November 3, 2004  ·  Lessig

Wrong, wrong, yet again, I was, we are, wrong. I was on an airplane last night, from SFO to London, so at least I didn’t suffer the minute by minute awfulness of this result. But it’s 5am PST, and we should remember some principles: When Bush “lost” in 2000, we said it was because (1) he had lost the popular vote, and (2) he had short circuited the count in one state to win in the College.

Bush has won the popular vote. And it would take a freak of nature to imagine the 220,000 provisional ballots would fall strongly enough to shift Ohio. He will win the College. He is our President — legitimately, and credibly.

Our criticism of this administration must now focus narrowly and sharply: on the policies, not on the credibility of the man.

  • Anonymous

    I feel like we have gone back to the middle ages……

  • Tayssir John Gabbour

    Does anyone know what Jon Stewart is talking about when he mentions the 30-year conservative media strategy?
    rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/c04/c04102304_stewart.rm

    This is what I’ve been able to find so far.
    http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2004/Republican-Propaganda1sep04.htm
    http://www.mediatransparency.org/stories/powellmanifesto.htm

    I think the most VITAL thing is to understand why they are winning.

  • peppers

    It’s frustrating, but I’m slowly beginning to realize that Mr. Lessig is probably correct in his take on 2004. I also agree that Dems, me included, need to mobilize and continue to turn up the heat on this administration and their policies.

    Hang in there, peeps.

  • http://thomashawk.com Thomas Hawk

    Very well put Larry.

  • Matt

    Shouldn’t we always focus on the policies of the administration? While me may like or dislike the office holder, it is the policies the administration that truly affect us.

    I don’t think W’s hold on the more centrist portions of the GOP was anything more than tenuous at best. Had Kerry been more widely viewed as someone to vote for rather than not being W, he really would have had a shot.

  • Max Lybbert

    Even though this wasn’t a blowout, I expect there to be party changes. I’m curious to see what kind of changes are in store for the Democrats. Here in the South, the registered Democrats that voted for Bush would all like a more conservative party. Other Democrats think differently.

    I think the more important issue, in this campaign, was the kind of voter the Democrats ended up relying on — and who ended up not voting. The Republicans happen to get more voters that are more likely to vote, such as older voters, religious voters, and military voters. Much of the Democratic base, on the other hand, is less likely to vote — specifically the under-30 crowd. That, of course, is why big turnouts usually mean Democratic wins — the Republican base comes out all the time, so the “extra” people voting in a large turnout are generally Democrats.

    This will be very important in 2008, since the Republicans don’t have a clear candidate.

  • http://atulchitnis.net Atul Chitnis

    Hmm. Frankly speaking, I suspect that most people in the USA aren’t going to be bothered too much about the outcome.

    I have been parallely watching American and International media for years, and the issues covered are very different and in many ways not related. I doubt that the average John Doe on the streets of America is even aware of the issues the rest of the world has with the Bush administration, or how they will affect America (and the world) in the long run.

    Out here (I am not in the USA), discussions have revolved around world peace, and how it has been affected affected by issues that are related solely to America’s “Homeland Security”.

    Example – I can’t fly from Bangalore (don’t hate me, please!) to Frankfurt anymore without being profiled as the next thing in terror. I have to worry about dressing for the flight (slip-ons, make sure no holes in the socks). Yet none of these routes have *ever* been on the “hit list” – the only reason is because Bush & Son picked a fight with the Middle East, who have no issues with either Europe or India.

    I know, it is a silly example, or maybe it isn’t, but it shows just how badly the *rest* of the world is being affected. But does John Doe know about this (and if he does, does he care?)

    I am not trivialising terror here, but isn’t terrorising millions of people around the world in (effectively) the name of American homeland security equally bad? So isn’t this “War on Terror” actually a “War of Terror”?

    I suspect that out here, the world is increasingly getting tired of this. If Bush’s (not America’s) internal issues can decide how the rest of the world lives, shouldn’t the rest of the world have a say in America’s government, if it has so much say in our lives?

    Yes, Bush is winning credibly. But he is winning because the average voter has been shielded completely from the realities of world politics. I think the docus for the next four years should be to ensure that this state of affairs changes. The most dangerous thing for a war president is a world-aware voter.

    After 2000, it was “Remember Florida! Make every vote count!”. Let the slogan now be “Remember 2004! Let information flow!”

    Damn, am I pissed or what? How do I get off this soapbox?

  • Erica G.

    There’s so much we still have to fight for – some of it things we’d have had to fight for even with a Kerry presidency. The most critical thing in my mind is that Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats, not let the disappointment of this election turn to despair. Not when we came so far, and created so much political energy. The critical thing is not to let the movement become the second casualty of this election.

