Democracy Arsenal

« Coulter Delenda Est? | Main | Kassam Rocket Threat »

May 30, 2007

Democratic Message on Foreign Policy 2008--A Contest
Posted by Jerry Mayer

So I have been part of an informal group of people working in Washington on Democratic and progressive messaging on foreign policy since 2005.  Once, the suggestion of using the metaphor of a toolbox to describe the Democratic foreign policy came up, that Bush was trying to build a house with only a hammer, he had only one tool, while the Democrats would use every tool, like diplomacy, trade, persuasion, etc.  I actually didn't think much of the idea, it was too complicated for the American public, but someone who had worked on the Kerry campaign chimed in and said "Yeah, we liked that in May, for Kerry, and we kept trying to get it into speeches.  I think we finally got it up on the website in October." 

Yes, that's right. It took the Kerry campaign months to agree on a METAPHOR for its foreign policy.  Sigh.

Well, for 2008, we pretty much know what the Dem foreign policy is going to be, substantively, right?  Get out of Iraq, reengage with our allies, smart multilateralism in our foreign policy, tough on the real terror threat, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil...but what the heck do we call it?

I think Kerry's was Stronger at Home, Respected Abroad.  But it's tough to tell.  It was no "New Frontier."  Probably more successful than McGovern's "Come Home America" from 1972.  My suggestion in '06 for Congressional Dems was "Change the Course." 

So, a contest here at Democracy Arsenal.  Propose a catch phrase or label for the Democratic nominee's foreign policy in '08.  No more than 10 words.  Winner will receive a George Mason University t-shirt via mail.

Bonus humor points: come up with a slogan for the Republican foreign policy.  Like "Hey, A Few Countries Don't Hate Us!" or "Same Failed Policies, Now With Competence!" "Republicans: We Put the U in Quagmire!"


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Democratic Message on Foreign Policy 2008--A Contest:


As much as current Democratic foreign policy chatter dissatisfies me personally, the Democrats are in effect presnting the administration to come as a sort of US Restoration Era following the disastrous radical interregnum of the Bush administration, an era in which we rebuild friendships, repair tattered alliances and promote cooperation under American leadership - and set the US ship of state back on the more traditional liberal internationalist course it followed during Bush I and Clinton. So I would propose:

Restoring Leadership

I played around with various adjectives to insert between "restoring" and "leadership". But I couldn't think of anything that didn't detract from the overriding simplicity and clarity of the two-word motto.

Tough, Dynamic, Thoughtful leadership for an ever changing complex world.

Intelligent, bold, thoughtful engagement for the complexities of National Leadership.

I don't necessarily have a phrase. But two words or concepts that need to be in there realistic and hopeful. Realistic as a foil to the ideological Bush Administration. Hope as a foil to fear. The Bushies' favorite and most effective tool.

Oh, and here are some Republican slogans:

Supersize Your Freedom Fries!

Lying to Keep You Safe

It's Mourning in America!

Stamping Out Stability

The Right Team for The End Times

Achieving Tomorrow's Imperial Decline Today!

GOP ... OPE ... POE

Strength through Fear

Faith, Fatherland, Fanaticism

Why not just cut to the chase:


Democrats need a candidate, not a slogan. As far as foreign affairs is concerned, they need a candidate who is not trying to become the third novice in a row to assume the Presidency. And no, having mastered the slogans and talking points needed to live in the world of the permanent campaign does not make one any less of a novice where foreign and national security affairs are concerned.

Wow, some great early stuff. I love "Achieving Tomorrow's Imperial Decline Today!" and Lying to Keep You Safe" I do also like the gerund "Restoring" but "Restoring Leadership"

"Save America" has great appeal, too...

Zathras is of course right, we need a candidate, but slogans and talking points are part of the necessities today as well. I remember a meeting with one of the grand old members of the Democratic foreign policy establishment where he pointed to a list of 24 foreign policy issues and said we didn't need slogans or talking points, we just needed to get the right positions on these issues and we'd win the elections (of 2006). I had to point out to him that most Congressional elections have no foreign policy component at all, and when they do they are dreadfully simplistic, and at best two of the 24 issues would appear in half the campaigns as issues. Messaging on foreign policy in presidential elections is a little more sophisticated but not much. Ike's message in '52 was pretty much "I will go to Korea". No one knew what that meant, but it sounded good.

Keep 'em coming.

"I will go to Korea" sounded good because Americans had confidence in Eisenhower, the great war hero. That's the Democrats' problem today; their leading candidates include one man known best for suing people, another for writing books about himself, and the last Democratic President's wife. In an election year when support for the Republican candidate collapses -- there is a good chance that 2008 will be such a year -- this could be enough to bring a Democrat to the White House. A successful foreign policy? That would happen only by accident, even if Democrats stack catchy slogans to the ceiling.

"By accident"? I doubt that. To shorten John Edwards' career to "best known for suing people" is really ridiculous. How about best known for running for VP in 2004, at least? And I think Bill Richardson still has a good chance, particularly if the convention knots up. I think the convention may well be knotted. We are in terra incognito with the primaries moving all around. I don't know that Hillary or Obama can get enough momentum to wipe out the other, Edwards will get his votes, and so will some of the others. Add that up, and you could go into the convention without a clear winner. Conventional wisdom says that level of disunity that late in the election will be a disaster for the Dems. I'm not convinced. It will make people care about the conventions again. Could suck up all the media attention.
Also, Obama, Edwards, Richardson, Hillary, and Dodd are all really bright people with a sense of America's role in the world. I think each of them could be a fine leader of our foreign policy. The key is to get them, any of them, elected. Slogans will help.

How about "Let's be First Again" or just "First Again"

Now, I didn't come up with that, I'm PC-disabled in my creativity. A friend of mine from the countryside out West did. Too jingoistic? I would say yes for everyone outside the USA, but I suspect might work well here at home....

The comments to this entry are closed.

Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use