The Democratic credibility gap

A new Democracy Corps poll shows that a 'no' to Bush hardly counts as a 'yes' for Democrats.

Why? Because even though 56 percent of Americans think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, 43 percent of voters said they have "warm feelings" about the Republican Party -- that's compared to the 38 percent that felt the same about the Democrats. Why? Because most Americans believe that Democrats don't have a "core set of convictions or point of view."

Hardly a news flash, but David Sirota presents an excellent -- and depressing -- list of reasons why this perception is hardly misplaced. Here is his conclusion:

And that leads us to the bottom line that the GOP knows so well: no amount of rhetoric can outweigh authenticity and conviction. This is not about embracing a more "liberal" agenda - it is about actually making principles dictate policy decisions, instead of continuing to be a party that is about nothing other than thumb-in-the-wind political calculation. The sooner our side learns that, the sooner we will really be headed back to the majority.
The diverse set contributors in AlterNet's latest book "Start Making Sense" (which I co-edited) make that same point over and over again. But unlike Sirota, many of us -- ok, especially me -- extend the critique to include progressive politics in general. While the progressive movement -- to the extent that it exists -- is hardly guilty of political expediency, it has done as little to put forward a coherent and compelling alternative to the rightwing agenda. Given their track record, the Democratic establishment deserves every public ass-whooping coming its way. But maybe it's time we served up a dose of healthy self-criticism, as well.

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