What Does “The Democrats” Mean?

Reading a great post at The Sideshow triggered something I have been brewing over. From the post,

“…afterwards we’ll have hand-wringing about how the Democrats failed to do this and that and the other thing.”

Let’s think about what is meant here by the term “The Democrats?”
“The Republicans” sure are good at jumping on things, taking advantage, making noise, persuading people, and getting their way. But when we say “The Republicans” who and what do we mean? Are we talking about the Republican Party? Republican elected officials?
When the Republicans “jump on” an event and do such a good job of getting their persuasion-message out to the public, what are the details of how this is accomplished? Who does what? Who formulates the message? Who conducts the polling and focus groups? Who pays the people who organize the writing of op-eds for newspapers? Who calls the editors to place the op-eds? Who arranges for all the Ann Coulters to appear on all the conservative media shows? How is it all organized and coordinated? How is it all funded? Who pays all the Ann Coulters and all the “little people” working behind the scenes?

In other words, what is the structure of the Republican advantage? Is it all really just “The Republicans?” Do “The Republicans” pay Ann Coulter?
Or are we talking about something else? How much of this work is done by outside organizations like the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute and The Washington Times and Fox News and outside operatives non employed by The Party? The question expands: What is the organizational infrastructure behind the conservative advantage?
So, with all this in mind, when we complain about “The Democrats” what do we mean? We usually mean just that – the Democratic Party and Democratic elected officials. But isn’t this misplaced blame? When you look at how the infrastructure of the “conservative movement” — the Republican advantage — operates, shouldn’t our real complaint be, why isn’t there a “progressive movement” infrastructure that does the same things?
I have something I call “The First Rule Of Stop Losing. From my 2004 ATLA speech,

“There’s a simple path out of this. It’s a variation on the first rule of holes – (which is stop digging.) I call it the first rule of stop losing. It’s a simple rule: DO WHAT WORKS. If you are doing A, and losing again and again, and you see your opponent doing B, and winning, then figure out what B is and starting doing that.

So how do we do that? The first thing we do is to study how the “conservative movement” grew up and took over the Republican Party. Study how their organizations are designed and funded, how they operate and interact, and especially how they communicate with the public, what they say, how they structure their messages. Also, study how their organizations coordinate to help candidates get elected, pass legislation, protect each other and persuade the public to support them.
And, we study how organizations aligned with progressives operate. What is it about the network of conservative organizations that makes them so efficient, and what is it about our that makes them so inefficient. (More on this later.)
And then, we start building an infrasructure of our own.
And soon, more about the Progressive Roundtable.

2 thoughts on “What Does “The Democrats” Mean?

  1. To paraphrase the old Clinton slogan, “It’s the Votes, stupid.” Nothing happens without the votes. The Republicans are in power because they turned out the votes. Everything else is just talk.

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