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  • Dotcom Democrats

    Posted by Shannon Love on September 16th, 2004 (All posts by )

    The Democratic Party has been losing political power slowly but surely for the last 30 years. Arguably they have not won a straight out Presidential election since 1964. Carter won because of Watergate, Clinton won because of Perot. In the Congress, Governorships and elsewhere there has been a steady and constant erosion of power as they have lost election after election.

    Democrats convince themselves they lose due to Republican dirty tricks? After all, everybody agrees with them on the issues don’t they? Well, yes and no.

    It’s the “No” they won’t recognize and its killing them.

    An old computer industry joke that mocked the slipshod business plans of many Dotcom startups portrayed their business plans as:

    Step 1: Slap random content on a web page
    Step2: ???????
    Step 3: Profit!

    Step 2 was always the problem. How to make money off web content was a challenge that few businesses met. Eventually, the industry wide failure to implement Step 2 prevented Step 3 and the bubble popped. For a time though, Step 1 and a desire for Step 3 seemed all you needed to get investors.

    The Democrats and the political Left in general have followed a similar plan trying to win political power:

    Step 1: Tell people you understand their problems and that you will solve their problems.
    Step 2: ?????????
    Step 3: Win Elections!

    Step 2 is always the problem. It’s as easy to identify problems and concerns as it is to slap content on a web page. Solving the problems efficiently and effectively is as difficult as making money off that content. Like the Dotcoms, the Democrats desire to solve people’s problems got them votes for a time but eventually they had to deliver solutions.

    They can’t solve the problems in a manner acceptable to the electorate because the mechanism they always choose to do so no longer works. They always choose a large-scale, highly centralized, government program. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is always a large-scale, highly centralized, government program.

    Unfortunately for the Democrats, the electorate no longer believes that the government can deliver services that way efficiently and effectively.

    Take health care for example. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has some economic incentive to socialize health care cost. Big corporations would love to offload their crushing obligations for employees and retirees onto the government. Smaller business would love not to have to compete with corporations’ medical benefits. Freelancers and entrepreneurs would love to be able to take a chance on a new business without putting their families’ health at risk. Lower income workers would like to get benefits that their employers can’t afford. Everybody is paying through the nose for health care already so fear of higher taxes per se is not an obstacle.

    Democrats look at this and say, “We’re a shoo-in! We promise government funded health care and everybody from street people to CEOs will vote for us!” But when they run on the idea the electorate says, “Right, I’m not turning my health care over to the functional equivalent of the post office!”

    What is killing the Democrats is not the issues but the nuts-and-bolts of the mechanisms they advocate using to address those issues. People believe that the mechanism that the Democrats advocate will provide inferior service at a higher cost. Democrats cannot or will not change the mechanism. They advocate the same mechanism over and over and lose elections over and over.

    In the end they are like dotcommers reduced to ripping copper cables out the drywall to pay for their instant ramen all the while thinking, “What went wrong? We were on the Internet! We wanted to make money! What else was there?”

    (cross posted at Shannon Love’s Blog)

     

    11 Responses to “Dotcom Democrats”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Very well put. There’s also the fact that Democrats, and the Left in general, handicap themselves by overvaluing articulated intentions.

    2. Fred Boness Says:

      Oh, yeah! I have right here a flyer from a Democratic candidate for the state assembly. On the cover it says “Focusing on What Matters Most”. Which must mean something to him but, doesn’t tell me anything. The rest of the brochure is as badly cliched; A good education for every child, a common sense approach to government, reasonable property tax relief, and on and on. What does any of it mean? I note that nothing is said about how this stuff will be paid for.

      This Democratic candidate is a 21 year old kid. I know there are 21 year olds out there who are adults. I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army when I was only a couple years older. This is a kid.

      He has lived in one city all his life. He hasn’t even finished college. He is “on leave” from pursuing his political science major. He hasn’t done anything with his life yet which at his age isn’t normally a problem but, he now wants to run my life. Pfeh.

    3. D Says:

      They may have lost elections but they also succeeded in making the whole country more left wing.
      I don’t think there were ever as many Americans who hate or blame america to some degree. And not just the trash you see protesting. Professional people too.
      I don’t think it was ever this wide spread and mainstream, not even during Vietnam.
      But I am relatively young. Maybe I don’t have enough prespective…

      Hopefully things seem to be turning the other way after 911.

