"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Friday, September 29, 2006

Does Merely Opposing Republicans Get You Down? Try on a Philosophical Framework for Size.


You'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to recognize that the entire Democratic party is lacking in certainty and clarity. The Democrats' raison d'ĂȘtre has wilted into a mere shadow of the principled party of the 1930s through the 1970s. And there's a good reason: the nation has moved on. Americans have become more confident, more independent, and more wealthy. As a result, many economic and political Democratic ideals that served this nation so well from the Great Depression until the 70s no longer resonate.

True, your opposition to Republican failures might just get you a majority this fall, but in the face of such utter governing chaos, there shouldn't be a single Republican left in Washington at this point. I assert that you will win new seats this fall not only because of Republican policy self-destruction, but also due to an implicit set of values and ideals about how Democrats think and how Democrats govern.

Democrats have a secret weapon that they've either forgotten about, or have been bullied into thinking it's not valuable. This secret weapon is the set of popular and time-tested American ideals and attributes that include respect for institutions, the rule of law, the art of governing globally, and the ideals of "debate then decide." These are incredibly valuable because our country has been blindsided by an opposing set of Republican values, which include breaking institutions, ignoring laws, challenging the Constitution of the United States, destroying global alliances and trust, and the ideals of "decide then deride."

Despite the Democrats' inability to get in touch with and communicate these mainstream and superior political assets, Americans can still see these values on display when they watch their favorite political comedy show on TV (Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, et al.) -- and viewers implicitly map these values to the Democratic party.

But here's where your problem starts, Democrats: You are also the audience. You go straight to Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, and other spitball flingers to get your soundbites and philosophical steak'ums to help make your political points. No doubt, these entertainers are dead-on in their verbal assassinations of the folks running this country. And, no doubt, it feels good to be a part of the clevery. But these entertainers are not the philosophers or framers of the Democratic agenda. They do not work to link the Democratic party to our nation's proud history, and they don't portray Democrats as responsible stewards of governing excellence, complete with straight-talk, and forward thinking principles to ensure long-term health and stability of our nation domestically and abroad. Rather, they are more likely to take pot-shots at Democrats as well because, well, spitball flingers only have spitballs.

But someone out there in the media landscape does move the needle in Democratic advocacy -- and it's time for those of you in office and running for office to set your collective TiVo's to one Keith Olbermann. The anchor for MSNBC's Countdown (airing weekdays at 8PM EST) has found his voice, and it is arguably the strongest, historically grounded, solemn, formidable, and effective voice of reason on Cable TV.

In case you haven't seen him in action lately, please take the time to watch these video clips of his increasingly-frequent "special comments":


Keith's moral and philosophical clarity is not only refreshing, but convincing. Of course everyone should continue to enjoy The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Real Time. Just don't misconstrue clever jabs and comedic outrages for a true principled framework from which to grow a purpose.

In addition to Keith, I highly recommend you also read this article from the Economist: Helping America's Workers (The Democrats need to posture less and think harder) [subscription required]. If you are running for office, or already in office, it would be a wise investment to subscribe to this newspaper. The Economist provides compelling and relevant meaning to liberal principles in ways that are, in many ways, foreign to the American political paradigm. For instance, do you think it's impossible to support unbridled, free-market globalization and income redistribution in the same ideological framework? Well, not only is it possible, but the Economist argues that it a no-brainer, and is the moral thing to do. Start reading.


Anonymous said...


We need open borders, no army, and high taxes for everyone. Subsidize the poor! So we can get more poor, since you get more of what you subsidize.

Yeah maybe we should follow Hugo Chavez who hold up Chomsky's book and is close friends with Sheehan AND Ahmadenijad the nazi who wants to whipe israel off the map.

Darn those anti-nazi anti-commy conservatives!

National Socialism (patriotic communism) and Communism always get foiled by those damn republics!

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...


This above note is a good (albeit extreme) example of the "brand image" problem you have.

At the end of the day, without any facts, a lot of people pigeonhole you into these terms.

This is why I devised OKR -- to help shift your political positioning from that of "big government socialists" to a party that represents true American values and the American Dream.

However, your lack of discipline and marketing sophistication has hurt you tremendously. You're like the Betamax of politics.

Yeah, you will likely win back at least one house this fall, but make no mistake -- it is only due to the implosion of the Right that this will happen. You still have done little-to-nothing to improve your brand equity with average Americans.

