John Dickerson’s article in Slate, Scare Them Back, inspired me to take a look at some of my past entries. First, though, since I know most of you are too lazy to click that and come back here, I’ll give a quick summary. Basically, he says that Democrats should counter the Republican fear-mongering strategy with their own fear-mongering: Republicans are encouraging more terrorists. In my opinion, that strategy won’t work. I’ll delve more into that, but first, I want to show what I wrote before.
Shortly after the 2004 elections, I wrote this: Advice to Democrats after Kerry Loss. I said terror decided the election. I said, “Democrats, if you want to win, you have to convince the general American public that you understand that radical Islam (called Islamofascism in some circles) is a threat to America, and the world.”
I hammered the point again in 2005 with this entry, Populism is Dead. I said, “Defeating terror is more important than defeating the Republicans.” I said, “Memorize this, Democratic Party: 9/11 was an overt act of war.”
If they had taken my advice, they would be poised to sweep the Senate and House, instead of victory being in question. Alright, perhaps not, but my point is still relevant another year later. Democrats have not convinced America that they take the War on Islamofascism seriously.
It’s pretty obvious why. All you have to do is delve into the Fray and find this gem: Why this obsession with the War on Terror?. I’ll reprint it in its entirety.
If you’d stop for a minute to really think about it, there’s nothing Bush or anybody else, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green or any other hue, can do to stop a small group of committed, resourceful terrorists from blowing themselves and any number of American persons, places or things into millions of small pieces. Nothing. The lack of terrorist attacks since 9/11 is more testimony to the lack of effort on the part of the terrorists than to anything we have done or could do.
Of course if we did that, we’d stay up nights, worried that the next breath might just be our last. At least the Republicans give some of us what we need: a false sense of security that works just as well as the real deal … until the Big One comes along. Republicans know that if we stop thinking that all terrorists look like Mohammed Atta and start considering the fact that they could just as well look like Timothy McVeigh, the panic would be palpable.
Perhaps we should start an Epicurean Party: Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die. Even good, fundamentalist Christians should be attracted to a platform that follows the Master’s teaching not to give thought for the morrow, for who knows when the hour comes for one to die?
Yes, let’s bury our heads in the sand. Let us go our merry little way and pretend that there aren’t extremists out there who want to wipe Israel off the map and America too. Let’s pretend 9/11 was just some isolated event, not an overt act of war.
If we are not vigilant, the odds of dying go way up. If Iran gets a nuke, the odds of dying go way up. If Islamofascists ignite regional or wider war, your odds of dying go up. Your hour of death will come much sooner.
Still, there’s a kernel of truth in Dickerson’s article: “Still, if Democrats don’t aggressively ask whether the Republican policies are inspiring a greater number of people to devote their lives to killing Americans than would otherwise be the case, we’ll miss a chance to have the kind of messy, realism-filled public debate we somehow continue to skirt.” We really need to have this messy, realism-filled public debate. That’s why I feel that we’re failing in Iraq.
However, my opinion is that the main reason why we aren’t having this debate is that there are still people out there who are not convinced of the very real threat of Islamofascism. (Disagree that this is the main reason? Please comment, I’d like to see other opinions on why we haven’t had the messy, realism-filled public debate. Bush is a close second reason, in my analysis.) Five years after 9/11 we’re still trying to convince people that terrorism is a threat. 9/11 was an overt act of war. The Democratic Party still hasn’t convinced the American people that they understand that.
When you’re presented a choice between someone who understands the existential threat posed to us and someone who doesn’t, you’ll pick the first choice. Yet, it’s a false dilemma. Bush understands the fact that there is a threat, but he does not understand the threat. He utterly failed in the execution of the War in Iraq.
Democrats, if you want to win, ignore Dickerson’s advice. First, you need to hammer home the point that you understand that there is a war on terror. Say it over and over and over without inserting the word “but” and you will convince the American people. Also, vehemently attack members of your own party who don’t understand the threat. At the same time, paint Bush as an incompetent who “executed” the war poorly. Stress execution. Many Republicans will agree with you on this point. Be above the fray and say that we need a real debate about the nature of the war and the way it is executed. Why didn’t we have an economic plan for Iraq? Don’t stress world community. Stress realism. Say that we need to either do what it takes to win in Iraq or pull-out. Be specific and be smart.
That’s my plan, but not all of it is critical. The main point is convince the American people that you’re serious about Islamofascism. I’ll repeat the most important part: Say that you understand that there is a war on Islamofascism over and over and over without inserting the word “but”. Vehemently attack members of your own party who don’t understand the threat.
One more time: Say that you understand that there is a war on Islamofascism over and over and over without inserting the word “but”. Vehemently attack members of your own party who don’t understand the threat.
I’m begging you to do this. Defeating the Islamofascists over the long haul is way more important than partisanship. We need you. We need a united America to defeat them.