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August 03, 2005

Still Need a Message

Congratulations to Paul Hackett and folks at Swing State Project, MYDD, Kos and Atrios for making the race in the Ohio 2 special election a squeaker in a district that is usually a run-away GOP bastion.  Everyone did an awesome job in delivering a black eye to the GOP politicos.

But it still strikes me that progressives are still depending too much on scandal among GOP opponents (not that the Ohio Republicans aren't a target-rich environment in that regard) and hard tactical mobilization of supporters for victory.  I'm especially all for the latter, but Hackett's campaign was still far longer on criticism of Bush than on solutions.

Of course Hackett was campaigning in a conservative district, but if you look at his website, his policies and analysis are still rather vague.   He makes a few nods to the problem of outsourcing without really proposing anything to deal with it.  The closest he comes to a solid economic proposal is when he says, "government funding for scientific research is declining for the first time in years. So while big business is enjoying bigger and bigger tax breaks, we’re stunting the growth of American innovation."  Even moderate Dems have lots of hay to make in arguing that Bush's policies have starved technology investments in favor of economically useless tax breaks for big corporations.  But that's one line in a relatively  weak message on how Democrats will deliver decent jobs and benefits for working families.

I'm definitely not picking on Hackett here in particular, since the problem is endemic.  Yes, we need to fight for progressive political victories in every district across the country, but we also need a strong message for those candidates to run under.   That's the next big challenge for progressive activists-- both identifying the most compelling message and supporting it through the same sort of focus with which we've attacked GOP policies.

Posted by Nathan at August 3, 2005 09:05 AM