- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Needed: A Compelling National Narrative
Beyond the "Why" and the "Who's to blame" for Republican Scott Brown's victory in Masachusetts, the most compelling question for Democrats in general, and progressives in particular, is "Where do we go from here?"
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne suggests, first of all, that we stop beating each other up (we're good at that) since it often leads to dithering (unfortunately -- as the Senate Finance Committee proved -- sometimes we're really good at that) and start taking responsibility.
Some blame falls on Congress and that Committee for dithering instead of passing health care legislation while the iron was hot.
Some blame also falls on the president who trusted Congress too much.
Dithering is what legislative bodies are best at, it's built into their system. Providing a compelling narrative, which is necessary for change, is not. Dionne notes:
More broadly, Obama also needed to create a national narrative that Democrats could proclaim with pride. The narrative has been missing, and conservatives have filled the vacuum.
The truth seems to be, in a nation where the majority has health insurance it likes, health care reform can be characterized effectively as either a hero or a villain, depending on who's got the compelling narrative at the moment.
In public opinion terms, think of a national health insurance plan as that really good coat you looked at in the store. If you considered it intelligently then bought it right away, you'll probably always value that coat and be happy with your purchase. Dither over it too much, come close to buying and walk away too many times, and you'll convince yourself you're better off without it.
Democrats need a compelling narrative, complete with heroes people outside the base can empathize with, and with villains they can boo.
Polls indicate Brown got mileage out of vilifying health care reform, but that he was less convincing re: getting people to empathize with big banks.
Continuing to vilify bad banks could be a start.
Every administration needs a defining journalistic voice to provide commentary, criticism and good advice.
After a good year, and especially after his thought-provoking column the day before the election, "What Obama Can Learn From Reagan," (avoid the Pavlovian response and check it out) I nominate Dionne.