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It has become quite apparent that when one party brands both itself and the other party while that
other party does neither, it puts the latter party in serious trouble.  Such has been the case for decades
in American politics.

The Republican Party runs as the Conservative Party and attacks the Democratic Party as
"liberal."  The Democratic Party on the other hand NEVER talks ideology.  So when we had relatively
happy years during the Clinton 90s, it was never branded as a triumph of liberal or progressive policies.

In Republican presidential primaries, Republicans fall all over themselves to prove who is the most conservative, while Democrats avoid the "L" word and reluctantly even use the term 'progressive."  In 2008, despite the utter failure of the Bush Administration, Obama never talked about the failure of Bush's "conservative" policies. Instead he talked about Bush policy failures.  "Conservatism" was never branded a failure though it almost always is.  On the other hand,  liberalism is always an epithet.  Democrats run from it.

So now, President Obama talks about not going back to the failed policies of the past--i.e. Bush.  But he never says that those were "Conservative" policies.  So when tea partiers say they are conservatives, there is no linkage in the general public's mind with the failed Conservative policies of the 00s.  

When is a Democratic Party official going to make a speech excoriating conservatism as the wrong choice throughout American history--from slavery, segregation, women's rights. child labor laws, social security,
medicare, vietnam, environmental protections, et al.  The only popular issues for conservatives where liberals
were on the losing side were welfare reform and death penalty/criminal justice issues.  Bill Clinton smartly
co-opted these and now almost all national dems support the death penalty.  

So the lack of branding of all the triumphs of liberalism including Clinton's 90s, and the lack of negative branding of Bush's failed conservatism puts us in the position we are now.  Where even a reasonable liberal centrist like Obama is branded a tax and spend liberal at best and a communist at worst.

It seems as if we only win when they fail badly--Nixon, Bush I, Bush II.  They can win even when we haven't fucked up--Bush in '00 (yes, I know he really lost, but it should not have been that close).  

Until these things change we will never be in a strong position.  We will always be relying on the failures of Republican administrations to win.   And when things aren't going well while we are in charge, forget it, landslide losses.

Originally posted to maxnyc on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:05 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If only there were pundits on our side... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    doing what pundits do: trumpeting successes, bitching about the other side's failure.

    Then our Presidents could be Presidents, and our pundits could be pundits.

    Then we wouldn't bitch about our President not being a pundit.

    Too bad our pundits are just bitching... about our President not being a pundit.


    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:11:42 PM PDT

  •  good diary - they have also stolen the word (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxnyc, palantir, BarackStarObama

    "capitalism" - although all the top capitalists are liberals (the top 10 anyway).

    The benefit of such is that they marginalize the 85-90% of Democrats who believe in private property,  working hard, and a social safety net.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:19:57 PM PDT

  •  We are the non-ideological party (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxnyc, Gooserock

    or at least the multi-ideology party.

    Is that bad?

    Under normal circumstances, it's probably to our benefit, but it's true that faced with a highly focused ideologically based attack as we are currently, we can look sort of disorganized.

    •  It's Disastrous Because Factuality and Crisis Lie (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrississippi, Garrett, maxnyc, denise b

      wholey within the left wing in energy, climate, trade, health and some other important economic issues. The mainstream Democratic party is right of factuality in a number of areas.

      The American left wing is center for the rest of civilization. The Democrats include committed philosophical conservatives which includes those claiming centrism, and pragmatists who will neither fight nor even educate and message for what's obviously minimally needed to address one crisis or another.

      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 Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:13:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A few words from Bruno Gianelli. (11+ / 0-)

    We all need some therapy, because someone came along and said that liberal means "soft on crime." Soft on drugs. Soft on communism. Soft on defense. And we're gonna tax you back to the stone age because people shouldn't have to go to work if they don't want to. And instead of saying, 'Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave-it-to-Beaver-trip-back-to-the-fifties!' we cowered in the corner and said, 'Please. Don't. Hurt. Me.'

    Until Democrats and left-leaning politicans stand up to conservatives, they will wear the horns the Right gives them.

    The real enemy of the good is not the perfect, but the mediocre.

    by Orange County Liberal on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:39:27 PM PDT

  •  The reason why we don't brand ourselves... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxnyc, Gooserock, RandomActsOfReason

    is because according to Gallup as a country we self-identify our ideology as:

    40% Conservative
    35% Moderate
    20% Liberal
    5% Refuse to answer/DNK

    Obama - Change I still believe in

    by dvogel001 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:40:11 PM PDT

    •  i thought the liberal number was 30% (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrississippi, kurt

      but it becomes a self-fulfilling away from liberal or progressive
      and you make it seem less attractive to someone who might be swayed

    •  Or... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Garrett, maxnyc, denise b, kurt, Ezekial 23 20

      do liberally minded people self-identify and moderates because of poor branding? Or, better yet, do people who may be inclined to think as liberals shy away from those positions because of poor branding?

      I want to live forever. So far, so good.

      by NMDad on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:48:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Typo. (0+ / 0-)

        That should read "self identify as moderates." Not "and moderates."

