Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winning, Losing and Everything in Between

There is a chasm that separates the Republicans from the Democrats not only on the economy but also social issues. "Winning the News Cycle, Losing the Race" correctly asserts that the stalled economic engine will be the centerpiece of this year's election as it must be every time the pain is felt so acutely throughout our nation. But that does not mean that social issues lose all relevance, or that matters that matter stop mattering.

The President must define himself by the moments that present themselves in the governing of this country. Which ones will resonate in November are unknown now. But are "race, guns, God and gays" any less critical now then they were when Mr. Dean spoke almost a decade ago? Should the President not set forth his vision, and push forward his platform because these issues might not ultimately be the ones that cause the most votes to be cast in his favor?

This week my son suggested to me that the President's position on same sex marriage would help galvanize the young voters.While I wish that this were so,  I don't know whether the continuing effect on that generation of a tepid recovery will keep their energy and enthusiasm to a minimum. But that did not make the announcement less momentous.

The President, I am certain, will have volumes to say on the obstructionist tactics of the last 4 years, on the failed ideology of Bush and the fixed intent of the Republicans to resurrect those same core principles that precipitated our economic decline and their desire to protect the welfare of the well to do at the very human cost to so many others. There will be plenty of time and space devoted to the competing views on who brought us to this dance of seemingly perpetual economic stagnation and who we should go home with.

But that is not, and cannot be the only thing we discuss. If the shortcomings of the Republicans and the corresponding strengths of the Democrats are not examined and emphasized at every opportunity on race, guns and gays, then the President will have indeed failed in his most essential role of trying to lead by word and deed. If we aren't told of the attempts to keep minorities from the polls, if we don't learn of the power of the NRA in effectuating policies, if the President were to remain silent on "don't ask, don't tell" and on marriage equality for all, then what would  the President be?  No, Mr. Douthat, yours is not an appropriate theory of how to campaign or govern.

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