June 25, 2003
Is BuzzFlash Endorsing a Democratic Candidate for President?
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
No, at this time, we are not.
Being a pro-Democracy news site, we believe that our readers should make their own choices in the MoveOn.Org virtual primary and in the campaign activity over the months ahead. (MoveOn.Org, by the way, represents so much about what is hopeful for the future of the Democratic Party. Using technology, Internet savvy, impassioned commitment, and grassroots organizing to mobilize Democratic Party supporters and Independents who feel disenfranchised, MoveOn.Org has provided innovative, progressive leadership that proves the Democratic Party can be a positive force for change.)
We may endorse a candidate as we get closer to the actual primaries -- and we may not.
But we do know this much. Our primary criterion is who can beat George W. Bush. At heart, we are intensely practical. We value our democracy and our Constitution. We must restore both of them in 2004.
What qualities will a candidate have to have to beat the "brand" marketing of George W. Bush in 2004?
Here are some of the characteristics that we believe are essential ingredients for an individual to succeed in restoring democracy and Constitutional rights to Americans by winning the White House next year:
1) The ability to define the terms of the debate and put the Republicans on the defensive. Throughout the Bush administration, the GOP has kept the Democrats on the defensive. You CANNOT win a presidential election when your party only knows how to play defense. Al Gore was "defined" by Bush (i.e., Karl Rove) in 2000 (and he still won the election). If Gore had "defined" Bush as the rich kid affirmative action candidate who was a failed businessman, a lousy governor, and a tool of the right wing, he would have blown him out of the water, winning by hundreds of thousands more votes than the 542,000 votes he beat Bush by. If you define the opposition, you win. If the opposition defines you (even if it is a slanderous caricature), you lose (although Al Gore really won, but you know what we are talking about).
2) The ability to penetrate Bush's "Teflon" credibility. Needless to say, the see-no-evil approach of many Democratic Congressional leaders is not only counter-productive; it is dishonest. If you enable a liar, you become tainted by the liar. If Bush's "credibility" isn't exposed as a phony front for serial lying, Bush will win the next presidential election. The polling that shows such a high percentage of Americans believe that we found WMD in Iraq shows you how an unchallenged presidential assertion gets the benefit of the doubt. A winning Democratic candidate will have to pierce through the thin veil of Bush's "trustworthiness" and reveal the snake pit of deception behind it. It will not be an easy task, given the pro-Bush bias of the media, but it must be accomplished or Bush wins.
3) Like it or not, in this day and age of television, the candidate will have to convey an image on TV that inspires trust and puts people at ease. The Democratic candidate doesn't have to give everyone he/she meets a nickname, but the candidate does need to make people feel comfortable and inspire confidence. Clinton had this ability as, apparently, does Bush (at least for uninformed voters, which is most of America. Remember, most Americans form their opinions of candidates through television, not through the print media.) Bush is the triumph of a president as an image (first achieved by Reagan). If Bush's image trumps the image of the Democratic candidate on television, it will be difficult for the Democratic candidate to win. Most Americans get to "know" their presidents through TV. That's just the sad reality.
4) If you don't have the political courage to come out swinging and fight back against the ruthless rumors, innuendo, and gutter whispering campaigns that Karl Rove will launch against you and your family, don't run. Furthermore, you will have to have the guts to overcome the usual Democratic liberal squeamishness at getting personal about Dubya if Rove starts spreading manure about you. The kind of "under the radar" negative campaigning Rove excels in works. You can express disdain for it, but if you ignore it and don't fight back, you lose. Just ask John McCain about what happened in South Carolina.
5) You will need to offer a vision for Americans that is one of hope and promise. You will need to help Americans learn how to dream again, instead of living in a state of fear. You will need to re-ignite faith in the value of a secular democracy, rooted in a Constitution that provides fundamental protections for our freedoms. You will need to restore a sense of community to Americans, that we are part of one great, diverse tolerant nation. You will need to extract the essence of the fundamental decency of the vast majority of Americans and get them to understand that what is going on now, in this administration, is a betrayal of that decency and patriotism. Democrats often hark too much on the minute details of issues. Not much of the voting public is that informed on such "arcane" matters anymore. Too often, they vote for or against the "image" of the candidates over the substance. Just another sad reality.
6) You need to shape the polls rather than be tied down to them. The polls reflect the Republican definition of the world as it is because that is the message that is coming out through the media. The polls would change if there were a counter message coming out loudly, forcefully and consistently from the Democratic congressional leadership. If you follow the polls, you are not a leader. Leaders change the polls by moving the public forward.
7) You will need courage, plenty of courage.
8) You need to show Americans that you will fight for them and protect them by showing that you will bring the battle to Bush decisively, tenaciously and without apology.
There are nine Democrats officially running right now for the nomination. There are movements to draft Al Gore and Wesley Clark. There are other candidates talking about entering the race.
May one of them be blessed with these characteristics. Because otherwise they won't win, and we will all lose our nation as a result.
The battle for the future of America as a democracy, based on a Constitutional guarantee of freedom and liberty, is at stake.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
otherwise noted, all original