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November 02, 2007

Daisies
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

I’m starting to think that the only way to counter Republican fear mongering is with more fear mongering. 

Republicans don’t hold the same advantage they used to on national security.  It used to be that Republicans were seen as tough and pragmatic on national security and Democrats were seen as weak.  Today, because of Iraq, the public has mixed feelings about both parties.  They have lost a lot of faith in Republicans and view them as too willing to use military force.  However, they still don’t fully trust Democrats, who are still seen as weak.

As a result, today Democrats have an opportunity to seize the national security mantle back from Republicans and potentially own the issue for the next generation.  Question is how do they do that?

There are two parts.  First, Democrats have to show that they have a genuine alternative and are capable of managing the nation’s security.  However, this won’t happen until they have some real proof points.  All the chest thumping and tough talk in the world is meaningless without a Democratic President who is successful on this issue.  (Nothing against Bill Clinton, but foreign policy just wasn’t a priority for the American public during that 1990s).  So, while implementing a sound foreign policy and convincing the public that Democrats can protect them is crucially important, it simply is not going to happen between now and November of 2008.  It is a long term project that can only be proven through deeds not words.

However, what Democrats can begin doing is solidly reinforcing the frame that Republicans are too militant, dangerous and quite frankly a bit nuts.  That’s because the incredible incompetence and militancy of the Bush Administration has made this story very believable for the public.  Because of this vulnerability, all the fear mongering on Iran and Islamofascism can be turned against the Republicans.  Democratic fear mongering needs to focus on how scary it would be to have another Republican President and how much that could endanger all of us (Especially if the nominee is Giuliani).  Republicans spent years cultivating the frame that Democrats are weak and it was just as important to their dominance of the issue as their own ability to seem competent and tough.  Something like the classic ad below might work pretty well in the ’08 cycle.

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Comments

Ilan, will you please go read some of the social science literature on fear? It closes the mind. It forces people back into old, conservative patterns. Fear of death specifically forces people into more conservative VOTING patterns (see the John Judis New Republic piece which nicely simplified the science, or read a bit of Westen). I know it feels good, but it won't work.

Heather,

I knew you specifically wouldn't like this idea. Believe it or not it was partially inspired by reading some of the great materials that were put together by U.S. in the World (I'm sure that makes you cringe). Americans are more skeptical of military action and view Republicans as too militant. Reinforcing that argument is something that Dems should be doing even as they offer a more hopeful message. They can do it without the scary daisy approach, which I admit is overkill.

President Bush on November 1st:--"We must take the words of the enemy seriously."

What has the enemy said?
"It easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."

President Bush: "We must take the words of the enemy seriously."

What has the enmy said?
"We, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat."

President Bush: "We must take the words of the enemy seriously."

What has the enemy said?
"So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."

Why is President Bush following the commands of Osama bin Laden?

No opinion from any of you serious people on the recent unpleasantness in Pakistan?

If you ask me, America can`t tolerate a crazed dictator with control over nuclear weapons. All options, including military ones, should be on the table. If you want to rule out the use of military force against the Musharref regime, you undermine diplomacy and are not seriously.

:-)

IM,
If you ask me, I'd guess that you don't have a child in the military that you'd sacrifice to the formidable Pakistani army in an ill-advised US invasion.

I think you are setting the bar too high.

The Republicans have been so desperately wrong about how to run global counter-terrorism and global insurgency that I think just coming up with a sane counter-terrorism policy is enough to take back the mantle, for a time.

So much runs from the simple to the complex. Everything from jettisoning the "war" on terror lingo to thinking about the different demands on the exercise power when you are a "hegemon" whose influence so many are opposing.

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