OK, forget my last post about what the Democrats need to do. After a few more hours both online and on TV, I can't help but think that those actions are a little too mature for too many Democrats. Let's start more simply. Speaking as a Bush voter, here's a short list of things various Democrats need to stop doing, lest they continue to marginalize themselves.
- Stop explaining to us why we're stupid.
- Stop explaining why it isn't our fault, we're just victims of Karl Rove. It is patronizing. That will win you neither votes nor friends. You have neither a lock on truth nor intelligence. I don't like to wave my credentials or ego around, but I'll happily take any of you on in the intelligence department, and I'm still "red". If your theories can't account for that, you need new theories.
- Stop explaining our actions in terms of "-isms". Rejecting gay marriage is hardly homophobia. (There's actually a danger here if you try to insist that it is; munging the difference between not wanting to grant marriages to gay couples and murdering them may cause certain borderline personalities to munge the difference too. That's bad for everybody.)
- America is a special nation, the only hyperpower. Consider the possibility that part of the reason for this also lies in its special demographic makeup. "Blue" folk keep tossing out the observation that "red" America is out of step with the rest of the world. Consider the possibility that it is exactly this "out of step"-ness that is also the reason we are strong. I know you love Europe, but I don't think I'm going to want to live there when their Social Security bills come due. (In fact, if you factor in their SS commitments, I'd bet money they are more in the hole than we are, and less able to crawl out!)
In a phrase, stop the patronization. We are not stupid. Many of us, like myself, have grown up immersed in your philosophy and still reject it. Find out why.
One way or another, a new second party will emerge from the ashes of the current Democratic party. It does not have to be the Democratic party itself, though. A lot of you will lose a lot of ground if that happens. Of course, a lot of you are going to lose a lot of ground anyhow.
As long as you "the enemy" as sub-human, and, for that matter, "the enemy", I promise you, you will continue to lose more and more ground. This election was not a fluke.
I'm the engineering/scientific type, so I say to approach it that way. A lot of Democrats have a theory about how "reds" work. It makes certain predictions. It is not succeeding with its predictions. It is, therefore, time for a new theory. It is time to drop your "Red-ism", gather more data, and form a better theory that doesn't invoke excessive stupidity or parochialism, and instead celebrates diversity... hmmm, where have I heard that before?... and does a better job of explaining things. Until the Democrats do this, they will continue to fail.
Update 12-6-2004: Re this, I would like to point out that this post is directed solely at the people who are doing these things, not every liberal/leftist/Democrat alive. (Believe me, such people exist; my wife encountered a co-worker who had known her for months, but upon finding out she voted Bush basically wouldn't speak to her for a couple of weeks, except in the form of emails of the worst sort of political polemic that had the exact opposite of the intended effect. His common sense did kick in after a while and he did resume treating her as a person, not a set of political opinions, but it took long enough.) Apologies if it seemed targetted at any one in particular. As for the later post, there has been a lot of investment in the Iraq war failing at the party strategy level; again, this does not mean every single liberal/leftist/Democrat has this investment. As a final note, I'd note I haven't updated this site in a while (for personal reasons I'd rather not go into), and the rather screechy tone that existed at the time of this post has mostly receded, and there is good reason to hope that the leadership of the Democrats is taking these concerns seriously; from what I gather we'll know a lot from who is tapped to lead the party.
Again, this post wasn't aimed at Rogers or other people like him; I truly believe that even though I have my opinions I can not act as if they are Certain To Be Right and I enjoy reading people with opposing views who present them without feeling like I'm being yelled at. (Another site I like is dangerousmeta.com.) This is aimed at the people who belittled people for voting Bush or being "Red", in other words, people yelling at and insulting others.
As for "losing" me, I don't think I've ever been anyone whom an "unabashedly liberal computer geek" would consider anything but conservative, with libertarian tendencies. Using the standard modern definition of liberal, which I assume Rogers is (please correct me if I'm wrong since "liberal" can be interpreted so many ways), I don't anticipate that changing. But that's certainly not to say I won't vote anti-Republican, perhaps as soon as the next Presidential election.
Actually, I take that back. Lately "conservative" and "liberal" have been defined almost solely along the lines of their opinion about the war. Looking over the current contents of Workbench, I'm certainly not a full-on "conservative". Inter-racial marriages? I don't even know that the term has meaning to me, if anything I'm generally in favor of it. If opposition to such things is conservative, that's not me. (This makes me wish that I had gotten around to posting one of my Government Myth essays that I still have in storage about while it is OK to take a person's beliefs and apply a label, the other direction is never OK, because the vast majority of people do not choose their beliefs by label; you can be a total liberal except you might like the war in Iraq (a current hot button issue), or you might be a "social" liberal but not be a "economic" liberal, or any number of other things. I'm probably still a conservative with libertarian leanings by Rogers' standards, but that doesn't mean that based on the label alone you can guess my real beliefs.)
People like this definately exist on both (/all) sides, and I rather expect in about ten years to post a complementary post for the conservative/rightist/Republicans, as even since I posted this it has become increasingly clear the Republicans are definately acting as the Democrats have feared, taking their recent successes as much more of a mandate then they really should, and are aggressively pushing policies almost custom designed to lose them their electoral advantage. (Such idiocy seems to be par for the course for large organizations; along with the many other valid ways of looking at the Democrats or Republicans, one must remember that both are also committees, with all that implies...)