  • http://www.point-libre.org/~jop/blog jpgaulier

    It’s poor english for a great deception.
    We, europeans, and the rest of the world, maybe, have got another point of view of what is the US nation today. Maybe you don’t know the name of the president of my country, but I know yours. We can’t stay and think “oyo, bush or another one, I don’t care”. Yes you are the first country in a lot of domain : science, economy, military, etc… and in fast food, weapon of mass destruction, silly and sold media, etc… Is this possible yet to come in america without knowing english, learn it by reading shakespeare and becoming a rockefeller ? Or this is the end of the American Dream ?

    Most of people (that I talk) say that american people get the president they deserve. I dunno. I often read RMS, Tanenbaum or professor Lessig. They are right men. They work for what they think good.

    Is USA the country of freedom, like free in free speech or free beer ?

    The 9/11 was a second Pearl Harbour. You were shocked and we too, but not in the same way. It was really a tragic-human-tragedy. But no, US people is not invicible, so sorry. And we too. We, you and us, are just man and women being on a small blue planet. We’ve got rights and _I_ think that this election is not representative of the knowledge you’ve got.

    Probably Bush isn’t a bad guy, but he’s just a “too too too”. Maybe the point is done, and gone with the wind. We’ll see what the Ohio state decides in the next hours.

    Thanks professor Lessig, you do a great job, really. The CC and the EFF is what I want to keep in mind when I think to USA. Please, keep this effort and keep the same.

    For those who think this is a flame, that’s not. If the language is not correct, I beg your pardon. Furthermore, I tried to explain the point of view of a foreign person, with a different way of life and education; that’s really hard. Feel free to contact me off if you wish to share another point of view of what is the USA in the world today.

    Cheers.

  • Dan

    Well this has been exactly what I needed to read. Thanks to Larry and the sharp commentators(?) above.

    I think next go around there will need to be an across the board increase in voter education. I think that too many voters were operating from a weak knowledge-base, that’s not to blame anyone in particular just a general observation.

    Here in a Nevada a tort/medical malpractice reform bill was put on the ballot and for all intents and purposes ran unchallenged, I think one single commercial (that aired 2 or 3 times) was all the opposition. The majority of people that voted on that issue (which passed) don’t understand the mechanisms of the change to our state constitution. Promise them lower healthcare costs though and watch them run! All I can hope for is that I’m wrong and people’s rights won’t be eroded and we will have lower healthcare costs.

    -Dan

  • John

    Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.

    Democrats need to get back to “Should, Can, Will!” Democrats’ strength has always been in hope, not fear. Perhaps in 2 or 4 years, America will be ready to give up the fear. I hope for the future.

  • http://briansmith.blogspot.com Brian Smith

    Isn’t anyone going to question the accuracy of the paperless voting machines, especially in Ohio ? Blackboxvoting.org have sent FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests for ALL of the logs from every e-voting machine used, to look for discrepancies. I always thought the worst-case scenario was a rigged election that looked legitimate, and there was no way to check it.

    I’m not saying get out the tinfoil hats, but I think we should be prepared to examine the role these machines played very closely.

  • http://www.nerdylorrin.net Lorrin Nelson

    I agree, Brian. Early on the exit polls in both OH and FL were showing a Kerry lead. Was that still the case at the end?

  • John

    Ashcroft is apparently gone as Attorney General so maybe we’ll get a letup for free speech on the internet.

  • http://kapuki.blogspot.com Ruth Hertz

    How are we going to teach all of the people who have taken the responsibility to become registered voters to be certain that they
    are, indeed, eligible to vote the next time they want to particpate
    in an election, long before they come to the polling place?

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Max: Jeb Bush is a clear candidate. Why stop the winning train?

    Brian Smith: No, the Democrats are too weak to do this. They promised last night not to concede defeat before all the votes were counted. Well, they’re not all counted in Ohio and yet Kerry’s on the phone conceding defeat to Bush and Edwards is conceding defeat to the nation. The Democrats still haven’t challenge the disenfranchisement of 2000 in Florida — Greg Palast says most of those voters still can’t vote. Yet in 2002, Janet Reno ran as a Democrat and failed to make voter rights a plank in her platform. It’s reasonable people would look at this record and say “Yeah, the Republicans are screwing us, but what are you Democrats doing to fix it?”. Once they discover the choices they’ve been railroaded into both want to screw them out of their right to vote, there’s no point in championing either party to their friends.

    George W. Bush has a mandate from the American public. Don’t even try blaming this one on Nader. The Left doesn’t understand that yet.

    Hillary Clinton probably wants to run in 2008 but few Democrats are progressive enough to vote for a woman. She’ll either lose in the primaries or lose the election for the Democrats. And all the while the Democrats are bound to lose no matter who they put up because they fail to become a progressive party. They chase the same agenda the Republicans put up and can’t figure out why it isn’t working (Barack Obama, the sweetheart of the Democrats and this blog, likes “tax reform” and “welfare reform” according to his debates. I’ll bet he likes bombing Iran too. The only reason he got in is because he ran virtually unopposed in a gerrymandered Democratic Party stronghold. Futher insuring his victory are Illinois Republicans who put up a candidate that made the Chicago debate audience laugh at him.).

