Friday, February 8, 2008

How the Democrats Can Win It

By Drew

As Jim Geraghty points out at NRO, there is one thing that the Democrats can do that will improve their chances of victory in November more than anything else:

Avoid antagonizing people.

I mean it. A number of us have talked about this in the past, how we’re all tired of having voted against candidates instead of voting for them. And when you keep doing negatives rather than positives, it does tend to wear you down.

This is something that liberals have often overlooked. You’ve heard the joke about comparing the Democrats to a firing squad standing in a circle with the guns pointed inward? Well, that's the Democrats in a nutshell. This party, even more than the Republicans, seems to have perfected the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Think about what Geraghty says. How many times can you remember the in-your-face attitude of so many liberals who literally drive you to vote for someone, anyone, besides their candidate? It happened (as Geraghty reminded us) with Cameron Diaz suggested that Bush would legalize rape in his second term, with Paul Wellstone’s memorial/pep rally, after convention speeches by Ann Richards and Ted Kennedy and any number of Democratic stalwarts, after appearances by race-baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It happens after you read the cruel, crude, relentless, conspiracy-laden, over-the-top hype from sites like the Huffington Post and, and it happens every time you see Rosie O’Donnell or Whoopi Goldberg or Barbra (I’ll move to Europe if the Republicans win) Streisand or any number of smug, self-satisfying Hollywood types. They remind good, decent people everywhere of why this culture seems to be in such lousy shape, and who's responsible for it. You might find yourself getting angry about it all over again just reading this.

In fact, you’re probably starting to recall the number of times you weren’t planning to vote at all until someone pushed you just too far, walked into your wheelhouse and dared you to go into the booth and mark that ballot. Which is what you did, and their candidate wound up losing. You remember those times, don't you? The wonder is that the Democrats don't. At least, perhaps, until now.

Looking back at Mitchell’s piece from earlier this week, I'm struck by a couple of things. First, that the Democrats might take his advice, look into their own echo chamber of history, and learn the lessons that come from the school of hard knocks. Second, it seems as if the most likely way that conservatives will rally around McCain (and thus give him any chance of victory) is if the Democrats make this mistake again. But if they can just play it cool, if they can keep their supporters under control and avoid what a friend of mine would call “walking into the crosshairs of a stationary cannon” (i.e. one that can hurt you only if you stand right in front of it and wave your arms), if they can just let sleeping dogs (and conservatives) lie, then they improve their chances dramatically.

It’s always dangerous trying to predict the future, especially a future that’s nearly nine months away. (Just ask yourself how accurate your TV weather guy has been lately.) But barring the unforeseen (note to aspiring pundits: always leave yourselves wiggle room, or, as we say in the political game, "plausible deniability"), you have to think that having these liberals revert to type is just about the best chance John McCain has. If, as Geraghty suggests, they’ve actually figured this out – if, in other words, they don’t blow it – then McCain might want to forget about wooing conservatives, and start writing his concession speech instead.

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