goes)? If the sole reason conservative ideas have been successful of late is that conservatives have been good at promoting them, then all we got to do is become better at marketing our ideas and that'll be all it takes to usher in a new era of progressive dominance. Sadly, I don't think it's that simple.  

              Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

              by brainwave on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:47:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  money, organization, persistence and marketing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Thats how I explain it.


            Each year, conservative foundations pour millions of dollars into a broad range of conservative political organizations. These foundation gifts are remarkable for two principal reasons: first, their sheer size and concentration; second, the willingness of the foundations to promote a highly politicized agenda by funding a broad range of organizations.

            Five foundations stand out from the rest: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Koch Family foundations, the John M. Olin Foundation, the Scaife Family foundations and the Adolph Coors Foundation. Each has helped fund a range of far-right programs, including some of the most politically charged work of the last several years. For example, the American Spectator magazine, which led the charge on President Bill Clinton's state trooper contretemps and launched a slash-and-burn strategy targeting Anita Hill, is a prime recipient of foundation support.

            the "sexy part" is just plain advertising.
            is a hamburger really sexy? it is if you market it that way. Like wise dull, moneygrubbing and in fact anti-sex conservative worldviews.

            no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

            by biscobosco on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:55:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  sexy (0+ / 0-)

          or pious?

          "The most humble Christian is more qualified for office than the best-educated pagan," says Cass, an anti-abortion activist who led a takeover of his school district's board in San Diego. "We built quite a little grass-roots machine out there.  Now it's my burden to multiply that success all across America."

          --Gary Cass, executive director of Reclaiming America

          All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. --Lao-Tzu

          by Avila on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:00:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i forget where (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tlh lib

            but someone upstream or in the diary itself said the religious right is where the movement is overreaching and will collapse. As it isn't "sexy." I don't know how that was determined. Part of me is thinking a lot of this assigning of motives and function within the grand machine is potentially myopic.

            And now that I think about it
            , I wonder if all of this change in perception is really caused by the think tanks or not. I've always believed societal change is organic. i.e. there are large reasons why each era is the way it is. Stability and community of the 50's was a direct result of the chaos of WWII and the Depression. It was only perceived as conformity in the 60s once we had a degree of wealth, power, and new technology that the 50's ethos wasn't able to do anything with. After the 60s revolution, we enter the modern era in the 70s with free love and civil rights which then degenerates into sloppy hedonism and mallaise. Tight haircuts, order, and control look mighty refreshing with the cold war and Reagan's authoritarian grandfatherly demeanor. Now we're ending that era with GWB's disastrous overreach and the great unravelling as someone once coined it.

            I'm gonna make a prediction: the right wing think tanks are all gonna go out of business. Their model is only effective in this era which is rapidly coming to a close. The new "sexy" will bubble up from the primordial societal ooze and progressivism will be propelled forward, without us even realizing it. If we do our job, progressivism will just start to MAKE SENSE as it addresses the new problems that jingoism didn't. Jingoism won't be satisfying anymore. I don't think a thinktank can do anything more than leverage what's already there. And it's going away....

            enough rambling. just thinkin out loud!

            All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

            by SeanF on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:35:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But they dont need to make a profit (0+ / 0-)

              They are funded by a small group of billionaires who profit directly from the policy stances they support.

              I dont think those billionaires are going to run out of cash anytime soon, ergo they will not collapse just because they are challenged.

              They are paid to keep talking and they will.

              no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible

              by biscobosco on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:57:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i'm suggesting they (0+ / 0-)

                will become irrelevant. (out of business was meant figuratively) I'm saying that larger societal forces are more powerful than any scheming by a bunch of schemers.

                I'm not sure this will prove true, but i suspect it will.

                All extremists are irrational and should be exposed

                by SeanF on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:36:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Peace is boring (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeanF, pHunbalanced, samddobermann

          War is exciting.

          Just because we can, that doesn't mean we should.

          by Simplify on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:35:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Conservatism appeals to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeanF, Kentucky DeanDemocrat

          ones selfish motives e.g. I am going to be rich someday so I don't want to pay high taxes once I'm rich.

          Or the feeling that one especially lucky or blessed: We don't need national health insurance because I am nver going to have a serious illness

          Liberalism tends to force people to confront "inconvient truths": you could be sick and vulnerable and thus need public help; you might lose your job so we need unemployment insurance; your child will need to have a better education than you did to be alble to support themselves when they grow up etc.

          Sometimes it seems that we are selling broccoli while the conservatives are selling chocolate cake.

    •  Well I'd like to tell you you're full of shit (4+ / 0-)

      but I can't!!!! You can see the turds do this all the time. It'll be interesting to see when they bring privatization(ie elimination of) of SS back into public discussion. Because you know they moved the goal posts on this, a tiny bit I admit, but they'll bring it back some time in the future and move the posts a bit more.

    •  Thoughtful, But Wrong (21+ / 0-)

      I had objections left and right, but I'll limit them to two.

      1. If the right was "winning," Social Security would be in the process of privatization, and Bush wouldn't be polling at 31% and the Republican-led Congress wouldn't be polling south of 30%.  Yes, conservatives have been more effective at deceptive marketing, but once people by a conservative policy product on the basis of its slick ad campaign, they take it home, decide it sucks, and return it.  That's what we're seeing in the federal government right now.  And even at that, remember, what they've been doing is the exact opposite of what you say they've been doing: they haven't convinced people that the New Deal and most of the Great Society should be rolled back.  No, instead, they try to roll back government while at the same time denying it's what they're doing.  That's what Frank Luntz is all about, concealment and deception, not perusasion.  
      1. Citing a guy from the Mackinac Institute on school privatization demonstrates the complete opposite of what Trevino thinks it does.  I'm from Michigan, home of the Mackinac Institute.  With lots of money from the DeVos family, they've been pushing school privatization, charter schools and vouchers for years.  And despite some brief dalliances, the public has rejected their ideas.  They had years of John Engler as governor and a strongly Repub Senate, and for part of that a Repub state house, and a very conservative judiciary.  But the public completely rejects their ideas on schools.  In 2000, Proposal A went before the voters calling for vouchers, and despite about $10-$12 million spent by the backers, it was wiped out by over 2 to 1.  It lost, iirc, every county in the state.  And charters are fading.  So if this guy and his issue are cited as proof of something, that's fine.  Problem is, it's proof of exactly the opposite of what Trevino is arguing...which is pretty par for the course.

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:46:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  social security IS in the process of privatizatio (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        give it five more years and it WILL happen.  All they need to do is talk about it for 5 more years and convince everyone that there is a crisis.

        And as for vouchers, you're again wrong.  California democrats are playing with the idea of vouchers our own way--as are Democrats as a whole.  You're going to see vouchers put in place within five years.

        I know you like to be the resident "debunker" here, DH, but you've seen just how far they've already managed to shift the entire debate: after all, Nixon founded the EPA, and Eisenhower railed against the military-industrial complex.

        Why do you think the public cannot be swayed further through enough relentless rhetoric?

        •  Huh????? (7+ / 0-)

          Grover Norquist is now talking in terms of 20 years, and he's only saying that so he can keep getting funding for his organizations.  They got their asses kicked on social security.  It was a bigger rout than Hilarycare, a true ass-kicking for the ages.  

          And Nixon didn't found the EPA, he signed a bill creating it forced on him by the strongly democratic Congress.  What's happening isn't about ideas, it's about power.  And when did Eisenhower rail about the military-industrial complex?  When he was leaving office, and it wasn't then or now a strictly partisan issue, and in fact it was about the complete opposite of privatization, it was about the expanding reach of the military industrial complex over government, not the dissolution of government programs.

          As for attributing motives to me, address the facts instead of attributing motives to me.  I notice you ignored the school example.  And I see no evidence in your diary or elsewhere that the public IS swayed on most of the conservative ideas.  The public wasn't clamoring for the Bush tax cuts, only the Republican base was.  They weren't and aren't clamoring for privatization of Social Security.  Medicare Plan D is a sop to the pharma industry, but the fact is that it's the biggest expansion of Medicare since it's creation, and they did it because the public was clamoring for it.  Bush has presided over an expansion of federal spending, even after you separate out defense spending.  So I need more than a post by Trevino to be convinced.  And I'd like to see your argument of how the conservatives are actually winning if for the first time since the 1920's they get full control of the federal government, and their support vanishes.

          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

          by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:10:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tosh (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Rebutting you is like whacking wind, so I'll keep my response short, but...

            The public wasn't clamoring for the Bush tax cuts, only the Republican base was.

            According to two polls I've seen (and neither was apparently done by pollsters with an axe to grind), the inheritance tax is currently the least popular tax in the United States.  Twenty years ago, saying 'billionaires shouldn't pay any taxes on their estate when they die' would have gotten you some pretty strange looks... now it's become the majority opinion.

            There's your twenty years.


            Grover Norquist is now talking in terms of 20 years, and he's only saying that so he can keep getting funding for his organizations.  They got their asses kicked on social security.  It was a bigger rout than Hilarycare, a true ass-kicking for the ages.

            You think?  I'd say it was similar to the health care rout.  If so, what you're implying here is that we don't have any chance of seeing Social Security 'reform' of that type in the next 20 years... nor do we have any chance of seeing any rational form of health care in the next 20 years.  (Since, honestly, nobody's done much to advance the cause of rational health care in the public mind since HRC in the early 1990s).  I don't think that's true in either case... and I think that the one that's most likely to have an infinite amount of money thrown at it over the next 20 years is pretty obvious...


            •  And Your Point??? (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slouise217, Sam I Am, Luetta, sofia, NJwlss

              Care to point out where the Conservatives have argued on the merits of the inheritence tax?  They keep trotting things out like "it ruins family farms by making it too expensive to pass it on after the death of the farmer," but the American Farm Bureau can't point to a single example where that's occurred.  And care to point out where "least popular" means that the public is clamoring for it?  "Least Popular" might mean they don't like it, but where has repealing the estate tax ever ended up on the top of a list of concerns?  The fact is, it never does.  

              As for the implications, I suggest you need to take a class on logic or rhetoric, because I implied no such least as far as I can understand your second paragraph.  Truth is, I find it a bit inscrutable.

              And I don't even know what "whacking wind" is supposed to me.  

              Thus, in short, I really don't know what the hell you're talking about.  But if you think what you wrote rebuts my points, then neither do you.

              The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

              by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:43:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  What Bush and Norquist proved last spring (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is that Social Security is indeed the third rail of politics.

          All that you, or Trevino, may point to are some advances along certain fronts. But you have to ignore or excuse all their failures; and you have to pretend that their successes are permanent. I believe that successes built upon the sands of aggressive propaganda campaigns almost always falter and collapse as soon as the reality looms larger in public imagination than the picture the propagandists sold.

          Another truth is that the GOP avoids delivering on many of the policies that their think tanks have been promulgating for years, because they know if they deliver then they'll seal their doom.

          Why is the Congress suddenly revisiting tax cuts, and trying to prolong and fortify the most egregiously regressive qualities? Because they've determined that they're likely to lose at least one chamber this fall. IOW, the tide is going out and they don't know when it will be back in again.

          Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

          by smintheus on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:51:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One Other Reason (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slouise217, sofia, NJwlss

            Contrary to the argument of this diary, they're cutting taxes because--SURPRISE!--that's what their base demands.  The big Bush tax cut in 2001 wasn't a popular demand, they did it because their base wanted it, and they concealed the effect (that it would build huge deficits).  The whole starve-the-beast Norquist adovcates is predicated on the exact opposite point of this diary; namely, cutting public programs isn't popular, so run up deficits so huge that they'll have to be cut out of necessity.  

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:57:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Luetta, Wary

        as I roam the blogosphere one thing is glaringly obvious. The ReThug machine has ground to an ignominious halt.

        Privatise Social Security....not this generation.

        Tax cuts...wave buh-bye as the citizenry finds out what that government road working potable water in places...People do understand that there is no free lunch.

        The economy 'Strong and Getting Stronger...' yeah, ask anybody...the public knows this is bullshit...and that the guy sayin' it is a fucking liar. And why should they not. He is and you cannot hide the fact matter what Rove the Wonder Dog thinks.

        The President, the head of his party, is the most disliked man in America today. Well 'Big Time' actually is but Bush's negatives are unheard of, just unreal...

        Don't think so?

        Ask the Secret Service how many death threats Mr. Bush gets everyday...

        And here we are in the blogosphere whining about the invulnerable Republicans. The awesome power of President Idiot. Folks, the Republicans are done. People are sick, sick and disgusted by what they see.

        Don't agree? Go on over to and check out the letters to the ReThug reps. It ain't pretty homer.

        The time to strike is now. What to do? Demand that your folks in Congress start doing the right thing. Tell them what that is. Start your own blogswarm or join in one.

        It's up to the citizens to speak and the politicians to listen. It always has been.

        So take a break from commenting here and write, write or call you rep and get after their ass.

        Besides it's fun. Try it you'll like it.

        "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing."

        by Nestor Makhnow on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:57:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  DH (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I wouldn't call 8 years of W. a "dalliance"-- slick ad campaigns can go on working forever, barring a large visible catastrophe like Katrina.

        •  Um... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slouise217, sofia

          ...are you saying that Bush's numbers were fine until Katrina?  If so, you should look back, because he was already tumbling well below 50% before Katrina, and it started almost simultaneous to his attempt to privatize Social Security.  And even in August 2001, before 9-11 and their demogoguery, his numbers were shitty, and it was after the tax cut, which is yet more evidence against the argument of this diary.  

          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

          by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:45:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  no (0+ / 0-)

            not saying that, just saying that it's because of Katrina his numbers will NEVER climb up to 50 again. My real question is this: if you reject the argument of this diary, how do you explain W's re-election?

            •  they scared the shit outta people (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RickD, samddobermann, Luetta, boofdah, Wary

              They purposefully exaggerated threats, like the threat to our nation after 9/11. They said, over and over again that it changed everything, but it didn't really. We had been fighting terrorists before 9/11, and we had to fight them after 9/11. Yes, they hit us, and it hurt - bad. And it didn't change everything, but they snookered people into believing it did.

              In addition, they had the sickeningly great political campaign leadership of the anti-christ Karl Rove.

              What did Rove do? He looked at the strengths of John Kerry. What were Kerry's strengths? His leadership shown in Vietnam. His valor in the heat of battle. His dedication to our nation above all else. His caring heart for veterans and their families.

              And they distorted that whole picture. They disrespected the truth in order to denigrate his military career, because they knew it was his best characteristics. And they could not compete with those personality characteristics, and so they had to demolish the credibility that he had.

              On a level playing field, Kerry woulda beat Bush. So they kicked the legs out from under Kerry's side of the table, and Kerry was not adept enough in getting around that difficulty.

              So all people were left with was 'be scared, be very scared, and when you are scared, you don't want to rely on anything new and unfamiliar and potentially unable to perform, do ya?'

              That's how he won. Not because of anything in this diary.

              ...but not your own facts.

              by slouise217 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:42:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yes (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                samddobermann, boofdah

                They led this nation into a war that was a distraction from fighting terrorism, while leaving containers, chemical plants, etc. unprotected. And every time they raised the terror alert, W's ratings went up. But I still think this diary offers a compelling narrative about HOW they sold their lousy product to Americans-- not just particular policies, but even their assault on democracy itself. Freaks like Coulter and Zell Miller calling anyone who disagreed with the president's foreign policy a traitor, etc., him calling the consitution "a piece of paper"-- those comments help to create a climate in which American institutions could be destabilized, and where unthinkable suddenly became the norm (torture, etc). Miller practically acted like holding elections was treasonous when he thundered against "the lunatic determination of the democrats to bring down our commander in chief." And patriotism was redefined.  

                •  No, This Diary Is Claiming... (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ablington, RickD, Luetta, boofdah, sofia

                  ...the American people are being convinced to agree with conservative policy ideas.  In fact, the conservatives and the GOP know they must conceal their true policy goals because the American people reject them.  That's completely opposite from the claim made by Trevino--Trevino wrong?  How shocking!--and this diarist.

                  The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                  by Dana Houle on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:46:03 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  disagree! (0+ / 0-)

                    The diary explains how initially unthinkable ideas  become part of mainstream public discourse. Rather than describing the process by which people become "convinced"--informed and persuaded--it describes how ideological drift happens.
                    We are no longer surprised to hear people suggest that to defend the constitution against executive overreaching is to give aid and comfort to the enemy-- patriotism is literally unAmerican. That seems like a pretty good example of drift from the unthinkable to the entertainable.

                    •  That's Not 'Drift' (0+ / 0-)

                      Ever hear of the Alien and Sedition acts, the anti-anarchist scares of the late 19th century, the red scares after both wars, McCarthyism, yada yada yada?  McAurthur was pretty damn popular with Truman sacked him, and he clearly had some dictatorial impulses.

                      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                      by Dana Houle on Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:40:36 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                        McCarthy himself wasn't a victim of drift, he was an agent of it. Rather than refuting this diary's account of how ideological transformation of the public sphere occurs, examples like this would seem to support it.  

                        •  OK, Whatever (0+ / 0-)

                          You don't seem inclined (or able?) to follow an argument.  My implied point is that it's not "drift" to move to mindsets that have recurred throughout American history.  If concern about excessive government intrusion in to private and public life existed in the 1950's and was defended by questioning the patriotism of those who questioned the intrusions--as you clearly accept it did--then it wasn't drift that it happened again just a few decades later.  

                          The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                          by Dana Houle on Wed May 10, 2006 at 05:40:51 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  Right on--one very important factor (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                RickD, samddobermann, slouise217, boofdah

                Left out in this diary, and I'm not criticizing it, just recognizing that all of this research was provided by the Republicans who want to put the best 'spin' on it all and say "Here's how we did it' and here's why you Dems don't 'get it'

                From the very first inception of the Nixon Southern Strategy' the focus was NOT on providing useful and real 'policy' beneficial to the people, BUT to 'wedge' one group of people strongly identifying with the Democratic Party in the old "Solid Democratic South" post Civil Rights--the emphasis wasn't on 'helping people through government' at the very basis of the Republicans move has always been how to get people into the party who "HATED" that social change brought about by such things as Civil Rights Law--FDR's social policies, they had to 'wedge' and 'wedge it' through 'messages' and codes.

                AND beieve it or not that 'FEAR TACTIC" was the very same one used by the old 'conservatives' of the segregation era, the Cold War era, the McCarthy era, this was 'fear' with a nice ring to it to capture those once Solid Democrats who actually voted with FDR's policies for their pocketbooks--which the Republicans new strategy put an end to that kind of thinking, now it's out of those 'cultural' values--wink, wink, nod, nod, message on track.

            •  Two words: John and Kerry. (0+ / 0-)

              If the Republicans stay in power much longer, an Army of One isn't going to be just a slogan.

              John Edwards 2008

              by MeanBoneII on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:17:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  explain W's re-election? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              samddobermann, boofdah

              Kerry was a bad candidate - and Bush still pretty much lost, modulo whatever nonsense happened in Ohio.  Kerry let the Swift Boat smears sit out there without rebuttal, and appeared like a wimp because of that.  He listened to the same advice that Shrum has been giving losing candidates for years.  

              Bush's abject failure last Spring to privatize Social Security shows that there is a large difference between conning people enough to win an election and conning them enough to change the actual policies the government has.  There is a lot more intellectual independence in the populace than you are stating.  Simply repeating an idea over and over again might be enough to get TV anchors used to the idea, but it is not enough by itself to change the population's expectations of what the government should do.  That's why the appalling response to Katrina has killed the Bush administration so badly.  It became completely clear to everybody but the True Believers that Bush really didn't give a shit about anybody.

      •  Just because their tactics are (0+ / 0-)

        loosing effectivness doesn't mean they won't keep trying.

        For example, the recent articles about the religious right's attempt to suppress or ban all contraceptives is a textbook example of this tactic.

        Trevino even suggested that a "reasonable" compromise on reproductive rights was for the conservatives to agree not to ban contraceptines in exchange for a complete ban on all abortions.  How does Armando stand that guy?

    •  Good good good (0+ / 0-)

      I think this is vaguely intuitive.  Like after you raed it, you go "Yeah, I knew that."

      But your didn't REALLY, because you hadn't necessarily worked it through as a full thought.

    •  Overton Window=old salesman's sleight-of-hand (6+ / 0-)

      This maneuver has been around forever, believe it or not, just not in politics.  I heard about this back when I used to sell furniture, we called it "sell up by selling down" (lame, I know).  Basically, if you want someone to buy a $1000 sofa, you have three choices: you can walk them over to a $1000 sofa and try to convince them to buy it (they won't).  You can show them a $500 sofa and try to 'work your way up' (you can't).  OR, you can walk them over to $2000 sofa, and if they don't slap you in the face or flee the store, then you can gently ease them into a lower price point.

      Not only will they buy that thousand dollar sofa, but they'll actually think they got a deal.  You can sell anything this way - policy too, apparently - and it works.  But it does take big, hairy balls.

      •  I'm sure this does work (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, peacemom, Luetta

        And I am probably a big disappointment to many salespeople, because it just doesn't work on me very often. I usually research things first and pretty much know what I want when I walk into the store.

        At least I don't take up much of the salesperson's time. :-D That's a plus for them!

        •  Being a salesman (0+ / 0-)

          is disappointing in and of itself.  It was for me anyway.  De-pressing, man.  There are people out there who enjoy sales, but it just made me feel like the illegitimate offspring of Willy Loman and Sheldon Levine.

      •  Marketing Stratgies--Republican Party (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        EXACTLY!!! Spot on!

        Focus groups to find the 'best packaging', the best 'advertising message' then put it on the market to 'sell it' with a ready made set of strategies on the spot.

        Works for awhile but then eventually the people try the product, don't like it, and refuse to buy it--no matter how nice the package nor how clever the message.

    •  Sounds like bargaining (0+ / 0-)

      Where you and the person you are bargaining with start at either extreme and work your way toward each other, except you are starting from where we are and trying to work it toward what we want.

    •  IMPEACH (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bush and Cheney after we win the 2006 elections and take back Congress.

      Then Nancy Pelosi will become President and immediately bring the troops home two years earlier than would be possible if Bush remains in office. Impeachment is not retribution but rather a fast track to better policy.

      Then President Pelosi should nominate two new Supreme Court Justices to help the overworked court with its caseload.

      The NSA warrantless surveillance, and Patriot Act can then be used against the environmental terrorists who are threatening to destroy the planet in pursuit of their obscene profit.

      These tools should proberly be used to track the money laundering of the $9 trillion dollars embezzeled on behalf of big oil, Halliburton, the Military Industrial Complex, the sugar lobby and other cronies, by the Republicans.

      Then we can begin to pay attention to transitioning to Alternative energies like solar and wind power and trying to figure out how we will save our cities from rising sea levels.

      Live Free or Die (-8.88 -9.49) IMPEACH

      by rktect on Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:51:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is why (0+ / 0-)
      there is no viable party in the US besides R and D.

      The R's and D's won't even let the first step happen. They won't let the "unthinkable" or "radical" idea of electing third party candidates even close to entering public discourse.

      All Ralph Nader did was turn people OFF to the idea.

      This strategy needs to be employed to elect thrid party candidates. At local and state levels first of course. I would much rather see real debates between Greens, Libertarians, and Reform party candidates than the WWF/soap opera that is R vs D.

    •  So, Ask Trevino: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      How's the privatization of Michigan schools coming along?  Tell him exactly what it was that the Mackinac Center actually accomplished?  He doesn't give any concrete examples, or address the concrete example I provided.  Seems to me that he got called out for spewing unsupported bullshit, and didn't like it.

      So, Trevino, if you're reading this, give me one concrete example of how the teachers unions have been "kneecapped" in Michigan since 1994 when their right to strike was taken away?  When they blocked the charters for the Detroit Public Schools?  When they defeated proposal A in 2000?  Is the proof in the fact that Michigan has one of the lowest percentages of kids in private, parochial and charter schools in the country?  Oh, wait, that's proof that you're wrong.  

      I won't be expecting any answer from Trevino.  He doesn't deal with well with facts he finds inconvenient. He just avoids them, and dismisses the facts and arguments with claims that I don't like him.  I don't have much of an opinion on whether I like or dislike him.  But because of his playing with facts and truth and unwillingness to admit when he's been had, I don't respect him at all.

      In the future I would be very wary of quoting Trevino.  He's not a huge asshole like the LGF crowd.  But he's a coward unwilling to follow facts and truth when they lead to places he doesn't want to go.  

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Thu May 11, 2006 at 04:07:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems to me (8+ / 0-)

    That the key is to have an understanding about the issues, and a plan for how to achieve concrete and progressive goals, and then you bring in the focus groups to help craft the text rather than the content of the message.  The key, though, is to desire things that are advantageous to the people of the country in general and over more than the short run. Craft policies that will fulfill those desires, and use clear and honest arguments to sell those policies.  But bring up the goals early and often.

    Great diary about a fundamental issue.

    "I said, 'wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man.'" Robbie Robertson -8.13, -4.56

    by NearlyNormal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:53:32 PM PDT

  •  One of the best political diaries I have read. (39+ / 0-)

    The phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" should really be changed to "familiarity breeds complacency."

    This is a subtle, crafty, patient strategy that is similar to the "Big Lie".  Anything common no longer seems outrageous.

    Thanks for this.

    "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

    by jmaier on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:54:19 PM PDT

    •  you're welcome (6+ / 0-)

      and you're right--it's a question of complacency more than anything else.  Dems have gotten comfy--and the current crop of consultants is more to blame than anything else.

      Read Crashing the Gate, if you haven't already!  It's a must.

      •  Not only the consultant-contaminated. (5+ / 0-)

        As you point out in your diary, we here at Dailykos consider ourselves the conscience of the party, but we are also too comfy with our all-or-nothing stands on principle to allow ourselves to consider incrementalism as a strategy.

        Although I notice that the people here who are most likely to make really rigid stands are the people who don't really consider themselves Democrats - they're frustrated Greens, left-libertarians and we-need-a-third-party-ers, for whom the party is an Other, rather than a body to which they belong and which they are motivated to improve.

