Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What’s going wrong?

The Democrats are in big trouble. If you can’t even hold onto Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, something is terribly wrong in Denmark and in the Democratic Party as well.

One problem is that it’s always easier for the opposition to make points than the guy in charge. The guy in charge has to actually accomplish something and the opposition just has to criticize but it goes beyond that.

Basically the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to frame the issues and monopolize the debate. The whole Health Care Reform effort is turning into a catastrophe for the Democrats.

I’m going to say it again; they went about it the wrong way. The first thing they needed to do was sell the necessity to the American people. They failed to do that. They assumed that everyone “knew” that reform was necessary.

The second thing they failed to do was follow Galan’s advice and first insure that they “did no harm” and convince the public of that.

The third thing they did wrong was give the impression that they were rushing into a very complex issue with little or no professional preparation. The fact that the House and Senate ended up so far apart was, I believe, partly do to this. The bottom line is they radiated the impression that ANY Health Care bill was better than none and I don’t think the electorate bought that position. I know I didn’t.

The fourth thing they did wrong was to not seriously address the very realistic concerns about the impact on the budget deficit and the national debt. I don’t know if the strategy here was “maybe if we don’t mention it no one will notice” or what but it sure as hell didn’t work. By not aggressively addressing the issue they gave the impression that they were out of touch with reality and maybe they were.

But, the single biggest thing they did wrong, was they did not clearly articulate to the American what their objectives were. "Health Care Reform" was far too nebulous a concept. They didn't lay out in black and white "WHAT THIS WILL MEAN TO YOU!" and they didn't reinforce the message every three and a half minutes like the Republicans reinforced their negative message.

Basically they screwed the pooch big time and now we’re all about to pay for it. I don’t see things changing drastically in the immediate future. Even if they manage to get a health bill passed we’ll be blessed with a steady barrage from the Right about all the things wrong with it and the catastrophe that’s going to occur when it goes into effect. Some of those charges may even be true.

The bottom line is a disastrous 2010 mid-term elections which may well reverse control of Congress. That’ll mean two years of virtually gridlock and the potential undoing of not only Health Care reform but the reforms in the financial sector as well.

I’m not all that optimistic about 2012 either. I might actually start considering supporting the least objectionable Republican in the field.

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