        I want to live forever. So far, so good.

        by NMDad on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:51:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  exactly...and as a say in the diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        why the fuck could we not begin this process in 2006 up unti now linking the catastrophe of george w. bush (katrina, iraq, economy) with conservative ideology and governance????

        it would certainly have helped fortify a stronger barrier to the onslaught from the right that we have witnessed in the past 18 months--a time when the right should have had absolutely NOTHING to say about Obama and his administration.

        dems say we can't listen to the same people who drove us into the ditch...but never say it was conservatives and their failed ideology that drove us there.
        thus the average not so politically astute voter can say it was all one man's fault--Bush.  

      •  No because many liberals... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shrike, RandomActsOfReason

        have some moderate views so overall they self-identify as moderate...whereas conservatives are just conservative...

        Obama - Change I still believe in

        by dvogel001 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:04:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Coincidentally There Has Been No Progressive (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chrississippi, maxnyc, denise b

      message and education program for 40 years.

      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 Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:13:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The move away from liberalism... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maxnyc, VClib, coffeetalk

        to moderates and conservatives has been small but perceptable...

        Obama - Change I still believe in

        by dvogel001 on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:18:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is true. From that Gallup poll link: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dvogel001, shrike, VClib

          The 2010 results are based on eight Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys conducted from January through June, encompassing interviews with more than 8,000 U.S. adults. The 42% identifying as conservative represents a continuation of the slight but statistically significant edge conservatives achieved over moderates in 2009. Should that figure hold for all of 2010, it would represent the highest annual percentage identifying as conservative in Gallup's history of measuring ideology with this wording, dating to 1992.

          The recent rise in conservatism's fortunes follows a decline seen after 2003; liberalism has experienced the opposite pattern. From 1993 to 2002, the ideological trend had been fairly stable, with roughly 40% identifying as moderate, 38% as conservative, and 19% as liberal. Before that, the presidential bid of independent candidate Ross Perot may have contributed to a heightened proportion of Americans (43%) calling themselves moderate in 1992.

    •  Ideas have to be sold (0+ / 0-)

      We barely have anyone who will defend ours, let alone sell them. We need some bold leaders who will sell our vision of the future. There's lots of evidence that the public wants universal social programs, wants less inequality, wants bank regulation, wants the government to create jobs and build infrastructure. We have to convince the middle class that liberalism will benefit them and not just the poor. Now is the time to do it, while the middle class wants and needs a government active on it's behalf.

      If we wait for public opinion to turn towards liberalism by itself we may wait forever. We have to have leaders who present our views with authority and confidence and show people how they themselves will benefit. Don't think Obama will do it-he doesn't believe it himself.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

      by denise b on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 03:11:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need to call them what they are, over and over (4+ / 0-)

    ...Regressives.  In comparison, progressivism is a virtue, semantically and otherwise.

    "If I owned hell and Texas, I'd live in hell and rent out Texas" - Union General Phillip Sheridan

    by ZedMont on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 12:42:57 PM PDT

  •  Dead on. I'm amazed that Dem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    seat holders allow this crap to go on. Repubs pound home and pound home the difference between them - fiscal no-spend conservatives, and Dems - tax and spend commie fag socialists.

  •  Conservatism has appeal as a brand (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, maxnyc, jabney

    far more than as a political ideology. It's not about the discord between lowering taxes AND lowering the deficit, for example, it's a community based around tough sounding rhetoric. Flat tax. Obamacare. The practicality of these ideas, the results of their implementation, aren't part of the discussion, and aren't necessary to the brand.

  •  the People's Party (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxnyc the best brand the Democrats could start using, in my opinion, because, unlike Republicans, they truly do seek to represent and elect ALL people of this country, including the rich, like the Republicans; howeve, unlike the Republicans, who have made it clear that they only respect rich white men, Democrats try to respect and represent rich white men as well as the middle class, working men and women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian Americans, the GLBT community, environmentalits, labor...EVERYONE. Sometimes the Democrats do a better job in actually representing ALL of those constituents when they are in a position to govern than at other times; but, overall, they do truly seem to try to represent everyone.

    The most natural "branding" that the Democrats could do, in my opinion, is to build on this and seek to brand themselves as the People's Party, representing all sectors of our society. That would truly be a contrast with the Republicans who have made it perfectly clear by their actions that they only care about certain folks and not others.

    •  i like that.....of course "peoples" (0+ / 0-)

      will get you comparison's to "the peoples republic of china"....

      and the "people's republic of santa monica" a popular one in the 1980s when
      i was growing up in SoCal.  Imagine that, the right used to shit all over santa monica because Jane F. and Tom H. lived there.  If  Santa Monica were a country
      everyone would want to live there.

      •  yes... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...the exact wording would be important...perhaps a tagline, such as Democrats: For ALL the People or something to that effect might be closer to the real messaging; you're right, however...we don't need to give the opposition any "easy ammunition," so to speak.

    •  If the presently constituted Democratic Party (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maxnyc, maracucho

      is "the people's party," then I'm a ring-tailed bandicoot. If they try adopting that label, they'll get laughed off the stage.