    As far as Europe is concerned, I don’t see how Kerry would have changed things. The Democrats love giving a blank check to Israel no matter what that government does, just like the Republicans do. This angers many in the Middle East and some who have the means and the will to carry out attacks (9/11, for instance). But there’s no point in change when there are corporate campaign weapons manufacturers to steer business toward. Universal health care is out of reach despite that Americans pay more per capita for health care than other countries that deliver health care to all of their citizens (according to the Physicians for a National Health Program). Kerry claims to want to win the war against Iraq (or perhaps he meant the “War On Terrorism”) which is no better than what the Left criticizes Bush for wanting. Kerry wanted 40,000 troops instead of Bush’s 20,000, so with Bush in there’s a reduced chance of a draft (not much reduced since I don’t see where the 20,000 troops are coming from without a draft). Kerry claims he would have brought European troops in but he never said exactly what he’d give European countries in order to make their governments change their minds. Kerry has no understood message on morality, despite this being an issue of significance in exit polls cited by CBS and NBC newsreaders on election night.

    I don’t like either of the two major candidates or either major party. I also don’t like how the American Left is incapable of putting together a progressive long-term plan that will pay off in 30 years. Perhaps this loss will give the Democrats the incentive they need to reevaluate their platform. Start thinking about the long term and where you want the country to be in 30 years. And stop ignoring the Democratic Party base — including would-be Democratic Party voters who were disenfranchised by the Republicans. Believe in the power of your message, not the power of your corporate campaign funding.

  • B. Schierstedt

    As my daughter has told me from time to time: deal with it, cope and move on. We are fortunate to live in a democracy. Many people wish they could speak out regarding their government and politicians like we can in America. We must now concentrate on the future issues and focus on the impact those issues will have on us as a nation. Maybe we should start being optimistic. Instead of looking back and start looking forward.

  • Narmer

    I never posted here before, but it seems a good time.

    This election really reveals the weakness of the Left and Democrats in general. We’re spent. We seem more nihilistic and cynical than possitive and persuasive. We were elitist, effette, and academic and out of touch with our fellow countrymen. And for God-sake, we embraced Michael Moore’s message and it didn’t seem to bother us that so did Osama Bin Laden.

    But, in the end, losing, and losing like this, in the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and in several states will ultimately be the best thing for Democrats and the Left. We can’t hide from our failures anymore.

    One party rule by Republicans will be a disaster, and the left has to be healthy for the nation to be healthy. But, I’m confident. I think there really is a solid progressive spirit to American politics.

  • Erica G.

    To J.B. N-O:
    Bush doesn’t have a mandate. Not by a long shot. Especially not if you consider how close many of those red states were. Despite the swath of red across the map, this is an election that reflects a very much divided country. Winning by a few percentage points in the popular vote does not a mandate make. Not even close.

    I do wholeheartedly agree though that the reason the Dems are losing is that they’re too afraid to actually speak loudly for a cohesive progressive agenda. The religious right isn’t afraid to speak up for its agenda, why should we be afraid to speak for our values?

  • Tim

    To answer Tayssir’s earlier question, Jon Stewart may have been referring to George Lakoff who likes to talk about how conservatives have been working for 30 years on how to use language and framing to their advantage.

    “Liberals need to go beyond coalitions of interest groups to consciously construct a unified language and imagery to convey their worldview. This will not be easy, and they are 30 years behind.”
    - from Metaphor, Morality and Politics

    Rockridge Institute

    Two books by Lakoff:

    Moral Politics
    Don’t Think of An Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

  • http://lrp.greenrd.org/ Robin Green

    And for God-sake, we embraced Michael Moore�s message and it didn�t seem to bother us that so did Osama Bin Laden.

    Do I smell a logical fallacy here?

    Hitler was against smoking, you know.

  • http://wetware.blogspot.com/ Anand

    The end-result was pretty shocking. Oh well, it is a bright, cold Wednesday and the clocks are striking thirteen.

  • http://wetware.blogspot.com Anand

    It is hard not to think in Orwellian terms. Somebody made an excellent point that that voter education couldbe key for the Democrats in subsequent elections. What is needed is an effort to let people know just what is going on with the war in Iraq, with the deficit, with Social Security, and with everything else.

  • Wayne

    At the risk of becoming flame bait, here’s a comment from someone that didn’t vote for Kerry.

    Although it is a very dim memory, I watched the returns when Eisenhower was elected setting in my father’s lap. I’ve voted for JFK and Reagan. In the 60′s and 70′s I wore tie dyed shirts and od green. From my perspective both major parties have been moving left my whole life, and I think the pendulum may have hit a stop, with a lot of Republicans occupying the position formerly held by the Democrats of 30 – 40 years ago. Maybe a correction of sorts is in order, as everyone takes measure of what happened yesterday.