        -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

        by sidnora on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:32:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  indeed (0+ / 0-)

          all excellent points.  We cannot get so frustrated that we encourage counterproductive strategies.

          Fortunately, the DLC has done so much damage in one direction that encouraging Dems to stand for anything is almost always the right direction at this point.  It can be overdone, though.

  •  If the GOP is so good at moving the middle (20+ / 0-)

    How come Independents are 10 points away from how Dems feel about Bush...and over 50 points away from how Republicans feel about him?

    Maybe it's just me...

    But whatever the Pubs are doing is GREAT politics for Democrats. :)

    Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

    by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 05:58:48 PM PDT

    •  perhaps it Iraq had gone well (9+ / 0-)
      and there was a response to Katrina, Bush would be doing very well right now, continuing his radical transformation of govt. and America.
      •  And if he had ham and two slices of bread (12+ / 0-)

        He'd have a ham sandwich.

        Iraq Going Well

        It is difficult for any good thing to come from taking a war as an elective.

        At the very best, there is the risk of a war coming along that cannot be fought, on account the armed forces are tied up with the unnecessary one.

        A Response to Katrina

        This is the necessary war that was lost without firing a single shot, because having a response required ending the project in Iraq...and the Bushies made the calculus that killing Iraqis was far more appealing to the Republican base than saving Americans.

        Or is it just a certain kind of American?

        Anyhow, this is the math they based their dithering on, it was a catastrophic miscalculation, and now all they have to show for it is that their shindig of horror in Iraq is still a going concern.

        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:27:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Americans have been strangely willing (21+ / 0-)
          to accept a lot of radical behavior from Bush.  Whether this is completely due to a post-9//11 mind-set, I don't know.  I tend to doubt it.  The 31% that still support Bush, whether one thinks they are "backwash" or not, well, that's a significant chunk of people, given the performance.  A good portion of America is already somewhat radicalized, and willing to accept radical polilcies.  Another significant chunk simply doesn't pay attention, so the idea of implementing "unthinkable" agendas is no longer unthinkable.  A significant portion of the population has also been enthralled by the likes of the O'Reillys, Malkins, Limbaughs, etc.  Just listen to what comes out of their mouths.  Listen to many politicians who threaten judges.  Most of this hate speech would have been intolerable on the airwaves not too long ago.  Just because Bush failed, and this failure will produce blowback against radical conservatives, odes not mean they weren't making headway toward unthinkable agendas.  Americans were not upset that we illegally invaded Iraq.  They're upset that Bush lost.  Those are two very different things.
          •  I don't buy that at all. (8+ / 0-)

            At what point have Americans been in position to communicate their displeasure, since having a clear majority displeasure with the Bush administration?

            The coming election is literally the first real shot at registering displeasure. In 2004, it was all so muddled and new, and the Republican machine running on all 50 million cylinders.

            That's just not the case anymore.

            Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

            by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:59:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  wiretapping? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tlh lib, librarianman, viscerality
              Has yet to find majority disapproval, i believe.

              Americans re-elected Bush, and voiced their approval in polls.  Shocking as it has been.   Perhaps Bush never won an election, but even if he hadn't, public opinion had until Katrina been more favorable than not.

              I think liberal neurons have retracted their dendritic fields from disuse, while the conservatives have been ramping up for 30+ years.  What do people care about ideals when they have money, jobs, a house, stock portfolios, etc?  

              •  Only because of the way it is framed (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                vivacia, tlh lib, Unduna

                if Osama is on the line........ how ridiculous is that.

                But it works.

                The dem message is not clear here. That is why people think spying on Americans is a good thing.

                inspire change...don't back down

                by missliberties on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:19:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Dems are not FORCEFUL with ideas. (10+ / 0-)
                  They need to HIT BACK HARD against every lie, even if it hurts them at first.  People would get it, eventually.

                  And it's not just framing, though that is a big part of it; there was outright deception involved.

                  •  If it pleases the court (4+ / 0-)

                    You come here fairly often and see...what? Soft pitches to Pubs?


                    If you mean the Dem establishment of yore

                    Well...they're either with us, or out of business, or they'd better merge with the Republicans quickly while they have a chance.

                    And some (see: Shameless Joe) already have.

                    Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

                    by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:28:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  in the long run, if the net stays free, (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      tlh lib, Magnifico
                      I'd agree about the Dems being with or against.  In the short-term, we need most of the DINOs as much as they need us.    We simply have to win 2006, preferably both houses.  It may well happen, but I won't feel the least assured until it does.

                      AS for the net staying free/neutral in the long-term, that seems dubious when California Dems are taking big contributions from AT&T.

                  •  I like the idea (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    tlh lib

                    of good framing mixed in with a little pushback.

                    inspire change...don't back down

                    by missliberties on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:32:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  so do I: texeira & halpin via Armando (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      tlh lib, Blue Texan, Unduna
                      (1) The starting point for all political organizing and campaigns should be: "What are my core beliefs and principles and how do I best explain them to supporters and skeptics alike?"

                      (2) Every political battle, both proactive and defensive, should represent a basic statement of progressive character and present a clear, concise contrast with conservatives. Do not blur lines.

                      (3) All issue campaigns and agenda items are not equal. Progressives should focus their efforts on issues that can simultaneously strengthen the base and appeal to centrist voters. Progressives must be willing to make sacrifices and tradeoffs -- in terms of coalition building and budgetary concerns -- to achieve their most important agenda items.

                      (4) Escalate battles that expose the extremism of the right or splinter their coalition. [Follow-up: When confronted with the right's social, cultural, or national security agenda, the absolute worst response is to fail to combat these caricatures or to explain one's position directly to voters, regardless of the popularity of the position.]

                      (5) Every political action should highlight three essential progressive attributes: a clear stand on the side of those who lack power, wealth or influence; a deep commitment to the common good; and a strong belief in fairness and opportunity for all.

                      2006 should be a well-framed spanking!

              •  And exactly who are these Kublai Khans (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SarahLee, tlh lib, jfadden

                who in Xanadu their pleasure-domes decree?

                It's nice to rattle of a 'decadent America' litany (I shall not think. Think is the buzz-killer, the little death that brings on reason....

                But, dude -- check the numbers. The Pubs are losing everything right before you eyes.

                Never mind the stats. Use that visceralia. Get out there and feel the heat on the street.

                I saw an antiwar protest on the streets of Columbia, SC -- and nothing but honking cheering motorists going past, car after car after car.

                In the heart of the No Cred Red empire.

                Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

                by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:26:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  But that's not the *point* (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  But, dude -- check the numbers. The Pubs are losing everything right before you eyes.

                  The point is, that doesn't matter.  They've been trying to move the country in this direction since Barry Goldwater.  And slowly, inch by inch, it's moved.  They are unpopular right now, but they've planted some ideas that, if they keep hammering at them, will slowly become common wisdom.  These ideas don't suddenly become unpopular just because Bush does, any more than the entire country shifted dramatically left when Bush Sr. got voted out of office (with pretty damn low favorability ratings).

                  The people pass by, but the ideas are the really dangerous things.


                  •  How 'Bout Some Proof (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Luetta, sofia

                    You know, evidence and such?  Seems to me, since Barry Goldwater, we've gotten Medicare and Medicare Part D, the EPA, the Energy Department, CHIP, extensions to Social Security and SSI and plenty of other things.  Taxes have become more regressive, labor rights have taken a whack, and college has become more expensive (though more accessible) since 1964.  But it's hardly the unending march away from the New Deal that you imply.  In fact, the lynchpins of the Great Society came after Johnson defeated Goldwater.  

                    The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

                    by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:50:17 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Alright. I'll give you your shot. (0+ / 0-)

                    Give me a list of 10 going-on-popular right-wing ideas...or ones that are now considered mainstream that are only there because of decades of right-wing hammering.

                    I can think of a few, but I'm going to see if you have the same list. :)

                    Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

                    by cskendrick on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:36:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Bush's popularity has been sliding since 2001 (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                shortly after he took office, his mediocre popularity began to go down. I has continued downward at a pretty consistent rate the entire time he's been in office, except for two steep jumps upward. The first was due to the nation rallying around him after 9/11. The second was the nation rallying around him after he ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq.

                Yet it's noticeable that shortly after each jump, Bush's decline in popularity resumed (though at a higher initial percentage).

                The only extended period in which Bush has been able to halt his slide in popularity was during the middle of 2004. That's because Kerry allowed the campaign issues to become so muddled that Bush ran strongly on attacking Kerry's record.

                It's true that many are not paying attention much of the time, but sooner or later the news of how bad Bush is reaches them. Bush keeps sliding in popularity because knowledge of his failings seeps outward--partly by word of mouth.

                Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

                by smintheus on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:02:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You are pointing out the reason that the GOP (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Unduna, makeitstop

                  is trying to distance itself from Bush, by labeling him a 'liberal.' They do this to separate the man from the plan. Since their policy/agenda is an abject disaster they have to pin the disaster on Bush, saying that he's failed to be a 'true conservative.' Then they say they'll do betteer with their next candidate, just give us one more chance at the polls.

                  Meanwhile the radical RW message continues to blast over the airwaves, inuring people to its outrageousness, via familiarity. Advertising works.

                  •  so true! (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Everyone was so excited that Tony Snow had been critical of Bush, but the substance of his criticisms should terrify us: eg, Bush doesn't push the principle of executive privilege forcefully enough. I'm sure Bush can't get enough of this kind of "criticism".

          •  post 9/11 backwash (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tlh lib

            The events of September 11 have paradoxically played right into the hands of America’s Christian right. This movement has flourished in our fear-ridden nation in spite of the obvious lessons of Osama bin Laden’s jihad.  

            Yet the short years since have proven detrimental to religious freedom and liberty in general, leading to the nagging question: could America slip into a fundamentalist mode that parallels those nations we are desperately seeking to defend ourselves against?

            Project For The Old American Century

            All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. --Lao-Tzu

            by Avila on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:05:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Points out the 'Flaws' in Repub (0+ / 0-)


        Of course they have a 'message' they are excellent on messaging, but when that 'messaging' doesn't work, then the proverbial shit hits the fan like it has done.

        Had Bush NOT 'focused grouped' Iraq and told the American people the 'truth' then we wouldn't be there, and Bush would still be high in support.

        IF Bush would NOT have gone 'fiddlin' while NO flooed, had Bush NOT plyaed so much politics, with all his 'fancy messaging' saying one thing and doing another THEN perhaps Bush would still be popular.

        Oh, how about that "Compassionate Conservative Message"?

      •  Independents (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, the Fair Weather Fan effect. I know it well with the Lakers in town. It's easy to imagine approval from Independents swinging the other way if the plan went well.

    •  The Bush Window (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, Timbuk3, 4jkb4ia, viscerality

      CS, the Indies might break bread with the Dem/Progs over Bush, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll do the same over actual Dem/Prog candidates and/or policies. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a transitional stage, a lever that works in a particular circumstance but may not be generalized to other circumstances. Feingold raised the "censoring the president" action, which was scoffed at and rebuked by the DLC-types, but now "impeachment" is a word spoken by more than a few, and not only Democrats and it doesn't seem so out of the question. The GOP is doing a nice move with it, using "the spectre" of impeachment as red meat for the base, but it remains to be seen if Republicans are all that fearful of getting rid of Bush. I mean, it only means that Cheney takes over and, whoa Nellie, here comes 2008 with a Hillary nomination (that triangulated middle!) being their real ace in the hole for motivating the base. Anyway, just a thought. Cheers.

      The Moe Sizlak Experience, featuring Homer Simpson.

      by lepermessiah on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:26:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  part of the problem with impeachment (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cskendrick, audemocrat

        is do it, unless a president's own party turn on him, the other party has to take control of the House.

        However, if that happens...does the President need to be impeachmed anymore since he's lost control of the Congress?  Of course, if the President is doing things that are impeachable outside the control of congress, or even despite congress, then thats another story.

        The signing statements and domestic spying may fall into that category. the Iraq war may not.

        Webpage; # Members: 87,163 (as of 3:30pm 5/9). Projected Date of 100,000th member registration: September 7, 2006

        by FleetAdmiralJ on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:31:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nightmare, likely Civil War Scenario (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          1. A Dem House brings articles of impeachment to the Senate.
          1. The Senate refuses to hear it.
          1. The House refuses to pass a budget, or any other legislation for that matter.
          1. The President begins to go exclusively to the Senate for legislation.
          1. And forces the House into jail...or into hiding.

          Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

          by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:38:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  curious question (0+ / 0-)

          ."..does the President need to be impeachmed anymore since he's lost control of the Congress?"

          Considering how little respect this President has for Congress, I wonder how you can ask this question.  The President has a tremendous amount of power, even when faced by a hostile Congress, especially if he's willing to act in an unlawful fashion.  Personally, I'm not happy to content myself with an opposition Congress sitting back and doing nothing while a President flagrantly violates the law.  Those are the circumstances that warrant impeachment.

          Unless you think the executive branch is irrelevant.  In which case I'd like some of what you're smoking.

      •  Let's take these points, one by one, shall we? (3+ / 0-)

        The Indies might break bread with the Dem/Progs over Bush, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll do the same over actual Dem/Prog candidates and/or policies.

        Of course. No one should mistake a hunger to end tyranny for a hunger to reinstate the strong union labor system. Not everybody is about that sort of thing.

        "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is a transitional stage, a lever that works in a particular circumstance but may not be generalized to other circumstances.

        There is more variance among how Dems feel about Bush than between Dems and Independents.

        Who are the enemies, here? Not Dems and Indies. Hardly! When Dems approve of Bush at about 18%, Indies at 26%, and Pubs at 78%, who are the enemies in this calculus.

        I think Independents have made a clear and unambiguous decision on this matter. They've know who's got their back...and who's got Iraq on their back.

        Feingold raised the "censoring the president" action, which was scoffed at and rebuked by the DLC-types, but now "impeachment" is a word spoken by more than a few, and not only Democrats and it doesn't seem so out of the question.

        Indie support for Bush has fallen 10 points since then.

        The GOP is doing a nice move with it, using "the spectre" of impeachment as red meat for the base, but it remains to be seen if Republicans are all that fearful of getting rid of Bush.

        GOP 'strong' support for Bush is flirting with sub-40% levels. That's how they feel about Bush -- they're bailing out on him.

        I mean, it only means that Cheney takes over and, whoa Nellie, here comes 2008 with a Hillary nomination (that triangulated middle!) being their real ace in the hole for motivating the base.

        Hillary's positives are competitive with McCain's these days. Cheney would be "Dole II: Son of Dole" as an opponent.

        And the idea of Hillary getting the nomination is questionable. VP, maybe. Top of ticket? I don't think so.

        And speaking of thinking: It's not the place of Republicans to dictate who Democrats select as their candidate for President in any instance.

        Especially when their last few choices have turned out so badly both for themselves and their country.

        Anyway, just a thought. Cheers.

        Oh, I'm cheery as can be. I am both amazed at the bravado of the Bushies, letting their corruption and unconcern for both America and American values hang out there, and humbled by the strong and unambiguous stance that Americans, true and blue, take against such outrages.

        My's going to be beautiful. :)

        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:35:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry to uncheer you a bit (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cskendrick, viscerality, bigchin

          but here goes:

          And the idea of Hillary getting the nomination is questionable. VP, maybe. Top of ticket? I don't think so.
          And speaking of thinking: It's not the place of Republicans to dictate who Democrats select as their candidate for President in any instance.

          (Emphasis mine.)

          Just because we don't think it's their place, doesn't mean they won't try to make it so, and with the eager help of the ambitious candidate. Check out the new unholy alliance between Hillary and Rupert Murdoch, and try this thought on for size: Murdoch will sincerely do everything in his power to help her get the nomination, because he believes, as I and many here do, that she can't win.
          And though it's early to be considering this, she has already got oodles of money, and seems to think she has not only her senatorial re-election sewn up, but the presidential nomination as well; she's acting as though she were already running in the '08 general election.

          PS - you really think the idea of a Cheney '08 run even merits a dismissal? He'll be lucky if he lives that long.

          -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

          by sidnora on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:49:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hillary Clinton is officially uninteresting to me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            She offers no vision, no leadership, no record, and her biggest claim to fame is that her husband cheated on her.

            She can have all the money in the world, and spent it well, and there is no way on Earth that will suffice at the price she will have to pay per vote in ads to win.

            And as for the money-bags

            Sometimes, the emptiest suit in the room is the richest one.

            Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

            by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:54:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Perhaps you mistake my point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the last thing in the world I want is Hillary as our nominee, but I am starting to fear that by primary time, she will have bought herself inevitability.

              -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

              by sidnora on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:06:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Hillary Clinton is merely (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Karl Rove's invention to rally the GOP against the Dems.

              Rove had to use someone, why not the Clinton name?  Was a good move on Rove's part since most people didn't see through this.

              What was Hilary to do? She attempted to refute it, but the media just keeps on and on about it. Where do you think most of those 'Hilary' polls come from? The GOP--don't take it serioulsy because Hillary, once the Dems get around to 2008 election, won't be the selection, some one else will come around, it won't be Hilary--only the FOP thinks she a viable candidate, at least I think so at this time.

              in the meantime this is like 'free advertising' for the Dems as well as her Senate re election--so why not ride with it? Can't change public

        •  I'm chasing you around with 4s (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          Some things are not for sale. Send the Republicans home in 2006.

          by The Termite on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:07:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No... (11+ / 0-)

      The failure of the GOP is due to Iraq and Katrina, mostly.  It's about failure of actual policy--not people getting scared about their agenda.

      Someone once wrote an excellent piece basically sighing relief that this administration has been so incompetent--that an actually competent corporatocracy would have truly resulted in dictatorship by now.

      •  Well, under MY imperium (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, samddobermann, thereisnospoon

        You'd be either fighting my wars, and loving your Leader, or digging for anthracite coal in my new gulag in Antarctica. :)

        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:42:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  How I'd Become King (0+ / 0-)

        I Drew A Roadmap on How

        Warning: The linked diary intends to wig you out.

        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:49:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  incompetence (0+ / 0-)

        is the operative word.

        and with all the scandals.....lawlessness fits in nicely.

        inspire change...don't back down

        by missliberties on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:20:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not the 'policy failure' (0+ / 0-)

        Only, it's the messaging the policy failure that has kept these numbers down.

        It's the messaging of the Bush out 'fiddling' while NO flooded where as he beat a path to FL, his bro's state, in 2004 to help those hurrican victims, it's the messaging that's the utter failure not the policies!

        had Bush told the truth about Iraq--why people might still approve of him, had he responded to Katrina the way he did to FL--he'd still be ok--but those 'messages' he sent dure didn't match in either case.

        Oh and don't forget 'Terry Schiavo' the message sent there was that Bush was involved enough to help this one 'religious' based issue to interrupt his vacation, so to the GOP in Congress, where the message was not so with Katrina.

        Failed 'messages' to 'failed policies' the emporers messages proved he wore no clothes but thought he did.

    •  People hate Bush (9+ / 0-)
      for his incompetance, not his policies.

      Looking at the polls, outrageous policy decisions (NSA wiretapping, torture, the decision to invade Iraq) don't get people that riled up.

      What is pissing people off is this godawful war, and the intractable, poorly managed nature of it. Katrina, too, waved the incompetance of the Bush Administration right under people's noses. But looking at individual policies, people get tired of complaning, and then get complacent. It doesn't register anymore.

      This all makes perfect sense, and crystallizes alot of thoughts I've been having. This diary, for me at least, links together alot of disparate ideas - framing, political courage, the success of the right wing, the extremism of the current environment - together under one theory. It's the grand unified theory of politics today.

      I hope I get to become a sycophant.

      by Pluto101 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:20:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And THAT's good enough to win elections. (4+ / 0-)

        Who. Effing. Cares. Why.

        So long as we recognize why, and respect why, and do not despair because the American people's collective 'why' isn't close enough to some sort of ideological benchmark that, quite frankly, probably doesn't appeal to me, either.

        People do not like following fools and liars

        And there's your winning ticket. Pile too much social transformation on it, and it will be the first two of the Clinton years all over again.

        Go with what works: Fixing what the Republicans refused to fix. Those are major, world-consensus issues:

        1. decoupling from Iraq while conserving some sort of presence elsewhere in the Persian Gulf (the Kuwaitis and the Emirs seem to like us for the moment).
        1. Rebuilding New Orleans for real. I see this as the sine qua non of the Republic. We either do this, or the Union dies. There is no more essential task. All other great goals live and die by whether or not New Orleans lives or dies.
        1. Matching payments to states that use gas tax monies for development of alternative energy sources. Heck, the Bushies went $2 trillion into hock to subsidize continued addiction to oil. This is one habit we simply must kick, or it will kill us as a country. States that just won't, won't. And their economies will gradually decline, their citizens will move elsewhere, and their representation in Congress and in Presidential elections will wither away. And states that invest poorly will likewise lose.
        1. Restructuring of entire public education system (primary through tertiary) to reduce physical plant (capital expenses for maintaining several hundred thousand college campus-sized school facilities) are ruinously expensive and take advantage of, oh, the last three generations of advances in technology and philosophy of instruction. We are still training most of our kids for roles in manufacturing and services that simply do not exist anymore..or for academic and professional roles that were never for them in the first place. That's just not acceptable.

        We need less tracking and more placement of students in a variety of roles, developing a variety of skills so that they have the most options possible.  If it happens at the expense of the many extras that schools-as-mini-cities offer, so be it. Culture is wonderful; paying for it so your children can share in the experiences is, too.

        1. New Bill of Rights legislation. No, not amendments, just laws that abrogate abuses of the original freedoms of the Constitution, and set stiff and unambiguous penalties for doing so. You don't get to make slaves of people, and call that protecting freedom.

        There's five basics. Strong, bold initiatives, LOTs of controversy, LOTS of traction. Let the Republicans dare to defy any one of them, because people really are concerned about these issues, and all of them acted upon will make America once again a place of prosperity, power, peace, and that most precious thing of all: pride.

        For it's been a few years since Americans could look the world in the eye; the Bush years and the actions of this administration and its vassals in Congress have been nothing but shameful every step of the way.

        And those days are coming to an end, right now.


        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:50:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  true, but... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann, wintergreen

          you may beat Bush, and then lose to a competent radical conservative.

          Some of this incompetence is borne of the fact that radical conservatism is a terrible idea.  But some of it is just incompetence on its face.

          Failure to take this message to heart will beat Bush, and then lose the longer game.  And remember--Rove plays the long game.  He's already looking past Bush.

          •  Discreditation Nation (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DHinMI, jfadden, lorenzodow, bigchin

            What element of the radical conservative agenda continues to resonate?

            As for Rove's wrongly-vaunted abilities:

            Rove is the shortest-sighted, most reckless, most unstable character in the room. He has routinely flouted rules, laws, reality and been busted for it so often that he practically holds the patent on the "What can you do about it?" insouciance that is modern-day GOP governance.

            That it's worked so well and so long for Rove is attributable to a pre-Rove network of institutional, partisan and media support for what he's peddling, a network that is crumbling right before our eyes.

            Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

            by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:14:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cskendrick, samddobermann, Luetta, sofia

              I have to admit to a bit of confusion.  On a day when Bush is polling 31%, the talk is about the Dems taking over Congress, and the NYT has an article about the ideas of the Democrats focusing on the common good, seeing this diary made me wonder if I had fallen in to a time warp.  

              The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

              by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:21:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Time Warp? Sure! Once is NEVER Enough! :) (0+ / 0-)

                It's astounding, time is fleeting
                Madness takes their toll
                But listen closely, not for very much longer
                I've got to keep control

                I remember doing the time warp
                Drinking those moments when
                The blackness would hit me and the void would be calling
                Let's do the time warp again...
                Let's do the time warp again!

                It's just a jump to the left
                And then a step to the right
                With your hands on your hips
                You bring your knees in tight
                But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,
                Let's do the Time Warp again!

                It's so dreamy, oh fantasy free me
                So you can't see me, no not at all
                In another dimension, with voyeuristic intention
                Well-secluded, I see all
                With a bit of a mind flip
                You're there in the time slip
                And nothing can ever be the same
                You're spaced out on sensation, like you're under sedation
                Let's do the Time Warp again!

                Well I was walking down the street just a-having a think
                When a snake of a guy gave me an evil wink
                He shook me up, he took me by surprise
                He had a pickup truck and the devil's eyes.
                He stared at me and I felt a change
                Time meant nothing, never would again
                Let's do the Time Warp again!

                Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

                by cskendrick on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:26:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Rove is looking at indictment. (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

            "...history is a tragedy not a melodrama" - I.F. Stone

            by bigchin on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:44:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Competence is not enough (0+ / 0-)

            Michael Dukakis found that one out the hard way.

            •  Dukakis was a horrible candidate (0+ / 0-)

              Driving around in a tank, looking like a dork...

              •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

                His slogan was "competence, not ideology" which makes perfect, logical sense, but hasn't got much emotional appeal to people. It probably didn't help that Dukakis came across as cold and unemotional and that Bush the First and Lee Atwater played him easily. They made the campaign about emotional issues like Willie Horton, the death penalty, and flag burning and Dukakis didn't stand a chance.

      •  An important point (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        miriam, Unduna, Catesby

        If the people are rejecting Bush and the Republicans more for their incompetence then for their policies then all it will take is for a semi-competent Republican (or one that can be sold as such (cue John McCain)) to reverse the Republican fortunes.

        Democrats, in order to effect a real sea change in political attitude, have to explain to people how the failed results they are seeing are not simply the results of incompetence but are, in fact, a direct consequence of Republican governing philosophy.

        In other words, it is Republican ideology that allows incompetence to become so prevalent. It is Republican ideology that says that the people of New Orleans should be allowed to sink or swim on their own. New Orleans was not a failure of Republican governance. It was, in fact, their greatest success!

      •  Exactly (0+ / 0-)

        That the repug ascendancy has been slowed down by the incompetancy of this administration doesn't negate the importance of the ideas thereisnospoon is advocating. The current failure of the right is NOT a failure of ideas (nor should we interpret any gains we may make in '06 as a rejection of right-wing ideas).

