“Better Government”?

I was listening to a great “NPR Books” podcast today and there was a fascinating interview (from Fresh Air) with Geoffrey Nunberg, the author of Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into
a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York
Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show

The book presents a thorough analysis of how the political right has so succesfully reframed the language of political debate, e.g., making the “liberal” a bad word, as I just posted on.  (I was pleased to see that my memory of that particular linguistic hijacking was correct, as Nunberg traces it back to the 1988 presidential contest).  And, of course, he discussed how the Republican party is so much better at distilling their message to simple, but effective sound bite/bumper sticker type phrases, e.g., small government, lower taxes, family values, etc. 

This all got me to thinking about what the Democratic party's current phrase/theme should be– a topic I've read a ton about in the blogosphere. I'm probably way off base, but the phrase “Better Government” occurred to me as reasonable possibility.  Obviously, “Big government” is not going to do the trick, but there is obviously widespread dissatisfaction with Republican's  version  (certainly not smaller) of government these days.  People want certain things from government and they want them supplied and fairly and competently.  You could make a good argument that Republicans have failed on both these metrics.  Certainly, there's the rampant corruption in the Congress (e.g., Abramoff, etc.) as well as the clear failures of Administration competence (e.g., Katrina, Iraq).  I've read a lot of interesting articles and posts lately suggesting that Conservative cannot govern successfully because they are running institutions which they are basically opposed to in the first place.  (Here's a good one). 

Of course, didn't Michael Dukakis try something like this approach in 1988?  Lot of good it did him.  Still, I'm thinking there might be something useful in a very basic idea such as this to unify Democratic politicians. 

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