    In any event, I’m a regular reader on this site because I agree with a lot of what I find here. I’m an EFF supporter, believe in privacy, am not thrilled with the Patriot Act, and hate what has been happening to copyright. And if John Ashcroft is in fact gone, will be one of the people celebrating his departure.

    So here’s someone to the right of many of you saying we may be closer to agreeing on a lot of things than you might think. And I continue to hope for candidates from both parties that I can for FOR instead of having to choose who to vote AGAINST.

  • DOT

    I just called the Ohio Secty of State’s office – they told me they are legally committed to counting all legal and probvisional votes, and will indeed do so.
    Their number is 614-466-2585.
    Bush may very well have won – but I didn’t feel it was Kerry’s right to concede so quickly. The voters should have had some say about this – it was they who worked hard for the campaign – who contributed, probably beyond their means – who voted – who spent their time and energy getting out the vote – it could be that Kerry’s quick concession will turn an untold number against the party for a long, long time – I’ve heard some very bitter statements today.

  • http://www.thinfilmmfg.com/mtblog/index.shtml Katherine

    “We were elitist, effette, and academic and out of touch with our fellow countrymen.”

    Too simplistic. Too nihilistic. Sounds like the gap was 40 million, not barely 4 million.

    At the same time, voter education is not the answer. Both parties poured millions into voter education this time, and it got us four more years. I’m sure most of the people who voted for Bush consider themselves very well informed. Most will say they knew exactly what Kerry stood for (or failed to stand for) and didn’t like it.

    Putting together a progressive agenda is a great idea, but not the right place to start. Building the platform first is elitist and academic and all those things.

    Maybe progressives should start where the conservatives did:
    WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT?
    HOW CAN WE HELP THEM GET IT?

    The conservative answer was: small government, a strong military, and strong communities.

    Sounds pretty good to me. Is there anyone who doesn’t want those things?

    As long as Democrats are seen as the party of big government, wimpy defense, and fractured families, they will lose every single time.

  • Bettina Neuefeind

    One point that i haven’t read here, and which i think appropriate regarding the legitimacy of this win: perhaps the biggest factor in Bush’s win (assuming no vote suppression or other irregularities) was his incumbency, which itself was neither legitimate nor credible, and for me this will continue to taint his credibility and the idea of a ‘mandate.’ This election, by definition, can’t white wash 2000.

    I too am dismayed at the polite and early concession by Kerry, which seems to file the loss away as just another election, without adequately addressing widespread concern about disenfranchisement through rigged machines, intimidated voters, and the need to heal the wounds of 2000. Even if all was above-board, there were good reasons to bend over backwards to prove it to the public.

    That said, i agree that we must focus on the issues, on voter education, and on keeping alive the amazing work begun on behalf of this campaign.

  • http://www.xml-blog.com Christian Romney

    On the whole I have found this thread to be full of thoughtful, and intelligent commentary. So much better than this: http://joi.ito.com/archives/2004/11/03/the_people_of_america_have_failed_us_today.html

    Subscribed.

  • anon

    There will never be a next time. This was the last chance to take America back. It’s over, we lost, it’s gone forever. The guys in power now will never give up power. They will stack the court so that if they ever lose they can throw it to the courts and win. They now increase control of Congress and the Senate. The constitution is next up. After that, there’s nothing left.

    The only way this will fail now is if Bush screws up so massively over the next couple of years that enough conservatives (traditional ones, not the evangelical neo-cons) abandon them in 2006 and lay the path for a 2008 defeat. But that’s a long shot. When push comes to shove, just whisper “values” and they get in line.

    It’s a theocracy now, or soon will be after they stack the courts and start amending the constitution. Christian theocracy, btw, and not even Christian faith applies. We’re gonna see a bunch more containment camps before all is said and done.

    As for the 30-year media campaign, I don’t know what Jon Stewart means, but I can think of two prongs to the attack:

    1) After Watergate, the right wing decided to get even with the media. So they bought it, turned it into profit centers, gutted it, and made sure they could never again turn them in.

    2) They lied about a “liberal” media so often that people didn’t realize they meant “more liberal than me,” and began to believe it to the point where they shunned the media.

    It works. There are Bush voters who to this day believe some of the lies he told that he himself later said were not true! That’s faith-based, all right.

    That’s all from this reality-based person who no longer lives in a reality-based America.

  • chris

    face it: there has been a silent cultural offensive from the right-wing going on for years.

    and look where they stand now!

    the democrats always tried and still try to pussyfoot the issues put at stake here.

    the alternatives now are: follow to the right or go on offensive! this is about education and tolerance. either let go or confront people, even if its hurting their religious beliefs.

