Michael Reynolds at The Mighty Middle has an excellent post concerning the Democrats’ campaigning woes. Rather than buying into the party’s line that they lose because they aren’t as mean as the Republicans, Mr. Reynolds instead proffers the theory that the party is just stupid and out of touch. The “out of touch” charge certainly rings true, and he makes some excellent points in the following excerpt:
I think Democrats just don’t get it because they come from a very different place than the Republicans. The moral center of the GOP is in big business, small business and churches. The moral core of the Democratic Party is in academia, unions and the groups – the NARALS et al. The unions are disintegrating, the academy is the very definition of “out of touch,” and the groups are hermetically sealed parallel universes inhabited by lawyers, flacks and giant, bloated Senators.
The insular nature of much of the base of the Democratic party makes it much more difficult for the party to connect with average voters. NARAL’s ad attacking John Roberts demonstrates how tone deaf the party can sound at times. Reynolds offers some advice that I believe the party would be advised to take.
If you want to talk to people — people who do not already agree with everything you have to say, professor — you have to actually know some people. Some of those people you need to know will drive SUV’s. Some will own jet skis. Many will attend churches where people sing a lot. They will not necessarily dine on a small green salad with lo-fat dressing on the side. They will not know or care who Noam Chomsky is. And here is what is vitally important for Democrats to understand: although these people will not necessarily be part of your all-Angelou book club, they will be at least as smart as you are.
To communicate with people, understand people. To understand people, listen to people. Fire the consultants. Fire the gurus. Fire the pollsters. Fire the lawyers. Get back into the real world. Send forth your minions, Democrats, scatter them to the winds with instructions to go forth into the McDonalds and the Wal-Marts and the churches, to boldly engage fat women in spandex, and skinny guys in pick-up trucks, to speak without sneering to the local businessman, to talk on equal terms with the minister and the insurance salesman and the cook and the fisherman and the clerk. Watch TV. (No, not PBS. Not HBO, either.) Read bestsellers. Shoot a gun. Ride a speedboat. Drive a big old gas hog across west Texas at ninety miles an hour. (It’s fun. Even more fun than composing briefs or conducting a focus group.) Smile at other people’s kids. Talk to teachers – not their union reps.
He saves the most useful suggestion for last though:
And by the way, when I say “talk to” I mean, “shut the f**k up and listen.”
And by “useful”, I mean “likely to be ignored”. It is much easier to simply assume that voters vote for GOP candidates because they just don’t know what’s good for them.