Winning the "Culture of Corruption" Point
- We're not in power, so how can we be corrupt?
- We're not corrupt.
- OK, maybe we've been corrupt, and maybe a few of us still are, but we're way less corrupt.
Fortunately, such an argument can be formulated simply by articulating changes underway in how the Democrats are raising money. Thanks largely to Howard Dean's leadership at the DNC, the Democratic Party is transforming into a member-supported party. The best answer to the too-familiar refrain of false equality on the corruption issue is;
- Once up on a time, the Democrats and the Republicans financed campaigns mostly with money from big lobbing groups. This was how corruption seeped into both parties. The Republicans are still financed in this way. We are not.
- If we seize control of Congress, we will take immediate action to strengthen ethics rules in the House and Senate. The ethical rules we plan to implement are simple, and should be publicized ahead of the election as part of the general campaign strategy. We should promise to swiftly censure or eject any of our own party who violate these rules.
- Once in control of Congress, if we begin to follow the same pattern of corruption now rampant in the Republican party, then we deserve to be voted out.
- The Republicans believe in a double-standard with respect to corruption. Some of them have noble goals, but as a group they take the attitude that the ends justify the means. And so, they freely engage in corrupt and illegal acts, but still condemn any infraction on the part of a Democrat with the utmost shrillness. As the majority party, Democrats will promise to respect the rules, whatever our goals.
When it comes to corruption, we have to articulate how the Democrats are fundamentally different from the Republican party. Arguing matters of degree isn't good enough. If we don't show a clear, obvious distinction in the structure of our party, the Republicans will blow their false equality horn, and they'll win the point.