  • http://anon.com Anon

    Erica G and Mrs. Lessig,

    Regardless of your personal opinions, in the political world a mandate is granted when a candidate garners greater than 50% of the popular vote. If Nader had taken enough votes away from the two major candidates to push the winner under 50%, then we could split hairs, but in the current reality Bush has a mandate and you’re going to have to live with it.

  • Lloyd Doyle

    From afar, it seems the Republicans won on the homeland security issue, ie. the terror issue, ie. fear. In the short term, it seems sensible that the Democrats should now focus on the issue of how justifiable the current level of fear really is. Is it exaggerated? How would we know?

    For the past few years, we have been told by our governments that our countries are in immanent risk of a terrorist attack. For reasons of national security, we have accepted that we have to trust our governments’ assessments without ever being given any concrete evidence. Yet 3 years after 9-11, since the war in Afghanistan, we have been given little evidence about any of the claims made in the name of the war on terror. We haven’t found any credible sleeper cells in the US, we didn’t find anything in Tora Bora, and we didn’t find anything in Iraq.

    Even some of the claims made in the past year or two are begining to take on the patina of the old Duck & Cover era propoganda. I recently had the perverse pleasure of re-watching Donald Rumsfeld claiming that AlQuaeda had a sophisticated electonic bunker built into a mountain in Tora Bora. Despite appearing to have been lifted from a Bond movie, it was funnier than that. It had a distinctive Dr. Evil feeling to it.

    Personally, I think at this point it’s becoming difficult to avoid the increasingly obvious conclusion that we are being lied to in order to manipulate support for foreign policies that would never normally be granted.

    The UK populace suffers from this same debilitating fear. Here’s a kooky fact for the day: apparently dirty bombs aren’t effective weapons. You could set off a dirty bomb in downtown London and not kill anyone. Where did I ever get the idea that it would? Was the emergency services simulation I saw on TV a docudrama, or a real simulation? There were actual emergency services officials in the show. Why were they preparing for a dirty bomb when the most dangerous thing about a dirty bomb is the panic that would be caused by the impression that it’s terribly dangerous?

    And yet there are terrorists. It wasn’t more than a year or two before 9-11 that the Real IRA set off a car bomb in front of the BBC. It was a few blocks from where I live. Close enough to shake the house. My wife and I looked at each other and said, that was a bomb. Funny how you just know when you hear a bomb go off. I felt a bit silly once the bombers had been caught. I was thinking it was some large faction of the IRA, but it was more like there were 4 guys in their early 20s flexing their machismo and some peculiarly misguided idealism. Like they had grown tired of the old routine of getting pissed and fighting outside bars. All I could think was, and these are the guys we were afraid of?!? (Hint: if they are called the ‘real’ IRA, that’s because they aren’t really the IRA.)

    Personally, I’m giving up on the war on terror. It’s like the film Independence Day: after a certain point, I just can’t suspend my disbelief any longer. Aside from which, I don’t think fear does any good, and I do know it does harm.

    The only thing to fear is fear itself
    - Churchill

    The most frightening thing is what you don’t see, not what you do see.
    - Hitchcock

  • Max Lybbert

    Sorry, Doyle, but I’m going to have to file a correction.

    /* For the past few years, we have been told by our governments that our countries are in immanent risk of a terrorist attack. For reasons of national security, we have accepted that we have to trust our governments� assessments without ever being given any concrete evidence. Yet 3 years after 9-11, since the war in Afghanistan, we have been given little evidence about any of the claims made in the name of the war on terror.
    */

    Aside from various attacks that have occured, such as the Spain train bombings, and attacks that almost occured, such as the “shoe bomber” plot, I also remember that the 9/11 Commission heard testimony of the Patriot Act leading directly to thwarting two plots centering on New York.

    I recognize that there is considerable disagreement about several tactics and measures the Administration and world leaders are using to counter terrorism, but there is concrete evidence available for us to review and on which to base informed voting decisions.

  • http://www.perilocity.net/ John S. Quarterman

    Conservatives’ 30 year strategy: it goes back to Goldwater losing to LBJ. Certain types of conservatives thought they had been so marginalized that they had to do something more than what they had been doing to fight back.

    Since then there has been increasingly organized conservative message-making and delivery, going beyond just electing politicians;
    including numerous think-tanks and academic positions that keep pundits in circulation when they’re out of government, plus of course political columnists to continually spread the message in a more obvious fashion, and outright ownership of much of the mass media. The strategy went into other institutions as well;
    it included (and still does) building churches and colleges that would promote the conservative worldview and messsage. 30 years ago evangelicals were a fringe minority; now they’re probably the majority of Protestants in America.

    The message includes gaming the English language to make words mean what they want them to mean.

    Can you remember when “liberal” was something everyone thought was good?

    And when “conservative” actually meant conserving something,
    such as wild lands, fiscal responsibility, and international reputation?