        We may have a window to win some elections now, regardless of whether we take the long view and begin building a framework of progressive governance.

        But in order to secure those gains for the future, and translate political gain into policy gains, we need to consider how to change the environment and lay the groundwork.

        We're not here just to see Dems win elections, are we? We're here because we want to see a fair and tolerant society whose government reflects those principles.

    •  The point of diminishing return (0+ / 0-)

      The fabric of political space time (hat tip to Armando) is not infinitely malleable. It can only be stretched to a certain degree and the more it is stretched the more it resists the stretching.

      We may have very well reached the point where the attempt to bend the political middle are becoming apparent even to the muddled masses in the middle.

      At least, that is my hope.

    •  Bush ratings don't matter (0+ / 0-)

      Independents feel a little goofy about voting for the decider at this moment, but they still consider backwash ideas to be mainstream.  A serious discussion about banning birth control is roughly equivalent to a serious discussion about open borders or the Swedish model.

      Yet that is exactly where most of America is.

      If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

      by theran on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:13:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The 'Everybody knows America is dumb' motif (0+ / 0-)

        Drives more independents away than anything the right-wing does.

        We're not quite credible as the party accusing the other party of being hostile to small-d democracy, if we're openly contemptuous of what other people do with it.

        Cunningate: Coming for a Republican near you. :)

        by cskendrick on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:39:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who's we? (0+ / 0-)

          Speak for yourself about ``we.''  I'm just sick of all the fucking idiots and their decider.

          If credibility means a serious discussion about intelligent design, then I don't want to be credible.  I want to be a snooty Northeasterner.  No I take that back: I want to be a snooty-educated-walks-to-work-Jewish-graduate-educated-pro-choice-organic-farm-coop-member Northeasterner.

          If you think you're that far ahead, then get the chips in the middle of the table!

          by theran on Wed May 10, 2006 at 05:59:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great Stuff! (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting this here.  It addresses a nagging worry I have had for some time, that the more extreme the right wing rhetoric sounds to me, the more successful they seem to be at achieving their goals.  When you lay it out like this it makes perfect sense.

    •  you're welcome (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mooncat, samddobermann, spotDawa

      but it's not just by shrieking.  They frame everything in infuriating but clever ways, and push the most radical points possible in ways that might seem somewhat acceptable.

      We can't just push currently less-than-acceptable policy: we've got to be smart about it.

      Nevertheless, ANYTHING is better than the gutless, cowardly triangulating we have now.

      •  Never say it can't get worse (0+ / 0-)

        But I do think the tide will turn. For one thing, a lot of new people have begun to pay attention and be involved with politics and government. I am one of them. It took a certain threshold of craziness to make that happen. And more people participating just has to be a good thing.

        We do need clever framing and we all need to learn to talk about issues in ways that draw people in instead of turn them off, but we are moving in the right direction now. We need some of these state and local think tanks I've been reading about.  Was it you that did a diary on that subject last month? I think I saw it here or at MyDD and it really got me thinking that local groups can play a role in framing.

  •  Great diary, (16+ / 0-)

    but haven't we been saying this for years:

    they can shift the very definition of what the middle is.

    At least, I know gay marriage advocates have.  The reason we can't get gay marriage seriously in the table is because the Dems aren't willing to take ballsy leftists stances on it, shifting the debate further to the left, and dragging the former middle with it.  Instead, the Right has people like Santorum making outrageous statements about sex-with-dogs, and Joe-on-the-street thinks that banning gay marriage sounds moderate by comparison.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:02:53 PM PDT

    •  some have been saying this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bato, pico

      but most of the conventional wisdom is centered around GOTV issues.

      Which is important, but not what it's really about in the long run.

      And the long run is extremely important--in fact, the long game is the only game Rove plays.

    •  Actually (11+ / 0-)

      On the issue of gay rights, we are shifting where the middle.  It may be happening too slowly for us, but we're getting there.  I think you could just as easily read this same outstanding diary on Red State with a wingnut using gay marraige as an example of how the Democrats keep shifting the middle to the left to acheive their "radical" policy objectives.

      Think about it -- 20 years ago people didn't acknowledge others as being gay, let alone even consider gay marraige.  Today,from a public policy standpoint accepting domestic partnership benefits is the middle.  At some point down the road, the middle will evolve to the point where gay marraige is legal.  

      And no, I'm not saying we are winning most political debates, but on a lot of issues, like gay and other civil rights, the country has moved left over time.

      •  I agree entirely (4+ / 0-)

        in terms of social movements.  Why that's not reflected in the actual political debate is - I cringe to admit this - a testament to the Right's skill at politics.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:08:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was thinking along those lines... (0+ / 0-)

          How the debates and legislation over civil rights and gay rights followed that pattern.

        •  I think (0+ / 0-)

          it actually has happened in politics, only more slowly.

          The problem is, IMO, that the democratic party and the left in general have this tendancy to run around following the already largely developed social consensus, rather than getting out in front of it early on and pushing the conversation in the direction of positive social change. Political and social change are interwoven; they drive each other. But the left has been assuming the social change has to happen first to provide the power for the political change -- which is sometimes true. But sometimes more can be gained in using the politics to shift social understandings whenever possible.

          And certainly, also, the right is pushing very hard to ban gay marriage (and everything else) while they feel they can. But I honestly view that as a result of their growing understanding that if they're going to shift the conversation back their direction, they've got a pretty small amount of time to do it before the general social consensus moves so far in the "gay people aren't a big deal" direction that it'll be almost impossible to budge. They're behaving like cornered animals on the issue -- which is basically what they are.

      •  You make a good point (0+ / 0-)

        While the right-wing has a lot of sway, there has also been a lot of progress. Just ten years ago, civil unions were considered to be way out there. Now, that's the middle position and majorities of Americans support civil unions in polls.

  •  Excellent analysis, except. . . (17+ / 0-)

    One of the most successful Overton Windows they've been able to move is the idea that you can literally rename the opposition party -- to the point that their tense-mutation (Democrat) shows up in the second sentence of this diary.  :)

    Otherwise, though, great analysis.  Highly recommended.  The idea of the base and middle not being mutually exclusive is subtle and sophisticated, and might be hard for some to digest.  But it is absolutely crucial that any half-competent strategist understand this.

  •  Interesting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, teresab

    I agree with the theory that advancing the most radical idea shifts the understanding of 'moderate' toward the radical. But I think the Dems have attempted to let that happen within the party tent without risking over-defining the party. I'm not saying they've done it well. But the republicans may have destroyed their party by having the party itself, rather than a wing of it, be the face of their radical ideas.

    I can dream.
    •  Repugs own the 10T debt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, spotDawa

      I agree with your point. In many respects, having all the rope means they hang themselves with it. The middle is no more happy with the debt, the hurricanes, the damage to the military, damage to America's international standing, the lack of fuel alternatives and pandering to big oil and all the rest of it.

      The republicans own this mess. The Overton window apparently worked, but they used it to drown the nation in a bathtub.

      I want my real president - Al Gore!

      by teresab on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:11:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OK, So How Would This Play Out With Your Example? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    espresso, Elise, Dvalkure, vox humana

    This is fascinating. But what does this mean in tangible terms.  If our ultimate goal with health care is universal, single payer healthcare, how do you do that Overton Window thingy?

    Total unregulated health care, tort system to compensate injuries;
    Unregulated private health insurance;
    Regulated private health insurance;
    Regulated and mandatory provision of health insurance;
    Mandatory private health insurance, with some government help for lower incomes;
    Some government provided health insurance for lower incomes as well as private health insurance;
    Income-blind government health insurance for all children and catastrophic health provided by government;
    Income-blind government health insurance for anyone who wants it.

    Would those be the options?

    •  nicely done!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dvalkure, vox humana
    •  i would say that right now (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      espresso, hoolia, neroden, vox humana

      Regulated private health insurance is policy--and that regulated and mandatory provision or health insurance is seen as a good idea.  Unregulated private health insurance is seen as acceptable by many.

      This window is shifted incredibly far to the right.

      It's our job to present more government-oriented options in ways that are acceptably framed enough to voters to encourage them to shift their window of thinking.

      These things don't happen overnight--it takes time.

      Excellent window, by the way.

      •  That's Why I Liked Kerry's Plan (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samddobermann, neroden

        Because it wasn't the whole hog, but it was going in the right direction.  Much as I long for someone who goes for the whole thing, the idea of guaranteeing coverage for children and taking over a big portion of health care costs moves the debate a lot closer to single payer.  Same with the idea of just extending Medicare to everyone.

    •  Expanded window (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peacemom, Catesby

      As an arthritis advocate and someone with inflammatory arthritis, here's my list, which obviously would expand the excellent start by Jimbob:

      -Total unregulated health care, tort system to compensate injuries;
      -Unregulated private health insurance;
      -Regulated private health insurance;
      -Regulated and mandatory provision of health insurance;
      -Mandatory private health insurance, with some government help for lower incomes;
      -Some government provided health insurance for lower incomes as well as private health insurance;
      -Income blind government health insurance for all children and catastrophic health provided by government & some subsidized prescriptions;
      -Income blind government health insurance for all children and catastrophic health provided by government & fully subsidized prescriptions;
      -Income blind government health insurance for anyone who wants it & some subisdized prescriptions;
      -Income blind government health insurance for all & fully subsidized prescriptions
      -Full government health, prescription, dental and vision care for all

    •  No (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      samddobermann, jfadden, Catesby

      See, you fell into the trap of the Anti-Democratic Party.  Keep extending that list....

      Income-blind government health insurance for anyone who wants it.
      Income-blind government health insurance for anyone, whether they want it or not.
      That plus government-employed doctors for anyone who wants them ("expanded VA system");
      All doctors employed directly by the government, government monopoly on health care.

  •  It's Poli Sci--101 with 'focus groups' (5+ / 0-)
    And framing.

    The two party system forms a 'coalition' of groups--that is those radical, middle, and other factions' BEFORE and election--this differs from the 'Parlimentary multi party system' which forms coalitions AFTER the elction to form the government.

    The Democrats did this very sucessfully through much of the 20th century--what with the 'Northeatern Liberals" and the Segregationits in the south"

    But things changed within that coalition with the Civil Rights Laws--there's no doubt about that.

    Add to that the introduction of new technology and an underdog Republican Party willing to try anything new for an advatage to the 'old way'--inter 'focus groups'  and 'framing'--using computers analysis to target specific areas to introduce those issues for that specific areas and go there and speak to them.

    The Democrats pooh poohed that because the "old way' worked just fine for so long, and now it doesn't.

    So, now the Dems are adopting the very same strategy under Howard Dean and the Democrats are, in fact, doing very well right now, better than they have been since 94.

    And they are NOT just speaking to the 'base' but they are, in fact, reaching out far and wide, and good for them!

    BTW I am a liber and progressive and I sure do get it! Perhaps not in the way the REpublicans state it, but I get it, it's simple Government 101--with 21st century technology added.

  •  Yeah...and another thing they do (20+ / 0-)

    is mask their true intentions when speaking to the public, while winking and noding to their right-wing base in doing so.

    How many times have we seen Bush or the GOP say they're going to do something, and then do pretty much the exact opposite (and then have the press ignore it).

    This isn't as much right-wing issues becominging mainsteram as it is flat out lying about what their agenda is and being able to get away with it.

    Webpage; # Members: 87,163 (as of 3:30pm 5/9). Projected Date of 100,000th member registration: September 7, 2006

    by FleetAdmiralJ on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:09:49 PM PDT

    •  And how about (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Those 'Dirty Tricks" close to election time?

      I mean that was one of the ways they made such inroads here in the south BEFORE the techonolgy Racism, Sexism, all kinds of 'isms' prvailed,

      It's been very dirty and that is something I don't want to see in the Democratic Party! Never ever!

      No 'Democratic Dirty Tricks', we can leave that to the Republicans.

    •  We've got to get better at 'code speak' (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avila, peacemom

      They are very good at talking about one thing, but the "base" knows exactly what they mean.  Remember, "Dred Scott" really means "outlaw abortions" because they've told their base that allowing legal abortions is tantamount to slavery.

      1+1=3    Ta Da!

  •  Its (5+ / 0-)

    John Edwards' time.

    Two Americas?  Pretty much nailed that fucker down, didn't he.

  •  So how we gonna do this w/o the media's help? (14+ / 0-)

    The 5 multinationals which control 90% of the media are gonna push a non-corporatist message?


    Reclaim Democracy: It's not just politics - it's economics, too

    by EconAtheist on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:17:28 PM PDT

    •  Bam!!! (9+ / 0-)

      You've hit the nail on the head, EA. The great big red elephant shitting all over the room which thereisnospoon forgets to address is the corporakleptocratic "liberal" media. The Rethugs do what they do with the active assistance of the mass media, who's elite cadre of billionaire owners has the most to gain from the Rethugs' policy iniaitives, for instance, renaming the inheritance tax as the "death tax", as merely one example among many. OTOH, the corporatistas would have a lot to lose if truly progressive policies were to be enacted, so they go out of their way to keep that kind of talk suppressed.
      It's kind of hard to reframe the debate when it's your opposition who can say, as Reagan did, "I paid for this microphone".

      We need to buy, steal, or commandeer those microphones  if we ever want to be heard.

      Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

      by drewfromct on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:39:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  did you see the diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      espresso, sockpuppet, ForFreedom

      "Tim Russert Isn't Rove's Bitch?"

      It's less about the corporate controlled media as about trying to gain respectability and access to power.

      Rupert Murdoch holds fundraisers for Hillary because he thinks she is going to win.

      Shift the power base, and you'll shift most of the media with you.

      •  Another scenario (0+ / 0-)

        Bill Clinton was NOT supposed to win in 1992. He wrecked the growing narrative. Bush 41 for two terms then his successor and so on.

        Bill was the unexpected political genuis, the prodigy.

        The answer? Bring Bill & Hillary into the team as junior associate partners.

        •  a rhodes scholar (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I was cheering for Clinton the first time he was elected-- indeed, a political genius, and a Rhodes scholar as well.

          Remember to calculate the Ross Perot effect...
          Perot cut into Bush's base, and in my opinion, "aided" Clinton.
          This made me very very happy.

          Clinton won handily in his re-election.
          But it is not clear to me that Clinton would have handily won his first election had Ross Perot not "siphoned off" Bush's base the first time around.  

          I want third-party politics to flourish in this country.  Specifically, the Green Party.  Coalitions, coalitions, coalitions.... we need them.  (Dems and Greens, for example.)

          Gore would have made a VASTLY superior president than the sociopath we now have in office.  There's no comparison.  I wish the Greens, progressives, and Dems (and some of the independents) had all combined their efforts in 2000.  Some coalitions were going on in 2004 (voting Kerry for prez and voting Green party local, or voting for Greens in excessively blue states, and Kerry in excessively red states... this kind of thing...)  But we all got Blackwelled in Ohio.

          Its a superb diary here by thereisnospoon.
          The Overton Window can be employed by Dems (hopefully in consort with Greens, who have been consistently sane on everything from resisting the Iraq invasion to promoting alternatives to oil-addiction... as well as Independents who are fed up and disgusted with neocons...)

          I do like Hillary is some areas (It takes a village...) but I wish she'd make some real noise-- speak out strongly against the war, provide a vital spark (again) and vision for real health care, take a strong and loud stand on environmental protection-- in other words,  speak up loudly for sanity.

          Gore spoke out against the war.
          So did Feingold.
          These were unpopular stands to many at the time, but they were principled stands... We need more of these kinds of politicians and courageous stands.  

          And Dems in particular can learn from the Overton Window.

      •  Totally agree (3+ / 0-)

        I think people misunderstand the media.  They are followers not leaders.  If universal health care was sold as an essential and economic feasible policy, and the people began to beleive in it, you would see the media lapping it up like a puppy dog.  You would not see them railing on it.

        •  Followers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann, Unduna

          don't want to follow other followers, which is why they don't give Dems a break. This is what I couldn't believe about the DLC literature I got recently, claiming that what people on the left don't realize is that most of America is "conservative"-- as if this were just a natural, unchangeable fact to which Democrats just have to adapt. And as if the term "conservative" actually described something other than the results of a billion-dollar marketing campaign yoking together radically inconsistent (though equally repugnant) philosophies together.

    •  The media is not lost (6+ / 0-)

      because of what it feeds on-advertising revenue.

      Who is almost as bad as Murdoch and Fox in terms of supporting Republicans?  Viacom

      What is one of the most popular liberal TV shows?  The Daily Show-we have a daily thread about it here.

      What network is The Daily Show On? Comedy Central.

      Comedy Central-Owned by MTV Networks

      MTV Networks-Owned by...Viacom.

      It all depends on how the message is framed.  Corporatists are not generally idealogically driven, they are profit driven.  Right now the window has been shifted to the point where thye believe that maximum profit will be derived from a more conservative perspective, but that window can be moved just as any other window can.  The media is constantly telling us that they respond to the demands of the audience.  If this is true then moving the window to a more liberal perspective will move the media that way as well.

      Live Free or Die-words to live by

      by ForFreedom on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:47:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keith Olbermann made an excellent point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samddobermann, neroden

        just about that. When asked if the corporate bosses at GE and NBC placed political pressure on him, he said they didn't and wouldn't because his show makes money. They care about the almighty dollar. Not a whole lot else.

      •  hit the nail on the head (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        obsessing over the "corporate media" is defeatist and misguided.

        They owe their allegiance only to money.  If liberal ideas will make them more money and get them access to power, they'll spout liberal ideas.

        •  But the ultimate goal is to drown out their noise (0+ / 0-)

          ... by reasserting Sherman Antitrust Act provisions so that markets once again become competitive; breaking down oligopolies is a critical progressive (populist?) goal to establishing true economic fairness and efficiencies as dictated by econ theory/practice and as described by Adam Smith, et al.

          Surely they can see that, can't they?  I mean... they have intelligent strategists.... I can see them courting Hillary but probably not Feingold.

          Or am I just way ahead of the curve here?  ;)

          /Armando warned me about my pipe dreams... ~sigh~

          Reclaim Democracy: It's not just politics - it's economics, too

          by EconAtheist on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:32:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent Diary. (18+ / 0-)

    It is what I call "moving the goal posts".  It always starts with a huge and radical idea highly publicized and ends with something close to the huge and radical idea.  It is why sometimes I think that posters here are very naive when they start to post over and over and over again about a topic that might not get as much attention if it was simply ignored.

    The one group that you left out of the discussion that I think is too commonly overlooked though is the "average voter" NOT included in a focus group.  Our representatives need to get out and talk to real people.  They need to stop in unannounced at the neighborhood bar or local restaurant and just meet the people they represent.  They have to re-learn how to talk to average people without the insulation of their staffers and schedulers.

    They also have to start to think about dreams and start to go for those dreams even if no one in a focus group has ever mentioned their dream before.

    •  And how do they redefine the middle? (5+ / 0-)

      With a very coherent plan that focuses on re-educating and repetition.

      I can only assume a strong think tank movement is behind it.

      Ever talk to a wingnut? Notice how they all have the same five (illogical and often incorrect) talking points?  They can quote chapter and verse on the ills of the Canadian system because they've been schooled to do so.  Dems on the other hand don't usually have an informed response - not one that is universally known to and accepted.

      Who the heck is heading up the strategery here?  No one it seems and that is the problem.


      If you want something other than the obvious to happen - you've got to do something other than the obvious...Douglas Adams

      by trillian on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:29:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well it is the difference between an (8+ / 0-)

        artificial philosophy and genuine belief.  We won't ever have a think=tank based culture - thankfully - but we may find leadership among the new revolution within the Democratic Party.  I've been saying for a while that we need to move towards our dreamers and big thinkers rather than recoiling from them.

        Just as a note, I think that the Murtha doctrin on Iraq was played very much taking advantage of this "window" concept.  Don't forget that the nation on the whole thought that withdrawl from Iraq was "impossible" before he started the discussion and debate.  Sometimes you just need one person to say it and not be so concerned about people being shocked by the statement.  

        •  repetition (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          inclusiveheart, Simplify, spotDawa

          I think it would be a loss if we had a team of Democratic think tanks spinning out a unified message.

          It would put the Democrats in the same space as the GOP --isolated from reality but on message.

          •  Agreed. (0+ / 0-)

            I guess I should have said I hoped that we wouldn't have a "think-tank based culture" in the Democratic Party.  It would be very limiting for one thing.  If you only have a small few people generating the ideas they get stale, incestuous and elitist.  Reminds me of the GOP and the DLC really...

            You can have your think-tanks, but you have to stay in close touch with the electorate to benefit from the great potential for ideas that this country offers.

  •  Moving the window (29+ / 0-)

     We HAVE a few Dems who understand this model (maybe not quite so explicitly) and who have tried to shift the discourse -- Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Russ Feingold, perhaps Wes Clark.

     And they get sneered at and marginalized -- by Dems -- for their trouble. Even when they're right.

    Just consider Feingold's censure resolution -- it's moved from "unthinkable" to "radical" with virtually no support from the rest of the party. Imagine if the party HAD gotten behind it -- we COULD be well on our way to impeachment.

    Dems eat their own. That's a big part of the problem.


    "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

    by Buzzer on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:22:32 PM PDT

    •  very good point (13+ / 0-)

      I think that's why it works so much better when Republicans do it than Democrats: They are completely unified behind their fringe ideas.  When one whole party in a two-party system starts talking about privatizing social security, its grows an air of legitimacy.  But when a Democrat says "Censure the president" and the party leaders go out the next day to speak about how extremist that is--the electorate is obviously going to see the idea as far removed from the mainstream.

      If this is going to work for us, we need party unity first.  And if we can't be unified in the opposition, we'll  never be unified once we have power.

      •  Also Murtha (15+ / 0-)

         Jack Murtha almost singlehandedly changed the acceptable parameters of discourse on Iraq. But think about how much MORE effective he could have been if the rest of the party had backed him up, instead of scattering as if this decorated veteran had suddenly become Deferment Dickie.

         What ultimately happens is that Republicans wind up stealing our issues and getting credit for them. The Hayden thing is the latest -- Dianne Feinstein couldn't wait to crawl into Hayden's lap, and it took a few Republicans to express reservations about him before the idea that he's got issues even got aired.

         Our party leadership is better than it used to be, but it's still got a long way to go...

        "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

        by Buzzer on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:59:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I only wish (12+ / 0-)

      I could recommend this comment more than once.

      What we need to be doing is chanting 'Censure', with a melody line of 'Impeach' and a solo of 'Convict'.

      While is may not move the window all the way to putting Bushco in Leavenworth for the rest of their lives like they deserve, it will keep the right from moving the window until 'Censure' has been blocked out.

      Live Free or Die-words to live by

      by ForFreedom on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:52:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the awful truth is (0+ / 0-)

      the Democratic power structure is closer to the Republicans in philosophy than to progressivism.

      They're not eating their own, they're getting into bed with them.

    •  Dem's don't know how to work the refs (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A lot of Dem's may disagree with censure for whatever reason (we don't have enough/any information on what Bush is really doing, you feel it might make impeachment harder due to double-jeopardy type arguments).  Thats fine.  But why swat it down out of hand?  Let the idea, perhaps more radical than your own position, float out there.  It moves the discussion, and when the discussion moves it could result in making an investigation happen.  

      In general, one of the best ways to move the goal posts is for Dem's not to criticize those to the left of them.  Play dumb ("I didn't hear the quote in question, so I don't feel prepared to comment on it") and don't comment.  If you feel the need to comment, reiterate your position and criticize those to the right of you - don't criticize the position to the left of you.  You don't have to endorse (for example) Michael Moore's words or ideas, but just leave them out there to counter the extreme right.

      The right never criticizes Coulter, Rush, or the other right-wing wackos.  But the Dems, well, sometimes it seems like the only people Dems are willing to stand up to are those to the left of them - and that triangulation strategy lost them all three branches of government.

  •  This all goes back to reaction, methinks (9+ / 0-)

    How often do you hear a Dem come out anymore and say "Here's our idea for"...X? All the ideas that hit the press, all the news that everyone hears about...good and bad...comes from the right.

    And all we do is react.

    I think it's TIME we introduced something radical. How about single payer health care? How about a national public transportation system?

    It's long past time to blow the lid off the VRWC.

    I refuse to surrender unless it's for the common good...

    by Auntie Neo Kawn on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:23:03 PM PDT

    •  single payer healthcare (0+ / 0-)

      would be hard to sell...just look at 1992 when we tried to sell it before.

      Also, I think you'd have a hard time justifying a national public transporation system, unless you mean sending federal dollars to help localities fund public transportation.

      Otherwise we already have one: its called Amtrak.

      Webpage; # Members: 87,163 (as of 3:30pm 5/9). Projected Date of 100,000th member registration: September 7, 2006

      by FleetAdmiralJ on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:27:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  WHOOOOSH! (16+ / 0-)
        That was the sound of the point of the entire diary blasting right over your head.

        The point is NOT "can it pass?"   The point is to get people TALKING ABOUT IT.   Once they start talking about it, it suddenly becomes less a "radical" notion and pretty soon -- years away perhaps -- can become actual policy.  

        You might want to go re-read the diary.

        The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

        by theyrereal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:35:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  1992? Single payer wasn't considered (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SarahLee, neroden, gatorcog

        seriously. Hillarycare was anti-single-payer: it was based on private HMOs. We do have a reasonably successful (well, until Bush got ahold of it) single-payer system for the elderly and disabled, known as Medicare.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:37:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, that's not how it was. (7+ / 0-)
        You never even had the discussion about single-payer health care. After the special interest groups got done in the back rooms, the proposal that was put forward in 1992 was like the recent pharmacare fiasco -- far too complicated. There were so many compromises and concessions that nobody could understand it.

        Single-payer is simple: the government runs a huge group health insurance plan with everyone in it so the risk is maximally spread out, and the premiums come from taxpayers according to their ability to pay. No insurance companies. No employers. No HMOs. No out of plan physicians or hospitals. Nobody is uninsured. Nobody faces financial ruin because of an illness. With single-payer, life gets simpler for citizens.

