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Opinion

Can Democrats rebuild? Yes – if they listen to Toby Keith

To win in 2012, Democrats must rebrand themselves. Country music lyrics could help.

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After the "shellacking" Dem­ocrats suffered in the midterm elections, many political consultants urged the party to revamp its communication strategy.

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Better talking points are essential in modern politics, but they are only as good as the underlying convictions. That's why so many voters – including independents – favored Republicans this fall. They responded favorably to the GOP's simple, emotional pitch.

Democrats know why they lost. They know Americans do not trust their politicians very much, that they want more jobs and less government. They see that the tea party capitalized on these sentiments and, like a new red shirt in a load of whites, continues to bleed into electoral districts across the country. Ratifying the new START treaty and repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though important, do not change these fundamental dynamics.

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The main problem Democrats face in the next two years is not Republican obstructionism, but rather their own lack of identity. They desperately need a shared purpose, one that will lend coherence to their policy platform and help communicate their vision more effectively to voters of all stripes.

The longstanding challenge for Dem­ocrats is to figure out how to convince more Americans that a vote for the GOP is usually a vote against one's own economic self-interest. Democrats met this challenge in 2008 by running on "change" from unpopular Bush policies, but times are harder now and many are tired of the blame game.

So how can Democrats make a better case for victory in 2012? Here are three less-conventional approaches:

No. 1: Listen to more country music

To communicate ideas, values, and accomplishments more effectively, President Obama and other Democrats should take a cue from Nashville.

Even if you're not a fan of the actual music, you can always understand the words in a country song. And they are catchy, be it for their wit (Toby Keith's "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was"), patriotism (give a listen to Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA"), or relatable nature (Zac Brown Band's "you know I like my chicken fried … a pair of jeans that fit just right").

People remember country lyrics, just as they do the bumper sticker "I'll keep my guns, freedom, & money ... You can keep the 'change'!"

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