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Just had a brainstorm...

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday November 7, 2006 09:15 PM

... which probably came to everybody else here six months ago. Sorry, I'm a little slow sometimes.

About six in ten voters are said by pollsters to "disapprove" of the Iraq war -- whatever that means. Presumably the Democrats have noticed this fact.

Problem is, most of the Democrats are fine with the Iraq war -- just as most Democrats have been fine with every war we've embarked upon in the last hundred years.

So, the marketing problem is this: how can we donks take advantage of this voter discontent, without actually being against the war?

Answer: Find the minimal slogan that will put the necessary daylight between us and Bush, without actually coming out against the war. This isn't a matter of "triangulation" -- it's not that they want antiwar votes and pro-war votes. It's that they're pro-war themselves and mean to keep it going, and in the fullness of time, expand it to Iran.

Hence all the yammering about Rumsfeld, the stupid parsing and re-parsing of "stay the course," the emphasis on management and tactics rather than the idiotic folly of the whole undertaking. The Democrats want to pick up the antiwar vote without actually being antiwar.

I know, I know, obvious to the meanest intellect for quite some time, but it just really came into focus for me tonight, as I was reading some of those silly exit polls.

Comments (4)

J. Alva Scruggs:

MJS, I think you'd find, if you went back over your writing, that this is not a new insight for you. The current focus may have new aspects, but the insight itself enthymemetic to the purpose at Stop Me. I also wouldn't worry about it, at least not any more than you might over finding a watch you'd misplaced.



Thanks for the kind words. I'm not quite sure just how to formulate what just came to me. Maybe it's the the idea that the search for the absolute minimum of differentiation is of the essence. That is: the Democrats aren't interested in what will get them the most votes -- contrary to the picture of parties as vote-maximizing enterprises. Rather, the search is a sort of min/max problem -- getting more votes while opposing as little as possible.

Perhaps JSP can work out the math for us. Is it that we're not maximizing Vd / Vr -- Demo votes over Repub votes -- but rather, the much more tricky (Vd / Vr) / (Pd / Pr), where Pd is Democratic policies and Pr is Repubican ones?

Obviously, there are two ways to maximize this function -- increasing the vote gap, and decreasing the ideological distance.

Ideally, of course, you do both. Hence Rahm Emanuel.

J. Alva Scruggs:

At the risk of going off half-baked, my understanding of the Dems' current gang of senior claim jumpers is that they're fighting a counter-revolution and doing it with economic sanctions. The disagreement, as always, is a question of degree.

They assimilated all the musty, vengeful fears of the liberal financiers at the beginning of the seventies. There was a lot of career to be had in playing Immiserator-lite to Immiserator-grande, and more importantly it was a way to slam the blacks, the ambitious blue collar kids and the upwardly mobile clerk class back into focusing exclusively on survival.

The right wingers had their own revolution, in which Buckley et al crushed the libertarians and "Wendell Berry conservatives".

Now both of them heighten the differences by heavy handed focus on the miniscule.

js paine:

i like your formula father

if i understand it

the policy part works to reduce the value of the vote margin
only if the two are in total policy agreement making the lower ratio one does the simple vote max model predict accurately party mission
now if vote getting is a function of donations
and donations a function of policy ....

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