        It is also simple for health care providers, who only need to submit one bill each month, and always get paid on time.

        But, well, that was then. Since 1992, Americans have begun to realize how badly their health care system is broken. HMOs were not the magic answer they were touted to be; they've made things worse. I think you'd find single payer an easy sell, now. If you could ever get up the nerve to talk about it, that is...

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:00:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And what's the 'window' on Amtrak? (7+ / 0-)

        We need to move the window over.  Currently way too much of the argument is "Amtrak should be self-supporting" versus "Amtrak should have a small subsidy".

        We need some people saying "Amtrak should have a larger subsidy than the highway system" (which it most certainly should; this wouldn't be considered a radical idea in any sane country).  Push that window over.

  •  This is a great diary (8+ / 0-)

    These are exactly the types of discussions that need to be taking place in the Democratic party. We have to  find tools that can be used to sell our ideas to the public. I know that to many selling has a negative sense to it. However any good salesman knows that there are tried and true techniques for advancing an argument. In this particular example this is just a more sophisticated technique of something that I used to do when discussing fees with clients.

    Client: how much are your fees?
    me: Well if we raise a million dollars for you, we get half and you get half.
    Client: (wtf) jaw drop etc. long pause
    me: (Laughing) Just kidding...of course our fee is only __(fill in the blank)

    By framing the fee issue in the extreme in this argument you have conditioned the client, whether they would ever admit to it or not, that somehow your fee is not so bad after all. This is not is just a technique to persuade. We need to have more discussion on how we are going to persuade people to our point of view. And please don't say that we just need to give the facts. That is not persuasion as anyone who has ever been sent to jail on a bogus charge will tell you. They may have had all of the facts in the world on their side but ultimately they had no one who could persuade the jurors to beleive them.

    He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man...Dr. Johnson (HST)

    by mikeypaw on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:25:08 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting. . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    thanks for the enlightenment

    It takes a Revolution to make a solution. -RNM

    by rpm5250 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:28:05 PM PDT

  •  Dead on (8+ / 0-)
    I don't know if the party "establishment" properly understands or appreciates why Kos et al. are important. Its not because of candidates/elections, really. Its about changing the intellectual and cultural environment WITHIN WHICH candidates run. In this sense, I think the left-leaning blogosphere has a much broader and deeper strategy about advancing a left-of-center agenda.

    Clinton, to be sure, was a supremely talented candidate. And groups like the DLC provided important SHORT TERM strategic insight about the Democratic Party's problems in the 1980s. But has fundamentally been unable to change the climate in which "politics" occurred, as it seems unable to understanding the big picture or the long term and always deals with just the next election and the public's opinions as they exist in the present. As such, movement conservativism advanced even when B Clinton was pres., because the DLC types (but not just the DLC, it should be noted) did not think more creatively or broadly than they did.

    Also, I think a lot of the DLC folks - as well as many other boomer liberals, it should be noted - are too stuck in the political context of the break-up of the New Deal political order, which basically formed the back-drop to their maturation as political operatives. The thing is, history isn't static and it doesn't repeat itself, so the lessons that were appropriate to learn as a result of, say, the McGovern campaign of '72 or the Mondale of '84 just aren't necessarily that relevant any more (not to say they are irrelevant, either).

  •  Fan-Freakin-Tastic! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann, slatsg, sockpuppet, Elise

    Dead on correct.  110%.  These people (the repugs) have honed these skills of persuasion in the boardrooms and halls of management all over corporate America and beyond.  These tactics are used every day in the kind of "out of the box" thinking that is so encouraged in business today.  This is how the workforce is influenced to shift perception in the never-ending movement of "cheese" in the workplace.

    It is not rocket science, but it is quite beautiful in its systematic approach and elegant implementation.

    GREAT analysis, spoon.  Thank you for enlightening all of us.

    The Meek Shall Inherit NOTHING

    by LickBush on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:30:31 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (8+ / 0-)

    Sounds like the window is similar to the rachet. The right has been employing this for years. It's time to turn that knob on the back so it swings left.

    "Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?" -George Washington

    by House on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:31:17 PM PDT

  •  Highly Recommended:) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I read that post by Trevino and it got me thinking along the same lines...that we need to use that format to move public opinion...but I didn't think about how that relates to the way we've been doing things already...

    Excellent analysis...and since I've got one more day before my grades need to be done, I'll hotlist it so I can read and really think about it more later:)

    Thanks for writing about this!

  •  Two comments. (19+ / 0-)
    1. One ot the other things the GOP does is burn the bridges behind them. Thus, not only does the center move in education, but in the wake of the movement, resources are diverted that make it undesireable or flat impossible to move back to the "left" if the experiment fails.
    1. This:




    Makes me think of what we've done with impeachment. And it's why it started with something as kooky as just painting the word on giant signs and printing them on stickers. Just to put the unthinkable out there. Now it's on the cover of major news magazines and in three state legislatures.

  •  i agree with one thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, HillaryIsMyHomegirl

    the CW that repugs only play to their base is wrong.

    and dangerous.

    i pretty much agree with everything else.


    except the idea that all you have to do is find a way to play to your base so that the middle naturally follows.  

    the underlying assumption.  the assumption that i also think is wrong and dangerous is that the middle is mushy or any less stubborn than the base.

    i know some moderates who vote republican for the tax cut, but they haven't convinced themselves that taking away the rights of women is a good thing.  by playing to repug base, these moderates have not changed their minds on any issues over time.  these moderates have even expressed exasperation with their own party when they play too much to the base.

    and consider switching parties.  

    "No, I understand that. But I - I would really like to have a chance to discuss what you keep telling me what I'm not discussing." -- Rep. Barney Frank.

    by BiminiCat on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:34:21 PM PDT

  •  Estate Tax (8+ / 0-)

    10 years ago, everyone saw sentinent and not a millionaire saw it for what it is. But by playing the same thing over and over, we have gotten to the point where repealing it is way too acceptable. Dems never come out and say that it is a Paris Hilton tax against rich overprivelaged jerks. They let the other side frame the debate.

    The Republican Party: The Bridge to Nowhere

    by flounder on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:35:50 PM PDT

  •  We need to expand on this with more examples (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, House, StuartZ

    This is truly useful.  I think we should try and understand the concept by constructing more of these continuums.

    For example, on voting:

    • Non Voters pay a small fine
    • All Election days are paid holidays
    • All election official's actions are audited by independent bodies

    • Elections are decided by IRV
    • President is elected by popular vote, no electoral college
    • All citizens have an unimpeded legally enforced right to vote
    • All voting must have a verified paper trail for recounts and audits

    • all citizens may vote if they register and follow procedures
    • voters must pay a poll tax and pass a literacy test, if required.
    • only men may vote
    • only men with property may vote

    In bold is what is under public discussion today.  How would we move the scale using an Overton window, so what is in bold becomes legally enforced national policy.

    "Ah, what an age it is when to speak of trees is almost a crime for it is a kind of silence about injustice" (Brecht)

    by tsackton on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:36:20 PM PDT

    •  See we have to be careful (0+ / 0-)

      I think your Overton window might be too broad can I'm not sure the order makes sense. Why should IRV come before independent auditing, or whu should popular election for president come before making election day paid holidays. I'm not sure how advocating IRV moves us any closer to a verified paper trail. See what I mean?

      *All election official's actions are audited by independent bodies
      *Voter intimidation is strictly prohibited by criminal law with significant mandatory minimum punishment.
      *All citizens have an unimpeded legally enforced right to vote
      *All voting must have a verified paper trail for recounts and audits
      *All citizens may vote if they register and follow procedures

      *Voters are not registered and bribed to vote
      *Ballot boxes are allowed to be stuffed regularly

      This way the box is just focused on the issue of preventing fraud- as opposed to including a bunch of other issue involving elections. I'm not sure I have enough of a handle on how we use the format to actually sway public opinion but I think that might be a better window. (At least for part of what you were talking about)

      It took them 30 years- don't give up hope after 3

      by js noble on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:23:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds too much like Adolf Hitler to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joejoejoe, aitchdee

    Moving piece by piece to move extreme positions.

    •  Okay, how do you oppose that strategy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      •  Watching the US press... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... I always think of Stalinist Europe.  You'd see the purge signs going off way in the distance, like the horn of a distant train, and then, slowly but surely, in night and fog, it arrives at the center of political discourse.

        I think this is a superb discussion of the think-tank strategy.  We should carefully study the examples that fail.  Privatised social security, for instance.

        "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." -- Walter Benjamin

        by quaderni on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:00:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you follow the logic of the essayist... (5+ / 0-)

          privatization hasn't failed. Privatization, which was once considerd unthinkable, is now considered a legitimate topic of discussion. That's the point. The extreme point is put out for public debate, a less draconian measure is accepted, while moving toward the extremist position.
          Believe me, the Social Security debate is not over - not by any means.

          Don't Panic - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

          by slatsg on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:22:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The budget deficit assures the Soc Sec debate (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is not over. And, when US capital flees overseas, we will have a tough time taxing it.

            Marx may again prove prescient on a globalized scale and that frightens me as I am not a fan of Marx as social theorist even is he was an insightful critic of unfettered capitalism.

        •  Privatized social security? (0+ / 0-)

          They haven't begun that fight, yet.

      •  Dynamic Tension (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samddobermann, aitchdee, jfadden, neroden

        Which is to say that the center-right and center-left Democrats need to make it quite clear that the Faustian post-WWII bargain they made with the Republican Party to systematically demonize, delegitimate, and marginalize the genuine left is off.

        Because without a left to pull in the other direction, the drift is ever rightward.

    •  that's ALWAYS disturbed me about politics (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blue Texan, House
      --the calculated diabolicalism of it all--but I've spent my life obsessed with it just the same (sigh).    :-)


      Is nothing secular?

      by aitchdee on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:20:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just because Hitler... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, neroden

      actually Goebbels, used the technique does not make it invalid.

      Hitler also used the Blitzkrieg, which was adapted by a football coach and can be seen on television every weekend in the autumn.

      The other thing to note is that repugs have no compunctions about using Nazi tactics, and sometimes we have to face them with similar approaches.  The difference comes in which techniques we use and how we use them.  Propaganda is at this point a matter of course.  We don't have much choice there.  But that does not mean we have to round up Conservatives and put them in concentration camps.

      Live Free or Die-words to live by

      by ForFreedom on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:28:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's an amoral, anti-science power grab (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, Simplify

      The Overton Window - You come up with a goal without regard evidence of it's merit and proceed on a course absent any thought to it's consequence - all in a grab for power. I'll pass. If Democrats had adopted this Overton progression as a political model in 1950 we would have never had civil rights laws  - because that  goal was a political loser. If we have GOP control for another generation because we have 100 million bigots in this country - so be it.

      If you liked Mao's Great Leap Forward, you'll love the Overton Window.

      Democracy is a form of government; it is not a ticket to some heavenly kingdom where all evil is vanquished and everyone agrees with us. - Madeleine Albright

      by joejoejoe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:07:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's that word again (0+ / 0-)

    Triangulation. I think instead of trying to beg democrats to find another word, I will write a song about it. However, the only word that makes sense rhyming with triangulation is strangulation. Triangulation is a geometric term that is also related to trilateration that deals with Cartesian coordinates, isochrons, gradients and laplacian vectors and whole bunch of other crap that has nothing to do with politics. My way of thinking is some asshole had too much time on his hands and tried to make up some bullshit on why democrats lose and came up with some kind of Euclidean chart with sines and cosines trying to define with a big, adult, technical terminology the description of losing political races.

    •  Haha (0+ / 0-)

      I appreciate your effort to dissect what is perhaps an overused term.  I myself went to town on the word "meme" about a year ago, and saw it used less and less since (thank God).

      But triangulation is descriptive, at least.  It says you look out and see two positions, and attempt to find a third that forms some kind of compromise between them.  Because it's mathematical/geometrical, it also suggests some kind of calculation (vs. passion).

      Some things are not for sale. Send the Republicans home in 2006.

      by The Termite on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:57:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I'm just a retired math teacher (0+ / 0-)

        who thinks the word is meant to obfuscate a very simple term that means "politician". It maybe semantics, but it just shows the lengths people of "intellect" will go to show how they can describe in big words what is very simple for a stupid person like me to understand. You do mathematics a great disservice by using beautiful, exact meanings of Euclidean Geometry and bastardize it by relating it to politics. There is a much better word for your political description, it's called gutless pandering. Use words the rest of us can understand.

      •  Doh (0+ / 0-)

        "God" is a meme.  A particularly pervasive one too.

        I think we do need a new term or at least thought process to step away from triangulation though.  Instead of thinking of it as two ideas or viewpoints and trying to find a comprimise.  Think of finding the crux or causing factor for the differences in viewpoint.  If possible changing or removing that point creates a much better solution.

        First we have to find a snappy phrase to describe the process though...

  •  thus we have Ann Coulter (12+ / 0-)
     who is given the job of bringing up the REALLY ugly ideas -- the only way to talk to liberals is with baseball bats -- someone should poison supreme court justices --

    Get people to talking about them and thinking "hey, why not?"  And someday ..... it'll be actual policy.

    I think this is perhaps the most important diary I've read here in quite some time.   Because this isn't just about politics, this is about psychology and mass manipulation of the citizenry, which is what the Repubs have down like Orwell.  

    Seriously, think of all the things the Repubs have managed to get "us" to talk about -- (and how many times have many of us said "I can't believe we're even talking about this) --

    Torture.   Using nuclear bombs on a country in a "preemptive" strike.   Illegal wiretapping in the name of national security.    Dirty bombs in our cities.   Duct tapes on our windows.   Torture.   Mass deportations of illegal immigrants.   Building camps for illegal immigrants.  

    The list goes on and on.  

    Wow, this is a very important diary.   I've always wondered just what the purpose of Ann Coulter was.   Because she's an obvious plant, an actor if you will, given these outrageous notions to schill.    I mean, it's almost like she's a left-wing parody of a right-wing hatemonger.   Impossible to actually parody her.    

    Yet sure enough, she throws out these crazy fucked up notions -- Joe McCarthy was a hero, etc.  

    The media is definitely in on this, though.   You KNOW they'll ignore our ideas, or just merciliessly ridicule them, but they sure as hell WERE talking about nuking Iran, about the "benefits" or torturing -- I mean how many times did we hear that stupid fucking argument -- "what if you had a guy in custody and you absolutely knew that he knew where a nuke was in a city that was gonna go off -- wouldn't you be justified in torturing him to get that information out of him?"    And all that BULLSHIT.

    The media is complicit 100% with this right-wing manipulation of us.  

    So we're kind of fucked.

    The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

    by theyrereal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:42:45 PM PDT

    •  I think it's time for progressives to step back.. (7+ / 0-)

      .. and really start studying how ideology works in this country: how it gets made, how it gets disseminated, and how it gets processed into government policy.

      In the 1980s, in my opinion, the progressive left dismissed ideology critique with ironic complacency and false liberal-latté empathy.  How can we presume to speak of somebody's 'true interests'?  -- the lefties groused.  Such talk was inherently elitist, they said, whilst sitting comfortably in Ivy-league seminar halls.

      But when you get huge chunks of the US electorate, generally hard-working, blue-collar people, voting GOP to stop gay marriage and happily selling out health care, benefits, and economic security -- it's high time people ask the question: 'OK - they are voting against their better interests.  It's not elitist to say so.  It's called common fucking sense.'

      Sorry for the rant....

      "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." -- Walter Benjamin

      by quaderni on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:13:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please keep in mind (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jfadden, makeitstop

        that it's the over $50,000 crowd that gives the GOP their electoral victories.
        But a sizable minority of working class folks do seemingly vote against their own interests. Another significant chunk stays home.
        I believe the solution is for the Democrats to address the real economic concerns of working class citizens.

        Don't Panic - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

        by slatsg on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:29:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the split in the 04 election (0+ / 0-)

          was on the median income line. The parties stand only as far to the left and right of that line so as to give them definition.

          and then comes a curve, like a war, and momentum shifts off the center.

          and then it sloshes back.

        •  Erm.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It's very important to point out that the true economic interests of the $50,000-$200,000/year group are closely aligned with the interests of the <$50,000/year group.  Particularly on health care.  They are not aligned with the interests of the >$1,000,000/year superrich.

          •  I would say that they are aligned on (0+ / 0-)

            some issues, like haelth care. The problem is the wine and chesse crowd doesn't see or simply doesn't wish to acknowledge this alignment. Too many identify more with wealthy than with the workers.

            Don't Panic - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

            by slatsg on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:24:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  complicit media (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for this method, it works fine if the media ridicule the idea.  at least people are talking about it.  that's the unacceptable, then moving down to ridiculous etcetera.

      the problem is if they recognize what's going on and simply refuse to air the concept at all.  that's where we need the internet (and need it free) or even better, for all of us to go out and start pushing these ideas with our neighbors.

      try it - try talking to your friends and relatives about single-payer health care.  you'll get some resistance at first, because people have been conditioned to think of it as unthinkable, but keep at it for 15 minutes and you'll get a number of people to move it to acceptable or even desirable.  boom!  you just moved the window.

      it's not enough to survive: one has to be worthy of surviving — admiral adama

      by zeke L on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:26:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, think about (0+ / 0-)
        the whole "nuking Iran" thing.   That's something that should have been ridiculed by everyone, and especially the media, but instead, they were all sitting around talking about it, saying "maybe it IS a good idea".

        So in a way, yes, just getting the idea out there at all is paramount, but the media is helping their side and hurting ours.  

        It's a huge huge disadvantage.  

        The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

        by theyrereal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:30:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  we need to use the overton window against (0+ / 0-)

      the ugly repugs. We need to have more democrats calling them what they are....treasonous SOBS out to wreck this once great nation. We need to stop being nice to them. Move the damn bar. By being nice we are saying the bar is fine where it is now...or the window is. They are not fine where they are now. Time is way past to move it back in our direction. Republicans are traitors. They aren't merely people with different opinions. They are destroying our country.

  •  Well written thereisnospoon. I 'm going to have (0+ / 0-)

    to reread your dairy and study this Overton approach a little more before I can see better how to take advantage of this approach for the purposes of good rather than evil.

    But I find your research insight impressive and helpful.  

    Helping to bring justice back to the White House, one indictment at a time.

    by HoundDog on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:43:09 PM PDT

  •  let's see if I get this (0+ / 0-)

    You hang out the extreme possibility as a bogey issue and the slightly less radical ideas you really support seem moderately reasonable?  Isn't that a principal of contract negotiation?

    Or you play to the base and some position of your spectrum of acceptable issues appeals to the mass of the voters?

    I don't disagree with the argument that you need to listen to focus groups as well as make principled stands.  It just seems to me the Dems weren't compelling enough to get the margins they needed in the last election.

    By the way, why do you think Luntz is out of favor?  I'm not being sarcastic, I truly want to know.  I wonder (if your thinking is correct) if the election margins weren't what repubs expected?

    Blogatha! The political, the personal. Not necessarily in that order.

    by ksh01 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:44:36 PM PDT

    •  Luntz is out of favor becase he has a feud (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ben P, ksh01, arbiter

      with Boehner.  He's still the best in the business by a long shot.

      He's also a mercenary, believe it or not.  He's not really into Republican "values"--he sees the handwriting on the wall and is working for the Dems now, because it's a smart move given the political climate.

      Your parallel with contract negotations is very good actually, except that you're not looking to "win" in politics so much as persuade--so it's a slightly different thing.

    •  There's another piece to it. (0+ / 0-)

      It's not just that they are throwing out extreme views to make thier own seem more reasonable.  It's that they have lackeys throw out the extremes.  Evangelists and swift boat crews etc.  That way the freak show groups look crazy, and they can walk up to be the voice of reason.

      Dems have a little bit harder time of it because of the cold war.  The extreme's for the right can be semi hidden because it lands them in fascism that can hide behind patriotism and religous values.  For the left extreme we end up in socialism and communism.  Not actually bad in and of themselves.  But thanks to the cold war, communist has a nasty image attached to it.

      So their freaks just look like freaks. Our freaks end up looking like enemies of the state.  We can still do it, we just have to be a bit more careful than right wingers.

  •  We need to be thinking like this-- (4+ / 0-)

    modeling it to the party, or leaving the party behind if necessary.

    "Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail." --Stephen Colbert

    by gazingoffsouthward on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:45:28 PM PDT

  •  You are right. (0+ / 0-)

    The question, however, is how to foster independent left-wing "base" agents who can advance radical ideas without tarring the "mainstream" with the label of crazy left-wing traitors.

    There are also certain asymmetries with the Republican model. Because so many conservative drives involve the denial of public money for cause X or allowing individuals to opt out of collective tasks, their radicals are often easier for centrists to shrug off and tolerate. It's the "okay, fine, home-school then, if you really want to, weirdo" response. (Apologies to the diarist; obviously many home-schoolers are very responsible and committed. But you know what I mean.) It's often harder to get people scared about them. Whereas it's easy to demonize left-wing collective proposals like single-payer health care, which people can be persuaded invade their "private" space.

    "When I came to this town, my eyes were big blue stars. Now they're big green dollar signs." - Jean Arthur, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

    by brooksfoe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:49:11 PM PDT

    •  What is not so obvious (0+ / 0-)

      is that fiscal conservatives have learned that they can make more money by funding social conservatives, whose policies will never affect the monied class. Centrists see where this money goes and since they want/need it so badly that they think their only recourse is to go right too.

      This is the paradigm shift, or as someone wrote, moving the 50 yard line to the endzone. The "center" is no more, and it is this obvious fact that makes progressives so angry when they hear talk of "the center".

      Pied Piper is not some kid's story, but an alegory for all of us: who doesn't like to follow a winner? The GOP has created a buzz that people want to follow, and sure, they have played off people's more negative natures.

      But people have positive natures too - at least I think that is why they go to worship at churches, synagogues and mosques. Hate and bigotry are easy; love and acceptence are not. We need to challenge people to be better than they are, or have been.

      •  But the shift since Katrina is real. (0+ / 0-)

        I mostly agree. But it's not entirely well-timed to be speaking, at this moment, about people following the GOP because it's a "winner". Bush's nose-diving polls and the public's desire that the GOP lose Congress in November are very real shifts. People are angry and upset, and they don't consider the GOP "winners" anymore -- certainly not while they're in the process of losing the war in Iraq, as even most Republicans now seem to think they are.

        What has yet to happen is for the left to move into the gap created by this discontent, to provide people with clear explanations for why things have gone so wrong, why and how the country is "on the wrong track" - to use this political moment to build a more leftist, "common-good"-oriented weltaanschaung. We have to seize the opportunity; it doesn't come along very often.

        "When I came to this town, my eyes were big blue stars. Now they're big green dollar signs." - Jean Arthur, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

        by brooksfoe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:34:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree - and the Dem's, or anyone else for (0+ / 0-)

          that matter, have failed to sieze the opportunity.

          And anyone that mixes in a little German is gotta be okay. Do you know the word that means "the rebuttal that I thought of as I was going down the stairs"?


    •  The left needs to embrace (0+ / 0-)
      it's fringes.  Utopians, Eco-anarchists, etc.  The collapse of the dems has come about largely from their willingness to dismiss the more creative and radical ideas of their own constituency.  Looking back to when the left was successful, they weren't running away from the Yippies and the Panthers, etc.  
      •  Eco-anarchists? (0+ / 0-)

        I think those people are republican plants out to destroy what little progress has been made in regards to animal cruelty and earth raping...

        It is a known military tactic to send violent people into a movement to shatter it from within... they're called moles and those movements are infested with moles.

        Call eco-ararchism for what it is:  terrorism.

        You can only defeat the forces of animal cruelty and earth rape by systematically exposing them for their evil, not by terrorizing the purveyors of the evil... when you remove shame the buyers of the products into an all-natural approach or into buying non-torture products, you win.  

        You terrorize, you stigmatize and make your cause lose.

        The yippies and the panthers were a small subset to the mainstream anti-war movement..

  •  An anecdote (10+ / 0-)

    In the 1930s, a Soviet diplomat attended a Vatican function and began to brag about five year plans. A Jesuit quietly commented that they didn't traffic in five year plans, they created five hundred year plans.

    The point of the diary is that the Right has been planning strategy and building infrastructure for 35 to 50 years, or longer.

    We carry a thought between Sunday and Thursday and we are darn proud of it.

    •  By that standard Democrats are winning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      By the standard of your argument Democratic ideals are winning on every front. We have more racial tolerance, religious diversity, and equality than we had 50 years ago. Civil Rights WERE the result of a long term planning you describe - involving careful litigation in dozens of cases. It was also a political disaster. Thank god for that disaster.

      This Overton Window cares not one bit about the rightousness of the policy. If Democrats think they will implement it more responsibly than Republicans because they have inherently better judgement just ask yourself what kind of steps Joe Lieberman or Hillary Clinton would put on this ladder.

      Be the change you seek - it's not that complicated. Leadership isn't plotting the course of our nation 20 years out. Leadership is setting an example today and drawing people to that example. This Overton Window is very dangerous. If you believe as I do that democracy is a dynamic force that responds to the people's expressions then believing in something like the Overton Window IS like believing in communism. We have a free society, not a planned society.

      The embrace of this kind of political model is so elitist and misguided it makes me want to spit fire. Citizens are not lobsters that need to be dropped live into the tepid waters of your policy only to be brought to a boil.

      Garbage like this model makes me want to be an independent.

      Democracy is a form of government; it is not a ticket to some heavenly kingdom where all evil is vanquished and everyone agrees with us. - Madeleine Albright

      by joejoejoe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:35:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  gay marriage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Canadian Reader
    oddly enough, is where "our side" seems to have actually pulled this off, but I don't think it was a deliberate plot.   Just sorta worked out that way.  

    And that movie "Brokeback Mtn" sure did a lot to help it along.

