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Reply #83: During the primaries people would often say in defense of their candidates [View All]

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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-04 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #82
83. During the primaries people would often say in defense of their candidates
"look it up on their website."

I know what Clark did during the campaign, but what is really important is what he was perceived as being. Clark may have had a good chat on lots of core liberal issues, but 95% of his campaign was a response to Iraq. If you look at the arguments by Clark enthusiasts this is what you see most often as the reason they think Clark is relevant. They say the war means we need someone with military credentials.

The thing that I'm trying to separate out is whether people were voting for Bush because they thought Kerry was a risk -- that he wasn't good on national security -- and the people who are just listening to the candidates present the issues they think are most important and at the end of it saying, "well, if jobs, education and health care are the most important issue, I'm voting for Democrats, but if the war is the most important issue I'm voting for the Republicans."

I think there are a lot of people out there who think that way. How else can you reconcile the fact that people KNOW Bush is bad on the war, but voted for him over Kerry when the talk turned to OBL and missing explosives. It makes no sense that you'd want Bush after hearing that he couldn't even secure explosives that US soldiers were looking at. But guess what? If there are terrorists out there with explosives, I guess voters want the guy with the itchy trigger finger, rather than the nuanced theorist and critic of people with itchy trigger fingers.

I grant that Clark might have gotten some people to think that maybe the democrats are better on war issues, but I think for every one person he converted that way there would have been five who said, "well, if the Democrats think the war is so important that they're running a general, than I'm voting for the party that is better on war...the Republicans."

I really think that sort of happened this year. I think that a lot of voters who voted for Bush realize that he's incompetent on the war issue (and what more was Clark going to say to these people other than Bush is incompetent?) but they were convinced that because war was the issue that occupied the most time in the political discussion over the last four years that it's better to stay the course, not change horses, and stick with the Republican TEAM (which includes Powell, Rumsfield and all those other serious war mongers) who are willing to prosecuted this war without being critical or distracted by things like right and wrong.

Fear rarely works to convince people to vote for liberals. I can't think of one time when a liberal won with fear. I believe even Hugo Chvez who tried a coup and failed decided to form a political party which focused on hope and building wealth among the poor. I don't see how Democrats can win in 2008 by saying "yes, the world is scary, so vote for the best soldier." I think they still won't trust the Democratic team and they will still think that -- people like Bush notwithstanding -- the Republicans are the team for fighting wars.

Yes, the democrats need to chip away at the perception that the Republicans are the party of safety, but I don't see how they'll do that by running Clark on the top of a ticket that ends up convincing voters that the Republican world view of fear is reality.

(Hey, what a nice discussion this is, by the way? We're both making our points. I hope you realize that this is a smart debate to have over the next four years (if Kerry doesn't win the recount). This is an important argument the party needs to have.)
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