I just got one of those fundraising solicitations disguised as a "survey" from the Democratic National Committee, and it's a perfect illustration of why the party is such a disaster.
First, unlike the Heritage Foundation "survey" I debunked on Spinsanity a couple of years ago, this one actually doesn't have a bunch of ridiculously tilted and misleading survey questions. If anything, many of the answers cut against positions that Democrats advocate now or might advocate in the future, or exclude options that people in the party advocate. Some examples:
2. Which of the following statements most closely matches your view when it comes to extending the life of Social Security?
-Privatize the program to allow workers to invest some of their Social Security payroll contributions in the stock market.
-Cut benefits or raise the retirement age to extend the life of Social Security.
-Use means testing to reduce benefits for wealthy or high income retirees.
-No changes in Social Security are necessary.
Strangely, the preferred solvency-improving option of many party members -- raising the cap on income that's subject to payroll taxes -- is missing. Also, the "means testing" language is outdated, since it sounds like the President's "progressive indexing" proposal, but as many Democrats have correctly pointed out, Bush's plan would actually substantially reduce benefits for the middle class, not just the "wealthy or high income retirees."
4. Should the government put a high priority on stopping American manufacturing jobs from being "outsourced" to overseas workers?
-Yes, the manufacturing jobs being lost are essential to our economy.
-No, American consumers benefit from cheaper goods made overseas.
This question is only going to popularize the fiction that outsourcing can be "stopped," and in doing so will further box in the next Democratic president on trade policy. Given that John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and others were already shamelessly pandering on this issue, it's a bad sign.
7. In your view, what is the best way to ensure health care coverage for all Americans?
-Tax credits to help employers provide health care coverage for their employees.
-Medical savings accounts that let families set aside money for health care costs.
-A government-run system where everyone is guaranteed coverage.
"A government-run system"? That's really going to sell the base on universal health care. I'm personally a believer that single-payer is a non-starter for the foreseeable future, and that something like the "Universal Healthcare Voucher" is the only hope we have. But if even the Democrats call universal coverage "a government-run system" we might as well give up now.
11. What is your opinion about a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion?
-I support a woman's right to choose.
-I support a woman's right to choose, but believe we need some restrictions such as parental notification laws and mandatory waiting periods before having an abortion.
-I oppose a woman's right to choose.
It's strange to include a question that splits your base right down the middle (since many Democrats support restrictions on the right to abortion). Given that the answers to this "survey" aren't representative of anything, what do they hope to accomplish? The question reminds a substantial number of Democrats that they disagree with most elected members of their party on a highly emotional issue. Is this part of Howard Dean's new effort to moderate the party's position on abortion?
Finally, here's the capper that sums it all up -- the URL given on the survey (www.democrats.org/survey) doesn't work. Of course.