    But if you think about it, in the last 2-3 years, the whole notion of "gay marriage" has gone from elicting outrage or snickers and elbows-in-the-ribs to people saying "sure, why the hell not?" for the most part.

    Unfortunately I can't think of one more instance of where we've done this.  

    The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

    by theyrereal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:50:13 PM PDT

    •  Here are some examples (0+ / 0-)

      o Energy policy: CAFE standards, ethanol plants, wind power, solar energy

      o Election reform: less gifts, no trips, limit lobbyists, partial public financing, complete public financing.

      o Health care: cover the elderly, cover children, health care between jobs, private health care publicly financed for all, single payer.

      These are just off the top of my head that I have heard discussed by democratic politicians in the last few weeks. While I do believe Overton windows are important, I think it is describing a natural phenomenon in any political debate. Yes formalizing it and setting goals is fine, but the process occurs all the time. I also think all these fancy little parlor games to win elections are dancing around the margins. The public is waking up to the idea that the party of George Bush cannot govern. Historical events are drowning the republicans and no amount of think tank magic is going to save them from the wrath of the voters.

      Impossible is nothing

      by DrSpike on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:25:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  think long-term (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Historical events are drowning the republicans and no amount of think tank magic is going to save them from the wrath of the voters.

        Sure, maybe for the next two election cycles, probably so. But I think that the diarist's point is that the Republicans have been racheting the debate rightward in a very deliberate and methodical and well-funded fashion for three or more decades. They have changed the playing field, and that advantage, though it may not save them in 06 and 08, will be there afterward to keep moving America toward corporatocracy and theocracy. What they're doing to win elections and ideas works. It's not mere 'parlour games'. It's very effective marketing. We need to counter.

        The conservative movement will not wash away in the rain, and it's a mistake to think that they will.

        •  I wonder (0+ / 0-)

          My reading of the 1920s strikes an eerie parallel to today's political climate. The republicans were only thrown out for 4 decades. Also, the left wing noise machine is beginning and we are on the new media, not the dying one.

          Impossible is nothing

          by DrSpike on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:53:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Nationalize the Oil Companies!! (0+ / 0-)
        Now there's one we should REALLY be talking about!

        The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer -- Henry Kissinger

        by theyrereal on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:37:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very valuable stuff (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this diary. This has been very enlightening.

  •  This makes sense. (4+ / 0-)

    I've thought along these lines for years (although in no way was my thinking as sophisticated as this).
    In 1989 I became a vegetarian for health reasons but eventually the whole animal welfare thing became important. People understood the health aspect (to a point) but the animal welfare thing was too "out there" for most people - they just didn't care much about cows and pigs and chickens.
    But then PETA came along.
    I was (and still am, mostly) uncomfortable with their tactics - too extreme, I thought.
    But then I realized that I could more easily defend my position, or at least get people to understand my position, but playing off that PETA did.
    I would say - PETA goes too far sometimes but look at how awful testing on animals is.
    And people would say - yeah, PETA is out there but you seem sane and rational.

    Extremes need to be expressed to make the off center seem normal.

    Compassionate Conservatism is an oxymoron.

    by jazzeroo on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:52:35 PM PDT

  •  Brilliant. Highly recommended (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zeke L, Dvalkure

    I'm not positive you're right that know Dems no this. I know I myself have blubbered that Repubs continually "shift the middle to the right" which is a version of what you're saying. (And I'm clueless.)

    I'm also not sure that you can say that "playing to the base" is necessarily wrong - or that Repubs aren't doing that. They do play to the base. The key, as you exemplified with single-payer health care is that they never ever back down, and by continually bringing up proposals that the base wants, the proposal moves to the middle.

    What it comes down to is that Repubs have made a science out of playing politics with politics. Dems are just amateurs, hoping that simple rationality or themes of love and tolerance will win the day, and sadly humans are too easily manipulated. Wish that weren't so...

    What you do well here is bring it out in the open. This needs to be discussed much more among Dems. Great diary. One of the most important I've ever seen.

    Whackos get their info thru the Christian right. We'll bring them out to vote against something and make sure the public lets the whole thing slip past them.

    by chemsmith on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:53:04 PM PDT

  •  I've Commented on This Often Without Knowing (10+ / 0-)

    the exact term for it.

    I've recently called it here 'moving the 50 yard line under the goal post.' But really this phenomonon was widely discussed in past years. It's been obvious since the opening outrages of the first Reagan campaign.

    But while we need to understand how this has been Republican policy for 25-30 years, that doesn't mean that we can suddenly put it to the same effectiveness.

    First is that business of playing to their base in very well-crafted ways. This has two components.

    The first part of "well-crafted" means in secret.

    Messaging to large high-energy constituencies like the gun lobby and religious right has been going on in their circles out of public view. There's also the fact that major Republican donors have been helping fund and build the religious right.

    There is no liberal counterpart to these forces. Organized labor probably was a counterpart to the gun lobby years ago, but we have nothing like conservative religion, and in fact the most social-justice-driven religion is the #1 or #2 source for Reagan Democrats.

    The second part of "well-crafted" is a negative. They have crafted our silence well by buying up almost all the public square. They've done a marvellous job of driving down our access and visibility, and that's grown to include blocking even paying access for campaign and interest ads and for progressive programming. They censor us outright to the military.

    It's certainly important to recognize the Overton process we can certainly act to slow and hopefully stop the movement of windows. But whether we can use it to shift any of them in our directions or not isn't immediately obvious. We don't have any sympathetic media figures in large-audience broadcast media to amplify our talking points, we don't have the armada of message crafting thinktanks to create them, and we don't have a grassroots machine to mobilize on the sly that's within an order of magnitude the size of the religious right.

    But it wouldn't hurt to try.

    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 Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:53:24 PM PDT

    •  We have a huge advantage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The truth. Plain and simple. They can try to move the debate to the right, but it is becoming clear that their policy ideas do not work. This is beginning to be understood by the general public. People are becoming especially pissed at the fat cats getting richer while they struggle. I have a feeling this is sinking deep into peoples bones. They are not going to forget the coming storm. The republicans are also emerging as corrupt and not to be trusted. It may turn out to be a really bad thing to get rid of.

      My one worry is the fundamentalists. I don't know if anything will shake their faith in the GOP. Jesus and GOP are becoming intertwined to the point that if they reject the GOP they are rejecting God. These people may be permanently lost. I just hope they are a minority.

      Impossible is nothing

      by DrSpike on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:41:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We should be attacking (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        fundamentalism at every opportunity.  That isn't religion it's fanaticism.  We should be saying that.  We should be quoting all those lovely verses of Leviticus about stoning disobedient children and non-virgin brides.  The bible (include torah and koran) is a millstone around the neck of humanity.  We should be pointing this out and demanding of the Pat Robertsons Dobsons et al that they answer to it.  "Do you think disobedient children should be stoned to death?"
      •  The truth will not set you free (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        John Stuart Mill pointed out in On Liberty that the only advantage the truth has is that it's guaranteed to reemerge sometime later.  

        Perception is reality, so far as politics is concerned.  We have to campaign for the truth and make the truth campaign for us.

        Just because we can, that doesn't mean we should.

        by Simplify on Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:11:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We may have the truth, (0+ / 0-)

        But they have truthiness.

  •  Careful (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peeder, 4jkb4ia, Rick Oliver, bigchin

    You're becoming a timid mouse.

    "All knew that Armando was an Armory of Wisdom. But then, who are these with whom Armando crossed verbal swords?"

    by Armando on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:53:35 PM PDT

  •  homeschooling (0+ / 0-)

    is illegal?

    I did not know that...

    First they call you a traitor, then they pass the Patriot Act II, then they tap your phone, then you move to Canada. -- Mohandas Gandhi

    by roboton on Tue May 09, 2006 at 06:53:52 PM PDT

    •  I don't know where it is illegal (0+ / 0-)

      I've never heard of such a thing.   Is there a state where homeschoolng is illegal?

      I would be very surprised.  

      Can't make sense of this claim.

      •  You're not understanding the example (0+ / 0-)

        It's not that homeschooling is illegal anywhere, but that a situation where homeschooling was illegal would be that level of the spectrum.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:49:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right, I didn't get it... (0+ / 0-)

          But after rereading it, I still don't get it.

          Where's the spectrum?  There are nonexistent situations at both ends and in the middle.

          I really don't get it, on multiple levels.

  •  thought-provoking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I have always given money to Greenpeace and PETA for exactly that reason - they are among the more radical organizations in their field of interest, and the more exposure they can get, the more they 'move the middle'.  I never really considered how that must obviously work in the opposite direction: get enough organizations screaming that birth control should end, and you'll get more people who say, "Well, no, but maybe we can let abortion go."  

  •  Hillary Care (8+ / 0-)

    Thank you for mentioning the Democrats' sell out of Hillary's Health Care plan.

    I continue to believe today that the decision of the moderates to turn on that health care plan is the root of much of our problems today.  And I believe that story is completely unreported (and the lesson lost on most Democrats.  

    When the moderates turned on the health care plan, they accomplished the following:

    -- They solidified the branding of the Democrats as the party of big government (and, more importantly, that big government is bad).   We still are trying to shed that negative image.

    --They gave Republicans cover to look like they were fighting for people, instead of just big special interests, such that the naked partisanship and special interest pandering of Republicans was masked for years.

    -- They broke down party discipline to the point where they made it the norm for Democrats to believe that the best way to help themselves was to abandon fellow Democrats.  Again, we're still paying for this.

    -- As noted in the diary, they made Democrats afraid to actually address the health care problem, leaving us still without showing voters that we have a solution to one of their biggest problem.

    -- They sent a signal that the Democratic party is divded and doesn't stand for anything or stand together when the chips are down.

    -- They gave up advancing Democratic principals that had helped us be the majority party for decades, forcing to play defense in the battle of ideas even to this day.

    Moderates will say the problem was not their oppsition to the proposal, but the big government proposal itself.  However, if those same moderates bit the bullet and supported it, the worst thing that would have happened is that people would have thought Democrats were being unnecessarily partisan, but in the meantime all Republican complaints about the plan could have been similiarly dismissed as unprincipled partisanship.

  •  'Door in the face' (5+ / 0-)

    This is standard sales psychology.
    Offering things "considered impossibly radical", making them worthy of consideration just by talking about them--and then making the outside possibilities truly possible by comparison, is called 'Door in the face'.  It's where you first shock the buyer with an outrageous proposal, and then offer up your true position as what seems reasonable by comparison, though it would itself shock if offered initially.

    This is as opposed to "Foot in the door" technique, where you gradually ratchet things up to where you ultimately want them to end up.  This is an incremental "pushing" of the buyer towards your goal position.

  •  Great diary (0+ / 0-)

    and the key to understanding what's going on.

    What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? unknown

    by moon in the house of moe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:01:20 PM PDT

  •  this diary is so wrong (12+ / 0-)

    because it perpetuates the old time democratic consultant and liberal interest group religion that winning elections is about "the message." Yes message is a part of it. And true, putting out outrageous ideas and hammering away at them does eventually make people get used to them, under certain circumstances.

    The example used above concerns Concerned Women for America. But the idea of attacking birth control is not new, or new to CWA. That is silly. It has been systematically going on for a long time.

    The reason we are even paying attention to CWA is because it is a powerful organization -- so much so that it even got discussed in the NYT magazine. (Woo hoo. Some of us have been well aware of what CWA has been doing for years.) CWA got powerful enough to get noticed through a lot of hard work.

    The strength of the religious right, which is much of the electoral power that has changed American politics, and given the GOP congressional majorities, is that it works across the election cycle to build for power. Messages are incidental.

    The key to the successes of the right is not that they appealed to the middle. It is that they significantly expanded their base among white evangelicals, and created organizations 20 years ago that to this day organize across the election cycle to build for power; to talent scout leaders; to train activists; to plan for the next election. Few on the Democratic/progressive side view it this way, and are willing to do the hard work involved.

    Instead, they talk endlessly about "message" -- while the religious right invests heavily in what used to be a Democratic party strength: "organizing."

    •  message (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, tlh lib

      All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. --Lao-Tzu

      by Avila on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:49:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think it's an either/or. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, CarolynC967, Quicklund

      we need both.

      -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

      by sidnora on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:57:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Dead On (5+ / 0-)

      Their advantages are structural, not in terms of message.  They have structural advantages, so they sneak things past the public, they took over the Republican party and have forced out most moderates and completely cowed almost all the remaining one-time moderates, and do sophisticated research and well-coordinated work on the media to distort what they're really trying to do.  They've never convinced the public that they're right.  Hell, look at every damn presidential poll from the last few decades.  A huge percentage of Bush voters, when queried about various policy positions, would attribute to Bush positions that he opposed, and were in fact the positions of Democrats.  

      They have structural advantages, and are better at marketing and deception.  But the public has never really bought their positions.  If they had, Gingrich would still be speaker, or maybe be president.  

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:02:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What Dem Messages for 30 years? (0+ / 0-)

      the hodgepodge du jour, of the week?

      Dem messages have been ... press releases, then retire to complain about the crooked media ?

      There is message as the Dems have been incredibly unsuccessful at doing, and there is message that is successful.

      Downstream DHinmi says, and I am paraphrasing, how the public is on the side of Dem policies and yet they vote for the liars -

      to me, that is a great example of effective message.

      Dems have had the policies on their side for decades, and their hodgepodge approach to message insures that ... we keep losing.



      by seabos84 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:27:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think you're right, but it goes beyond that (0+ / 0-)

      The religious right is a solid 10 million strong voting block, that is a tremendous block when we look at 60-100 million voters in an election year, thats 10-20%

      Without the religious right, today's Republican party would not be winning elections. Its not about message, its about control! The people voting for Republicans ARE brainwashed, they ARE controlled, and they ARE subjegated by their religious leaders (and the Republican Party by extension).

      Of course, we all understand that this is just a part of the normal political cycle. Like puritanical NE, the Southern Fundamentalist movement will smolder and extinguish with time. We are already seeing their influence wain, its just a matter of time before either enough of their block evaporates (which would match the religious cycle) or enough of the general population comes to the polls (which would match the political cycle).

      The other institutions the Republicans have spent 30 years cultivating are utter failures. The reason they still get air time is solely because the Republicans are in power. Lets face it though, all of their trade think tanks, and policy think tanks are both regularly debunked, and not well regarded for their products, nor have their products turned into increased membership in the Conservative movement, or increased votes in the demographics targetted. Lets not kid ourselves.

      General and Supreme Commander of the 82nd Chairborne: I've killed people for less!

      by patsprouseyo on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:31:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well except for Fox News (0+ / 0-)

        but that is hardly a organization that has been cultivated for 30 years.

        Its more of a very wealthy man that has a point of view and a resource to promote it.

        General and Supreme Commander of the 82nd Chairborne: I've killed people for less!

        by patsprouseyo on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:34:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You have a point (0+ / 0-)

      but they haven't been winning elections simply with white evangelicals.  Even prior to 9/11 and the security threat hysteria.

      The reality is that the less motivated voter can vote Republican because their harsher ideas don't really seem so threatening anymore.

      Messaging isn't going to cut into the Republican base.  It's going to peel off the soft support that, in reality, is probably more closely aligned with Democratic positions.

      "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

      by jmaier on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:44:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wishful thinking (0+ / 0-)

        there was politics before 9/11 and there will be politics long after the security hysterial calms. The rigntwing has always used security hysteria to further its goals. Palmer Raids? Red scare? McCarthyism, anyone?  Sheesh.

        Power is acheived in the U.S. primarily through elections. Elections are won primarily though organzing and it has been so throughout history. The over emphasis on "message" in Democratic and progressive circles has led to an historic decline in actual organizing of any kind, let along electoral.  

        I am weary of all of the armchair PR generals.  Worse, I am weary of the PR generals. They have been playing a losers game for a generation.

  •  Reparations for Iraq, for example. (0+ / 0-)

    A classic example of something utterly morally justifiable that a principled base should be advocating - which, in the total absence of a peep of support from Democrats or anyone but Noam Chomsky, will remain Unthinkable.

    Nice diary.

  •  Fixation on base turnout is a road to ruin. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DHinMI, Avila, 4jkb4ia, sofia
    Those of you who went along for the ride as my "Electoral College Math Is For Losers" grew into the "50 State Strategy" -- buckle up for another sprint.

    Base turnout looks like a pwoerful strategy. This is an illusion.

    Superior base turnout wins elections. What's wrong with that?

    Which elections does superior base turnout win? The closest elections. The most competitive elections. The targeted elections. The nail-biters. The most visible elections.

    Winning the close ones is a career-builder and a paradigm-shifter. The people who win the close ones will brag about how they did it, and repeat it, and teach it ... and everyone will come around at night trying to steal it.

    No matter where you start in strategy-space, you'll be sucked into the gravitational basin of targeting and turnout strategies -- because that's how you win the close ones.

    And what's wrong with winning the close ones?

    There are always close ones. Whether you and your kind are expanding to fill the known universe, or going extinct, there are always close ones.

    But it's not the close ones that determine whether you and your kind are seizing territory, or ceding territory. Larger shifts and trends determine where the close ones are, and how many there are, and which side is ascendant.

    If you ignore the larger dynamics -- as you will if you prize base turnout too highly -- you do so at your peril.

    None Dare Call It Stupid!

    by RonK Seattle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:09:44 PM PDT

  •  Concerned Women for America Is Nothing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joejoejoe, Timbuk3

    but a Radical Dominionist Republican front group.  Jumpin Jeezus on a Stick! Who thinks these damn things up?????  These women are not going to vote Democrat unless the Democratic party sells out completely.

  •  We're more right than the triangulators. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, neroden

    Great post, btw. At least the people here recognize something bold needs to happen. Yes, the GOP is great at framing the issues and playing the debate on their home court. We need to fashion strong positive reasons for core Democrat values. Namely, why government is good and necessary and why this "I hate government" attitude (coupled with bogus tax cuts) is so bad for America. This gets at the heart of the Republican message.

    We need to completely tear apart (figuratively) the GOP apparatus daily from now until election 2006, and beyond. We need to say every chance its appropriate, why the GOP's belief in slashing government ultimately leads to bad government and why tax cuts are really a tax we'll have to pay off eventually with interest. Once we've done that, suddenly we can own them on national security, the economy, civil liberties, corruption, etc in a way that goes beyond benefitting just from their implosion. Because its all just reinforcement for our central message and plays the debate on our home turf.

    putting the riot back into patriot

    by Pop Zeus on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:11:23 PM PDT

  •  social judgement theory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it involves a continuum of positions, the one that the person holds is called the anchor.  positions nearby this are in the latitude of acceptance.  outside that area is the latitude of noncommitment. finally, outside that area is the latitude of rejection.

    the entire continuum looks like it = the Overton window from this diary.

    so you have to persuade the person over time by using arguments that are in their latitude of acceptance so that they will agree, to shift them to positions that are away from the anchor.

    this is from a book I have that is called persuasion, social influence, and compliance gaining, by Robert H Gass and John S. Seiter.

    I'll also mention Aristotle's three dimensions of credibility: expertise, integrity, goodwill.

    "It's OUR money".no it ain't. It's the Peoples Republic of China's money. You just borrowed it-and anybody want to bet they probably will want it back? -daulton

    by Eric Novinson on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:12:14 PM PDT

  •  since when has the center (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ever been inventive, visionary, fire-in-the-belly??? social change and any progressive movement with a purpose has always come from the fringe. the dnc is stagnant, ineffectual, and officially dead. they need to realize this and get over themselves because they are being left behind.


    by AltruisticSkeptic on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:12:34 PM PDT

  •  Lakoff (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, Raddark, sfgb, srkp23, Simplify

    I don't know if people realize this, but this was basically Lakoff's argument in Don't Think of An Elephant.  I audited his course on his more academic prequel to "Don't Think..." called "Moral Politics".  

    Despite people usually associating better slogans to Lakoff as his main thrust, that is far from it.  His whole thesis was predicated on moving the "center" or the idea of the center as he really didn't believe a center existed.  Rather aspects of liberal and conservative thought were simply activated in our collective consciousness.

    Another way of thinking of this Overton thingy is simply activating liberal ideas through rhetoric.  The Right has been doing this for years and thus the seeming shift to the right.

    Anyway, thought I'd chime in.  I have to give the kids a bath now.

    •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, srkp23, Timbuk3

      Lakoff was kind of a "15 minutes of fame" guy for a while there.  But he deserves much better than that. His ideas in Moral Politics are fundamental, brilliant.

      My son used to get that same bath and bedtime story.  Now he's starting grad school in the fall, hair aflame from the ideas of Lakoff and the urgency of our situation.

      Teach your children well (as I am sure you do... )

  •  18 years ago I went to an arts convention (23+ / 0-)

    And the keynote speaker (a democratic marketing guy, sorry I can't remember his name) was speaking of something quite similar.  

    But he had an additional point:

    The Republicans never attack those to the right of them, no matter what kind of hare-brained shit they say.  Then, after the right wing crazies scream themselves hoarse, the Republicans step in and suggest a 10% less crazy right-wing plan and suddenly they are seen as moderates because they are not as crazy as the REALLY crazy rightwingers.

    The speaker at the conference said this:  don't attack those on the left of you.  Not ever.  We need them.  Allow them to pull the area of discussion left, and then step in to claim what is the new moderate position.

    Americans like the middle.  Whoever decides where the middle is and positions themselves there wins.

    Which is why when Nancy Pelosi gets all pearl-clutchy when Feingold suggests censure, I want to pull my hair out.  Get the discussion as far left as censure, and then go for impeachment, and then war crimes trials, and suddenly you'll have people voting for practical, liberal Democrats because they're the new center.

    •  I that's why when I (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Raddark, Simplify, jfadden

      see Michael Moore and the DU demonized by some here I want to pull my hair out.

      Don't Panic - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

      by slatsg on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:40:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is how we've been killing ourselves (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Simplify, jfadden
      We need to feed the courageous, the creative, and the most passionate among us.  That's what they've been doing and it's worked for them.  Since the 70's mainstream dems have been crapping all over the truly committed left.
    •  Please write a diary about this (0+ / 0-)

      Please write a diary about this tomorrow, when it'll get more play. That's a fantastically important point that most Dems in power do not seem to get.

      A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

      by tmo on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:05:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But That's Where Infrastructure... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...and institutions matter.  The sheer volume of political chatter from the right that reaches the media dwarfs what comes from the left.  The right has more money, they fund institutions instead of terminal and discrete projects, and they're more disciplined in sticking to fewer, simpler messages.  The complexity issue is somewhat inherent in the difference between right and left, but the other differences are structural and are based on how the lefts prioritizes tasks and spends money.  

      None of this contradicts what you wrote, but it points to the difficulties in being as successful in opening up public dialogue by spreading the dialogue out further across the political spectrum.

      The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

      by Dana Houle on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:55:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (0+ / 0-)

        But infrastructure isn’t everything.

        If I do diary this, I’ll try to get my info together, bu here was part our speaker's narrative:

        In the early/mid 80’s, there were a lot of environmental groups going after fast food restaurants for various environmental abuses such as that styrofoam packaging the hamburgers came in.  And they were getting laughed out of the corporate offices.  Nothing.  So then some of the environmental groups started getting aggressive—the sit ins around the trees, making all sorts of wild claims and goals and BY VIRTUE OF THE FACT THEY WERE SO FAR OUT, they got press and media coverage.  But the less aggressive enviros didn’t mock them, they didn’t undercut them, they didn’t further the fast food restaurants' interests by trash talking their more aggressive brethren. They just waited.  

        The fast food restaurants suddenly were in the middle of a fight they hadn’t bargained for.  And so the fast food moguls called the less aggressive enviro groups and said, “Okay, we’ll talk to you.”

        And, if my memory serves, that’s why we don’t eat fast food out of styrofoam anymore.

        You can’t play good cop/bad cop if you lock the bad cop out and never let him PLAY bad cop.  If you do, when you walk in to play good cop, you aren’t in contrast to someone and so you’ve got nothing to work with.

        Aeschylus said “The edge is there to drive you toward the center.”  But that means you need an edge.

  •  Finally, someone gets it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, sfgb, theyrereal

    Thank you for this diary

    The repugs have consistantly been very organized in their message, which has helped them move the window in their direction.

    Even with less organization it is possible to generate memes that move the window back because they resonate with people in general.

    For example, if we keep on saying 'Intelligent Design is not science' over and over and over and over it will keep them from pulling the window any further in that direction, and move it from 'Acceptable' back to 'Unthinkable'.  This will work because ID has no basis in truth, which makes it harder for them to move the window in their direction.

    What was not fully discussed in the diary is that the more radical the extreme point is, the more effort is required to move the window in that direction.  This is the basis of Goebbels 'Big Lie' which took extremely radical ideas and blew them out of proportion repetitively to move the window in that direction at an accelerated rate.

    Live Free or Die-words to live by

    by ForFreedom on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:21:31 PM PDT

    •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tlh lib

      This is the basis of Goebbels 'Big Lie' which took extremely radical ideas and blew them out of proportion repetitively to move the window in that direction at an accelerated rate.

      this kind of radical agenda (I'd call it neofascism) depends on propaganda, rather than information.  the radical ideas start as lies to get support. the agenda will corrupt the media if the media was free to begin with, and set about redefining public institutions and government  actions to suit itself, an activity made famous by the George Orwell term, "Newspeak."  

      All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small. --Lao-Tzu

      by Avila on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:41:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  THANK YOU! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, sfgb, aimeeinkc

    You said what I've been struggling to put into words.

    This was precicely our job at the Helvey campaign.  Triangulation between Robinson and Foxx, whilst excluding any hope of Bowles election.  It looked so bleak for Dems here that Bowles had to run as an independnt to even have a shot.

    If I wasn't spending 14 hours a day working my arse off after leaving the ranks of the corporate kleptocracy, I'd probably try to offer insight too.

    Thank God we have you.

  •  For example... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Jaboo

    Excellent diary!

    The entirety of dKos is in a way an exercise of speaking the previously unspeakable, and thereby making it more acceptable.  Of course, it is only among ourselves; but still, I think it leaks out.  Thereisnospoon would probably suggest speaking in less exclusive forums.  That can be a next step.

