Between the two of them, Digby and Matt Yglesias give me ammo for my “culture wars are a completely stupid waste of time and energy” viewpoint.
Now, none if this proves anything with respect to whether the Democrats should attack popular culture as a way of connecting with voters on the allegedly all important values issues. Clearly, this doesn’t address that specifically. But it does address the fact that people seem to be more concerned at this point that politicians are too influenced by religion than that they are not influenced enough. And that tells me that we would be going in exactly the wrong direction if we think to capture a majority by twisting ourselves into pretzels on morals and values. The proponents certainly haven’t produced any data that would say otherwise.
Look. I can’t offer data either, but I can offer up my Mom, who I’ve begun to think of as this blog’s Test Republican (hi, Mom!). She and I were shopping the other day when I asked her what her reaction would be if Democrats suddenly chucked the entire abortion rights plank of their platform overboard and started positioning themselves as the party of God, guns and little babies. Would such a radical change in long-held social beliefs on the part of the Democrats convince her to vote Democratic instead of her usual straight-ticket Republican?
The look she gave me was the same one I got when I asked if I could stay overnight at a boy’s house after prom.
Looking back at the presidential election and the whole “shares our values” fiasco, more and more I’m astonished we didn’t lose worse than we did. Looking at the poll numbers Matt and Digby cite, it’s tempting to say “Oh, if everybody shares our values, then why did we lose?” Because it looks like people out there want to love us, a whole lot. It looks like we should be singing the same song.
But looking back I realize we never even opened our damn mouths.
Think about it. For three of the four years preceding the election Republicans were the only ones with any kind of say-so on the national stage. And it wasn’t all the media, folks. It was chickenass Democrats feeling like somehow what we stood for was suddenly out of style and we were ashamed of it. Republicans pulled out in a DeLorean and instead of saying, “That car looks hot in the driveway, but it gets shit mileage and runs like crap in the snow and you paid HOW MUCH and our Ford will be running fine long after your piece of sugared shit there pops an axle,” we oohed and aahed along with Katie Couric at the Republicans’ bold and shiny and fancy new car. We scuffed our feet and said, “we were gonna get one of those, too, you know.” And when they made fun of us for driving a Ford, well, we made sure people knew we were gonna throw gum in their hair and do something real bad to them, someday, soon. We promise. For three years this went on, this half-ass, kinda-sorta, dunno what we stand for except that we like standing next to these guys kind of schtick.
Then, after the election, we made the mistake of assuming people weren’t buying what we were selling. Amy Sullivan, Peter Beinart, James Carville, I’m looking at you. We should chuck the gays out of our plans, people said. We should advocate criminalizing abortion. We should fiddle around with our product some if people don’t like it.
Looking at the numbers from Digby and Matt, I think our problem isn’t that we don’t have it, that magical mix of values and substance and good stuff kids and voters go for. It’s that we haven’t sold it.
I spent years working at good places that were marketed for shit. It’s kind of a thing with me, I picked jobs at great unknown places. And I worked with great people who put out a great product and watched as idiots who manufactured shit beat us every time. Why? Because everybody knew who they were and nobody knew jack shit about us. Quality had nothing to do with it, sad as it is. We don’t need a new product, kids. Those numbers show that, and we know how much our product rocks the house. We need a better marketing campaign.
Thank God that’s changing now. Thank God we have Howard and Harry and Nancy and Barbara Boxer and Chris Dodd kicking some ass, John Conyers and Louise Slaughter, thank God we have Frist and DeLay tying each others’ tails together, thank God they’ve snared Bush’s tail in there too. Thank God we have blogs that raise money and get ads on the air and dig dirt, thank God for all of it because we’re going to need it now that we can put this stupid culture war bull to bed and start using our energy on real politics.
I look at those numbers and I say, this proves, once and for all, that we can win. Republicans have billed themselves as the only suppliers of KickAss in this country, and I think what we need to do is advertise our own supply a little. After all, we have the advantage in that ours actually works.
Let’s hear it, Democrats: YEEEAARRGH!