Why Are Democrats So Useless At Persuasion?

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 26 2012 @ 1:42pm

Conor Williams wonders why the left makes its case in technocratic, rather than moral, terms:

[The right] win public debates because they work exceptionally hard at setting the ethical parameters of discussion within the confines of their moral vision. This means that leftists usually start from a rhetorical deficit….from Ezra Klein to Matthew Yglesias to Mike Konczal and beyond, nearly all of the most prominent [online] leftists are concerned with the technical details of public policy. Mainstream media pundits are no different: Paul Krugman occasionally ventures into justifying a left-wing vision for the future, but he is usually content to demonstrate the empirical debility of various conservative canards. E.J. Dionne’s communitarianism stands out as a lonely example of left-wing commentary with a vision.

And this is even more the case with Democratic politicians. I can't think of any major Democrat who persuasively makes the case for liberalism, even at a time when, in my view, liberalism has an edge in addressing the consequences of conservative over-reach. Nancy Pelosi has never persuaded anybody not already persuaded. Try putting "vision" and Harry Reid into one paragraph without collapsing into laughter. Even the bright, witty, brave ones, like Barney Frank, threw off more one-liners than inspiring, coherent speeches. Obama stands pretty much alone. You'd think others might notice the advantage this gave him, but they don't.