Monday, January 30, 2006

Kick Me, I'm a Democrat

Michael Kinsley complains in Slate It seems to be time once again to play Kick the Democrats. Everyone can play, including Democrats.

Sounds like fun.
The rules are simple. When Republicans lose elections, it is because they didn't get enough votes. When Democrats lose elections, it is because they have lost their principles and lost their way. Or they have kept their principles, which is an even worse mistake.
Or maybe it is they don't have any principles or ideas, just hatred.
Democrats represent no one who is not actually waiting in line for a latte at a Starbucks within 150 yards of the east or west coastline. They are mired in trivial lifestyle issues like, oh, abortion and gay rights and Americans killing and dying in Iraq, while the Republicans serve up meat and potatoes for real Americans, like privatizing Social Security and making damned sure the government knows who is Googling whom in this great country.
Talk about a distortion; the requested Google info had no personal data; it was just to see how often children might encounter porno sites when searching for something else.
Just repeat these formulas until a Democrat has been sent into frenzies of self-flagellation, or reduced to tears.
Those poor, poor, jackasses.
There is always a pick-up game of Kick the Democrats going on somewhere. But something about the Alito confirmation—the pathetic and apparently surprising inability of 45 Democratic senators to stop 55 Republicans from approving anyone they want
It is called a majority vote.
—seems to have made the game suddenly a lot more popular. How dire is it for the Democrats? George Will noted on TV the other day that they have lost five of the past seven presidential elections. This baseball-like statistic—"Democrats have lost X of the past Y elections"—has been one of Will's favorite tropes over the generations. But why now five out of seven? Two out of the past four would be equally accurate, and not nearly as grim.
Zero out of the past two looks even more grim.
If you take a longer view, things get grimmer again. In fact, you can measure back from the present to any of the past 20 elections (which takes you back to 1928) and only once (starting in 1932) do the Democrats come out ahead. But this hardly supports Will's contention—and everyone else's—that things went to hell in the 1960s. If this exercise has any meaning, they've been in hell continuously since 1936.
Not sure what he is talking about; they might not have held the WhiteHouse that much, but they held Congress for 40 years.
And then there is election of 2000. We can argue forever (and will) about who won that election,
George Bush took the White House.
but if the question is whose views attracted more voters, there is no dispute that the answer is the Democrats. Attributing 2000 to the Democrats means they have won two of the past three elections, three of the past four, and a non-apocalyptic three of the magic seven.
If you are free to attribuite an election to the Democrat regardless of who really wins, it looks like they don't have anything to be crying about.
The official illustration of the Kick the Democrats movement is a map of the United States, showing huge swaths of red with just a few tiny accents of blue.
And we need to do something about those blue areas.
Of course this gives an unrealistic advantage to big states with few people.
But who get two Senators, just like the blue latte drinking states.
But then so does our electoral system. The deeper flaw is the assumption that everybody in red states is red and ditto the blues. A map showing red and blue people, not states, would look a homogenous purple. John Kerry got 43 percent of the vote in states that went for George Bush, and Bush got 45 percent in Kerry states.
So Bush beat Kerry even in states he lost.
Liberals are not nearly so rare and so culturally isolated as the official map would suggest. This is little comfort to Democrats when it comes to the math of winning elections. But it does suggest that endless self-flagellation about their values and beliefs may not be the best strategy for turning things around.

This is not an argument for complacency. Obviously the party that has lost the White House, both houses of Congress, and now the courts needs some new ideas and new energy. But it seems undeniably true to me—though many deny it—that the Republicans simply play the game better. You're not supposed to say that. At Pundit School they teach you: Always go for the deeper explanation, not the shallower one. Never suggest that people (let alone "the" people) can be duped.

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