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Are the Democrats the Past or the Future?

Very interesting article in the Economist that I found today, entitled The Fear Myth

The author’s premise is that the Republicans didn’t beat the Democrats because of fear, but because they sold hope better.

But if they are going to extract any useful lessons from their humiliation, the Democrats need to realise that the Republicans didn’t just beat them on fear. They clobbered them on hope.

I don’t think that the author gives enough credit to the power of fear. I think that it is a very powerful motivator, and I would argue that fear is a bigger motivator than hope. But I do agree with him that the Democrats didn’t spend enough time on hope.

There was no way to compete with Cheney’s “You’re all gonna die” speeches, but there was no effort to channel the soaring optimism of Obama’s convention speech:

Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles.


In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Obviously, Obama wasn’t running. From the Economist article:

Arguably the only optimistic thing about the Kerry campaign was its slogan: ‚ÄúHelp is on the way‚Äù. In general, the Democrats focused on America’s intractable problems. By contrast, Mr Bush not only sounded upbeat, but also came up with solutions, of sorts.

So read the article, it’s quite good. Not that I agree with the whole thing. But there are things to ponder…

Categories: Politics.