Being a reformed Clintonista myself (read: more liberal now), whenever I hear Bill Clinton get into campaign mode, I’m reminded why Clinton was so impossible to beat. Bill’s back on the air lately, and I’m emerging from post-election cocoon, so here it is.
The email smear campaign against Barack Obama hasn’t stopped since it bubbled up from the primordial wingnut ooze in 2007. It’s metastasized into the backbone of their policy. In fact, it has become the Republican Party’s entire message. The birther wing took over. That means there is nothing in the Republican playbook this year, this mid-term, that hasn’t been festering in their base’s fevered swamp for 3 years. We’ve been fighting that fear campaign, constantly.
In other words, Republicans are fighting the last election. Enter Bill Clinton.
Clinton fought every election on policy. Not wonky policy, policy boiled down to the effect it can have a person’s life. If you do that, you’re necessarily living in the voters’ world, instead of some artificial media driven narrative. You’re also fighting the campaign in front of you, not the one behind you. That’s how Clinton was able to win elections, despite a visceral hate campaign, similar to the one Barack has endured, waged against him for decades.
This manifests itself in taking the Republican message seriously, debating their proposals on their merits, and proving to voters that the Democratic alternative is a better choice. Take the teabaggers at their word, ask the logical questions which follow their proposals, and you win. Why?
Because there is nothing there. They have no policy proposals. They have only a canon of myth-built hatred on which they constantly fight the last election. There’s even less in this year’s Republican hate mythology than in the hate myth they used against Clinton, because the one they used against Clinton was his own womanizing. The hate mythology of Republicanism this year is total fiction. So once you fight the policy fight and win it, there’s nothing left of the teabagger canon.
This will be very difficult to do in the current economic environment. But it can be done. And there’s plenty of time to do it.