Fat Steve's Blatherings

Saturday, October 08, 2005

James Carville Has a Problem


        James Carville says the Democrats need a story to tell the voters about why they should be elected.  He's absolutely right.  But he didn't propose any story, because the only one Democrats have is the one the voters keep rejecting.

At Length:

        James Carville has a serious problem.  The problem is, he's a Democrat.

        Carville addressed some college Democrats at Northwestern University.  He told them that Democrats need to stop throwing out a litany of proposals, and instead tell a story.  But the question is, what story.

        If you go read a history of the New Deal, you find out that when Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office, the country was falling apart.  The entire banking system had collapsed the day before (literally; the banks failed March 3, he was sworn March 4th).  One out of four men was out of work.  Businesses had failed in all directions.  International trade was collapsing.  In his inaugural address, he told a story: the government would take action to get the economy and the country back on track.

        An excellent story, based in truth.  The economy was falling apart, and FDR's administration took all kinds of action.  Arguably, he didn't cure the Depression, but he ameliorated the worst effects, and gave the country confidence.

        The Democrats ran on the New Deal story into the '60s.  They won seven of nine presidential elections with it, losing only to Dwight Eisenhower, the most popular figure in the country.  They won 32 out of 34 congressional elections, losing only in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and during the Eisenhower landslide.  Both times, they took back both Houses of Congress in the next election.

        But starting in the mid-60s, people stopped believing in the New Deal story.  Eisenhower had demonstrated that the economy didn't collapse the moment a Republican took office.  The Civil Rights movement was agitating the "solid South."  Crime was rising sharply, major riots took place all over the country, and a controversial war was going on.  Political priorities changed.

        The Democrats needed a new story.  But they didn't have one.  They weren't going to get tough on crime, because crime was society's fault.  They were going to put bussing and affirmative action into place, regardless of the wishes of the people.  They despised their country and its military, and intended to weaken defense while sucking up to our enemies.  And they were going to remake society in the image that they believed it should be in.  (Peter F. Drucker, by the way, noted this at the time, in his book The Age of Discontinuity.)

        From 1968 on, only two Democrats have won the Presidency, and both were southerners perceived as moderates on the social issues.  Six Democrats have lost the Presidency, Carter for monumental incompetence, and McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry for being on the wrong side of those social issues.

        Having told the audience the Democrats need a story, Carville proposes — nothing.  That's where the problem of being a Democrat comes in.  The only story the Democrats have is that the U.S. is an awful, evil country that has to remade from top to bottom, with the government shoving "gay marriage," secularism, abortion on demand, and group entitlements for every group except whites and males down the voters throats, with a dollop of hate America, and never do anything effective on the subject of defense.  In addition, they'll pander to special interests.

        A slim majority of the country rejects this story.  A big majority of Democratic primary voters eat it up.  And worse, the Democrats are older than the Republicans on the average.  As the people who actually remember the Depression die off, the remaining Democrats switch more to the radical, reform the country by force type.  Which will make the Republican majority even bigger.



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