In 2000 I voted for Gore. I was still in NY, so there was no danger of him losing, but G.W. Bush scared me. I SCREAMED at the TV when the supreme court verdict was read. And I screamed at my fellow citizens for being taken in by that dumb redneck.
When I tried to figure out what had happened, I saw for the first time one of the key differences between republicans and democrats; the republicans were very good at the soundbite, and that fit the average american's attention span.
This makes me sad. So much of republican thought can be drilled down to "us vs. them" or "do this one thing and everything will be fixed". The ideas appeal to our lazy brains. (See this article that talks about a recent study showing that when little effort is put into thinking about an issue, the result is usually a conservative opinion.) The ideas also appeal to our bigoted instincts and our greed/selfishness.
In contrast, ...
An awful lot of democratic ideas have this silent "Yes, but ... " at the beginning of them. It's hard to argue with "I will lower taxes" (which is a great sound bite) by saying "But what services will you cut?" (which is a crummy sound bite). Worse, the soundbite answer is "Waste", something nearly everyone who has stood in line at the DMV can come up with an example of.
Notice something else, however. This exchange puts the democrats on the defensive, trying to point out the flaws in the other guys plan as opposed to presenting their own.
When they DO try to present their own ideas, they rarely have the immediacy of the republican ideas. A republican says "I will lower taxes" and what the average american hears is "I will put more money in your pocket now". When a democrat says "I will fix schools" what the average person hears is "This is going to take money out of my pocket now for something that may never benefit me or will only do so in a decade or two."
In some ways, the republicans are better at soundbites because they appeal to the basest of human instincts; greed. "Make things better for me right now, regardless of the future or the impact on anyone else." Democrats look to the future and the effect of a policy on everyone, and that makes things complicated. Complicated takes time to explain, and takes thought to understand. That's a hard task in a world of soundbites and apathy.
This has little to do specifically with Arizona and EVERYTHING to do with what we will witness between now and November. Have the dems learned nothing from past defeats?