    Here in the San Francisco area, we had Gavin Newsom (mayor of SF) declare that the city would legally marry gay couples.  Catastrophic error!  Sky to fall soon!  Well, the earth did not cease to spin on its axis.  From where I stand, it appears that some of the heat is taken out of the entire gay marriage issue.  Now it is reasonable for serious people to talk about civil unions for gays.  Does it seem that way in OH or OK?

  •  I disagree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joejoejoe, Southern Son

    Republicans win because they have better access to the corporate media that most Americans use to get their news and shape their opinions.   The media is pro Republican in that its corporate based and run to maximize profit.   So, this acts as a filter right off the bat.    Go look at all the guests lists for all the talk shows.   Look at the stories that are either not reported or spun for the Republicans, happening day after day, every hour.
    Is there even a newspaper in America that still has a labor reporter?

    Second, business controls the school boards of America and thus the hiring of teachers, imposing limits on what and their students can say and think.  This also has an opinion shaping function.   Millions of kids grow up corporate each year, developing habits of mind and behavior that lend themselves toward the Republican message.   And if that's not enough, they bury teachers and students in meaningless facts and statistics to memorize for gate controlling standardized dumb ass tests.   No labor message is allowed in public schools.

    So, even if we do what you want, they will still win unless you change the two factors I list here.

    "In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes." Chomsky

    by formernadervoter on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:27:33 PM PDT

    •  Even taking the right's dominance as a given... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of course I agree with you that the culture is excessively shaped by the influence of free-market fundamentalism. But asides from withdrawing from society to form hermetic communities a la R. Night Shyamalan's "The Village", your approach does not leave options for actual pragmatic action within the political system as it exists.

      What thereisnospoon is doing, quite admirably, is explaining a way to take your criticisms of our culture and turn it from fringe-thinking into orthodoxy.

      It's sometimes easy to forget that in the America of the mid-twentieth century, that long-lost land of the 90% top marginal income tax rate, it was generally presupposed that government, labor and business basically operated in tandem to support a center-left orthodoxy that emphatically excluded the conservatism of Goldwater and Buckley. For us to presuppose that progressivism can never win in this political system would be just as idiotic as a conservative in 1964 saying no one with his beliefs could ever be elected President.

  •  Outstanding! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been reading every "left wing" blog on the internet for years, arguing with conservatives at every opportunity, wondering why the Democrats keep losing year after year...

    ...and in this one post I see why the perception is "the Democrats don't have a spine/won't take a stand."

    This should be required reading for every progressive running for office this year, and in the future.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    Oh, and Armando? I now have Swords Crossed bookmarked.

    "Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right" - A sign held by a 10-year old boy on 9-24-05

    by Timbuk3 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:33:34 PM PDT

  •  Good Points (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Only by aggressively marketing & promoting the left of center viewpoint without apology or timidity -- will the political discourse that then defines the center be positively affected.

    But, in addition to this, a simplier way of expressing this is to say that the center will always vote ulitmately with the strongest & most convincing candidates.   If you game is to be so concerned about not offending anyone that you say nothing on issues -- then you will surely persuade no one!

    Until Democrats stand-up unapologetically for their liberal traditions (and the public interest along with it) whether or not they already have the votes or the favorable polling on any given issue -- then they will fail to ever be a presuasive political force of any kind and fail to move the debate over towards their viewpoint.

    The GOP understands this and has done so for years (no matter how radical their policies have been).  And the effect of this has been exactly that the political center has moved steadily over to the right and even to the extreme right (where Hilter-esque Pre-emptive Invasions & Torture are accepted as mainstream policy solutions).

    Global Warming & Energy Independence are great, great opportunities for the Democratic Party to lead and to push the center back to the left.

    Will they do it?

  •  I can see an arument for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blue Texan

    either side of this.  Take impeachment, for example.  It appears to be true that it went from unthinkable to radical merely because it was brought up as a topic of discussion.  

    But on the other hand, not only has impeachment talk given the opposing side a perfect rallying point -- "we can't allow the Dems to seize control of congress because all they want to do is impeach the president!" -- but I can imagine the gradual approach being just as effective if not more:  imagine if no one would have mentioned impeachment and instead just repeatedly insisted that the administration be investigated for possible crimes relating to misleading statements about Iraq, wiretapping, etc.  It would be easier to win support for such investigations than for impeachment and then, once we have the conclusions of the investigations, assuming we are right about about what the conclusions would be, we could more easily win support for impeachment.

    On a different topic, it won't be effective to just blurt out some radical position using any language and manner you please.  The genius of the Right's messaging is that it brings up a radical idea with carefully chosen language and arguments that give the idea an air of reasonableness -- at least to people who don't know any better.  Destroying one of the most successful and socially beneficial government programs ever (Social Security) was radical, but they made it sound reasonable to many people by using carefully chosen words ("bankrupt," "ownership society," etc.) and arguments ("you'll get a greater return on your investment") -- bogus though they were.  

    Obviously we wouldn't want to use similarly bogus language and arguments, but we would still need to couch any radical idea in careful and consistent language and arguments.

  •  Very Perspective (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, sfgb, high uintas

    I found this post very perspective. The Right Wing pushes the center to the right by taking even more right wing positions. I've argued for a long time in other blogs that undecided people when they hear a debate believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Thus, when the right wing pushes further right and the left goes centrist, the undecideds will believe that a moderate to right wing view is the truth. Thus, the country moves to the right.

  •  It's difficult for Dems to utilize this framework (0+ / 0-)

    I think it goes back to the problem of sound bite based-politics vs real, substantive debate on the issues that matter to people. The Republicans are able to define the terms of debate so well because they are masters at making appeals to the Reptilian brain that lies within us all. They're able to make a more efficent use of the time spent on getting their message out to their base and to swing voters because of this. So dollar for dollar, their PR funds go farther than ours do.

    •  agree and disagree (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, Kascade Kat, Simplify, neroden, Unduna, bigchin

      It's true that the Reptilian Party is good at activating that part of our brain. And it's also true that the dialect of responsible, realistic policy (the language of Kerry and his tribe) is b-o-r-i-n-g.

      But I believe that the Democratic message can be couched in simple, powerful language that speaks to something (almost) as deep inside us as the reptilian reflex: our primal desire for community and justice. This is what Lakoff (not him again!) is on about: effective framing activates those ideas and helps make those effective soundbites easier.

  •  Yes. And that's why many of us go nuts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, draftchrisheinz, seabos84

    when we see things like this: Dems May Block Impeachment Resolution

    because instinctively we know they should be calling for the impeachment and then crucifixion of every single corrupt Republican -  the inconcievable -  and then scale it back, having introduced the idea into public awareness.

    But instead the basic Democratic 'take' is dumb. There may be wins in November by default. But those are crumbs from the table compared to what we could get if we used this model for our think tanks, blog tanks, whatever.

    What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? unknown

    by moon in the house of moe on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:45:21 PM PDT

  •  Great post! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Southern Son

    A truly great one

    However, I think you're a little excessive in taking the position that none of this is going on equally from the progressive side

    Many visionary policies have been produced on the left and never implemented, but they have become a standard part of the discourse and this has taken place consistently over the last 40 years

    I'd almost say the problem is not that this hasn't been happening, but that what changed is a strong right wing reactionary movement came up to full strength over about the last 15 years, which is at least capable of being a strong opponent to the relentless, but often background, progressive tide in American pop culture and policy.

    You can see that tide if you look at attitudes of new generations of Americans born over these decades.

    It's only now that you seem some amount of pop-ifying Republicanism, so that it can be cool in many places to be quite young and reactionary.

    I personally think that will turn out to be a passing phenomena if we do at all a reasonable job in the next leadership phase we may have coming; if progressive leaders can speak in the language of earthy Americans, if we promote leaders cut from that cloth.

    What's great about your post though, is, since we are facing this intense and well-organized opposition, we need to get much more organized and overt about guiding this long-term progressive tide, and not just assume it will all happen, or happen free from terrible and pointless pain (as we've been seeing) if we don't lead.

  •  find me a foundation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Southern Son

    ah, the corporate cash problem.  getting the very think tanks and idea factories that are instrumental to this process daunts even the most optimistic side of me.  up the thread a bit, someone mentioned this problem, and the problem is going to persist, because monied interests most often have a conservative bent.  it's largely only those who have a long-term view or an altruistic nature that would even consider funding this kind of a project. soros can't handle it good luck finding the funding.  i honestly think we've got to do this one ourselves.  cue kevin drum, we need more online wonks.

    "Language is the liquid that we're all dissolved in. Great for solving problems after it creates them." --Isaac Brock

    by Beyondo98 on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:52:25 PM PDT

  •  Nearly perfect (6+ / 0-)

    This is nearly perfect.  At the very least it gets me closer to saying what I want to say on this topic.  Absolutely awesome!

    Over and over again, we see Democrats say little or equivocate because they feel like there will be rebuke.  I said in an earlier comment today and have said so on multiple occasions that Democrats need more than a spine, they need a thicker skin.

    Take the heat, my leaders.  Feingold took his heat over censure.  GOOD JOB!  Murtha took his heat over redeploying troops from Iraq.  GOOD JOB!

    Do your jobs, Democrats!  Speak, every day, the things we believe:

    • Universal health care
    • Reduce DoD spending
    • Eliminate tax cuts for the rich

    SAY IT!!

    We're all just monkeys burning in hell.

    by smokeymonkey on Tue May 09, 2006 at 07:54:05 PM PDT

  •  Great diary. (0+ / 0-)

    You left me thinking at the end of the day, thanks.

    -8.25,-8.36 The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

    by sidnora on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:01:21 PM PDT

  •  we were good at it - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but before shifting frames replaced simple action. There'd be no Great Society, no New Deal in this political era. It's simply no longer possible, which is probably my hypothesis - the things Democrats intend cannot be achieved in half measures. You can gradually erode civil liberties and social institutions, taking them away bit by bit - but it's pretty difficult to envision a partial national health care system or a partial ERA, etc.

    Still, probably one of the most important diaries to date.

  •  You lost me (0+ / 0-)

    The Overton window, as you've explained it here, seems to pertain to the advocacy and passage of policy.  However, you meld and (sorry) confuse it with campaigning and the winning of elections, which I'd argue are two vastly different things.

    If you look at the Republican agenda over the last 4-6 years, what can you point to, apart from a bankruptcy bill that snuck in under our noses and tax cuts (which are always popular and easy to pass), that constituted a coordinated and successful execution of policy?  I take issue with the assumption that we as Democrats have anything to learn from the way the Republicans have pursued their policy goals over the last six years.  They are a disaster.  An unmitigated disaster.

    Maybe I'm missing something here.  I do appreciate a fresh infusion of just seems muddled to me.

    Some things are not for sale. Send the Republicans home in 2006.

    by The Termite on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:04:26 PM PDT

    •  GOP policy goals have been disastrous (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite, wintergreen

      because they're incompetent.

      Fact is, though, that you have only to look at U.S. policy today versus 40 years ago to see how thorough their victory has been--on taxes, on social policy, on everything.

      They may be down now due to incompetence, but they have major structural advantages--and they're still shifting the windows their direction.

      Remember that Bill Clinton was an essentially empty victory; we had a good Dem president, but the windows of rhetoric still shifted to the right, and we lost Congress.

      Bush may go.  The GOP Congress may go.  But without our own window shifting, we'll lose the presidency and the congress as fast as we gained them, and the windows will have shifted right the entire time.

      •  Take heart (0+ / 0-)

        GOP is incompetent, but there's more: they are clueless when it matters.  Brilliant on tactics, out to lunch on substance.

        Believe your own diary: can't exspect the leaders to just drop our message on the public.  Up to us to create the ruckus that leads to the think tanks, that lead to plausibility in the eyes of the press, that leads to acceptance by voters.

        We are right.  Now let's do it.

    •  It's the way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Termite

      that the right has driven the country to any idea that was inconcievable just a few years ago. It's their method of making the water so muddy that the average joe can think that being spied on might not be a bad idea, or that birth control is a bad idea. Two gay people getting married is somehow a danger to your marriage. How can millions actually roll that around in their minds and think it's reasonable?

      I've wondered about this for awhile now. We, as a nation were much more liberal 30 years ago. This is a great diary. Thank you.

  •  Lets keep it simple (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Newton Snookers, jfadden, neroden

    When the Dems were in power for 40 years they kited some checks, took some kickbacks but generally speaking the American dream lived.

    In the 20 years that Republicans have been winning with strategy of turning  radical ideas into policy has only served to bring the country to the verge of bankruptcy while setting us back to pre-WW11 days where most countries in the world lead us in everything. Kinda like Hoover.

    I don't think the Democrats have to massage a message into the consciousness of the American people. The American people know they've been had and when that happens they've had enough. They will be as hypersensitive as any customer is in a used car lot to even a hint of what the R's have done. I don't think the Dems need to look to them for a model of how to win.

    The only message they need to convey is, this is changed group that is ready to get it's hands dirty to clean up this mess the GOP has created so America has a future.

    There is no future if the country goes bankrupt.

    Diebold, the hand of God
    Oversize Rants Available Overnight at
    The Image Factory

    by Dburn on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:05:11 PM PDT

    •  I'm with you... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...on this.
      We do tend to overthink things -- and I'm not saying it's being done here, just so I'm clear. I do think, however, that, while you're actually IN the moment, and absent any historical perspective or context, the Overton Window ("framed" by George Lakoff? See? It's all about VISION) would be a wonderful thing to look through at any point in our country's past and it could "explain" a lot.
      While it's important we know what the other side is doing and how they're doing it, we still, on our own side, need to explain why our fellow Americans should vote for our candidates.
      And maybe -- just maybe -- the other side might NOT be geniuses; they might NOT be giants -- and/or we have great candidates but simply lousy political tacticians.

      "...I need a little quiet time to think; I need some rest from irony..." -- Emily Curtis

      by Newton Snookers on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:35:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is 100% correct (0+ / 0-)

        Want a message Call the Dems the Clean-up crew.
        We clean GOP messes.
        Once cleaned we can go a bit deeper. Ameicans know we are in a mess. They know who 's in charge. They just need to be reassured the Dems can clean it up. But if it gets worse between now and November even OBL won't help the GOP this time.  The attitude will be real simple. Gte these assholes out of here. My dog could do a better job.

        If the Tactician's simply post a the locals voting record on policies that got us in this mess. The voters will do the rest.

        Incumbent voted Yes for Death for America's best
        Incumebt Voted Yes to Killing New Orleans and it's People- Maybe your city is next.
        Incumbent Voted Yes to Outsourcing
        Incumbent vote Yes to bankrupting America
        Incumbent Voted Yes to covering it all up.
        Incumbent voted Yes to Stomp on the Constitution
        Incumbent Voted Yes To Graft and Payoffs
        Incumbent Voted yes to multiple pay raises for himself
        Incumbent voted Yes to Insure you have No Health Care
        Incumebent voted Yes to Higehr Gas Pirces
        Incumbent Voted yes to Higher utility Prices.

        Time to Clean this mess up. Get rid of this person on November 2nd 2006.


        Diebold, the hand of God
        Oversize Rants Available Overnight at
        The Image Factory

        by Dburn on Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:32:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's like Bush says (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poe, thereisnospoon, Southern Son

    You gotta say things over and over, to catapult the propaganda.

    Great diary.

    (-7.25, -5.85) "Talk amongst yourselves. The Christian Right: neither Christian nor right. Discuss." --Linda Richman

    by Slartibartfast on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:05:38 PM PDT

  •  Absolutely correct. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've watched it happen over the past few years and been quite astounded at what people take as "normal" now,  In fact, I've always made it a point of telling others that the "Center" of of politics today is what the "Far Right" of politics was not too many years ago,

    Conditioning is the ultimate betrayer.

  •  Overton Window (4+ / 0-)

    is basically the result of a continuous binary search. The two extremes of political viewpoint are used to shift the political center. This is why an extreme message is so important in the political calculus. Universal health care is an extreme message whether we want to admit it or not.

    The vast majority of people will tend to find a less extreme point of view somewhere in the middle. It is always human nature to seek a middle point when you consider their emotions, desires, sufferings, etc.

    No one goes around thinking constantly about banning abortion or ensuring a living wage for all workers. We think about other things too. The job of a political movement should be to move voters to think about things which tend in the movement's political direction and not to wholesale buy into the extreme points.

    So we find ourselves on the short end because Progressive/Democratic movement has done a piss poor job of countering the extreme while also talking gently about things that really appeal to the majority of people, voters or not.

    Let's start talking about universal health care paid for by Oil Companies. Then we might start getting somewhere ;-)

    •  Let's try government-run health care (0+ / 0-)

      For the "extreme" message, let's make it
      government-run health care: every doctor in the country employed by the government, like in the VA Hospital system.

      Then the reasonable triangulators can say "Well, I don't support government-run health care, I just support universal health care, where everyone gets the same  health insurance plan as the US Congress."

    •  universal health care is not an extreme (0+ / 0-)

      measure. I would think 80 percent of the Western industrialized world has it and the fact that you think it's an extreme measure just shows that you are a mind manipulated victim of a successful right-wing Overton Window propaganda operation. Gheez.

      •  Read a little more carefully (0+ / 0-)

        Universal health care is not the same as government-run health care. In universal "single payer," the government pays the bills to private providers. In a VA-type system, the docs actually work for government paychecks. That, at least in the current climate, is a bit radical.

        News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

        by RobLewis on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:05:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Slander (6+ / 0-)

    You didn't mention that they also actively push ideas out of the windows of consideration into the area of radical/unthinkable.  Rush has made a career out of demonizing policies and movement into the unthinkable.

    If we abandon our allies and their issues, who will defend us and ours?

    by Bryce in Seattle on Tue May 09, 2006 at 08:26:25 PM PDT

  •  Excellent stuff (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've argued for years that the purpose of radicalism is to make almost-radicalism appear more acceptable.

    For example, back at the beginning of the 2004 primary campaign, some dismissed Howard Dean's chances because he signed a civil unions bill into law. The assumption was that that being associated with the homosexual issue that closely would be a fatal liability.

    A year later, gay marriage became big news when it was declared effectively legal in Massachusettes. Suddenly, Dean's position seemed like a reasonable alternative (even Bush made noises about it being okay by him!) and John Kerry, Senator from Massachusettes, was the one being put in the awkward position of having to deal with homosexuality.

    Demcoratic big wigs make a serious mistake when they say that radicals within their ranks makes Democrats look bad. Wrong! Radicals make the more moderate, left-of-center positions of the majority of Democrats look reasonable. When those big wigs advocate expelling the radicals from the party they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    Let me put it another way. Triangulation only works when you have an extreme position that you can triangulate off of. But triangulation, when taken to far, can drive those extreme positions out of the party, thus eliminating one of the crutches of that strategy. The triangulator has to start picking less radical, center-left positions to contrast themselves with. This drives the dialog even further to the right and makes positions that were considered perfectly reasonable two decades ago now seem like the ideas of kooks.

    Democrats should adopt an approach to dealing with radicals that will be familiar to many Christions: love the sinner but not the sin.

    On a related note, this reminds me of something I've been telling people for the last few years. Many political analysts and consultants make a fundamental mistake when they assess the position of the "Undecideds". Their mistake is in thinking that the "Undecideds" are only waiting for someone to tell them what they want to hear before they make their choice.

    Those who make this mistake then go about polling the "Undecideds", trying to find the key to their hearts, visions of political gold running their their minds. What they get is muddled messaging and shattered dreams.

    Here's the problem: the "Undecideds" aren't undecided because they haven't found someone who says what they want. They are undecided because they don't know what they want.

    How do you win over the "Undecideds"? By convincing them that what you have to say is what they want. How do you do that? By presenting your ideas as something worth considering.

    And one way you do that is to change the political dialog so that your "radical" ideas become the middle.

  •  COMPETING WINDOWS?? (0+ / 0-)

    how does one deal with competing windows....on the same subject

    for instance

    we have a strategy to make 'impeachment and oversite" acceptable by talking them into the national debate....

    the republicans try and counter our strategy ALSO by talking them into the national debate but as negatives, not postives...

    the gop has done this to the democrats many times....stolen the postives away from democrats by talking louder and turning our postives into negatives...

    how does one counter this without giving the offensive away?

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:00:05 PM PDT

  •  They couldn't do any of this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...if we had a free press. There poisonous ideas would never make it in the threshhold of consciousness.

    "I am my brother's keeper. I am a Democrat." -- That's your slogan, Democrats.

    by Bensdad on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:01:34 PM PDT

  •  Feingold's Censure Resolution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, UniC

    This is a perfect example of this strategy. If Democrats were smart they wouldn't criticized Feingold for introducing the measure. Instead they would say something like this:

    "While I'm not ready to sign on to that extreme a solution, Senator Feingold's proposal has a sound foundation. This administration has radicalized so much of American policy that a strong dose of oversight is needed to correct for it. Unfortunately, this will never happen so long as Republican rubber stamps continue to control the Congress. If Democrats win in November you can be sure we will restore a sense of balance to our government so that we won't ever have to go to the extremes of censure and impeachment."

  •  Interesting Diary, but how the Overton Window (0+ / 0-)

    any different than attempts to control other cycles?

    Not only am I not convinced that the Overton Window provides any long term successes, but I think its nothing more than the usual attempt of people to engineer a way to harness the typical cycle.

    Bank of America, JP Morgan, etc. all hire systems engineers by the hundreds every year to develop systems in which they can game the stock market and market cycle. Businessess hire consultants and big software firms to help predict the business cycle ahead of the impacts. And think tanks and concepts like the Overton Window are just the systems Republicans have been using to try to control the political cycle. The one thing they all have in common, is that despite short term successes that seem to prove the success of the system, they ALL fail in the long term.

    Attitudes shift all the time, and ideas help to shift them. Yes if you talk about an idea long enough it permeates everyday discourse. But if its a bad idea, no matter how much you talk about it, no matter how long its been on the books, it will be discarded, and the cycle will continue on.

    General and Supreme Commander of the 82nd Chairborne: I've killed people for less!

    by patsprouseyo on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:17:33 PM PDT

  •  I've known this for a while (0+ / 0-)

    This is one of the things driving me to despair over the state of American politics.  Because to cause massive shifts of that order requires lots of money.  Now, Republicans and Democrats raise at least within an order of magnitude of the same amount of money when they run, but, for example, how much money does the health care industry have to shift public opinion, in comparison to the single-payer lobby?  How much can the people who are interested in privatizing Social Security afford to spend, over the next (say) 40 years, in comparison to the people who like it fine the way it is?  (And even if it were a similar amount, how would we persuade them to spend that money until it was too late?)

    To put it another way, as long as we concentrate on just getting our guys elected, the country is going to continue to move to the right, or, at best, move touch to the left and then start swinging back, even harder than before.  But we don't have the money to concentrate on anything else.

    What's the answer?  Damn good question.  Insanity seems like an attractive option sometimes, though.


  •  Gay rights groups get this. (0+ / 0-)

    That's why there's so much focus on being "out" - making gayness seem normal and acceptable. Just a few decades ago the question wasn't wether we should give gays the right to marry - the question was whether they were mentally ill. And although a few people still believe it is pathological, the vast majority do not.

    conscientious objector in the battle of the sexes.

    by plymouth on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:34:57 PM PDT

  •  my response (0+ / 0-)

    got so long I posted it in a separate diary.

    but I do want to say briefly here that my attitude toward Concerned Women for America, based on the fact that their positions are not popular right now, is not the totality of my political strategy, just an expression of my feelings about CWA and the Sunday New York Times article about people trying to outlaw birth control.

    Republicans are trying to turn back the clock on a lot of things and birth control is one of the places where I don't believe they will succeed.  That's all.

    There are a lot of other places Rs are trying to push the envelope where I am a lot more worried about their potential success.  I won't help the trolls tonight by outlining exactly which issues I am worried about, but birth control isn't one of them.

    I expand on my agreement with thereisnospoon and the Overton Window strategy in my response diary: Overton Windows are already working for Democrats.

    luv ya, spoon.  I recommended this diary.  I think it's excellent.

    and I only found out I was in diary rescue from reading your diary, so thanks for that too.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 09, 2006 at 09:58:34 PM PDT

  •  we're talking marketing here, sales pays the rent (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, rabel, Newton Snookers, jay23, Magnifico

    You can talk about Overton windows and stalking horses, etc.  That's marketing.  Here's the difference between marketing and sales: Marketing creates the atmospherics. Sales closes the deal.

    Marketing is important. But you have to close the deal. That's sales. Democrats in general, and liberals in particular are lousy closers.  

    People in the market to buy, buy from you because:

    1. they trust you
    1. they accept the value proposition
    1. you know what you are talking about

    That's it.  Any time a sale goes bad, one of those elements is weak.

    Making a successful pitch requires:

    1. clarity
    1. consistency
    1. credibility
    1. connection
    1. conviction

    That's it.  Test it yourself. Take that list and watch any TV ad. A good ad will enable you to check off the elements as they roll by. Sometimes the elements are quick or subtle (e.g., humor as connection). Ads you don't like will miss one or more of the elements.  The "connection" element is great because it can often be the difference between an ad you love and one your spouse hates.

    Those are the core elements. Everything else is marketing :)

    Now play back any policy debate and the ones that failed, lacked one or more of the elements.

    Mything the Point ©:
    "Examining unexamined beliefs America accepts on faith value"

    by 8ackgr0und N015e on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:04:17 PM PDT

    •  AMEN! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      8ackgr0und N015e

      Us (former) salesfolk can see that clear as day. (It's kinda like how Amway "sounds" attractive...until you realize that SOMEbody's gotta sell some product SOMEwhere to SOMEbody else...Marketing's important, but SOMEbody's gotta sell the damn widgets.)
      I'm pretty indifferent politically about him, but John Edwards has this sales thing down friggin' COLD, which, IMO, makes him someone to watch closely. He CONNECTS with people, much like Big Dog did/does. His experience level might not mean much if he keeps connecting...

