Step 1: Don't Blame the Victim
Posted by Heather Hurlburt
OK, tired of finding different groups to blame for Democrats' inability to get over the wall on national security. Here's my proposal for a ten-step program to get Democrats back on the map:
Step 1. Don't Blame the Victims (grassroots progressives). Beinart lost a lot of credibility with me when he published an op-ed blaming the problem on liberal Iowa voters. It's our job to help them figure out what to think about national security... isn't it?
Step 2. Stop caricaturing what both progressives and the general public want in foreign policy. They think much more sensibly than we give them credit for -- and then don't find candidates who express what they think.
Step 3. Send all senior-level party functionaries and would-be candidates off to learn something about the fundamentals of foreign policy. Don't let 'em back until they have. Oops, that would require...
Step 4. Create progressive institutions that are focused not on media grandstanding, arguing with other progressives or debating how many Security Council seats can fit on the head of a pin, but actually educating our own and giving them products they can use.
Step 5. Send all progressive foreign policy experts off to learn something about the country we live in, how our political system works, and how to talk to normal people without condescending, so that they can then populate the institutions created in step 4.
Step 6. Every progressive takes a personal vow to learn something about our military, how it works, what its ethos is, and how it affects our society at all levels -- as well as what it does well and less well in the wider world.
Step 7. Reformed policy experts can work on crafting what Suzanne mentioned in her post -- a larger agenda that speaks to the core values and beliefs of our voters, into which we can slot all our favorite policies and programs because the larger concepts would reassure voters that they can trust us. (Suzanne mentioned several concepts that don't cut it. Let me add another from the campaign: "Strengthen core alliances." I'm a liberal, for heaven's sake, and even I know that alliances are not an end in themselves but a means to do things we want done.)
Step 8. Said constructs then have to be framed (you knew I'd get to Lakoff eventually) in a way that vaults over the wall of fear and mayhem that our opponents and the media have conspired to construct in regular folks' minds about the world.
Step 9. Reformed party bigs then concentrate on making this agenda an organic part of an overall progressive agenda, and send out candidates who look credible.
Step 10. Progressive rank-and-file then has to take a deep breath and get into this. Then, if it still doesn't work, we can follow Peter Beinart and blame our troubles on those Iowa progressives. But not before.