So, please, continue to read OKR, and continue to integrate some of the thinking here into your political dialogs and your messaging strategies.

Otherwise, you -- along with Democratic ideals -- will go the way of the Dodo.


Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...

Oh, it's worth noting that the first message above is also by "Jon" but not the Jon who writes Our Karl Rove.

Click on his name to go to his conservative blog.

"OKR" Jon

Anonymous said...

The OKR Jon has done another superb job in putting together this most recent post. I have "found" Keith Olbermann in the last few months and am heartened to hear someone speaking honestly, sincerely, critically and with some degree of hope about what is going on in our country. Between Keith and you, Jon, perhaps there is hope for our republic.

Anonymous said...

Almost a good article. However, you destroy your credibility by calling Stewart and Colbert as "spitball flingers." One, using such a term for anyone is engaging in the same tactics you claim to be against. Two, using that term for Stewart and Colbert clearly shows you know little about their shows. For you to say that Stewart and Colbert lack a "principled framework" shows you are either willfully ignorant for the purposes of hyperbole or perhaps unable to understand any degree of subtlety of argument. Either way, it destroys your credibility in your call for a "principled framework."

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...

Oh "Centrist" -- relax!

While I do not feel the need to defend anything I write, it might be of interest to readers that I have watched very episode of TDSWJS and CB since both started. I've paid to see JS live as a stand-up act, and have even attended a live recording of TDSWJS in NYC. In other words, I'm a huge, huge fan.

So, your remark that I know little about these shows is, unfortunately, not just uninformed but actually an unsubstantiated attack. Very FoxNews of you. Nice.

Ironically, you assert that I might be missing the subtly in their arguments, when it seems like you missed the subtleties in my argument.

JS and SC (and BM) have a shared and singular bias: to entertain. So, only the news that becomes entertaining fodder gets "covered" (if you will) and their cleverness and subtle messages are the framework for their humor. And, JS, SC, and BM will skewer any politician worth skewering. But skewering and mocking are not a ideological framework. Skewering and mocking are more akin to 'flinging spitballs' than setting a context for an ideology.

These TV shows are 'release valves for the soul' for when you get stressed out about what's going on in our world, but that is no substitution for a principled framework that voters can relate to the party brand.

Until the Democrats really get their heads around this stuff, they will continue to exist as only a party of loosely-connected policies, constituents, and in a constant race of ducking Republicans and just hoping they slip up. What a lousy state of affairs for a major political party.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Centrist is mostly correct in his/her comments. Though I think Jon's comments aren't out of ignorance. I suspect, Jon's comments are motivated by a false sense of superiority and just plean jealousy. He is vividly aware that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have a highly developed philosophical framework and that their shows each contribute greatly to the developing Progressive Democratic agenda. Stewart and Colbert are very powerful highly respected figures BECAUSE they have such a well honed message and they deliever it extremely well. Jon flings spitballs at them in order to draw attention to himself, because that's what trolls do. It's called "blogging" -- where you skewer and mock the well-known to make yourself feel a little bit better. It works briefly, as look, Centrists and I both showed up today, but in the long run, it doesn't. I certainly see that Jon offers nothing but vain disdain--which is not a principled framework at all.


Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...

Mr Anonymous,

Please share with us what Jon Stewart's and Colbert's philosophical frameworks are. I'm interested in hearing your take on that.

Say or think what you will, but these guys will eviscerate a Democrat just as readily as a Republican. Just because they appear to be on "your side" now is just due to the fact that there is no other side to be on if you're a comedian. The Democrats are terminally unfunny and unimportant in our political and media landscape.

Just wait until Dems start making some noise when they win back one or both houses this fall. You might just be surprised how quickly and readily Jon Stewart will skewer anyone in power making decisions. That's his job... he's a commedian/social commentator.

I am frankly a little stunned by the accusation of my being "jealous" of these people. I applaud them and support them at every turn -- I just think Olbermann is working at a different level. Why is this point so easily lost in this conversation?


Anonymous said...

Olbermann should stick to sports. That was the only thing he was good at. How much did you guys have to pay Google Adsense anyway to promote that guy? No one watches his dumb show. Is that the reason for the ads? If cable and satellite were to go al a carte (as they should) stations like MSNBC and Logo and all those other dumb channels would go under in a heartbeat because no one would pay for that crap. I.E. Air America. So you ten people that watch those shows....enjoy. Olbermann, has no effect on anyone. He only helps to reinforce the beliefs of liberals who are already liberal.