Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Rove envy?

This op-ed by E.J. Dionne, Jr. I think is important. He weaves in the Democrat’s idological problem in selecting a new DNC chairman, with their envy of Rove’s (and the state GOP’s) amazing ability to organize and get their people out to vote. He envies the GOP’s ability to organize at the state level (and he should).

He thinks that the Demos jealousy of Rove "could have some useful consequences." Well, maybe. But what Dionne (or the Demos) don’t quite get is that there really is a connection between what he calls "strategic clarity and organizational acumen." He talks about how the GOP had very specific and targeted messages "to take Democratic voters away from us." He attributes this to the GOP’s use of "consumer marketing techniques," and calls it a technological revolution. The Demos, on the other hand, only used "old-fashioned
mobilization techniques."

My point is a relatively simple one. I do not deny that the Republicans were better organized, made great use of volunteers, followed a very specific strategy which they made quite public (although no one believed them!), and won the ground war just like they said they would. They were able to do this because 1) they had a message, 2) had a great candidate, and then 3) mobilized around those two things. The purpose of the organization effort is what Dionne forgets. He can talk all he wants to about organizing
Democrats on the state level, but if they don’t have a message or a candidate in a state, it will not work. It will not do them any good to talk about the means and the method, when they are unbale to talk about their purposes. They have always argued (certainly during the last 30 years or so) that if they just get more people to register, more people to vote, they will win. This election finally proved them wrong: they are no longer the majority party, perhaps not even a political party. The GOP not only got out the votes from those who have supported them in the past, they sliced into those groups that the Demos thought they owned: blacks, Hispanics, women, Catholics, etc. The Democrats should have more than Rove envy, more than Bush envy; they have GOP envy: they should envy the GOP’s purposes, not only its methods. That’s called purpose or design or meaning envy. The Demos problem is much larger than Dionne thinks.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Exactly. The entire platform has to reform, not just our methods of "converting" voters or "mobilizing" them.

Reform how, Matt? And into what, or toward what set of goals or principles? (This is not meant as rhetorical snarking; your remarks are serious and cry out for extending.)

No, I understand. I’ve spoken of it several times on this blog in earlier posts. Most recently here.

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