Thursday, September 16, 2004

Dotcom Democrats

The Democratic Party has been losing political power slowly but surely for the last 30 years. Arguably they have not won a straight out Presidential election since 1964. Carter won because of Watergate, Clinton won because of Perot. In the Congress, Governorships and elsewhere there has been a steady and constant erosion of power as they have lost election after election.

Democrats convince themselves they lose due to Republican dirty tricks? After all, everybody agrees with them on the issues don’t they? Well, yes and no.

It’s the “No” they won’t recognize and its killing them.

An old computer industry joke that mocked the slipshod business plans of many Dotcom startups portrayed their business plans as:

Step 1: Slap random content on a web page
Step2: ???????
Step 3: Profit!

Step 2 was always the problem. How to make money off web content was a challenge that few businesses met. Eventually, the industry wide failure to implement Step 2 prevented Step 3 and the bubble popped. For a time though, Step 1 and a desire for Step 3 seemed all you needed to get investors.

The Democrats and the political Left in general have followed a similar plan trying to win political power:

Step 1: Tell people you understand their problems and that you will solve their problems.
Step 2: ?????????
Step 3: Win Elections!

Step 2 is always the problem. It’s as easy to identify problems and concerns as it is to slap content on a web page. Solving the problems efficiently and effectively is as difficult as making money off that content. Like the Dotcoms, the Democrats desire to solve people’s problems got them votes for a time but eventually they had to deliver solutions.

They can’t solve the problems in a manner acceptable to the electorate because the mechanism they always choose to do so no longer works. They always choose a large-scale, highly centralized, government program. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, the solution is always a large-scale, highly centralized, government program.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, the electorate no longer believes that the government can deliver services that way efficiently and effectively.

Take health care for example. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has some economic incentive to socialize health care cost. Big corporations would love to offload their crushing obligations for employees and retirees onto the government. Smaller business would love not to have to compete with corporation’s medical benefits. Freelancers and entrepreneurs would love to be able to take a chance on a new business without putting their family’s health at risk. Lower income workers would like to get benefits that their employers can’t afford. Everybody is paying through the nose for health care already so fear of higher taxes per se is not an obstacle.

Democrats look at this and say, “We’re a shoe in! We promise government funded health care and everybody from street people to CEOs will vote for us!” But when they run on the idea the electorate says, “Right, I’m not turning my health care over to the functional equivalent of the post office!”

What is killing the Democrats is not the issues but the nuts-and-bolts of the mechanisms they advocate using to address those issues. People believe that the mechanism that the Democrats advocate will provide inferior service at a higher cost. Democrats cannot or will not change the mechanism. They advocate the same mechanism over and over and lose elections over and over.

In the end they are like dotcommers reduced to ripping copper cables out the drywall to pay for their instant raman all the while thinking, “What went wrong? We were on the Internet! We wanted to make money! What else was there?”

(cross posted to Chicago Boyz)