Scott Tibbs
blog post
January 15th, 2004

Back to Archived blog posts.

Protests of the President's inauguration

I understand anger and frustration over losing the election, but the Democrats are doing serious harm to their party with the methods they are using to protest the President's inauguration, as well as the "volume" of the protest. The biggest reason Kerry lost is because his campaign was based on opposition to Bush. Many critics of the President were so extreme in their rhetoric that it turned off moderate voters and energized Republicans.

You cannot win an election based on negative campaigning alone. Negative campaigning is appropriate and necessary, because it informs the voters about mistakes, bad judgment, and harmful policies of the other candidate. But you must have a positive vision to go along with the criticism. Bill Clinton had that in 1992 when he unseated Bush 41. John Kerry, for the most part, did not.

When the Republicans won Congress in 1994, they did so on a wave of anti-Clinton sentiment. But they also presented a positive agenda with the "Contract with America". It was one of the most effective political strategies of all time, because it nationalized the Congressional election. Democrats, if they want to recapture the Congress and the White House, should find a similar way of advancing their own message.

Furthermore, Kerry did not have much real support of his own. He was supported because he was the "anti-Bush" candidate. If the Democrats are to win in 2008, they will need a candidate who can energize people who support a specific candidate's vision in addition to opposing the other guy's policies. They had someone like that last year in Howard Dean, but he was not nominated. I think Dean would have been much more likely to defeat Bush than Kerry.