The NY Times today has this analysis claiming that the Democrats lost so many races because “White Moderates” voted Republican. This is probably true, but what does it mean? Does it mean that Democrats need to move to the right to get votes?
My thinking on Democrats moving to the right in response:
The right currently dominates the channels of communication reaching most Americans, and therefore dominate the messaging most Americans receive.
Most Americans do not know what the Administration is DOING, only what they are SAYING. They have no idea of the radical right-wing changes taking place in our country’s policies.
White moderates THINK that Republicans are moderates & Democrats are out-of-touch liberals, because that’s what they are being messaged by the available information sources.
The Republicans will ALWAYS paint themselves as moderates, and Democrats as “extremist liberals,” and will get away with it as long as they control the channels of communication.
As Democrats move to the right in response to this voting pattern it enables the Republicans to move FURTHER to the right.
This has allowed the Bush Administration to move much, much farther to the right than Reagan.
As the Democratic Party moves to the right the Democratic base is eroding – either to Greens or not voting – without growing the base from the middle/right toward which it is moving.
Using conventional media with conventional communications methods there is no way to reach most Americans and alter this cycle.
My conclusion on Democrats moving to the right:
Moving to the right does not improve Democratic prospects, erodes the Democratic base, and harms the country. Right-wing domination of communications channels allows the right to frame public perception of Democratic and Republican positions, so Democratic repositioning is worse than useless – it allows the Republicans to move ever further to the right in response. It also alienates those of us who are Democrats for reasons of principle.
My thoughts on the communication channel problem:
In the 80’s the right faced a similar problem (from its perspective) and devised different communication methods to reach the public. Their base learned where to find them. Talk radio, for example. Drudge. (Unfortunately these included bombastic ridicule, insults, accusations, lies, etc. Remember Newt’s rise, on C-SPAN?)
The right’s base grew as a result of being able to freely communicate their perspective through these new channels.
You can get good information on the web.
Those of us who are getting information on the web are getting very different information than what most Americans are getting.
Because of this most of us don’t understand how different our understanding of events is from what most Americans are thinking.
Progressive ranks are growing as a result of the information available on the web.
People in possession of information makes a difference. They are able to inform and influence others.
The right effectively uses The Drudge Report as a centralized information distribution source from the right-wing perspective. (It used to be Limbaugh, but the Internet came along, so now Limbaugh is often repeating what’s on Drudge.) If something appears on Drudge, you soon see it running through most communication channels.
We need to get as many people as possible checking a good centralized online news source for information that comes from our perspective.
From what I can find, BuzzFlash is the best online daily news source from our perspective. (Even with its odd name.)
My suggestion for mitigating the right-wing domination of communications channels:
We need to encourage everyone we know to check BuzzFlash daily. A centralized source of progressive-perspective news will unify us, give us a place to unify and grow our base, while receiving the information to influence others. (And then, of course, get them all reading weblogs as well.)