I have maintained for years that Democrats, in general, have been historically good at governing, but terrible at framing. When a Democrat has been good at both, he has been able to achieve the White House and stay there for the full amount of time allotted to him, unless tragedy has cut his life short (as in the case of John F. Kennedy). However, this combination is so rare that only one President since FDR has achieved it: William Jefferson Clinton. His wife, Hillary Clinton, also possesses that combination, and even more strongly than he. But alas, her own party wanted someone different, someone who possesses a Red-Sea-parting penis, who could bring them new voters and kick the old, non-Whole Foods-going, non-computer-using Clinton Democrats to the curb.
How’s that strategy working out for them so far? Well, let’s see. McCain is kicking Obama’s ass in the Western and Southern states that Obama was supposed to turn blue. The swing states, which Hillary easily won in the Primary, are starting to move towards McCain. So, as we Hillary supporters all have been saying for several months, Obama’s proposed “New Democratic Party” and “New Electoral Map” were vaporware.
For being aware of these facts, and for knowing that Obama is illegitimate, unqualified and unelectable, I personally have been accused of being stupid, angry, a liar, immature, hateful, a Rush Limbaugh devotee, and a Republican by people who do not know me. People who do know me have been telling me I’m wrong and I should listen to Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton when making my choice. Why? Am I not allowed to do my own research and make up my own mind?
Apparently not. Because here’s something else we Democrats suck at: Winning an argument.
If you have watched a lot of debates, you have probably noticed that being right on the facts and issues doesn’t make you a good debater. What does, is a mastery of framing and the ability to read the question behind the question. If you are able to understand the reason why the question is being asked, and to turn the question into a frame through which your stance on that particular issue is seen in a favorable light, then you will win the argument.
What Not To Do: “Because There’s Something Wrong With You!”
Here is a typical example of how Obama and his devotees argue. Yes, it’s the Great Orange Satan. Unfortunately, we must go into the belly of ObamaNation in order to understand it.
What McCain and Palin offer is a chance to indulge in the ugliest aspects of small town culture. It’s a heady opportunity to sneer at the achievements of those who have excelled. It’s an open offer to stand at the political podium and throw trash at those leftist extremists who actually think that everyone is just as American and just as patriotic as Jane and Jimmy Middleamerica. It’s an exciting enticement to wallow in public hate flavored with the forbidden spice of racism.
In its own way, it’s a testimony far louder than any delivered by Bill Cosby that this kind of small town culture — that conservative culture — is just as dangerous, and just as endangered, as any in this country. When you look at something like the web page of Levi Johnston with it’s proud declaration of being a red neck and it’s joyful talk of “kicking ass,” you’re looking at a culture that’s sick. When a candidate for vice-president denigrates the value of community service, you’re looking at a culture that’s sick. When you drop in on a GOP meeting and find boxes of “Barack Waffles” decorated by racist stereotypes and buttons bearing phrases like “If Obama is president, will we still call it the White House?” you’re looking at a culture that’s sick.
The person who wrote this is called “Devilstower.”
I would like to know what “Devilstower” thinks is the purpose of an argument. And yes, this is a serious question. Is it to call the other side childish names? Is it to “prove” your intellectual and moral superiority over the other side? Or, is it to win the person you are arguing with over to your side?
When Obamans take this approach to trying to beat McCain/Palin, they are merely playing into all the stereotypes that Republicans have used against Democrats for years. Yes, this is liberal hatred. Yes, this is liberal elitism. Yes, this is dismissiveness and disdain for our fellow Americans. And from the outside looking in, it’s an extremely ugly sight.
I ask you, where is Obama’s positive argument that people should vote for him instead of McCain? Where is the re-framing, the back-and-forth, the meat-and-potatoes discussion about plans and issues? It’s nowhere to be seen. Instead, Obama simply states that the other side is horrible, and that anyone who’s anyone knows that.
Obama’s latest ad, to which I linked above, is a textbook illustration of this point. It makes the point that McCain is out of touch and doesn’t email or use the computer. Putting aside that the ad is misleading, because McCain has his wife email for him due to his injuries, what meat-and-potatoes issue is this addressing? The economy? The war? The Constitution?
[cricket cricket cricket]
This ad, like all of Obama’s campaign, is only aimed at true believers. And that brings me to the second point.
What Not To Do: “Fine, We Don’t Need You Anyway!”
Obama’s campaign, and his followers, have done nothing whatsoever to reach out to the Americans who refuse to worship at the altar of Obama, even those in their own Party. In fact, they have done everything in their power to further alienate us. Throughout the campaign, we recalcitrant Clinton Dems, Independents and Republicans have gotten the message loud and clear: Go The Fuck Away.
When you argue that you don’t NEED to win the argument, that means you know you have already lost. And the people you are arguing with know it.
What To Do: Take a Page from Hillary’s Book
Study Hillary’s campaign. Study every debate she was in, which she won hands-down. This woman has got it down to a science. If someone asks her a question she doesn’t like, she either doesn’t answer it, or re-frames it to showcase her in a good light. If she likes the question, she answers it in clear, concise bullet-points that show her absolute mastery of the topic. But never, NEVER does she accuse the questioner of being stupid or sick, or petulantly claim the question shouldn’t be asked. She understands that politicians need the voters in order to win elections, and that debating is a critical skill in the quest to win them to your side.
And if you don’t win the voters to your side – if you let the Republicans win the argument – then you lose the election.
Perhaps in 2012, our National Party will have the brains to recognize a winner when they see one, and overlook the fact that the best man for the job turned out to be a woman.
The PUMA Un-Party didn’t form soon enough this year, and only had a few months to try to force the DNC to nominate Hillary. Our successes were remarkable nonetheless – had the delegates been allowed to vote their consciences, Hillary would be well on her way to the White House by now. But after McCain wins in November, we will have four years to make this argument and win it, my fellow Americans.
Who’s with me?
Cross-posted at The Confluence