    Newt Gingrich was a practitioner of this sort of thing, but Karl Rove is the past master; 20 years now he’s been pushing this agenda harder and further than anyone else. Read the piece in the current Harpers
    about Rove and what he does to win elections; Macchiavelli would cringe. Attack your opponent where he seems unassailable (Kerry and his medals); use every trick int he book and some new ones (the crowd of angry citizens in Florida that were the excuse for stopping the recount were high level Republican operatives who flew in for the purpose); and if all else fails, make the contest so unsavory for the opposition candidate’s family that they won’t let him continue to run.

    Here are two views on how things got this way. The first, while mostly about what the Democrats should have done, and what they can do if (now that) they lose, includes quite a bit about what the Republicans did already these past 30 years to win. Note especially the parts about what Rob Stein documented:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/25/magazine/25DEMOCRATS.html?pagewanted=6

    The second one takes an even more basic view of the situation, going even farther back, and including recommendations on what to do:

    http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/conservatism.html

    I have to say they both match my recollections of events (I remember Goldwater vs. LBJ; I remember when Reagan was considered so far to the right there was no way he could ever be elected) and my reading of history. Your mileage may vary, but if you ever want to win again, I’d recommend putting some thought into what has won these last three decades and more.

    I don’t think the answer is to be more like them in getting closer to their message; we’ve seen that way lose repeatedly. I do think it is to be more like them in crafting a coherent and persuasive message and getting it out there repeatedly, in many different ways, through many different people and channels, and long term.

    This isn’t a problem that will be solved by finding a single charismatic candidate to win a presidential election, or by any other quick fix.
    Nor is it enough to focus on the current administration’s policies.
    W. didn’t get where he is just by criticising Clinton. He got there by
    riding a 30 year movement that produced and delivered a story that
    more than half the population bought!

    This is a problem that will only be solved by coming up with a better plan, a better message to sell it, and longterm hard work to get people to buy it. Not that it has to be grim: hope sells better than doom and gloom, and John Perry Barlow’s idea of dancing as politics is excellent.

    Finally, don’t assume you have to start by winning the White House. You won’t. Rove spent 20 years packing the Texas Supreme Court and developing a black sheep failed businessman into a Texas governor before he ran his man for president. If you want real revenge, start by taking back Texas, or Florida.

    But to do it, you’ve got to have a better message, and better delivery!

    -jsq

  • Rob Long

    Democracy is not the answer. Nor is representative republiccanism. All forms of collectivism have the same end result: taking freedom away from the individual. Democracy is one of the worst forms of collectivism as those subjected to it seem to believe that they have some power to change things. This is not the case. Your vote really does not count, nor should it. The masses have no more a right ot rule over you and your property than a dictator does.

    All who seem to support Kerry, but dislike the electoral college, you should think of it as collective-bargaining for voters. Forcing workers to join a union to transact business with a certain employer is no different than forcing all the votes of one state to swing for one candidate. Both are destructive of liberty, compulsory unionism and democracy, and both will be with us for a long time.

  • http://realdemocracy.typepad.com/blog/ Mark Goebel

    Other than the personal issues of trust, honesty and integrity that we all must assess in our choice for President, we must also ask ourselves, �Why vote democrat� or �Why vote republican�? (We can also ask, why are so many now calling themselves independent?) In its simplest terms, one is a vote for big business and the other is a vote for big government. The problem here is that both choices are not distinguishable form one another. Yes, there are issues like abortion, tax cuts, war on terror vs. war on others and civil rights where the 2 leading parties in the US offer differences that attract voters to one side or the other. But, neither is offering any real progress in political and social thinking that can fix root causes of the problems we face.

    Dr. Albert Piacente addresses these issues in his new book “Complete The American Revolution!: What 9-11, Corporate Scandal And The 2000 Presidential Election Have In Common And What We Can Do About It”

    I would like to recommend here that the Democrat party take a look at this book and find an entirely new approach to their platform. Offer America something distinguishable and different that is grounded in the democratic ideals of our founders. Kick-start progress in political thinking globally that will empower and improve.

  • vela

    WHAT DO PEOPLE WANT?
    HOW CAN WE HELP THEM GET IT?

    “The conservative answer was: small government, a strong military, and strong communities. Sounds pretty good to me. Is there anyone who doesn�t want those things? As long as Democrats are seen as the party of big government, wimpy defense, and fractured families, they will lose every single time. ” –Katherine

    That may have been the conservative “MARKETING”, dear, but that has not been the conservative “answer”, if you look at the stats. Under Bush, these past four years, our national debt has snowballed and so has the size of the government. The money poured into contracters has increased (trust me, I know all about this one, Brown & Root was a client of mine), but our defense has been used as target practice. They have not been given a decent strategy in the Middle East and we are actually pulling defense resources away from areas which are much scarier than Iraq could ever be. I’m a Christian and in pastoral care, so I happen to know that fractured familes are EVERYWHERE…no matter the political party. Families thrive when they are in well-paying jobs, which they got from competing on a level playing field with the best of education for everyone, when basic needs such as shelter and healthcare are taken care of, and neighborhoods are made safer. This administration has done as much as it can to concentrate these basic resources for a few people, not the most people. If you want to begin living some real family values within a faith, pick up a copy of Sojourners and begin teaching that lying, negative ads and hiding information to protect yourself is not okay. And that using religion has an advertising tagline makes you a Pharisee, not Christ-like.

