No easy majority
Matt Yglesias says:
Democratic performance in the past few elections has been good enough that one could envision a lot of difference paths to victory. Indeed, there's always a temptation to oversell defeats. After the Pistons last two losses to Miami, I've read a lot of articles about how Detroit needs to figure out how to contain Dwayne Wade. Certainly that would be a nice thing to do, but the reality is that they would have won with Wade uncontained if they'd just hit more free throws. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with their game -- they're just messing up some little things.
Ezra Klein disagrees:
That strikes me as exactly the wrong way to look at recent defeats ... To continue on with sports metaphors, teams don't practice to gain incremental strengths, they train to become crushing juggernauts. As a football player, you may spend a day or two learning how to contain a star player or run a particular play for a specific game, but you spend the vast majority of your time trying to get so good that incrementalism is rendered unnecessary, you can just beat the other team outright. Calming ourselves with the mantra that our fading coalition could have won if only we'd had a slightly quicker reaction to the Swift Vets or a stronger answer on Iraq isn't particularly useful ... we want to figure out how to capture an easy majority.
Now, certainly that's easier said than done, but it should be the goal nevertheless. And one thing it demands, specifics aside, is to think big. Small programs and targeted appeals to specific constituencies may help bring in another percentage point, but they don't change the electoral landscape. We need big ideas and the conviction to sell them, and that means we have to stop thinking like a majority-party-in-exile and instead focus on becoming a majority party in power. Many in the party are doing that already, but such projects can always be hijacked by those promising that we're really good enough already and just need some better language for our proposals. We don't need better language or a new play, we need a new gameplan.
I tend to agree with Matt Y. here. Obviously, it would be nice if the Democrats became a 'crushing juggernaut', but that doesn't seem to me to be a realistic goal.
51% of the US electorate looked at the last four years under the Bush administration and said, "Thank you sir, may I have another?" I don't know how we can reason with these people. I don't know what 'gameplan' could possibly convince them to switch to our side.
Look at the things these people support: a blatantly immoral and unjustifiable war of aggression; a forcible, violent, and generally disastrous occupation; a blank check for whatever military adventures the Bush administration feels like embarking upon under the rubric of the totally bogus 'war on terror'; tax cuts for the people who need them least; a growing disparity between rich and poor; an all-out assault on women's reproductive rights; the destruction of Social Security; torture of innocent people for being of the wrong nationality; the denial of basic civil liberties; etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.
I don't know how to reason with people who are fundamentally irrational. This is why I'm tempted to say that we should thank our lucky stars that 48% of the people recognize the insanity of a GOP-controlled government, and try to do what we can to chip off another 2-3%. Sorry, but in a country where the majority endorses the abomination that is the Bush administration, I don't see any chance of our side being a 'crushing juggernaut' or winning an easy majority any time soon.