Random Weekend Thoughts on “Messaging” and Alternative Views on Redistricting

Well, it looks like barring some strange alignment of the planets. Dr. Howard Dean will take over as chair of the Democratic National Committee. The highest profile camapign for a job most people have no idea even exists, much less know what it does, has ended.
It should make for an interesting time – now that the talking’s done, it’s time to start doing something. Fast. Laundry lists of promises are fine, but it’s action that wins elections.
There’s lots of talk about “messaging.” A lot of talk. During the race for DNC chair, I think I lost count of how many times I heard “messaging.” Personally I hate it when nouns are verbified like this, butchering the language. Remember when the Boomers started calling it “parenting”? Does this mean by using the word one negates the meaning itself> Oh, I digress.
Much chatter was started when Washington Monthly posted a copy of the Labour Party’s new platform, which fits neatly on a nice little card you can see here:

It’s a point well taken, and hey – printing up about a zillion of these things would be easy and be a money maker for sure.  But aside from all of the chatter and noise about The Best Strategy To Win, and endless patter about “messaging,” one wonders if perhaps all the discussions and arguments and blogging, and meeting is missing a bigger point.
That is, part of the problem Democratic political fortunes face is the fact that, as a party that’s been out of power for a good long time now (ten years out of Congress, even longer in the judiciary), “messaging” problems pale in comparison to “governing” problems. And “power” problems.
We are facing the formation of a one-party state in this country, with the full force of the three branches of government to support and develop that one party. Clever phrases turned at a debate, or neat looking mailers, are only a part of the problem. The bigger one is the fact that as changes in the budget process move on, Democratic elected officials simply aren’t involved at the centers of power in Washington.
Too many aging politicians who still get re-elected due to “name i.d.” and their little piece of the money flowing around still act and react as if they are in charge of something. They’re not.
Because they don’t realize it, they react with horror at the idea of a Dr. Howard Dean, or a Gen. Wesley Clark, because it’s someone that they don’t “own” a piece of, and scares them. Never mind the fact that they haven’t been able to return to power, elite consultants and insider politicians and all.
When Republicans were out of power in Congress, they realized it, and acted as such until they were. Precious few of our elected leaders seem to realize this reality. Sen. Barbara Boxer is one who does. She realizes the only way she’s going to try and stop some of the insanity is to do what folks like Newt Gingrich and his allies did for years – toss political dynamite into the mix, and damn the torpedoes full speed ahead.
Anyway, something for the Doc and the New Kids On the Block (Committee?) to think about.
PS: Unlike some blogs around town, who can’t stand to have any dissenting views on their site, I’m posting a link to consider another side to the issue of gerrymandering and redistricting. As I’ve said before, many times these districts are drawn to benefit a particular single individual already in office, regardless of party, and that tends to dampen enthusiasm, or interest in the election.
We will see something on the ballot, maybe several “somethings” by the time the army of signature gatherers get through with us. Recently the San Francisco Chronicle posted an op-ed piece on the issue that brought up something I’d not really considered before – that in some cases, trying to draw a district as a “swing district” may be physically impossible, given the way population and demographics have changed in the past twenty years.
Thus, a proposal that tries to legislate political outcomes is almost worse than what we have now. As we’ve seen before, when The People Who Know Best are running things, usually they’re paid for by a large donation from corporate coffers. Caveat Emptor, gang.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

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