      "...I need a little quiet time to think; I need some rest from irony..." -- Emily Curtis

      by Newton Snookers on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:43:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  liberal psych professors teach this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, TrueBlueMajority, kkjohnson

    They like to call it anchor and adjust, who can say where it started but this kinda stuff is well researched in social psychology. Seems quite possible to apply it to political action.

  •  is anyone else vaguely insulted (0+ / 0-)

    by the idea that Josh Trevino thinks he can freely share pages from the right wing think tank playbook?  Is this like a quarterback telling the opposing team "I'm going to tell you exactly how we run this play but you still won't be able to beat us?"

    just wondering...

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:15:17 PM PDT

    •  meh... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, Shockwave

      Josh is pretty moderate, as the elephants go.  He left (even though he founded it!) in disgust when it became too much like FreeRepublic.

      He's good friends with Armando--that's why they did Swords Crossed together.

      Besides, this isn't the right-wing playbook so much as a more general political playbook; they just use it better and more often that we do.

      •  yeah, I know Josh is pretty reasonable (0+ / 0-)

        I was over at Crossed Swords before the official launch and learned a little bit of his personal history with respect to RedState.  I think it's great that he and Armando are pairing up in this way.  The more honest conversation we all have with each other, the better.

        He may be sharing pages from the general political playbook, but the right wing has practically been writing that playbook for the last 40 years, and using it more intentionally than we have.

        Dems used it well in the past.  other people have already pointed out the interracial and gay marriage angles, women working outside the home, children not working outside the home, wives not being considered their husband's property... we've done it successfully in past generations, but have dropped the ball badly since the Contract on America, or since the Selling of the President, depending on when you start counting.

        I just find it bizarre that, when presented with the key to their winning tactics in black and white, Dems still refuse to follow the blueprint.  Even when they point to it and say, "see, this is how we're beating you!"

        "The enemy will tell you how to defeat him!"  Rs keep telling us exactly what to do and exactly what works!  When will we swallow our foolish pride about not using their "evil" tactics and just start doing what works!  I've said repeatedly in other diaries and in my response diary to this one that these tactics can be used in the service of good.  That should be our top priority right now, and that's why your diary, spoon, has been so well received and so highly recommended.

        How do we intentionally use R tactics to promote Blue goals and values?  We should put our best minds on this and spend the whole summer studying what works and sharing it with Dem candidates, officeholders, decisionmakers and pundits everywhere.

        I think that's the best possible use of the incredible talent pool here in the dKos community.  That's why I'm here and why I think you're here too.  An occasional area of disagreement could never override that huge area of common ground.

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 10, 2006 at 06:29:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  this is a great diary- thank you n/t (0+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jmaier, Bryce in Seattle

    This is DailyKos at it's best: Idea generator/think tank.

    The other important role of DailyKos, and the b-sphere in general, - creating the news. We've gotten large enough that we are starting to change the dialogue in the MSM.

    Let's keep it up, and keep focused!

  •  framing the 'Contract on America' (0+ / 0-)

    Certainly, the GOP has shown itself to be neither principled, or consistent.

    Memorable, yes.

    "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall". "Thousand points of light".
    "Axis of evil". "9/11, 9/11, 9/11".

    Meanwhile, the Democrats have Mike Dukakis in a tank, Willy Horton, and a stained blue dress.

    Yup, the GOP has got that down.


    Meanwhile, issues like healthcare doesn't fit on a bumpersticker.

    With healthcare, the Democrats best first step would be to repeat "Primum non nocere" .. "First, do no harm". And this leads to the problem I have with this whole meme.

    During the Clinton administration, Bill and Hillary both said, I can remember it clearly, that making healthcare work would be an experiment, that things would have to be adjusted along the way.

    It's scary to think that we refuse to understand that no one will have the 'silver bullet', that a perfect solution isn't going to happen ovenight. It's scary to think that issues like the environment, energy, healthcare, foreign policy can be turned into soundbites and incrementalism.

    This is real politik.
    What you have presented is the 'reality on the ground' of today's political scene. I have no slick rejoinder to what has been presented.

    And it makes me dismayed and sick at heart for the future of our nation, humanity, and our planet.  

    "Rovus Vulgaris Americanus" nasty, freshly-demoted, soon-to-be-indicted co-conspirator -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:41:17 PM PDT

    •  we successfully reframed the Contract (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, shpilk, bwintx, makeitstop

      almost everyone calls it the Contract On America.  A lot of people think that was the actual name of it.  Even Republicans have to think carefully to make sure they don't say it.  I've heard Republicans say it and have to correct themselves in embarrassment.  That was a very successful reframe and we did it with repetition over an entire decade.  Good work.

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:01:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So I get the method of viewing the issue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are two things I'm not entirely sure of

    1. How exactly is the planned turned to action, specifically with regard to think-tanks. What role do they serve.
    1. I have a fairly clear idea what the far right utopia looks like. That clarity enables the Right to recognize their goal and decide on steps to bring the public in the direction of that goal. However, I don't think we on this site, much less the progressive movement in general, really knows what our ideal world looks like. I don't know what the Progressive movement is really headed for. Sometimes it seems different from traditional liberalism (the former seems to have a left-libertarian bent) but the two are conflated so much I don't think most of us can really articulate that difference. Maybe its just a word we use because someone decided "liberal" was derogatory. In any case we need to find an identity as a movement before this Overton window will really do much.

    It took them 30 years- don't give up hope after 3

    by js noble on Tue May 09, 2006 at 10:50:34 PM PDT

  •  Pheww... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joejoejoe, TrueBlueMajority

    I think Joshua Trevino's Overton Window processing steps ("unthinkable" to "radical" to "acceptable" to "sensible" (yeah, really) to "popular" to "policy") describe nothing less than pure and simple tools used in mass mind manipulation and psychological warfare. Sounds like a recipe out of Goebbel's cookbook to me.

    For Democrats it can't work, because Democratic values, liberal and progressive goals, SHOULD NEVER be operated on from a baseline that accepts them as being "Unthinkable" or "Radical".

    THEIR Right-Wing shit IS unthinkable to begin with and IS radical. They HAVE to use massive propaganda tactics systematically to manipulate the masses.

    WE DON'T, because our values are everything BUT unthinkable and radical. They are bread and butter civil rights and fairness and common good kind of thingies as old and normal as mankind.

    It's a trap. Joshua Trevino is a smarty policy whiz kid and his advise a trick. If you try to use the same tactics, you are beholden to their manipulation efforts by the need to counter them on their terms and with their tools. I don't want to be a slave of Overton Windows, thank you.

    •  Everytime I read (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, rabel

      diaries like Spoon's I get a sinking feeling that what it takes to be politically on top in present day America isn't worth the effort, especially when it comes down to a calculated and cynical approach to gaining power. And isn't that exactly what this approach is? If I have to choose to stop believing in the rightness (morally and ethically) of my political beliefs, then is it worth gaining that power? In the end what matters most is personal integrity and honesty. It makes me believe there's a tainting effect in all politics that can't be avoided.

      Spoon may, after all, be right, but it's the cost to our integrity as progressives I worry about.

      What I really like about the President is his wonderfully uncluttered mind. - Tony Blair

      by agincour on Wed May 10, 2006 at 02:56:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  no one is asking you (0+ / 0-)

        to stop believing in the moral and ethical rightness of your beliefs.

        there is a way to use the most effective tools of political communication while maintaining personal  integrity and honesty.

        at least we know we are not trying to persuade people to behave contrary to their own best interests.  isn't it worth it to try to use these persuasion techniques to give people the Blue truth?

        Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

        by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:07:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  unfortunately they are unthinkable and radical (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unfortunately we have to face facts that some of our best ideas are unthinkable and radical right now because we don't control the playing field.  but I agree with the basic premise of this diary that we need to keep talking about these ideas in order to bring them back to the mainstream.

      I agree that Republicans can't win with their radical agenda without lying and misleading people.  And I don't want to be a slave to Overton Windows either.  But I believe there is no harm is using R persuasion techniques in service of our positive ideas.  As I've said before, the techniques themselves are only evil when used in the service of evil.  Why can't we learn how to use them in the service of maintaining the common good?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

      by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:03:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oh, I understand the desire to find a (0+ / 0-)

        systematic approach to share the playing field on even footage. I also have nothing against what you call persuasion techniques, but I wouldn't use those techniques in the service of our positive ideas.  

        Rather I would use those techniques in reverse order to debunk what is considered "reasonable" policy these days by the Right-Wing. Use these persuasion tactics to debunk their "popular policies" in the same reverse order, just to deprogram the manipulated mindes back.

        They need to recognize how they were manipulated, so that they can recognize that the original status of these popular policies are actually very "radical".  In the same manner they were used to manipulate the minds from the Right-Wing "unthinkable" through the stages to "popular policies", you persuade them back. That's deprogramming, I think. But it involves only the opponent's ideas.

        It doesn't necessarily work, because people who are manipulated recognize too easily, when they are intentionally deprogrammed and resent it, telling you that you are just trying to impose YOUR propaganda techniques on them.

        If people are mind manipulated the only thing that  has worked to get them "back and down to earth and truth" are usually highly personal and traumatic emotional experiences (like a personal war experience, for example). It's very sad, that usually it has to come to this, but it has been shown in history, I think.

        Why not just talk the truth about your own liberal, progressive, social and democratic ideas and use the "Overton Window propaganda techniques" only in reverse order for debunking your opponent's ideas back to their "unthinkable and radical" origin.

  •  Stoopid Democrats (0+ / 0-)

    That giant sucking sound? It's a toothache and a raw nerve in "Conservative" America.

    Where are my Vice Grips?  Where's that damn mass produced Ak-47 that I purchased when the unmitigated do-gooders in California thought their karma was all pretty and good and pink unicorn with fluffy pillows with ruffles and decided that the second ammendment of the Constitution was so much dead tree toilet paper

    I'm angry, tired , white, male, and can't afford a visit to a dentist.

    My and my bloody Vice-Grips are asking for hell to pay. Viva Revolucion.

    Flame away.

    Kick his ass, Jesus (Cartman 3-6) -8.88 -5.08

    by SecondComing on Tue May 09, 2006 at 11:07:30 PM PDT

    •  Unmitigated do-gooders in California? (0+ / 0-)

      Unmitigated do-gooders in California? That's what I call fighting words. Are you from California or are you casting stones from afar?

      A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

      by tmo on Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:32:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Kallefornian born and bred (0+ / 0-)

        (Unless you count that foray being born in Las Vegas and that bit of time spent in Reno where the" wild" horses used to crap on my lawn and occasionally stick their head in my kitchen window when I was loading the dishwasher.)

        The Democratic party in this minicule bit of Eden is in dissaray. I'm almost ready to vote for "Ahnold." (Angelides, holding my nose.)

        Kick his ass, Jesus (Cartman 3-6) -8.88 -5.08

        by SecondComing on Sun May 14, 2006 at 09:27:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've been saying something like this for years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, kidneystones

    ... but not so eloquently.  Did not know the Overton model but it makes such elegant sense in explaining the last ten, fifteen years.  No, longer than that...

    I can't help but think of FDR in terms of this model... hmmm! Expressing the 'impossible'as a distinct possibility turned out pretty well for him and for the many whose lives were impacted positively by New Deal enactments ... who would have believed in 1932 that an old age pension would be enacted, much less proposed, and so popular that only a few dared oppose it, even now?

    Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. - A.J. Liebling

    by va dare on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:03:50 AM PDT

  •  You may be on to something but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I think the truth of the matter is a little harder for Democrats to swallow because they want to think the best and give everyone and everything the benefit of the doubt.

    But the truth is that the vast majority of the people are just plain stupid and the republicans know it.

    For example how do you explain retired republicans that depend on their monthly Social Security check for their very survival yet rant and rave against the program? I know several that would be homeless if it wasn't for SS but they rail against the only thing between them and a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen and they vote republican every chance they get.

  •  and yet you get the vapors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    over women saying "it's my body, my choice" which isn't even extreme.  
    So in the interest of you evolution on the issue of choice are retaining women's votes...

    "all men should be sterylized at 12, no more unplanned pregnancies, no more abortion".

  •  Pat Robertson know his job, that's for sure (0+ / 0-)

    Every time a "nut" like Robertson talks about sanctioned assassination or god-fueled genocide, it make Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly sound that much more sane. They, in turn, make Bush and Cheney sound like the absolute voices of moderate reason. No, these people aren't stupid, just because they disagree with you. The biggest problem Democrats AND Republicans have is that they are too trusting in the good of mankind - they just can't believe that our political system, as it now stands, selects for and rewards people with traits best describes as psychopathic.

    •  And we look at it the other way... (0+ / 0-)

      whenever anyone says something to the left of Joe Lieberman, so many Democrats yell, "shut up with that extreme stuff, you're just giving us a bad name."   We need to let people say non-mainstream things to say so we can move things to the left in the way described in the diary.  Any "bad name" BS that comes about because of that can be mitigated with a complimentary strategy of "here's our view on (insert subject) which is (insert liberal but mainsteam sounding solution), which is just common sense compared to the Republicans failed policies."

      We can have this two-pronged/multi-pronged approach rather than cutting off all prongs that don't sound totally mainstream (and therefore totally limited) at any given moment.

      Check out my lte archive at and feel free to use my ideas for your own lte's.

      by DemDachshund on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:42:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And now when conservatism at its weakest (3+ / 0-)

    Liberals (as in the grassroots you and me type) have what I think is the biggest opportunity to actually push a truly liberal agenda that I've seen in my lifetime.

    The right wingers have, right now, managed to make their last 40 years of revolutionary rightist pseudo-populism look useless.  The proof has been the pudding of their own power.

    If we (grassroots liberal types) don't find more effective mechanisms to control and influence candidates and elected figures -- precisely so that big name Democrats don't screw it up for us -- then this historic opportunity will be lost.

  •  This is a game of inches (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    just as much as football, the point is to keep moving the chains in a given direction until you meet your goal.  And just like in football the usage of that slow steady up the gut kind of ground game makes the big play possible.

  •  The middle DOES matter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Otherwise, Bush would not have pretended to be a moderate. To this day, many people still think he is. For that you can credit your MSM. THAT is the simple secret of the GOP's success - not being radical, but disguising its true radical nature in feel-good patriotic gore.

    Most Americans are both more liberal and more conservative than their reps in DC. They are more liberal socially and more conservative economically. And Americans do NOT require that their representatives agree with them on everything; just the basics. This is why Hackett was so successful in Ohio; he was able to convert Republicans to his side because they trusted him. (I think Dems should pay more attention to his run because something very interesting happened there that has been repeated elsewhere in the country with less media coverage, e.g., the Donna Howard win in Travis county in Texas.) If you put his statements in Dennis Kucinich's words, he would have been dismissed out of hand. And yet, there he was, calling the president an S.O.B. and loser, promoting gay marriage, calling for our troops to get out of Iraq, promoting labor unions -- and getting scores of adoring Republicans to follow him.

    The problem the Dems have is that many of them ARE just career politicians; they think like Richard Cohen. And many of them think that, regardless of who they are, they have to act like they think like Richard Cohen.

    The Dems who won't lead need to learn to back up those who will. THAT'S where the GOP has something to teach us.

  •  Getting it alright (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, wintergreen
    I agree the GOP/right wing 'gets it' that if they lose this fall and in 08, it might be a while for them, and I'm assuming this is not an option they are willing to live with.   Thus: blood sport once again.  Replay of 2004?  

    Are the Dems as committed?   Or will a third party candidate either win by default or splinter the vote, handing the GOP a victory?  

    I saw poll numbers saying Gore, Kerry, Hillary were rated lower than the president these days.

    If the Dems win, will it be possible to press the 'UNDO' button on: corporate welfare, lobbying money buying Congress, disregard for healthcare, tax cuts for the rich, and money for DOD? (6bn per month for Iraq, none for healthcare, education, meals for poor kids..).  Or will the Dems play the same game they've always played:  talk but nothing done?  Triangulating, great angry speeches, but nothing done?

    We may have already lost this country to theocracy/fascism.   I think Nov 06 will give us the rest of the answer on this, but I'm afraid Dems of today are too weak, too compromised by corporate and lobbying money to do what needs to be done:  press that "UNDO" button.  As in EDIT-->UNDO LAST OPERATION.

    I think this is a far more serious situation than many realize.  A Military-Industrial state, run by a theocracy.  

    Good Luck.

  •  I'm dismayed at how easy it is (3+ / 0-)

    to criticize, and how difficult it is to get off our asses and do something about it. I'm dismayed at how easy it is for us to point out all the wrong things the leaders in our party are doing and how difficult it is for us to give them some credit when it is due. I'm dismayed at how frequently people issue "wake up calls" as if they have unfiltered access to the TRUTH and we simpletons don't know how to get things done. I'm dismayed how frequently we tell stories about ourselves and our party in terms of failure and hopelessness. I'm dismayed to see good ideas about strategy like some of the ones in this diary be framed in terms of Republican talking points about the supposed weakness and cowardice of the party.

    I'm dismayed that we continue to see ourselves as outside the party. I'm dismayed that we don't talk in the language of optimism.

    Come get lost in our world:

    by MonkeyDog102 on Wed May 10, 2006 at 06:32:27 AM PDT

    •  Partly an insider discussion (0+ / 0-)

      It's easier now than ever before to get involved.  This blog is part of what makes it possible.

      This is not just about 'being a Democrat.'  A political party is a corporate entity, and it is not made to listen to grassroots opinion.  What's different about now than ages before is that you can now do more than volunteer to go door to door for the precinct, or one day get elected precinct chair -- now you can work both inside AND outside the formal party structure so that what we want & hope for isn't ignored or screwed up just so Democrat A or Democrat B can use our labor to get himself or herself into office.

      This had better be about more than replacing (R)'s with (D)'s.

    •  I find it dismaying that when someone (0+ / 0-)

      tries to think outside the box about what it really takes to win (as opposed to just being positive and with the program), they get accused of being defeatist and lazy. This is a contest for leadership of the most powerful nation ever, and it will only be won by whoever coops or counter their opponents' tools and strategies.  

      •  oops - 'coops' should have been 'coopt's' (0+ / 0-)

        Any case - I wish that 'optimism' was a winning strategy, but I'd bet that with the resource shortages increasingly confronting the planet, politics is just going to get progressively uglier in this century.  And the marketing/positioning of ideas will count as much (sometimes more) than the ideas themselves.

      •  I'm not acusing the diarist (0+ / 0-)

        of being lazy, though I can see how it comes off that way. My apologies for that. As for being defeatist, I'm just pointing out that I get bummed out reading the endless number of diaries like this that bemoan the state of the Democratic party and the supposed failure of leadership. Yes, there are problems, obviously. But if I didn't know better, from reading diaries like this I'd think the entire party was made up of the Liberman's of the world. I'd think that we were doomed to failure unless the party adopts the diarist's recommendations. I'd think that All Is Lost because the Democrats Just Don't Get It.

        I think the diariast made some interesting arguments, but I also think those arguments get lost in the defeatest narrative structure that they are made in. Endless talk of how supposedly weak, misguided, and pathetic the leadership is does nothing for me but make me want to throw up my hands, go get drunk, and give up on the whole party. This attitude explains a lot of why so many activists would rather beat their head against the proverbial wall by organizing in the Green party.  

        Chill with the negativity and start talking about what's possible. Criticize when necessary and useful, but don't issue blanket condemnations that are more likely to supress activist enthusiasm than it is to encourage it. That's all I'm saying.

        Come get lost in our world:

        by MonkeyDog102 on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:49:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes - negative criticism isn't real effective (0+ / 0-)

          (though sometimes therapeutic??)

          But my impression is that the diarist is offering constructive criticism by drawing attention to a tool that the Republicans apparently find effective. Kind of like in an arms race, when your opponent deploys a new weapon, you can't rely on the status quo approaches.  Doesn't imply that existing approaches were all wrong to begin with, just that they need to be tweaked, and occasionally overhauled, in an evolving landscape.

  •  Weighted Average (0+ / 0-)

    We know there are more conservatives than liberals, so if you look at a hypothetical continuum of left (0) to right (100) you'd see the center at 50.  But a weighted average would line up at around 55 or 60 (just an estimate).

    So while the right is moving ideas incrementally into the mainstream, they're having to convince a smaller number of dissenters on the opposite (left) side.  The left has to win over a larger # when pushing its own ideas.

    Just a thought.

  •  I beleive that the Overton Window has been run (0+ / 0-)

    farily systematically since about 1990.  The key strategic piece for executing thier strategy is a corrupt and complicit media.  They have to be able to say any outrageous lie and not have bullshit called on them then and there.  Obviously, that piece of their strategy is in place.

    The Reagan administration laid the groundwork for all of this by "de-regulating" broadcast media allowing concentrated media ownership, followed by creating cable monopolies.  You can take it to the bank that the VRW knows that it must shut down internet free speech to continue its winning strategy.  The right wing is so much more vicious and vile than most Americans even come close to realizing.

    Geonomist - Impeachment and conviction---the beginning of an American renewal.

    by Geonomist on Wed May 10, 2006 at 07:08:06 AM PDT

  •  Americans are fairly conservative as a group (0+ / 0-)

    that's why the Dems have problems - their positions inherently are not popular among the majority of Americans.  The Repubs theoretical positions - smaller govt, fiscal responsibility, social conservatism, etc - are positions that the majority of Americans actually support.  We could see this in probably any poll on virtually any issue, the majority would come down towards the "conservative" side.  That is not necessarily the same as the crazy fundies, but it is more conservative than most of the Democratic party.  

    The current Republican crop are not seen as so much wrong on their principles or in theory, but in their execution of things.  They've just done a really really bad job and they're thoroughly corrupt.  This is not necessarily going to translate into automatic acceptance of a Democratic platform though.

    •  that is preposterously wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, wintergreen

      Read the book "Off-Center" and it will dispel you of these bullshit notions.

      Americans WANT more government assistance to the poor.

      Americans WANT more environmental protection--even at the cost of higher taxes.

      Americans WANT much more funding for education.

      Americans WANT an increased minimum wage.

      Americans WANT legal access to abortions.

      Americans WANT more affordable healthcare, and hate HMOs.

      Taxes are 13th on the list of the most important issues for Americans.

      Why do you think the Republicans are so secretive about their agenda?

      The fact that a liberal--on a liberal blog--would repeat this bullshit talking point is part of the whole problem.  You've been suckered, friend.

      •  They may want those things but they don't want (0+ / 0-)

        to pay for them.  I have one dirty word for you:  taxes.  People may want the moon, but they don't want to pay for it, and therein lies the rub.  

        Furthermore - and this is how Bush got so far initially - most Americans are social conservatives as well.  They don't believe what the Dems believe by and large.

        As for me - I'm NOT a liberal.  I'm a moderate.  On some issues I'm with the libs, on some I'm with the cons.  I review each issue on its own merits.

  •  But we need to support our Dobsons too (0+ / 0-)

    I like the diary.  I'll buy the idea that republican political strategy follows an incremental overton window method.

    But they wouldn't have the overall framework - the ultimate direction in which to move the window - if they didn't have people loudly defining that ultimate goal.  

    So if we are going to emulate this strategy, we need to also emulate the republican habit of supporting their most radical members.

    The most "moderate" republicans speak at liberty university and call Dobson their "friend". In contrast, we really have nobody who speaks for our utlimate ideopligical agenday - and when such a person does appear (Michael Moore, maybe?) Democratic politicians run from him.  

    If we want to emulate republican success, we have to find, nurture and support our Dobsons.

  •  From a Marketing Perspective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Excellent post. You're description of the Overton Window as The Right's central methodology is correct, but your overall portrait of it within the Base vs. Center debate misses some nuance. This is because you describe parallel activities --marketing and governing-- as if they are one and the same.

    "Rallying the Base" is frequently illustrated Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat, after which Republicans --rather than saying, "let's abandon our core beliefs since voters have rejected them"-- said "let's find new ways to market our ideas." They then adopted the Overton Window methodology, among other things.

    This can be contrasted with Democratic establishment's impulse, which over the last decade responded to very narrow electoral defeats by saying, "let's look at which core beliefs we should abandon to win elections." This process --led by DLC establishmentarians-- resulted in short-term wins for Bill Clinton and long term weakening of the Party Brand.

    As a marketing person, I can tell you that Republicans did one more thing that allowed them to implement the Overton Window: they fully adopted the mass-merchandising and consumer marketing techniques of Madison Ave. and combined them with military psy-ops techniques.

    Consumer marketing prinicples say that to build a strong brand, you spend your time selling yourself, not explaining yourself or talking about competitor products (except to cite how many more people prefer your product). You also make sure that all your sales force say the same thing (Reagan's 11th Commandment is an extension of this principle).

    Republicans did this exceedingly well, centralizing their messaging, following the script, and rarely backing down in public --even when they had to comprimise in the halls of government.

    When Democrats like John Kerry publicly questioned Affirmative Action, when Joe Liberman and Russ Feingold publicly criticized President Clinton, and when DLC-types suggest retreating on abortion and tax cuts, they damage the Party Brand --and weaken their appeal to all voters by looking like triangulators-- more than increase Party appeal to voters by moving their position to align with so-called "centrist" views.

    Equivocating this way more than negates any potential gain in voters by "moderating" your stance.

    When partisans urge Democrats to "play to the base" I think they are not so much demanding that the party, say, immediately seek nothing short of Single Payer Health Care as much as they are challenging the DLC-ish first impulse to abandon core views --rather than find new ways to market them.

  •  GOP HAS LOST THE MIDDLE (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think you're worrying for nothing. The GOP lost the middle long ago and now they're even losing conservatives. The middle is gone & the base is crumbling.

    •  Bush has (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the GOP has not.  Bush could go down in impeachment flames, and Dems could retake congress and the presidency--and we'd get Clinton redux.

      Without following this strategem, the debate will continue to shift to the right--and we'll lose the government as fast as we gained it.

  •  When movements have moved Democrats (0+ / 0-)

    It is exactly because they implicitly used the Overton window insights and because reality cooperated.