  • dhazeghi

    Whether they’re right or not, a lot of people are attributing this loss to ‘values.’ One thing the Left and the Dems have been very poor about is capturing the language.

    It’s going to be very hard to win if the other guy claims he’s more moral, and you don’t do anything about it.

    For instance, under a pro-choice president, Bill Clinton, number of abortions per year declined in U.S. Under an anti-abortion president, George W. Bush, number of abortions performed actually increased considerably.

    And of course, ‘socially deviant’ Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country. Texas, and most of the bible belt, ranks rather poorly.

    As for Kerry, we can say a lot of things about him. But he was neither articulate nor clear on many issues. With Bush, you had the illusion that you were being told exactly what you were getting.

  • http://ed-jones.blogspot.com/ Ed Jones

    I do agree we should concentrate on this administration’s policies rather than credibility. They have shown us for four years credibility is not a concern in their agenda.

    The President’s recent comments regarding political capital should motivate us to never “let it go” while he is in office. That is exactly what they want. President Bush and his administration are cold, calculating individuals whose motivations are self-serving. I personally believe they would stop at nothing to attain what they want (they have shown that in many ways) and wouldn’t be surprised if this election was somehow engineered to their desired results. This man and his followers can not be trusted.

  • philips

    I didn’t seen Kerry as a leader. He is not. Bush might be a leader who is able to lead – but you must be careful about where he is heading you.

    It was obvious for me from the beginning that Kerry is not a leader. I used to stick “engineer” label to him. Leader can lead – but it would take hell a lot of time of good engineer to repair country after that kind of leadership.

    Kerry is quiet – he is using words only when needed. He knows the value of words. Bush on contrary speaks a lot and speaks in language close to many. Bush is exactly who can become popular. On contrary I bet some people were afraid of Kerry coming since he will put them from their rests into hard work.

    You can try to focus on policies – but you will lose popularity contest all the time. It is not policies which made this elections. You americans still cannot learn from your mistakes of wars you are fighting all the time. For me it is old clear philosophical paradigm: to strengthen community from inside, it need enemies outside. Best times of US were when it has large enough enemy – USSR. And believe me (as to someone who have been born, grown and lived in USSR) USSR had gain much of its power from opposition of US and Western Europe. Not that people truly believed in all that communism crap or feared capitalism. But it just makes you to truly value friends and relatives, And it gives you The Goal. USSR is no more. US needs urgently new enemies. Make other conclusions by yourselves.

    I can add only, that it occurs to me that compared to totalitarism of USSR, under western democracies including US people have not much more freedom. (I’m living in Germany now – so that my own feeling and experience). The difference is that you are made to believe that you have traded willingly your freedom for security. While back then behind “Iron Curtain” in USSR few have had such illusions.

  • J. Toran

    “Inhuman”

    “Is USA the country of freedom, like free in free speech or free beer ?”

    No, never was.. Especially in the FantasyWorld called “Blogaria”. There is no free lunch applies, but Dr. Lessig refuses to see Reality… Doc Searls knows that much, it is NOT free as in free beer. Linux, for example, is quite expensive.

    And the “free as in speech” was a scam designed to create a quasi-legal monopoly for “free” and “free”-this and “free”-that. Which is part of the now-debunked (to some) social-philosophy-movement-cult of “free love”, still hanging around, btw..). And this “free”-everthing movement sells well, obviously, which I presume is why Dr. Lessig and many others continue to collect social-capital (iow, POWER) by continuing to support the movement, btw. But it is YAM (yet another monopoly).. and even more expand it to “free culture”..? Why is the funding for arts in K-12 getting cut, if it’s “free”…??

    THESE MEME’S FLOATING ARE BULL MANURE, as you would expect, as IT (Info Tech) FLOATS ON WATER these days.

    Call it a troll, or call it the facts… PLEASE do not call this an opinion.

    “The 9/11 was a second Pearl Harbour. You were shocked and we too, but not in the same way. It was really a tragic-human-tragedy. But no, US people is not invicible, so sorry.”

    My first word on this subject has to do with the lame technique to fight comment spam bots (the pros just shift the page over to someplace off-shore for somebody to key in the keyword, is my understanding)… As well as this comment.

    Dr. Lessig, these are the guys you Dems have been and are (and presumably will continue to be) supporting.

