Friday, June 23, 2006

To hate the base...




Wanted to get this in yesterday, but ran out of time.

Peggy Noonan had a must-read in the WSJ yesterday. She writes about the fact that both Dems and the GOP find themselves annoyed/angered with their respective bases.

Noonan plays both sides of this discussion- saying that the Republicans find their base boring, and that elected Dems find the base "a little bit batty". She also recounts a conversation she had with some folks after they watched Howard Dean had been on a cable show talking down to the base. The person watching it with Noonan said he thought Dean spoke this way because he thinks his base is stupid. Noonan thinks he speaks this way because he knows how his base speaks. They are angry- and need Dean to speak in the same way (the argument goes).

Here's a pulled quote:

On Republicans:

"They know the higher wisdom on such issues as immigration. They feel less fealty to the insights of the base.
They know more than the base, are more experienced than the base, have a more nuanced sense of reality. And as for conservative social issues groups, the politicians resent those nagging, whining pushers-for-the-impossible who are always threatening to stay home or go elsewhere. (Where?)"

3 Comments:

Blogger V. Hammond said...

Matt,

This is interesting. There's a long debate about whether or not the Republican party actually wants to outlaw abortion. There's a viewpoint that says that it's an issue that they keep hot because it energizes the base, but if it were actually outlawed there would be a huge backlash, costing them more than they would actually gain.

-B. Hammond

4:28 PM  
Blogger V. Hammond said...

Off Base
Washington Democrats think their core voters are barking mad.

Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

It has occurred to me that both parties increasingly dislike their
bases, but for different reasons and to different degrees. By both
parties I mean the leaders and representatives of the Democrats and
Republicans in Washington. I believe I correctly observe that they
feel an increasing intellectual estrangement from and impatience with
the activists who people their base of support.

And this is something new.

In the past, Republican leaders in Washington bowed either
symbolically or practically to the presumed moral leadership and
cleanness of vision of the people back home. They understood the base
wanted tax cuts and spending cuts, and for serious reasons. The base
had deep qualms about abortion. The base intuitively recoiled from big
government: They knew the best arrangement was maximum possible power
to the individual and limited, policed, heavily checked power to the
state. Or, as some back home might have put it, Don't put your faith
in governments, which are made by men; put your faith in individuals,
who are made by God.

Republican leaders in the capital bowed to this wisdom--if not in
their actions, at least quite often in their hearts.

Now they seem to bow less. They know the higher wisdom on such issues
as immigration. They feel less fealty to the insights of the base.
They know more than the base, are more experienced than the base, have
a more nuanced sense of reality. And as for conservative social issues
groups, the politicians resent those nagging, whining
pushers-for-the-impossible who are always threatening to stay home or
go elsewhere. (Where?)

Some Washington Republicans have been in leadership so long they've
learned--they've learned too well!--that politics is the art of the
possible. It is. But this is not an excuse to be weak, or ambivalent,
or passive, or superior.





On the Democratic side, it is not just as bad but worse. They don't
only think they're more sophisticated than their base, more informed
and aware of the complexities. I believe they think their base is mad.
You can see their problem in their inability to get a slogan. Which,
believe me, is how they think of it: a slogan. "Together for a Better
Future." "A Future With Better Togetherness." Today for a better
tomorrow, tomorrow for a better today.

A party has a hard time saying what it stands for only when it doesn't
know what it stands for. It has trouble getting a compelling slogan
only when it has no idea what compels its base. Or when it fears what
compels it.

I got a sense of the distance between Democratic leaders and the base
a few years ago when I met up with a Democrat who was weighing a run
for the party's 2004 nomination. He hadn't announced but was starting
to test the waters, campaigning out of state.

I mentioned to him that the press gives a great deal of attention to
the problems of Republican leaders and their putative supporters on
the ground in America, but I was interested in the particular problems
a D.C. Democrat has with his party's base.

His eyebrows went up in the way people's eyebrows go up when they're
interested in what they're about to say. He said--I write from memory;
it was not an interview but a conversation--that he was getting an
education in that area. He said when he spoke before local Democratic
groups they were wildly against the war in Iraq and sometimes booed
him when he spoke of it. It left him startled. He had supported the
president for serious reasons: He thought Saddam a bad actor who
likely had weapons of mass destruction. He wanted to talk about it,
but they didn't want to hear him. They were immovable.

4:34 PM  
Blogger V. Hammond said...

Barry,

Since WSJ isn't free I couldn't link to the piece. But here that was it- copied and pasted.

matt

4:34 PM  

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