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"Running as Democrats While Sounding Republican" -- Hey, What Could Go Wrong?

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Cross-posted from Smirking Chimp

From Republicans Are Right, Dems Are Wrong and America Loses Again.
Republicans Are Right, Dems Are Wrong and America Loses Again.
(image by YouTube)

They say that one swallow doesn't make a summer, and one Politico story certainly doesn't make a campaign season. But if a recent article there is correct -- if the Democratic Party's strategy this year really is "Running as a Dem (while) sounding like a Republican" -- then the party may be headed for a disaster of epic but eminently predictable proportions.

"It's one thing for Democrats running in red parts of the country to sound like Republicans on the campaign trail," writes Alex Isenstadt. "It's another when Democrats running in purple or even blue territory try to do so. Yet that's what's happening in race after race this season."

Red Dems

Certainly this isn't true of every race. Populist Elizabeth Warren has been brought in to help with Senate contests in several red states, for example. And a recent commentary (in Politico, come to think of it) argued that "an ascendant progressive and populist movement ... is on the verge of taking over the party."

So which is it? Are Dems tacking left or veering right? The answer isn't clear yet. But Isenstadt offers some worrisome anecdotes. He points to several Democratic candidates who are recycling Republican rhetoric, even in districts which went for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

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Isenstadt highlights, for example, a campaign video and accompanying material from Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff's video is indistinguishable from a Republican's, complete with a Paul Ryan-style graph of "soaring" federal debt and admonitions that "You don't buy things you can't pay for."

Iowa State Sen. Staci Appel, running for a Congressional seat there, is touting her record of opposition to government spending. Isenstadt also cites an Arizona candidate whose ads emphasize added border patrols, and an Arkansas candidate whose TV spot emphasizes a balanced budget and reducing regulations.

Past Shock

You've heard of "future shock"? These stories bring on a sensation that might be called "past shock." That's the sense that recent history is reappearing at a troubling and lightning-fast speed. These stories are likely to trigger a severe case of dej vu in anyone who has followed US politics for very long.

Democratic rhetoric began echoing GOP talking points in 1994 under President Bill Clinton -- and Democrats lost control of the House. When Democratic rhetoric once again tacked right in 2010 under President Barack Obama, Republicans ran to their left with a "Seniors' Bill of Rights" -- and the Democrats lost the House once more.

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They can't lose it again, since they no longer hold it. But they can lose more seats, and they can give up the Senate too.

They already have their work cut out for them. President Obama, their party's leader, may very well spend the next 90 days defending renewed military action in Iraq. Hillary Clinton, the party's presumptive 2016 candidate, is likely to spend the time between now and Election Day repeating her Republican-like, hawkish foreign policy talk. And these Democratic Congressional candidates will be repeating GOP economic talking points on the home front, too.

That's not "change you can believe in" -- unless you're talking about a change in Senate leadership.

Talk vs. numbers.

For rationales, Politico offers up typical fare from a covey of "Democratic consultants."

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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When Gore ran in 2000, they tried this same tactic... by Wayne Turner on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 3:40:07 PM
I agree with this assessment. However, don't forge... by intotheabyss on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 7:16:16 PM
... by John Jonik on Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 at 11:33:13 PM
Well it's better than running as a Liberal progres... by Textynn N on Thursday, Aug 14, 2014 at 12:06:54 PM