So here’s something that’s been bugging me for a good long while:

If you wonder how attractive the Republican Party label is this year, consider that the tagline on DeWine’s ad is “Independent Fighter for Ohio Families.” The word independent is underlined, so you can’t miss it.

So, I mean, of course these tools are gonna try to distance themselves from Bush. Why wouldn’t you? He’s radioactive. I personally can’t believe there’s like a third of people out there who don’t think the guy is a total waste of skin but listen, Battlestar Galactica didn’t get any major Emmy nominations so clearly there’s a lot of stupid in the water these days. Nevertheless, and despite relentless fluffing by a pundit class so hopeful Old Resolute Bush will show up instead of Drunk Uncle Pete With The Roving Hands at one of these press conferences sometime, the American people have come around to the idea that our president kind of sucks. So naturally Republicans are running away from Brand Bush. Brand Bush, if it was deli meat, just gave some schoolchildren projectile vomiting and mad cow disease. Naturally they’re gonna run away.

So here’s the thing. WE CAN’T LET THEM.

Memo to Democrats. Good ol’ Michael Steele, who’s never seemed all that quick on the uptake to me, has actually managed to impress me a little bit by laying out an election strategy better than the ones you brain trusts have come up with:

“For me to pretend I’m not a Republican would be a lie,” he reasoned. But to run as a proud Republican? “That’s going to be tough, it’s going to be tough to do,” he said. “If this race is about Republicans and Democrats, I lose.”

So listen. No matter what district you’re in, no matter the local issue, no matter the guy’s local pedigree, no matter the healthcareeconomyjobs blahblahblah demographics-cakes, your race is about Republicans and Democrats.

Oh, it’s not? Well gosh golly gee, whatever happened to defining the race, setting the agenda, making something an issue? SHAKE WHAT YOUR MAMA GAVE YOU, for fuck’s sake. MAKE it about Republicans and Democrats. Make it about whether or not you’re better off with them in charge of everything. Make it about how the only way to stop them is to vote for us. Make it about the war that people hate, and the troops people want home. Make it about the party that wanted to shove a feeding tube down your dying spouse’s throat while taking your grandmother’s social security money and cutting your kid’s kindergarten funding. Make it about Dick Cheney saying you should sell stuff on Ebay. Make it about Barbara Bush laughing at Katrina victims. Make it about Geraldo, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, Geraldo asking “Why can’t they HELP THESE PEOPLE?” Make it about those images, because they tell every story we ever need tell about Republicans: they mock you, they laugh, and when you need them, they leave you to drown.

They have a national brand, and until now it’s been a strength, that everybody who runs as a Republican seems to believe the same mishmash of bullshit. Tie it around their necks. Dump it, starving and stinking and covered in rags, on their doorstep. Make it about brand versus brand. Make it about We The People versus Minutemen Uber Alles, our congressional roster of every color and creed and their nasty old racist convention. Run the footage of Bush cackling about where those weapons of mass destruction might be, followed by the faces of the dead, followed by the face of whoever your Republican opponent is, because that’s what he believes in, if he’s got an R after his name. Make him deny he’s a goatfucker. Make him disavow his party and then tar him with that, too, that he loved all this stuff when his team was winning, but that he can’t even be craven with any kind of consistency.

Make this election about them. They’re going to run away from Bush? GOOD. Let them try.