    Um, yeah Americans always knew they weren’t invincible, and didn’t need 9-11 to point that out, “thank you”… Yup, “thank you very much” for this insight…)-;

    That would be YOU placing Americans on a pedestal, JUST so you can FEEL GOOD about knocking down one-a the mean-ole bad authoritarian-archetypes that’s a bother to you (in fact) and your comfortable lifestyle (presumably, if you live in G-8 and have the time to float around the “Blogosphere”.. some of “us” living more comfortably than others, I’d note..).

    Yup, you Dems crack me up, and I couldn’t read the rest of the comments. Just sick to my stomach to think that we’ll have to wait 4 more years to kick the crap outta some-a this nonsense.

    And probably 4 more years after that to kick the crap outta the most-a the rest of the nonsense.

    Dr. Lessig you quoted “adamsj” but you quoted the feel-good (as if I would expect anything left outta you leftist pretend-feel-goods, btw…)-;, but didn’t quote the main points that ACTUALLY signify:

    “I don’t know.”

    “Kerry needs to fight this out, on grounds both of principle and of pragmatism.”

    In actual fact, Mr. Kerry took the pragmatic course which was conceed. Why was he supposed to follow the role of Joan d’Arc, just to fight YOUR ALL’S Freudian battles?!? Even in RETROspect a LOTTA people have essentially “no clue” but a WHOLE LOTTA “ClueTrain”, while they imply that the pretty-vast majority ..(you say (approx) first time re-elected Prez gained seats in Congress in 68 years?)..

    Well, you’ve probably seen the implications that the wrong result took place, more times than not.

    Called “selective (cough) ‘vision’” is what that’s called. AKA blogomania.

    Dr. Lessig, mebbe somebody pointed out the ENTIRE ERROR IN “adamsj” in these comments, but you didn’t in your quote, not one bit:

    There were many.. (2many..;-)… (Mr. Gore?, gimme a break.. Backed Dean, if you recall, and Dean was a BIGGER LOSER (voting-wise and wisdom-wise, both).. You think he helped the Dems, in the polls?!? Besides, if he’d had the guts to run, there was 200 years of Electoral College History that “guaranteed” he’d-a won, which is what I was waiting for for 4 years, btw, but ended up voting for Mr. Bush… But then that same “guarantee” WAS in place for Mr. Kerry’s campaign and the ACTUAL RESULT was Rather astounding, if you observe…)-; MAIN Point of this paragraph is this:

    “I lied to her.”

    Only if you presumed you were omniscent, which seems to be a character flaw inherent in Libertarians and the Libbers who have taken over the Democratic Party.

    Btw, you gonna delete this post Dr. Lessig *AND then ban me like most-all your buddies in the blogosphere?

    Jes wondering, and wondering how that is..

    ..you know….
    ….given the pretenses you hide behind, like liberty and truth and freedom of speech and freedom of religion and all that.

    You DON’T wonder about these things, I’m guessing, Dr. Lessing?

    ~~

    (Btw, OT: What I also wonder is DID YOU post anything remotely resembling what has been ascribed in your name, over at Dan Gillmor’s pseudo-”place”-actual-website?)

    ~~

    PS You have my email Dr. Lessig, if you choose to explain why you are deleting my post and/or banning me and/or supporting those who do, btw.

    PPS Why does it say, BOTH, you have to type “human” and now it says you have to type “agree”.. all caps just to be cute no less so get another error…? Is this “Open” Source “soft”ware by any chance?

  • Seth Johnson

    No, Larry.

    We didn’t all jump on the idea that the popular vote was why Bush was illegitimate. Maybe you did; maybe you thought the only valid reason had to be that. But that wasn’t it. Making an argument against the electoral college is not the key.

    This is the key reason for what was wrong: it was close and questionable, hence a recount was called for.

    When James Baker went down to Florida in 2000 and ranted that computers were more accurate, he was conning us all. In the field of information quality, the principle is that you can’t assess or assure accuracy through automation — only people comparing a recording against a real world entity or an event in real time, can assure accuracy.

    It’s still the same BS, on a massive scale now, with election boards across the country insisting on non-verifiable voting machines. In Florida, they are now in the position of not being able to obey their own laws for recounts.

    Privately controlled black boxes have been implemented across the country, and the patterns showing up are suggesting systematic gaming towards Republican candidates.

    See the following: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm

  • jennifer knight

    Late comment (been globetrotting again) – thanks for saying, then, what needed to be said. We need to get over the shock ( http://wigu.com/shop/eagle800.jpg ) and get on with the policy.

  • Ron Jeremy

    I love when conventional fucks like you finally see the light and feel stupid. Thanks for being real enough to spread the word. And, PLEASE, next time don’t lean on THEIR experts. If you don’ t have your OWN, isn’t it better to just say “I Don’t Know”, as in, “I don’t know if God exists”, end of story.