    4. Andy D Says:

      Im gonig to agree with D. In my state, republicans have been in control of the legislature, and we had a “crisis” back in 2002 were there wasn’t enough money… The liberals screamed that schools would be closed, criminals set free and grandma would be in the snow bank, and even a lot of “conservatives” voted for a tax increase. Luckily, we have a very active ballot measure process in this state and the voters canned all the new taxes. But the socialists found a way around. Instead of cutting transfer payments to the laziest 10%, the raised fees every place they could find them. CBS is now a partisan “objective” news organization, a generation of children are brainwashed socialists who throw tissy fits when thier mantras are challenged, and as a libertairian, i’ve seen the rate of socialism increase at a slower rate than under clinton, but have we gotten any freer in the past 4 years??
      Colleges are now persecuting libertarians and liberal democrats (in the dictionary sense).

      Wait…there is one area which we are freer:Firearms! well, not in CA..

      Sorry for the rant…

    5. andrew Says:

      Quoting from the article:

      “Republicans understand the world, and Democrats do not.”

      Why is this fact relevant to campaign strategy, but not relevant to policies or “issues”?

    6. Ginny Says:

      A beautiful argument for pragmatism, the “muddle through” that leads to solutions.

      And character does matter. (The practical application of character, at least.) The article’s dismissiveness doesn’t match our gut feelings. In business, as you point out, character is giving a real product to a real customer – it isn’t deciding you want to make money. And in government, character is looking at 9/11 and saying, well, it’s my responsibility to do something about it. If the dotcom types were pretending there was something real when nothing was there in the nineties, Clinton’s people tended to pretend there was nothing there (as in the 1993 trade center or the constant flights over the Kurdish areas) when something quite real was going on.

    7. jn Says:

      You miss something else about the Dems — they embody the social democratic snobbery of the European elites. This involves being the party of the poor and the rich. But the catch is, they want the poor to get many goodies, but the great unwashed must never be allowed to voice their opinions or have any say on culture, morals, or ideas. This is exactly the Faustian deal old Europe has made — the richest give up some nominal wealth through progressive taxation, but in return they get a powerful state bureaucracy that they run. And they have monopoly control of the media and of education.

      The US Left had a weaker version of that till recently, but now the challenges from private schools, talk radio, Fox news and the Internet are driving them crazy. And Middle America never lost its core religious beliefs.

      To quote a Frenchman I met in Paris: We have people who think like Fox, Reagan, or the Wall Street Journal. But here we don’t allow them to speak.

      And he definitely thought that was a good thing.

      No wonder Kerry and Moore have gone mad.

    8. B Says:

      I would like to challenge the evidence for your theory…If Carter won because of Watergate and Clinton won because of Perot, it seems to me that W. won because of Nader (if you buy that reasoning). Just thought maybe a little wider lense should be applied to the manifestations of your theory.

    9. Wirkman Virkkala Says:

      Interesting: “I would like to challenge the evidence for your theory…If Carter won because of Watergate and Clinton won because of Perot, it seems to me that W. won because of Nader (if you buy that reasoning).”

      True enough. But it doesn’t undermine the thesis about the difficulties Democrats have in reaching the center. It does point to some difficulties Republicans are getting when they trot out obviously stupid candidates like W., or bad policies such as have been enacted by the Republican Congress (consider: vastly increased government spending). Americans may be learning from the Republican Fat Cats that THEIR solutions can be as bad as Democrat solutions.

      Unfortunately, for this to really stick in, another four more years of W. an Dick C. – one of the most deceitful, illiberal AND anti-conservative administrations in memory – might have to be endured….

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      B,

      I won’t insist on the idea that the Democrats have not won an election without an extraordinary events. I just used it for illustrative purposes. What is certain is that the Democrat party and the Leftist policies they represent have been in systemic retreat since the mid-70’s.

      The Democrats will not examine why people consistently reject their solutions even though they agree with their identification of the problem. In this way, they are like companies that are all marketing and no product.

    11. Who Tends the Fires Says:

      And on the bloody morning after – one tin “News”man slinks away…

      The Word for the Day is: “Kamikaze Kerry” “What’s the frequency, Kern-eth?” is your Somazine, uh-huh You were brain-dead, FAQed out, numb, not up to speed You thought they’d faxed you an idiot’s dream Tunnel vision from the insider’s screen….