Pin the Tail on the Donkey

At TNR Brian Beutler makes an observation that has probably occurred to a lot of people watching red-state independents like Greg Orman and Larry Pressler flourish while red-state Democrats struggle:

[O]ne of the most widely read newspapers in Kansas looked at Orman’s platform and found something new and refreshing. I don’t know if they were covering for him, or are unfamiliar with Democratic politics, but in either case, it’s no less frustrating if you’re a Democrat than if you’re a Republican.

Senate Democrats are surely thrilled—they want Roberts to lose more than just about anything in the world. But if you’re a rank and file Democrat trying to break through in a conservative part of the country, or a strategist trying to elect more Democrats to the House, this underscores just how difficult it is to get a fair hearing.

There’s nothing on Orman’s agenda that isn’t on the agenda of every aspiring Democrat who’d get run out of town as a crypto-Socialist in red America. But call yourself an independent, and suddenly it all sounds so sensible.

Now it’s common for Democrats to complain that voters who are with them on various issues (say, the minimum wage) aren’t with them in general elections. But it is a bit annoying to see this same phenomenon to extend to entire platforms. Party ID, folks, is a very powerful thing, and images of political parties, positive or negative, are difficult to change.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.