A Democratic challenge

While Dems idealistically gave to social causes, the right was strategically building for the future.

They had the right candidate, public opinion was going against the incumbent, and “the Democrats were united as never before.” However, the party lost substantially in the presidential popular vote and Republicans gained seats in the Senate and remained in control of the House of Representatives.

With the aftermath of the election still in mind, it’s clear that the Democrats are suffering from a lack of leadership, which in turn leads to insecurity in the party’s overall vision and message. In light of President George W. Bush’s inauguration, it is worth examining what the Democrats will have to do by 2008 to prevent becoming a long-time minority party.

George Lakoff, a noted professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California-Berkeley, says the Republicans are three decades more advanced than Democrats in crafting and honing campaign messages.

Since the 1970s, conservatives have put money into think tanks that research and develop future policy as well as techniques to advance their policy. As predominantly successful businessmen, they have been very efficient at not only developing innovative strategies, but also ensuring their status is advancing along with their policy.

At the same time, liberals gave their money almost entirely into social causes, with designation that it is not to be used toward infrastructure advancements.

Infrastructure advancements being the very thing that Republicans have been polishing for the past thirty years.

Cultivation and support of new leadership is the Democrats’ first step.

The foremost leader of the party is still former President Bill Clinton. His charisma and political attractiveness added to involvement in the presidential campaign and worked only to disadvantage Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Looking back, it’s easy to see that Clinton didn’t throw all his weight behind Kerry, most likely with dreams of another Clinton taking the White House in 2008.

Democrats need a strong leader and will find one by electing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. A new chairman of the Democratic Party will not only have to reshape and articulate ideology, but also modernize the party.

Dean’s charisma will be able to attract and motivate new leadership, while being able to focus that leadership’s direction. In an effort to catch up to the Republicans, Democrats will sobbingly have to take a few strategy lessons from Karl Rove.

Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe’s “get out the vote efforts” have been necessary, but a single-minded strategy to run a political party and get candidates elected is necessary.

They need to modernize. Instead of chasing swing voters and fiscal Republicans, Democrats need to first refocus toward their base.

While the party is silently prodding along the radical anti-war left and still supporting an aggressive stance against terrorism, work will need to be done to bring both views under the umbrella of a future party perspective.

Moral values are starting to sound cliche. The Democratic Party, however, can no longer ignore Democratic Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s pro-life stance while still pushing an openly pro-choice agenda.

Kerry said the way to address the rift is to bring more pro-choice candidates into the party. However, the real problem lies in explaining the intricacies of a pro-choice policy stance and defining a united view on abortion among differing individual opinions.

Over the past 30 years, Republicans were slowly taking power, and Democrats took for granted their majority status and lacked vision to modernize. Their policy and message is no different than it was three decades ago.

Strong leadership will need to work toward restructured priorities and reformed internal policy positions. Strong leadership will have the ability to create new leaders and put those leaders under this single, united plan for power. If the Democratic National Committee does not work toward complete modernization for their own good, they will lose again in 2008.

Joe Dean is a University student and Public Relations Student Society of America president. He is not related to Howard Dean. Please send comments to [email protected]