Kerry, His Message, And The On-Going Nichification Of Us All

I hate to say this, but the main fear I had about Kerry, early during the nomination process, has come back to haunt me.

Kerry is being defined by his opponent.

I got into a political discussion with some friends last night and boy is he in trouble. People view him as “weak” and a “liar”. They have no confidence in him. And these are people hate George Bush. Being the anti-George Bush candidate (Economist) is not enough. That’s why I thought Dean couldn’t win. And although, I was able to defend Kerry easily by contrasting and comparing him against Bush – the marketing campaign of Rove and Company has more exposure then I do!

I was afraid Kerry was going to turn out like Gore, and it’s happening right on schedule. He needs one “I invented the Internet” (something Gore never said damn it!) moment and it’s over. Kerry’s advisors need to do a better job if they truly think folks outside of Washington know what he stands for, or even who he is (NYTimes). They don’t in Philadelphia. I can tell you that much.

Mike Sanders, who was very generous in his compliments to me had this to say: “John Kerry does not seem capable of being the leader we need to unite the country. As Karl points out, one of the major tasks confronting us is reducing the real damage caused by terrorism. This is not an imaginary fear, but a real threat that needs to be addressed. Right now it seems that Bush has the only potentially workable plan on the table and I think that the swing-voting Americans sense this and will give Bush a second term.”

I agree with him. That “Kerry does not seem capable of…”. Keyword is “seem”. The Kerry team has done a terrible job of making clear its vision, while it has spent too much time chasing its tail after Bush henchman attacks. Did you know that 2 days ago Kerry released his plan on Iraq? No? Neither did I. Havn’t heard it in the press. Might have missed it in my e-mail. Too busy sending the spam the campaign is sending me to my junk bin. Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for the link.

It needs to be far more clear in getting its message across. Take Kerry saying this month that the deficit “can become a fiscal cancer that will erode any recovery and threaten the prospect of a lasting prosperity.” (Bloomberg). Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Instead say, “the deficit will destroy the economic future for our children. You are for protecting children aren’t you President Bush? I say the American people can do better. We can defend America now and lay the ground work for future generations.”. Sounds hysterical. It’s not. Bush would use a similar tactic. Actually, he has used far worst! Notice his team now equating dissent over the Iraq war (Talking Points Memo) with racism! No really! It’s true!

The way to win is by engaging the 50% or more of of people out there that don’t vote. The only way to do that is by engaging the center (American Prospect). And running on hope and not fear (Salon).

Read The Political Split Is Pervasive (Washingtong Post). It explains why I’m probably pissing into the wind:

…As it becomes more difficult to reach across the party line, campaigns are devoting more energy to firing up their hard-core supporters. For voters in the middle, this election may aggravate their feeling that politics no longer speaks to them, that it has become a dialogue of the deaf, a rant of uncompromising extremes.

Rifts haven’t always coincided with party divisions. The United States was led for many years by the strange bedfellows of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal coalition. Millions of rural, religious, southern voters joined millions of urban, minority and secular voters in backing the Democrats. After Roosevelt’s death and World War II, the coalition began fragmenting — over civil rights and anti-communism, among other issues — but the breakup took decades.

Experts cite a variety of factors to explain why Red-Blue has risen in its place. For example:

? Reagan happened. Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford governed essentially as pragmatic centrists, but Reagan framed his presidency in ideological terms. He coaxed religious conservatives and Cold Warriors away from the Democratic Party while making it uncomfortable for liberals to remain in the GOP. “The signals coming out from Washington helped voters sort themselves out into parties that reflected their world view,” explained Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution.

? Peace happened. From the outbreak of World War II through the end of the Cold War — a span of nearly 50 years — the United States’ foreign policy and military policy, two of the biggest responsibilities of the government, reflected the consensus of both parties. “In the 1950s, the country thought of itself as homogenous,” said White, recalling sociologist Daniel Bell’s influential 1960 book, “The End of Ideology.” “The dominant discussion was about the need for unity in the face of a potent enemy.” The collapse of the Soviet Union stripped much of the purpose out of centrism.

? Clinton happened. Though he campaigned as a moderate Democrat, and delivered on such longtime Republican goals as a balanced budget and welfare reform, Clinton’s administration ultimately proved highly divisive. The first baby boomer presidency opened a new front in the culture wars that erupted in the late 1960s — over sex, responsibility, the role of women, the nature of authority.

? Technology happened. The rise of direct mail, cable television and the Internet has enabled ideological soul mates to find one another efficiently, to organize, to concentrate their resources and to evangelize. Big Media — especially network television and daily newspapers — are rapidly losing their power to shape public consensus and marginalize ideological extremes.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press recently found that the number of Americans getting campaign news from network television or daily newspapers has fallen by a quarter since 2000, and by a third for magazines such as Time and Newsweek. Meanwhile, the audience is growing for niche outlets such as talk radio, cable television and Internet sites.

“People naturally reduce cognitive dissonance by seeking out information that reinforces their existing views,” Mann said. “So there’s no single cause” of the Red-Blue divide, “but a number of factors feeding into this.”

There are those that knowingly and unknowingly encourage us to keep apart and divided. They are out here in the weblogging world in force. Give credit to the rare weblogger like Mike Sanders who would use the word “seem”. Because far too many others would just leave that out in their self serving quest for audience. In the media. In politics. In advertising. They want the most direct group to sell their message to.

Update: Removed the last two sentences. They were so loud that they almost drowned out what I’m trying to say.