Dean Dean Dean Dean Dean. Yeah, that's all that's been on my mind too. But there are in fact other things to think about. For example, the unfortunate soul currently occupying the oval office. I was thinking about this business of winning with the base, vs. winning with swing voters. If I may, I don't think a winning strategy can depend on an either/or situation. Sacraficing one side for the other in either direction isn't going to get us through November. The issues we have to emphasize are the ones where everyone, regardless of ideology, can have a whack at Bush.
Some examples I can think of are:
- Bush is spending like a drunken sailor. Forget any nuances about deficits and borrow and spend. That can get spun. Just focus on spending which is easy to understand and requires no litmus test. The Republicans are now getting spitting mad about this too, so it's an excellent issue and it potentially works for anybody. Liberal, conservative, black, white, gay, hetero, atheist, evangalist, pro choice, pro life, hawk, dove, all can fairly find some reason why Bush spending our hard earned money like a drunken sailor is a bad thing. I'd call him the Spend and Spend president.
- Bush is preventing research that could cure common and serious illnesses like juvenile diabetes, Alzheimers and Parkinson's. Being sneaky, you could do this without even mentioning stem cells or anything "controversial". Instead, explain that Bush is cutting off research to cure diseases that affect a whole lot of people, regardless of ideology or affiliation. Make him look like a meanie.
There have got to be more. Frame the debate so that "God, guns, gays, and abortion" are off the table and find issues where there is no litmus test. Then it doesn't matter if you're appealing to your base or the middle or the far right.
Final word--taxes. This is aimed at Dean. We've all had fun with the idea that there is actually a "Bush tax", and it's true. However, if Bush is giving you $300 and taking $500, Dean's not going to win by saying, "now I'm going to take the $300 away from you". I understand what he's saying, but raising taxes (or restoring them to Clinton levels, or however you want to spin it) isn't going to automatically reset the property taxes or tuition hikes, so now you have a person who in the short term, has even less money than under Bush, while it would take a while for the benefits (better healthcare etc.) to sink in. Not a winner. (I even thought of some cute slogans for why it's not a winner, but I still support Dean, so no need for more ammo) A Clark type plan of keeping some middle class cuts is better PR, and if the tax cuts are as small as we've made out, the effect on the budget can be dealt with. Combine that with some visionary work with payroll taxes and you have a winner. Also, all candidates, when talking about taxes must talk about hard numbers, not percentages, because people always seem to be wrong about whether they're "middle class" or in the top 5% or whatever. If you state that taxes will be raised only on people whose incomes are oh, say $200,000 and above, the vast majority of people will pretty instantly understand that this will not apply to them.
Finally, as much as I love to bash, there are a lot of smart candidates with good ideas out there. The nominee must shamelessly steal all of the best ones.