Today in the New York Times, David Brooks wrote an interesting column chiding Democrats for being too narrow-minded in this year’s election strategy. Or at least that’s how I took it. Brooks has a way of making almost everything seem like just his own helpful tips or advice. Though, I’m sure many Democrats took it personally and thus will not benefit from a few of the helpful things he pointed out. Yes, I made the mistake of reading a few of the reader comments. (Even after promising myself and my friend, Brad, that would stop doing that.)
Nevertheless, he made at least one good point that I think bears repeating and expanding. Democrats have become obsessed with the Tea Party crazies like Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and I would include, Sharon Angle (even though she actually has a chance to win). Brooks points toward liberal intellectual superiority to explain their obsession. I generally think it’s not so much that as lazy campaigning. Those are the easiest targets. Whether or not they have the chance to win, writing a strategy against extremism is easy. (Exactly the same as blaming Karl Rove for fund-raising/spending discrepancies. Is it true? Maybe. Either way, he’s an easy target).
The by-product, whether practically or coincidentally, has been to make Republicans look like moderate Republicans and moderate Republicans to cease to exist.
By comparison, candidates who would once have been considered “very conservative,” “conservative,” or even “far-right” are now normal or mainstream.
Many of the candidates that Brooks mentioned (Boozman, Blunt, etc.) aren’t being attacked by the Democrats because they’re having enough trouble with the Republican base. But there are others who have benefited by the comparisons – Pat Toomey in PA, Linda McMahon in CT, and Meg Whitman in CA.
They’ve avoided direct ties to the Tea Party while still trying to capitalize on the groundswell of support. Is that like secretly hanging out with less attractive friends in the hopes of appearing more attractive? Perhaps, but no one actually does that. Right?
Similarly, I don’t think any Republican candidates have planned this occurrence or specifically positioned themselves as appearing more normal when in reality they are extreme. Generally, when a politician talks about themselves, we get the message. We can tell if their crazy. It’s usually not that complicated.
Our perception of what’s acceptable or moderate, though, has changed. Unintentionally, I’m sure. But still something to consider when going to the polls next Tuesday.
You may be assuming that I’m saying this is a scary, bad thing. I’m not necessarily implying whether it’s good or bad. The country is politically very fluid right now.
So it’s more something to recognize than something to fear. (Especially if you live in a key state and are considering voting for someone who might change the dynamic of the Senate).