Playing Against Type

Ogged of Unfogged boils the importance of why we need to forge a "proud wartime liberalism" down to a simple nugget. Actually, it’s a commenter over at Political Animal who does this, and it’s about something, that at first glance, seems unrelated.

Call it the "Nixon in China" gambit. After 9/11, politics in America were turned upside down, and the parties’ stands on national security/terrorism became the deciding factor for a decisive number of voters, as a careful analysis of the vote will reveal.

Taking the Nixon gambit, this means that any Democrat wanting to succeed at the national level needs to risk appearing to be more aggressive than Republicans on national security issues, so that the scurrilous charge that we’re too weak, too soft to defend America can be successfully countered.

We already have some outstanding ways of dealing with this issue. But those solutions won’t get the airing they deserve until we can, at the very least, neutralize this line of attack.

Update: This doesn’t mean that liberals have to endorse our actions in Iraq. Quite the opposite–I think we need to continue making the argument that Iraq is sapping our ability to fight a viciously tough war against our enemies. But the fact is that our reluctance to embrace an aggressive position on national security issues (beyond "we’re not Dubya") prevents the argument from developing the force that it needs in order to be truly effective.

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3 responses to “Playing Against Type

  1. The problem I have with this idea is that it predates Nixon. This is the strategy that resulted in Democratic administrations taking us into Vietnam and then escalating the conflict there. During the Cold War, Democrats fearful of the label “soft on Communism” tried to out-hawk the Republicans to compensate.

    I’m sure Republicans would love it if Democrats allow them to drive Democratic strategy by accusing them of being “Soft on Terrorism”.

    Personally, I would prefer to see the Democrats (or anybody credible) go after the Republicans on real American, democratic values. To me, their vulnerability is their waving of the flag of democracty while making civil rights a dirty word. Here again they’ve been driving the agenda by making “card carrying member of the ACLU” a perjurative, while somehow positioning themselves as champions against “big government”. There are lots of hypocracies here to exploit against the Republicans.

  2. The Mouse that Roared

    Champions AGAINST big government? LOL. They’ve got a big government right now. Fiscal responsibility? Hah! An out-of-control deficit does not constitute fiscal responsibility. Saddling future generations with debt (as the borrow-and-spend GOP does) is not fiscal responsibility.

    There are so many ways that the GOP betrays its own principles that we’d be stupid not to call them on it.

  3. I’d really like to know what April and others think of this paper onthe evolution of morality. The connection to Better Angles will be obvious. I think it “predicts” many of the most amazing features of the current administration.

    And while we are at it, let me say that the recent electoral debacle suggests that we should talk about politics more rather than less.

    Bret