March 23rd, 2007at 05:34pm Posted by Eli

Looks like someone has started paying attention:

The real danger for Democrats in the Iraq debate isn’t that they’ll oppose the war too aggressively; it’s that they won’t oppose it aggressively enough. In 1972, Nixon attacked McGovern as a liberal extremist, which wasn’t exactly wrong. But the Democratic Party has become more moderate since the Clinton years, and in the past two presidential elections the G.O.P. has attacked Al Gore and John Kerry less as ideological radicals than as soulless opportunists, weather vanes willing to say whatever it took to win. As pollster Ruy Teixeira has noted, surveys in recent years show Democrats trailing the G.O.P. by more than 20 points when it comes to “know[ing] what they stand for.”

If the public doesn’t like what you stand for, then you should probably adjust your views. But if the public doesn’t believe you stand for anything, then you had better show them that you do. That’s the problem the Democratic Party faces today. And the solution is to end the war in Iraq.

This is what I’ve been saying for over a year now, although not just with regard to the war specifically. The Democrats must take a strong oppositional stand against misguided and destructive Republican policies across the board, not just Iraq. They must distinguish their brand from that of the Republicans, because “We’re just like the Republicans, only smarter and better” is never going to be a big vote-getter.

This is even more true after last year’s elections, which were all about the American people’s disgust with Republicans in general and the war in particular. They want opposition, and the Democrats will face a far more severe backlash if they don’t deliver than if they do.

The only piece I would quibble with is Beinart’s statement that the Democrats have to end the war. It may not be possible for them to end the war, not without a veto-proof majority. But they can do everything within their power to attempt to end the war, thus wiping out their ill-considered AUMF vote almost five years ago, and conclusively establishing themselves as the anti-pointless-war party as well as the competent party.

If they can’t end the war, they should at least make sure that the Republicans have sole ownership of it.

(h/t Atrios)

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Iraq,Media,Politics,War

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