    Consider the civil rights movement aside from "affirmative action", the growth of feminism, the response to gay marriage.  The Republicans are actively using government power to resist where the public opinion is on these issues because these movements have indeed moved public opinion through the same process.

    What is apparent and well-argued in this diary is that the donkey has been dragged kicking and screaming into supporting progressive movements and the elephant automatically argues to the extreme end of the conservative spectrum.  What is also apparent is the ideological bias of the framing of the spectrum.  Consider that missing from the spectrum is universal public education, without government compulsion.  Or the failure of parents to educate their children at all.  The first of these is the bulk of the current pattern of education, and the second is the hidden downside of homeschooling. Watch soon for the meida to discover this "scandal" with homeschooling.

    So the spectrum is not a neutral analytic spectrum, it is shaped by certain preconceived positions.  In this case, the position that public school is harmful--a view that first appeared as the result of desegregation of the schools.

    I've spent too much space on the example from the diary, but there is a point.

    On universal health care, an end to the war in Iraq, and on and on, Democrats are not anticipating reality but beginning to argue only after reality is solidly supporting their position.  Anti-war activists presenting good reasons said in 2002 that Iraq was going to be a disaster much like Vietnam.  Had Democrats started arguing that position then, the Democrats would clearly own that position now.  But now, when the reality of disaster is clear, people still wonder where Democrats stand on the war in Iraq.

    In Tarheel-ese, the Democratic Party has been slow on the uptake.

  •  Welcome commentary. Dispute thesis though. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, larryrant

    From thereisnospoon:

    "I am dismayed because there are two opposing political strategies being played out in America's politics with two vastly different philosophies--and it's clear that one side is definitely winning.  And it ain't our side."

    It's clear to me the "two opposing political strategies" are not Republican and Democrat, but rather the dominant power structure--favoring the wealthy, influential corporations, and the corporate media, as well as the well-positioned politicians and operatives of both parties--versus the interests of the rest of us.

    If this seems inaccurate, why is Hillary Clinton trying to out-Condi Ms. Rice, rattling the Iraq saber and cooing about Bush, Jr.'s good qualities? Why is Diane Feinstein pro-Iraq policy? And why does Nancy Pelosi, who speaks darkly about the Republican culture of corruption, then become so mealy-mouthed when it comes to equally reprehensible Democrat corruption? Why is the Dem party so quiet about the massive, extremely well-documented vote frauds of 2000, 2002, 2004, Ohio 2006?

    Where is the Democrat power structure on all of the issues we face? Closer to the Republican power structure than most of us may be comfortable accepting. This may be the tragic flaw in the so-called progressive movement: that we cling to the remnants of what once was a party of the people rather than building its replacement, from within the shell of the former.

    "America may be unique in being a country which has leapt from barbarism to decadence without touching civilization." -- John O'Hara

    by Enough Talk Lets Get Busy on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:16:05 AM PDT

  •  Excellent Excellent Excellent!!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TrueBlueMajority, larryrant

    This post ought to be a permanent fixture on the front page of this weblog.  It gets deep into the heart of the matter wrt how the public dialogue has changed in the USA since the 70s.

    We talk about the one-sided discussion that's been happening, how the Right has been bashing the Left.  Add what you have written to the equation and we see that not only has the Right been bashing the Left but it has been promoting it's own ideas until they become mainstream.

    And then add another piece to the equation, that the Left has effectively been mute this whole time.  Not only didn't the Right want to hear from the Left, but the Left didn't want to hear from the Left either.  Progressives and Democrats have bought into the idea that our ideas and values are unacceptable to the majority of Americans and thus we have been both physically quesy and psychologically afraid to promote our ideas and values.  We have been cowering and selling out what we know is right.  I recall being pro death penalty in college because it seemed expedient for Democrats to take that position.

    I'm wondering how we break through the quesiness and the timidity and start speaking boldly about what we know is right?  Why is it so hard to do when we are the ones who want to do well by the majority of Americans?  We are the ones who want everyone to be healthy.  We are the ones who want everyone to be well educated, with enlightened minds and creative spirits.  We are the ones who want to keep the environment safe for all, including the human race.  We are the ones who want good incomes for all.  We are the ones who want to be good neighbors to our friends in the world, to share and cooperate.

    How do we break this fear and start to talk to all Americans about what is good for all of us?  How do we bring high-minded ideas to people in a way that is simple to understand and practical to implement?

    This is our challenge now.  But this is also the beginning our our time, we are starting to wake up to our own power.

    (-8.88/-7.64) Feingold in '08 | "I drink from the keg of glory, Donna. Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land!"

    by Joshua Lyman on Wed May 10, 2006 at 09:37:23 AM PDT

  •  The liberal Overton policy window: (0+ / 0-)

    To drive the democratic agenda leftward, therefore, we must adamantly push for a true liberal agenda, and defend it unapologetically.

    As I see it, the Overton Window for that agenda would look roughly like this:

    Congressional reaction to the current president:

    • congressional dissolution
    • continued collusion
    • a drive for congressional independence
    • censure
    • impeachment
    • conviction of war crimes

    the US in Iraq:

    • just nuke iran already, you whimps
    • don't draft, and invade iran
    • draft, and invade iran
    • draft, and bulk up forces in iraq
    • shift forces from iraq to afghanistan gradually
    • gradual withdrawal from middle east starting at year's end
    • total withdrawal at year's end
    • gradual withdrawal starting immediately
    • immediate withdrawal

    on oil / energy

    • invade Saudia Arabia and Venezuela and secure a lasting oil supply for the U.S. only.
    • just invade iran.  between iraq and iran we'll be set.
    • don't change anything. wait for market forces to require new solutions.
    • increase tax incentives for energy efficient vehicles. increase cafe standards by a few miles a gallon.
    • institute a policy to do all possible to secure America's energy future through renewables resources, including research and development of solar and wind, better automotive batteries, hybrid and alternative technologies.  Drastically increase cafe standards; tax increases on inefficient cars...  mandate 0 emission vehicles, etc.

    other targets (I didn't feel like writing out the whole spectrum for all of these; forgive me):

    on media

    • reinstitute the fairness doctrine. decrease the maximum size of conglomerates.
    on education
    • refund education through highschool from federal funds. mandate teacher training standards.  shift basic pedagogical focus from targeted memorization topics to critical thinking, contextualization, logical comprehension and argumentation. require a strong civics / constitutional history segment in junior high / high school.  initiate a federal fund to float state universities.

    on voting

    • all states must be required to prove their voting systems are unhackable and recountable. If a state vote for federal office is called into question, there must be a speedy and AUTOMATIC initiation of a federal investigation, independent of any political (congressional) process.

    on the military

    • we must reduce our military spending by a factor of 2/3, so that we are spending no more than the rest of the Americas combined.  Money can be redirected into education and health care, as well as to help reduce the national debt created by profligate spending of the Bush regime.

    on health care.

    • nothing less than a complete national health plan.

    The idea being, of course, that if we shoot for the moon, we might actually make it halfway there.

  •  Question (0+ / 0-)

    According to Micheal Moore and others, the basic attitude of Americans falls in the liberal category - abortion, gun control, environment, etc.  Why, then, does this shit described in the diary, work?  
    I think it has to do with the overwhelming control over discourse and the rule of a minority.  I disagree with the diarist that the "overton window" makes GOP crap prima facie acceptable.  I think it's total control of the ideological discourse; this window thing leads to acceptance of GOP policies among the ruling elite, and in-turn, forced acceptance of GOP poilicies by the average American.  Simple authoritarianism and overwhelming propoganda, ala USSR style.

    She was only a moonshiner's daughter, but she always made me liquer - Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

    by gatorcog on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:16:48 AM PDT

    •  You're partly correct (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TrueBlueMajority, CarolynC967

      The Overton window alone doesn't explain GOP electoral success. It's use, however, is part of the more extensive effort and thought Republicans have put into systematically manipulating public opinion and reframing the debate as you cited.

      One other element the diarist overlooked is the central role of race in shifting electoral politics the past 25 years. After the Civil Rights movement, Southerners who were once a mainstay of the Democratic coalition switched to the GOP who accomodated their racist views to build majorities.

  •  Best Diary of the Year (2+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing. This is so important.
    I knew this was happening, but didn't realize it was being done so methodically.
    I first noticed this early in Clinton's term and Michael Duffy was continually writing about how Clinton was "trying to move to the center." It was infuriating because the positions were already right of center to start with and moving farther right. But by saying Clinton was moving to the center, it implied he was far left and thus redefined the middle.

    Health care is the perfect opportunity to fix this. Let's start discussing Medicare for all...

    •  Best Diary of the Year: F**k Yes, I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      General Disarray

      You win policy debates by crafting arguments for extreme positions--and then shifting the entire window of debate.

      They know that by playing to their base in very well-crafted ways, they can shift the very definition of what the middle is.

      Nothing more need be said.

  •  too many posts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to read through this,

    but one thought. perhaps Republican reactionaries are trying to move things backwards, but think of all the innovations we take for granted today that were enacted, proposed, and rammed through by earlier progressives (be they Democrat or Republican. In the early 20th century, they might have been Republicans). Take the average person from oh...1875, and ask them to believe and/or accept any of the following:

    legal abortion
    legal and effective contraception
    women's suffrage
    laws against descrimination against various minorities

    minimum wage

    social security
    GI bill
    child labor laws
    rape shield laws
    no prayer in public schools
    bank accounts insured by the FDIC

    each and every one of those things listed above (along with a whole bunch of other things) required exactly the sort of "stepwise" change of people's mindsets and worldviews to become acceptable, accepted, demanded, and ultimately, taken for granted. Some of them only became acceptable after large and tragic cataclysms took place.

    Sadly, it's the taken for granted part that people tend to well, take for granted, so they don't realize the ramifications when those things go away. It makes it a little easier for Republicans to roll things back. But on the other hand, I'm not advocating people have to relearn things "the hard way". Learn history instead.

    2006--win or get out of the way

    by JMS on Wed May 10, 2006 at 10:34:32 AM PDT

  •  OK, try it for Gay Marriage (0+ / 0-)

    I will try to get in touch with my inner homophobe and figure out what is acceptable to the sexually hysterical.

    Sexual autonomy and equality (Ok, unthinkable)
    Right of marriage
    Respect recognized religious marriages (make it a sep church/state issue)
    Socially acceptable non-hysterical  media portrayal
    Legalize normal adult sexual practices

  •  I think the right perceives that (0+ / 0-)

    Hollywood and Academia work like this.  America watches crude, violent and hypersexualized movies/TV for hundreds of hours a month.  Students spend four years listening to Chomsky and Ward Churchill.  With a pole defined by Hollywood and South End Press, no wonder the country is crumbling before a leftist wave of gay orgies.

    Anyway, that's how their paranoid rhetoric sounds to me - when they complain about behaviors being "normalized."

    "... in my empire, life is sweet, just ask any bum you meet. You may say that I ain't free but it don't worry me..."

    by lumpenprole on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:27:40 AM PDT

  •  good analysis (0+ / 0-)


    "It's better to realize you're a swan than to live life as a disgruntled duck."

    by Mumon on Wed May 10, 2006 at 11:48:39 AM PDT

  •  I think progressives are starting to do this (0+ / 0-)

    Even if it's happening spontaneously, see how the netroots are taking positions, getting heat for it in the media, but inexorably moving the debate in our direction.  
    It's happening on the corruption scandal.  Chris Matthews referenced the netroots when he challenged the meme of bipartisan corruption.  Without meaning to, he brought up the subject we want to have discussed.  
    Now if this could happen on a topic like a military invasion of Iran, the much-needed discussion might begin.

    One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. James Baldwin

    by CarolynC967 on Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:11:56 PM PDT

  •  SPOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What a great piece!

    What a great catch and spot on analysis.

    The idea of combining the absurd with the remotely possible, arguing the absurd and comprimising with the remotely possible is just brilliant.

    I have been saying exactly the same thing for some time now, only I was trying to use metaphor instead of reality: the negotiating table. A deal between two principles. This hides the fact that it is not a negotiation between 2 principles, but a performance intended to convince others.

    This reality based analysis does a far better job of making that seem like a good idea, and actually lays a framework to work around.

    While I do think the focus groups are important, it is important to understand that we are not looking for their opinions, we are leading them to new opinions.

    That's why we're all so offended by the language Luntz uses and the choices he offers his focus groups.

    He is leading them to support his ideas and leading them to new understanding of the issues. He is not testing them for their responses, he is manipulating their responses. He is figuring out how to convince people they believe what he believes.

    You can also do testing of various framings of the message, honing it to be better received and  even demographically specific.

    I don't think we should put as much emphasis on that as we should on the idea that we need to lead people to a new understanding; that is of prime importance.

    We must shift the focus from Oppressive Meddlesome Government and Every Man for Himself to Creeping Corporate Power and People Before Profit.

    You've just cleared up so much for me, Spoon. Or Maybe Swords Crossed did. I got some reading to do.

    Ignore the base, hide our values, and chase the swing voter and we not only lose, but we fall farther behind.

    by k9disc on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:02:04 PM PDT

  •  Coming to the discussion late (0+ / 0-)

    I don't even know where in thread to jump in.

    This is a fantastic diary. But understanding how the overton window works is just the tip of the iceberg. The right has built up a vast infrastructure to support this notion and institutionalize their approach.

    Andrew Rich, a young CUNY professor, has some fantastic work on this subject. You should check it out.

    Say what you want about the success or failure of the Republican political strategy. But when it comes to winning support for their policy ideas, the Conservatives are still beating us.

  •  one more factual point in my defense (0+ / 0-)

    "It's the sort of thinking that says that the GOP will never overturn Roe v. Wade."

    This statement definitely does not apply to me.  I have been expecting Rs to be successful at overturning Roe since before Rehnquist died.  I have never said or believed the idea that Rs will never overturn Roe because it will hurt them with moderates.  I think birth control is a lot safer than abortion, though.  It just isn't as highly emotionally charged for people and therefore cannot be demagogued as effectively.

    So I think it is wrong to lump the following two ideas together or call them "the same kind of thinking":

    1.  Rs will never succeed at making birth control illegal again because moderates will rebel


    1.  Rs will never succeed at making abortion illegal again because moderates will rebel.

    It is wrong to conflate those two statements, at least with respect to me.  I believe the first one, I don't believe the second one.

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed May 10, 2006 at 01:48:10 PM PDT

  •  whatever happened to doing the right thing? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    diaries like these make me realize why most Americans don't give a damn about politics. sort of reminiscent of Hesse's "Glass Bead Game", where intellectualism comes to mean nothing by over analyzation.

    I'm not sure we have time for such tactics anyway. Personally, I think we need to do what is right and hope that - at some point - people wake up to that and join in. (and I'm talking about progressives here, NOT Dems per se)

    •  Americans won't give a damn (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      about politics anyway if you think that the conservative use of the Overton window is one of the primary things that is stopping people from being interested.

      The Conservatives aren't going to stop using this methodology.  So you have two options: 1) not use it, and keep losing in the vain hope that by not strategizing we can get people interested in politics;

      or 2) try to actually do it back, and see if we can win long-term for a change.

    •  But look how well the GOP is doing today! (0+ / 0-)

      Agreed! I'm not convinced the GOP should be the first choice of role-model.

      The point left unmentioned in the diary is this tactic won the GOP some elections in the short-term.  Then in trying to govern accorind to their cmapaign promises, the GOP screwed the pooch.  Governing according to extreme positions turns out to be not so effective.  Now the GOP faces another forty years wandering the wilderness.

      What's wrong with the Democrats campaigning in 2006 on quaint ideas like honesty and treating voters like adults?  If the Dems can't interject integrity to American politics in this year, what good are they as an opposition party?  Just askin'.

      Lincoln said it; Bush proves it: "...but you can't fool all the people all the time." Are these men the GOP's bookends?

      by Quicklund on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:21:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks, great diary (0+ / 0-)


    "A child miseducated is a child lost" John F. Kennedy

    by Pam from Calif on Wed May 10, 2006 at 03:04:46 PM PDT

  •  I don't want to rain on your parade (0+ / 0-)

    because you've certainly made some good points, foremost among them that one should engage focus groups.

    BUT, maybe you haven't noticed.

    It got the Republicans votes, which put them in power.  But since all they ever did was mouth words that pleased the focus groups that would get them the vote, doesn't mean that it's a winning strategy.

    Or maybe you and Josh haven't seen the polls lately.  Hmmmmm?

    •  Seen the polls lately? (0+ / 0-)

      The polls mean very little, except that people think Bush is a disaster. The Dems haven't won anything yet, and they sure haven't shown the capacity to win anything.

      The original post may err in its details--the emphasis on policy is misleading (people rarely, if ever, vote based on policy)--but the general point is correct, which is that a universal strategy for taking power and holding it is required. The Nazicons' strategy involved a multi-billion dollar assault on the airwaves, bankrolling thousands of right wing organizations, and attacking the mechanism of voting itself. The Dems aren't going to beat them by just bleating about what a failure Bush is and how corrupt the Repubs are.

      It isn't about elections, it's about taking power. Only a sustained relentless assault on the Nazicons will drive them off. That means attack the machines, attack their reputations, attack their institutions, and attack everybody who supports them. Jesus, they made the word liberal a curse word by the '90s! The Democrats' goal has to be to make EVERY single Republican officeholder personally responsible for the disaster that Bush has created. No Chaffees, Snowes, or Hagels may escape blame. The goal of the Democrats should be to destroy the Republican Party. Until it is, they will never hold power.

      •  A real liberal would never talk that way. (0+ / 0-)

        The original people who "made liberal a curse word" were '60s left-wing radicals. To be a liberal means to be committed to reason and to the procedural logic of democracy, even though it doesn't always produce the results we personally may desire. Democrats do need to get much better at playing the electoral game in the modern era: crafting a recognizable, coherent and positive brand identity; speaking simple and straight; not backing away from your more progressive ideas and commitments into the mushy marshland of the middle; and so on. But it is about elections, and it isn't about "taking power". That is the rhetoric of the Republican right, and it is precisely what has gotten the GOP into the awful miserable fix it's in today -- with violations of the law piling up week after week, a total abdication of the principles of the Constitution and of checks and balances in favor of pure political gaming and collaboration, and so on.

        You want to be a liberal? Believe in reason. Believe in the law. Believe in elections. Believe in the open society. And make it work. It has, for 217 years in this country, and it will continue to, if we can get the country back on course.

        "When I came to this town, my eyes were big blue stars. Now they're big green dollar signs." - Jean Arthur, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

        by brooksfoe on Thu May 11, 2006 at 08:31:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  good stuff, thanks /nt (0+ / 0-)

    (a bookmark, actually)

    I had to destroy my tinfoil hat because it was beaming coded messages into my brain.

    by stevelu on Wed May 10, 2006 at 04:35:42 PM PDT

jcbhan, beedee, Leslie in CA, Malacandra, jm1963, Mark Sumner, claude, davidb1224, Kestrel, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, pyrrho, shari, trillian, tsackton, RobertInWisconsin, Ed in Montana, zeke L, SlackerInc, David Waldman, skippy, Joe Buck, stevelu, chrississippi, Armando, Chris Andersen, tunesmith, Go Vegetarian, tmo, SteveLCo, zentiger, kid oakland, northsylvania, i dunno, RF, pb, Cowalker, Chi, Irfo, Pluto101, randompost, lesjam, jmaier, dratman, stonedown, jotter, captainebo, TealVeal, fouro, samizdat, vivacia, ferg, debcoop, SeanF, RW, Ben P, copymark, dalemac, alyosha, bluecayuga, natasha, bupkis, casamurphy, Trendar, glitterscale, iowaboy, moon in the house of moe, yerioy, mooncrow, SaveDemocracy, human, mickT, Natural Anthem, Geenius at Wrok, ubikkibu, espresso, jimpol, Pen, 2pt5cats, thebes, Gooserock, freedom fried, mndan, pq, TrueBlueMajority, Unstable Isotope, da, madmsf, kainah, dtj, stumpy, its simple IF you ignore the complexity, wytcld, Winger, Maryscott OConnor, jjc4jre, John Carter, bread, Avila, RNinNC, slouisemay, B Rubble, RAST, still working it out, Shockwave, Del C, Sherri in TX, Tom Frank, m maddog, Wintermute, jasonwhat, Victor, Jim in Chicago, genethefiend, wintersnowman, CanMan, ericy, yatdave, GayHillbilly, Beet, philinmaine, oysterface, John Campanelli, ThirstyGator, djinniya, chicagochristianleft, HootieMcBoob, DemDachshund, kdub, IreneNC, Mumon, DemInCville, frisco, kbudhram, voltayre, bethcf4p, Joe B, storme, bumblebums, madwayne, technopolitical, BillyZoom, redtravelmaster, Nonie3234, Cecrops Tangaroa, Vitarai, Geotpf, PKinTexas, Lanya, sardonyx, kissfan, daaawi, jpiterak, DaveV, Makeda, Mooncat, Feanor, Blue Texan, Raddark, BlackGriffen, mentaldebris, repeatextension, araina, mik, SamSinister, guyute16, Diggla, jem6x, sfgb, Ti Jean, bhlogger, Billy Shears, lpackard, josemonkey, PlaneCrazy, jiffykeen, HippyWitch, ask, pdrap, metal prophet, peace voter, highacidity, miholo, bluesteel, KMc, KBnNC, ZanderOC, mkfarkus, cookiebear, Dante Atkins, moiv, mrblifil, RobLewis, AaronS, LickBush, roses, Colman, Palladiate, sgilman, PoliSigh, sjb8888, luku, House, Fe, superba, MJB, itskevin, luddite, michael1104, Nate Roberts, erquirk, matt2525, fumie, rkesten, Cedwyn, lirtydies, bobcatster, high uintas, Alna Dem, sidnora, emmeke, imagine80, dksbook, ends with space, bato, davidgmills, k9disc, Serendipity, LawStudent, PresentMoment, Ludi, CydeWeys, mayan, kharma, dejavu, Moody Loner, milofischi, commons3nse, danthrax, sockpuppet, greatmario, fightorleave, missliberties, Urizen, Tracker, SKB, casperr, StuartZ, electiledisfunction, elmo, brainwave, mad ramblings of a sane woman, TXsharon, besieged by bush, hoolia, Dale Read, Black Maned Pensator, Penny Century, Stymnus, nika7k, Catte Nappe, snakelass, hazzcon, The Zipper, dnn, applegal, rockhound, Ascendent, Mrcia, Randomizer, Buzzer, TheDon, Timbuk3, lcrp, AZJustice, citizen465, Dood Abides, 4jkb4ia, kismet, Democratic Hawk, egrass, inclusiveheart, dcookie, walkshills, General Disarray, bwintx, deep6, Raine Hawking, Bluefish, AllisonInSeattle, Leggy Starlitz, dft, green917, mattes, Man Eegee, paisa, Sopiane, schuylkill, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, SanDiegoDem, andyj2287, Deward Hastings, Mosquito Pilot, Steven D, montanamatt, Dawgbro, DrewDown, kd texan, Renaldo Migaldi, demandcaring, Captain Doug, rockmoonwater, Timroff, faithfull, gsbadj, Shapeshifter, drewvsea, TexH, Gowrie Gal, memophage, weelzup, skippythebox, internetinfidel7, brendanm98, MichDeb, ivorysteve, fijiancat, Bluesee, Tarindel, seachief, farleftcoast, TxTiger, Auntie Neo Kawn, j sundman, SpecialEFX, TexasTom, jrooth, kingubu, jrieth, Elise, Five of Diamonds, bee, asskicking annie, LarisaW, auditor, theKK, Stradavus, Halcyon, Louise526, Technowitch, Heronymous Cowherd, PBen, ejmw, Green Eggs, KnotIookin, BCO gal, Simplify, rjo, station wagon, allpaintedcold, wildtrack, ChemBob, libertarian soldier, kamarkamarka, Ranting Roland, scottso, vigi, lilredjeep, FutureNow, ofao, NeuvoLiberal, Jules Beaujolais, jfadden, majcmb1, teknofyl, Pam from Calif, JoieDe, Karmafish, Mr X, EconAtheist, jimreyn, Unwieldy List, Gegner, Mason6883, Magicmike888, rpm5250, ivorybill, libbie, bmaples, The Bulldog Manifesto, RickE, Thelaff, Geekesque, dspivak, flernk, fotyc, collapse, Thursday Next, power model, Zergle, DougDumitru, neroden, wiscmass, nieman, Jlukes, sbdenmon, gpm, sleep deprived, bartman, Cory Bantic, Unduna, MLDB, Lindy, Spathiphyllum, gazingoffsouthward, JOSHBinPG, Erevann, Land of Enchantment, schoolpsyc, RainyDay, jay23, Drocket, Eloi Scientist, Mehitabel9, SoulCatcher, Nowhere Man, makeitstop, pmc1970, occams hatchet, mikeypaw, Progressive Liberaltarian, pico, JosephAZ, esquimaux, kraant, tarheelblue, Stephan Kuttner, PatsBard, midvalley, minimax, Mike Laut, BlueInARedState, Barry Welsh, tonyahky, HoundDog, chemsmith, ajpuckett, Chincoteague, Dvalkure, smokeymonkey, Scientician, Mark27, InsultComicDog, Catesby, theyrereal, emteone, Jordan LFW, Esjaydee, Tao, puredesighee, Joshua Lyman, campdurning, Students for Bhopal, Christopher Walker, arbiter, VegasLiberalStevo, imabluemerkin, KbThorn In Massachusetts, NearlyNormal, el cid, Potus2020, Up to here, 4forTortola, Andy30tx, getling, vox humana, asque, Roatti, jazzeroo, The Disenfranchised Voter, va dare, BB10, means are the ends, grokgov, cherryXXX69, kurt, DanC, ForFreedom, kidneystones, lorenzodow, Puskara, daeros, Garden Liberally, seabos84, Carolina Grl, bigchin, Ben Seeley, Dobe, darrkespur, tikikiki, BeninSC, ColoTim, eOz, Eric Nelson, 84thProblem, Alhambra

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site