Everyone is blaming the Democrats for not offering voters a clear vision of their policies and programs. But I don’t think that the entire burden should rest on the politicians.
The Republicans have in place a broad “idea development and communication infrastructure” that has successfully moved the public to the right. This involves “think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation supplying position papers, talking points and commentary that goes through a marketing department and are endlessly repeated to the public through so many channels, from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News to the Washington Times. This communications machine has been called “The Mighty Wurlitzer.”
After the public has been barraged with the messaging from The Mighty Wurlizter, the Republican politicians step in and harvest the results.
Here’s how the right manages to have such an infrastructure in place, while progressives and moderates are left struggling with each other and barely getting their messages out to the public. There’s a lot of money out there on the right, but there’s also a lot of moderate and progressive money out there. The difference is that the right uses its money to provide general operating funding to organizations that exist to come up with ways to convince the public to vote Republican. The moderates and progressives have traditionally provided money for specific programs with the intent of doing good in specific ways. This is a huge difference. The idea is that this program money is more results oriented, but look at the results. The right uses this machine to get politicians elected that carry out their agenda, which involves dismantling almost everything that the moderates and progressives have been funding. When this happens, the moderate and progressive money is wasted.
Return on investment. So this difference can be looked at as an ROI problem. The return on investment of moderate and progressive program funding is low, because it was not designed to counter the current destructive opposition from the right. Moderate and progressive funding needs to start taking this into account, and building an infrastructure that reaches the general public with messaging that moves underlying attitudes back toward moderate and progressive principles. This would provide an environment where moderates and progressives can get public support to protect the programs that are so important to all of us.
It’s not up to the Democrats (or the Greens) to build this infrastructure. It’s up to US. Of course, go here to find out more about how this can be done.
Update – I posted a previous entry on this topic here.