Ten-Word Messages

| Tue Jan. 3, 2006 2:49 PM EST

Ezra Klein makes a good point, writing on the topic of the Democratic Party's much-lamented lack of an easily "digestible" platform: "Can someone please explain to me why a major political party in the world's most powerful country should be able to define its message in ten words?" Right, exactly. Also, why should anyone be forced to explain the meaning of liberalism in an "elevator talk"? Politics and policy, especially good policy, is complicated, and if Democrats can't explain what they stand for or plan to do to fix this country in two monosyllabic sentences, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Or at least it shouldn't be a bad thing.

A related "concern" I find baffling is the idea that Democrats should, for some unknown reason, be totally unified on each and every issue. Media types in particular like to harp on this. But why should they be unified? As a general matter of principle, democracy presumably works better when there's lots of disagreement, and competing ideas are actually aired, rather than suppressed. Many people point out that the Republican Party has gained so much power because it stays on message and never succumbs to any sort of infighting or internal squabbling. That's not totally true, but even if it was, the Republican Party has also driven the country into the ground, so there's reason to think that running a political party like the Soviet Politburo probably isn't the ideal way to govern the country.