How the Rs Conned America on the
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How you define a debate topic affects its outcome
In just one year, the Republicans have made the U.S. a much more desirable target for terrorists and reduced our ability to prevent attacks—or to recover after an attack has occurred. They did it by abandoning Afganistan, to the point where the Taliban is close to regaining total control. They underfunded American firefighters, police, airport screeners, and health care workers.
Most significantly, they squandered our resources by conducting an unnecessary war, and distracting us from dealing with the real causes and threats of terrorism. It's as though the Philippines, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China, and the rest of the world didn't exist.
In the process, they claimed the label "strong on defense" for themselves, and labeled the Democrats as weak. And they were able to do it for the usual reason: They framed the debate on their own terms, and the Democrats wimped out. Instead of properly educating the public about the real issues, they decided to be Republican-lites. In other words, they were just "sort-of" in favor of the war, or "sort-of" against it.
The Republicans framed the issue this simplistic way:
Democrats should have confronted the Republicans on this immediately and strongly. The real issue was:
Those were the issues, as the Republicans defined them and as the Democrats should have defined them. On the other distracting issues, the Democrats clearly lost, and those are the ones the public noticed:
The point: somehow Democrats have to find the courage to openly disagree with those they perceive to have the greatest voter support. Right now, Democrats are suffering from the delusion that the best way to win elections is to play down what they stand for, and confront Republicans just a little bit.
And the Republicans have conned them into wimping-out in a way that is so obvious it is painful to watch. Why do Republicans constantly say that they would be delighted if the Democrats would bring up the Class Warfare issue? It's simple: they are really scared to death that the Democrats will actually do it. Why Democrats are taking Republican advice about how to win voters is one of the great mysteries of the universe.