Saturday, November 20, 2004

Marketing the Democrats
Atrios is right -- Oliver Willis is really onto something here. While I think most of his slogans are a bit too cheeky to sell in Middle America, the idea is perfect, and this poster in particular is quite strong.

I was chatting with a Republican friend the other night, and she agreed that Kerry's primary problem was a lack of a coherent, simple set of beliefs that can be packaged and sold to the American people -- a package that can outlast any single, charismatic leader. Part of that campaign must be building the "brand" ID of the Democrats as a party. To do that we have to venerate our own popular historical figures -- FDR, JFK, Clinton, just as the Republicans push the hero-worship of Reagan. It would also be helpful to rehabilitate the historical legacy of Jimmy Carter, because when he went down he took the party with him.

I have one big quibble with Oliver's campaign here, and its the "Since 1794" bit. I don't think we want to go back that far. Yes, it's true that the Democrats are the world's oldest political party, but for quite some time the party was associated with the defense of slavery, and subsequently with Jim Crow and its various evils. I see no particular reason to remind people of this shameful legacy, even indirectly.

The other trick, of course, is to find a set of upright public figures to espouse these ideals, to marry the Democrats' domestic advantage on pocketbook issues with a strong liberal internationalist foreign policy outlook which avoids the dangerous and chauvinist militarism of the neocons and the neo-isolationism of the protectionist and pacifist wing of the left. We need someone who can lead the party nationally and locally, who can lead an electoral charge and lead a rebuilding of the party's grassroots infrastructure.

Easier said than done.


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