The Blog

Can you Beat Something with Nothing?

Democrats insist the GOP needs an agenda.

1:01 PM, Sep 3, 2010 • By JAY COST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Liberal Susan Estrich makes her side's case that all is not lost for the Democrats in the lower chamber. She makes some good points, but I have to disagree with this:

Lastly, for all the problems with the Democratic agenda, at least there is one. What swept the Republicans to victory in 1994 was not (just) running against the administration, but the perception that they had a unifying agenda - a Contract with America - and were ready to govern. The Republicans have every reason to want to nationalize this election (after all, the generic Republican is a national construct). But other than being against everything the president is for, they have yet to put forth anything resembling a governing plan.

First, do the Democrats really have "something?" "It would have been worse under McCain!" doesn't really count, in my opinion. Second, the Contract with America did not come out until late in the season, so its effect on vote choices is questionable. Third, you can beat something with nothing. The Democrats ran a fairly vague and issueless campaign in 2006. So did Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, for that matter. When the incumbent party is as unpopular as the Obama Democrats are today, "nothing" doesn't look that bad.  Fourth, what exactly is "nothing?"  If individual candidates campaign on their own promises to reduce spending, for instance, isn't that running on "something," even if they don't sign their name to some central document?  Why must the "something" come from Washington, D.C.? 

Recent Blog Posts