      As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he ever were to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it. --Bulwer-Lytton Contest entry

      by Wom Bat on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:15:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The president has had one network in particular, (0+ / 0-)

    MSNBC, carrying his water since the primary,.  They blatantly,viciously, vilified his main democratic rival while running cover for him. They've had Chris "tingle" Mathews, Ed Schultz, Olbermann and even Maddow cheer-leading him every step of the way. Ed Schultz was practically hired to be he voted for FISA changes/Telcomm immunity as a Senator. Or voted for Paulson's Tarp bill, continued Bush's tax polices, made no effort to hold the previous administration accountable for torture. Schultz continued to sell this health care bill even as it became nothing more then a gift to insurers and drugs companies and a guaranteed double digit annual premium increase for the middle class.

    He could have bought friendlier pundits. In fact if you look at how GE Capital profited from the TARP bill on a loophole or the fact that GE as a whole paid no taxes on over 10 billion in profits, you have to question their networks motives.

  •  branding means you can offer a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    positive message.  The GOP has been expert at this - not that their message is "positive" in a good vs evil sense ... but they identify what they stand for.  The Democratic Party as the diarist notes, has chosen to go totally the other way - which often makes enthusiasm difficult when there is not a charismatic sort at the top like Clinton or Obama. (and both of them are fairly conservative - left of center using the most liberal assumptions so to speak)  What is amazing is how the last 10 years, the progressives have been RIGHT on so many issues at such a high percentage - but the people who were part of the problem still get a seat at the table whether it be Rubinites in economics or Condi Rice consulting on Afghanistan.

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

    Many of the Democratic leaders refuse to listen to the suggestions of Lakoff.  Rather than defending taxation as a necessity, Corzine ran for gov of NJ from a Republican framing point of view on the issue of property taxes.  And then he lost.  

  •  The GOP is the party of misers ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the tea party is actually advocating letting our ROADS crumble ... Liberals built the interstate highway system, but conservatives want to kill it.  They want gravel roads and horse and buggy - because somehow the government should not be involved in things like roads and bridges.  The government should cut spending but only non-defense spending, though DoD spending has much much more pork than John McCain could ever enumerate.  

  •  What is instructive (or should be) is that MOST (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of the Congresspeople in trouble for the Democrats are of the soulless, pretend Republican, Blue Dog ilk.  Obviously there are the Allan Graysons in trouble too - though curiously the Party seems more upset about the loss of Bobby Bright's seat.  

    Perhaps that sort of brand could make the candidates individual cases better sells.

  •  The Democratic Party is Not a Progressive Party (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxnyc, maracucho, denise b, shrike

    which is why it hasn't run on progressive messaging and identity for decades.

    The progressive movement has not stepped up with a major voter education and messaging campaign as the right did 40 years ago to the Republican party.

    The Democrats will never go there unforced because they do not have the progressive ideology.

    This job begins for progressives, outside the party, November 3rd.

    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 Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:15:34 PM PDT

  •  Very true - excellent commentary! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  I doubt we could have a civil, let alone (3+ / 0-)

    productive discussion even just here on Daily Kos about what it means to be a "progressive" or a "liberal".

    And that is perhaps the real problem.

    People call it "ideology", but what it has really become, all across the American spectrum, is irrational, emotional, rage-driven dogma. And, yes, I find that as true here as on the Right.

    The main characteristic of a self-titled "Left" ideologue has become intolerance of dissenting views - no different than ideologues on the Right. That is certainly true on Daily Kos.

    People here are much clearer about what they are against than what they are for, and have infinitely more "enemies" than friends, and, rhetoric notwithstanding, much if not most of the energy here is not spent combating conservatism or conservatives or the GOP, but rather combating people who are not the "right" kind of Democrat, liberal or progressive.

    There is so much hate here, and so little effort to find common ground for genuine progress. So much investment in protest, and so little willingness to engage in dialog.

    When "moderation" is a dirty word, "cooperation" is treason, and "compromise" is something only Vichy's do, we are all in trouble.

    It isn't ideology that is killing us. We are killing ourselves.

    If you don't vote, you're just playing with yourself.

    by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:49:13 PM PDT

    •  although I don't fully agree that is one hell of (0+ / 0-)

      a constructive comment.

      Its amazing how Obama's views are right in line with the best Senate Democrats but he is excoriated by many here for not being Bernie Sanders.

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

      by shrike on Sun Oct 17, 2010 at 01:55:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would love it if I could find a place (0+ / 0-)

      where a wide variety of viewpoints could be engaged in respectful, civil, yet honest dialogue. Maybe this isn't possible.

  •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

    This, and a historic tendency to run TERRIBLE candidates for national office really hurts the brand. Obama is a great speaker, as is Bill Clinton, but neither of them have been really effective ambassadors for liberalism, not like FDR was. And with weak candidates like (pre-2002) Al Gore, John Kerry, Mike Dukakis, and the mistake prone George McGovern, we have trouble selling liberalism.

  •  Good luck ...... good conservatives (0+ / 0-)

    apologize to strict conservatives, even when shot in the face by a shotgun ....

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