7 thoughts on “And I Love Mary Mancini

  1. If I read one more essay about ‘framing’ or ‘messaging,’ I’m going to fart really loudly. I’ll reprint my comment from there, B, in case it gets lost in moderation. I hope it makes sense:

    The problem with this approach is that it ignores some inescapable and vital underlying issues. “Messaging” is only important in its ability to appeal to and activate preexisting desires and tendencies among the electorate.

    The Republicans are successful because they’ve always found ways to appeal to backlash politics of racism, homophobia, sexism, and general fear and loathing of the ‘other.’ Lee Atwater summed it up best:

    The Republican message appeals to the damaged, fearful id of the Republican base, so the message is always going to appear simple, if transparent and apparently nonsensical. The only discipline required is that it blows the appropriate dog whistles for the moment.

    The Democratic formula is far more complex, as it requires one to separate the voters from their elected representatives. The Democratic electorate is a collective Charlie Brown. It believes in all the things Mary Mancini writes about, but it lacks the guts and the vision to accept that Lucy– the Democratic Party leadership and all elected officials who follow its lead– will always pander to the electorate and promise them what they claim to want, only to pull the policy football away in favor of servicing corporate lobbyists and well-funded special interests. There is often the small consolation offered– some minor culture-war crumb, perhaps– but in the end things like dismantling the military-industrial complex; reining in corporate excess and financial chicanery; and establishing universal health care are all part of the elusive football.

    In short, the Republicans appear to have discipline because they are operating on a base of spiteful and willfully ignorant mental slaves. The Democrats appear to be in disarray because their voters lack the will to force compliance from their elected officials.

  2. Maybe I missed something, B. It looks like she’s saying the problem with the Democrats and health care is that the Democratic politicians aren’t selling it well enough, and that’s why it looks like they aren’t motivating the public support that the Republicans appear to be motivating. This is so wrong in several ways, only one of which I commented on, so I’ll stick to that for now.

    The Democratic plan– such as it is– is a hard sell to many Democratic voters because (inasmuch as it can be understood in its present form) it proposes to fatten up the biggest sources of waste and inequity in our system, the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, without offering affordable and sustainable alternatives. It will be costly, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that price will buy us a worsening of the situation.

    The problem isn’t how the Dems are selling, it’s what they are selling. Instead of demanding a better sales job, which is what Mary Mancini seems to be suggesting, Democratic voters need to demand a better product. Leave the trafficking of bullshit to the Republicans, who are offering nothing else.

  3. We need to demand great product, i.e. hold our elected officials accountable, AND do a better job of selling our values which, incidentally, are the values of a majority of Americans.

    Republicans say we want “big government,” Bull hockey. We want “smart government.”

    Is there waste, fraud, and abuse? Yes, but Democrats aren’t the only ones who cause waste, fraud, and abuse.

    So while we are fighting to hold our elected officials accountable, we can also urge them to represent us the right way with our words, and not the words of the opposition party.

  4. So while we are fighting to hold our elected officials accountable, we can also urge them to represent us the right way with our words, and not the words of the opposition party.

    That sounds great in theory. In practice, though, real accountability can only be extracted from officials who know they can be replaced. Unless Democratic voters are willing to turn the party machine and all the lobbyists and campaign cash into dust by voting outside the party (or by voting in unapproved Democratic candidates), they will forever be Charlie Brown.

    In other words, you have to be willing to demonstrate that you are serious about what you want, and that you will vote for someone who will put your needs and desires ahead of the big money. Such a candidate might not have a (D) behind his or her name. Are you willing to go that far?

  5. Sam, I think it’s easier somewhat to give credence to the power of third-party challenges when you’re living in a place that has some third-party energy. Where I live, we’ve gotten an effective and proliferating third-party movement — and it’s helped make the two bigger parties more responsive to progressive concerns because they can easily see on election day where the votes are going. I can see how, where you’re from, you’d also see that as a viable way to go.

    However, Tennessee does not have a lot of progressive voters (for firstly) nor do they have an electoral system that is set up to do anything but preserve two-party power trading. Now, while one might counsel trying to change that (and I know people are), until it gets changed, the reality of the situation in Tennessee is that the progressives as an interest group have to try to shift the party they’re currently stuck with. That’s why your “bolt the party” thing — while principled and even perhaps practical where we live — strikes many Tennesseans as foolish and not because they’re deluded tools of the man.

    (Hope I make it clear that I know your heart is pure and that you’re talking to someone sympathetic to your p.o.v. )

  6. I see your point, Bridgett. But I live in Chicago, which (despite it’s working-class, conservative Democratic pedigree) does seem to have quite a few progressives. Yet the Green Party here is barely an afterthought, and we’ve recently contributed to the national stage such reliably pro-corporate centrist Democrats as Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama.

    I have friends in San Francisco; you’d be hard pressed to find more progressives per square mile than you’d find there. Yet they recently reelected Nancy Pelosi, who has a habit of openly scoffing at progressive concerns.

    In other words, this dynamic isn’t limited to Tennessee. I don’t know that I’d label it delusion, but there does seem to be a disconnect between what Democratic voters say they want and what they vote for. Case in point: Barack Obama. Did the voters not see that he was surrounding himself with the same type of neo-liberal, Clinton-era Beltway hacks that set the table for Dubya’s cabal? Did they not see where the bulk of his record-breaking campaign kitty was coming from?

    Maybe it’s just massive inertia. Eight years of Bush did manage to mobilize more people to the polls to vote for Democrats instead of Republicans, but I guess expecting more than a middling plurality of Merrkins to vote deeper than the (D) was a bit much. Who knows? If the republic survives the next Republican disaster (beginning in 2012 or ’16), maybe we’ll finally have the spine to vote in enough Democrats who’ll put the people’s interests first.

    I’m not holding my breath on that.

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