Not more than eight hours after I posed a
criticism of Helena's focus on branding itself, I received an
e-mail from James Carville asking me to do the same thing for the
Democratic party. He writes:
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is
launching a campaign to find the bumper sticker slogan that will
carry us through the 2008 elections. It'll be on their website, on
campaign literature and on the bumpers of jalopies coast to coast.
We need a turn of phrase that really jumps out and tells you right
off the bat what this election is all about. In 1992, it was "It's
the Economy, Stupid." In 2006, Democrats simply said "Had Enough?"
It was the only question America needed to ask.
I know James is a political consultant, and would like to believe
that Bill Clinton won in 1992 because of this clever slogan, and
that Democrats won in 2006 because of a slogan I never heard of,
but like most consultants working for the Democratic Party in
recent years, he's dead wrong. Bill Clinton and the class of 2006,
like Jon Tester and Jim Webb, won because of substance. In 1992,
Americans were ready for a change from the punitive social policies
and inept foreign policy of the Reagan/Bush years. In 2006,
Democrats won because they won the war of ideas, offering a new
vision for Iraq, tax policy, and ethics reform, among other things.
Political consultants don't like to believe that voters make
decisions on complicated things like evaluating competing policies
because that would limit their role.
Let's stop treating the American people like they are idiots. They
don't want slogans. They want leaders, people who articulate and
then implement good policies. Let's focus on that, and let the
"Mission Accomplished" crowd use slogans.