John Rogers had a great post on his blog Kung Fu Monkey a little while back, in which he argued that failed presidential candidate John F. Kerry lost the election in large part because of his condescending attitude towards average American voters. This may not be an incredibly original view, but Rogers, a former stand-up comedian, offers concrete advice on how Kerry and whoever the Democrats nominate next time could connect with the audience. First of all, patronizing them won't work:
When you are on stage, the audience's collective mind can tell when you're not being yourself. And even more importantly, they can tell when you're lying to be one of "us". (Like Kerry hunting, or Dukakis in the tank.)Instead, the secret is to genuinely respect the audience. As Rogers notes in a follow-up post, the people you're talking to are actually pretty smart:
One of the great shocks as a road comic is that every audience is as smart as you are. Yeah, that guy over there is an auto-mechanic. Can you fix a car? No. It's a really complex gig. That guy's a doctor. You a doctor? No. I once performed in Butte and had a young rancher explain the nuances of cattle economics to me trying to follow the discussion, I felt like a five year old with a head injury. That's why I loved the road. It renewed your faith in humanity's wondrous variety and intelligence.So all the Democrats have to do is tone down the arrogance, and they'll start winning elections. Sounds simple enough. But, if Yale computer science professor David Gelernter is correct, it may well prove impossible. The Democrats' superiority complex isn't a personality quirk that can be suppressed or unlearned, Gelernter argues, in an April 29 L.A. Times op-ed piece; rather, it's at the very core of their political philosophy:
Democrats habitually treat Americans like children.Now I'm not saying the Democrats will never again claim the White House, but it takes the innate charm of a Bill Clinton to overcome such a severe ideological handicap. Will they find someone who can do it in 2008? Possible, but not likely.
That's the whole basis of Democratic philosophy (I use the term loosely). We'll take care of you. Leave the thinking to us. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, minority leaders of the House and Senate, respectively kindly Mom and Pop to a nation of intellectually limited youngsters. (But thank goodness, they love us anyway.)
How could anyone be opposed in principle to private investment accounts within Social Security? ...How on Earth could anyone be opposed in principle to letting taxpayers manage a minuscule fraction of their own money (their own money, dammit!) if they want to? Because private accounts violate the Infantile American Principle, so dear to Democratic hearts. Little kids should turn over their cash to the Big Smart Government for safekeeping.
Barack Obama has a blog. Hillary Clinton does not. Enough said.