Dear Senator Wyden: November 7, 2004
I am a constituent and supporter writing to you about the next four difficult years. I have waited until today partly because I wanted to get past my depression after the election debacle and partly because I wanted to be sure that my words were thoughtful rather than merely plaintive.
Analysis of the political campaign
Observations on the DNC
There are three parts to this letter:
Suggestions for fighting against the darkness
Analysis of the campaign
I'm a smart guy, you're a smart guy and there are a lot of other smart guys out there in this world... it's just that none of them seem to have been involved the Democratic party during the 2004 presidential race. The only thing that keeps this race from going down as the most inept in Democratic party history, is the fact that the 'honor' has already been taken by the 2000 Democratic presidential campaign.
I worked for 20 years in and around the New York advertising community, these are another bunch of smart guys: they spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on the ads that we all make fun of. They laugh too, all the way to the bank. Those stupid advertising campaigns... work and they work really, really well. Karl Rove knows this, Roger Ailes knows this, Ralph Reed knows this. How come no one in the entire DNC seems to have a clue about this?
Everyone is going on and on about how the Republicans turned out the evangelical vote and how they energized the base and how they did some other political maneuver: bullshit. They won because they understood and used the basic rules of advertising: keep it really simple and keep on repeating it. It doesn't matter if it doesn't fit the facts, it doesn't matter if it isn't true; if it's simple and you keep repeating it, people will believe you. I won't go into the history of this kind of propaganda, you probably know it as well or better than I, suffice it to say that a significant portion of the American electorate (and a huge majority of Republicans) believe to this day that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the destruction of the WTC.
If the Democrats actually want to win anything ever again they must learn this lesson, and the next one as well.
Observations on the DNC
I could rail on against Terry MacAuliffe and the others who 'ran' this campaign, I could question their policies, their commitment, their competency. Indeed, they are seriously at fault in all these areas but that misses the real point. The DNC and Democrats as a group need to recognize that this is not politics as usual. We really are in the middle of a clash of civilizations here... and I'm not talking about Iraq.
If you compare the 2004 electoral college map of the US with a map of pre-Civil War map of the 'free' vs 'slave' states and territories, you will see that they are functionally identical.
Over the past thirty years we have seen several congruent trends; the gradual change of the 'Dixiecrats' to the Republican party, the swing of the southern states, in fact the entire old Confederacy to the Republican party, the ascendance of the 'Southern Strategy' which pretty much says that if you aren't from the South, you can't be President. The takeover of the Republican party by Christian right-wing zealots and the gradual revelation of a plan to fundamentally change the nature of the American Republic. Again, I'm sure I don't have to go into chapter and verse here, you are politically astute and are probably more aware of these trends than I am.
The point I am making here is: the Democratic Party does not seem to be aware that these fanatics are out there determined to turn the US into a Christian version of Iran. Otherwise they would surely be fighting these people tooth and nail.
Here's the point:
We can't be nice anymore, we can't see the other point of view, we can't make compromises, we can't take the high road, we can't sit at the table, we can't decry the partisanship all around us, we can't give an inch.
Because every time we do... we lose.
We lose because they are our enemies: they understand that and we don't.
We lose because they know they are at war with us and we don't.
We lose because we want to include them with us and they don't.
...because they understand the it's them or us... and we don't.
Until we truly 'get' that this really is a fight for survival, we will continue to lose.
I don't know what your standing is within the party, though it must be stronger now by the sheer fact of having survived the 2004 debacle. I hope you will consider the points I have made above, perhaps you already hold some of these positions yourself, and will press for the fundamental changes needed if the Democratic party is to remain a viable choice for the electorate.
Suggestions for fighting against the darkness
I don't envy you the next four years, it's likely to be grueling and frustrating. I know it's presumptuous of me to make these suggestions but being an arrogant SOB I'll offer them anyway:
Pick your battles, I imagine you'll win some procedural battles but the only really effective weapon/threat you have is the filibuster, save it for the really important things.
The way I see it, we're going to lose on most things: Social Security, Medicare, more tax cuts, school prayer, bigotry against gays, and a host of others. Yes, of course, you vote against these changes but they aren't the important ones (mostly because they can be reversed once we get the chance).
The important things, as I see it are: more wars and Supreme Court nominees.
I think it's really important that we don't invade Iran, Syria, North Korea or any other tinpot dictatorship we disapprove of. They don't benefit from it and we surely don't need any more crazed Muslim fanatics (or any other fanatics for that matter) screaming “Death to America” and throwing bombs at us.
Given the propaganda skills of the administration and the gullibility of the electorate, even that will probably be a losing proposition.
The most important fights are going to take place around the Supreme Court. The consequences of confirming bad nominees are momentous, as you well know. The current court has been exceptional only for it's willingness to participate in the coup d'etat of 2000, otherwise it's been pretty undistinguished. No one expected Rehnquist to be another Earl Warren and he sure wasn't. But he's going, soon and there are likely two or even three more close behind him. This will be the battleground on which to make a stand. Nothing will have more lasting impact on the future of our country than the next few Supreme Court members.
The damage that the Republicans can inflict on us legislatively is correctable in a few years or a few election cycles. The damage the Supreme Court can do lasts for generations.
If you have political capital left, this is the place to spend it. If you want a place to filibuster, this is the place.
I don't know whether you actually see letters any more, I hope so but the vast numbers of constituents these days pretty much precludes that, I know. Perhaps my eloquence will get me through...(LOL).
In any event, good luck to you, these next few years aren't going to be a party. If there's any way in which I can help. Feel free to contact me (no, I don't have a lot of spare cash at the moment but that may change).
You've done good work in the past, I am confident you will continue to do so in the future.
With thanks for your time, I am;
...well you all know it's: Kriedigan...
P.S.: I am hoping you'll actually read this. I'm going to try to hand deliver this to your Portland HQ, or use snailmail if I have to. If this just goes onto the 'slushpile', please don't waste the stamp on a standard reply letter.