Opinion: In a Democratic fix

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Eric Naing

I admit that Election Day thoroughly kicked my ass. Watching the Democrats continually get trounced was more painful than watching an episode of Oprah, and way more emasculating. The one Democrat I did want defeated (hint: her name rhymes with Jaomi Nakobsson) actually ended up winning big. Now that the election is over, everyone and their mother is out there saying why they think the Democrats lost.

After going through the criticisms of news pundits, party operatives and even my fellow columnists, I’ve come across three common critiques of the Democratic Party: The Democrats are too liberal, they don’t have “values” and they don’t appeal to the South. Unfortunately, these are the same tired arguments that always come up when Democrats lose (which, I also admit, is a lot).

First, the Democrats are not too liberal. The Democrats don’t need to adopt new views, they just need to voice them better. Whether you liked it or not, the Republican message was clear-cut. This is something the Democrats must emulate.

This election was the ultimate vindication of spin politics. What mattered was not what you said, but how you said it. The Democrats unfortunately painted their message in shades of gray while the Republicans smartly stuck with black and white.

Second, the Democrats did not lose on values. Voters who cited values as the chief concern were more likely to be Bush voters anyway and lived in red states already. If anything, it was the issue of terrorism that helped President Bush the most – not “values.” Values in this election could mean any number of things as well: opposing abortion or same-sex marriage; or just some old-fashioned Bible thumping. Neither party is morally superior to the other, but the Republicans managed to appear as if they were. Once again, it all depended on how well each party voiced its argument. Also, once again, the Republicans won – this time by whoring out Jesus like there was no tomorrow. Bruce Springsteen and Michael Moore are fine, but they just can’t compete with the Son of God.

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    The Democrats can’t out-Jesus the Republicans, nor do they need to. The evangelical Christian turnout that supposedly carried this election was slightly lower in proportion than in the 2000 election. Besides, Alan Keyes apparently had Jesus’ endorsement, and look where that got him.

    Finally, the Democrats do not need to pander to the South. They put a southerner on the ticket, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), and he couldn’t even carry his own state. The Democrats should not be fooled into believing that southern values represent American values. Alabama is no more representative of the United States than California. And honestly, do you really trust the values of the same people who brought you Pabst Blue Ribbon and Jeff Foxworthy?

    If the Democrats really want the Southern vote, all they have to do is hand out free Confederate flags and stained wifebeaters (Disclaimer: As someone from rural southern Illinois, I reserve the right to make fun of Southerners – every inbred, slack-jawed, mullet-wearing, illiterate, trailer-trash one of them.)

    In all seriousness, the Democrats should not feel obliged to nominate someone from the South. There are plenty of northerners out there with universal appeal – Barack Obama comes to mind. Also, there are plenty of Democratic issues out there – such as outsourcing and health care – that have universal appeal.

    If anything, the Democrats need to focus on developing a clearer message. While they do need a new game plan, they should not listen to the Monday-morning quarterbacks who are telling them to shift to the right. They already tried that in the 1990s, and look where they are today. The Democrats should be the party of reason and responsibility, not the party of shooting gays with legalized assault rifles in the name of Jesus.

    Eric Naing is a junior in LAS. His column runs Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected].