Things aren’t as bad for the Democratic Party as they may
seem. Consider: The Dems ran a stiff,
pompous blowhard with no record of having done anything while in elective
office except marrying for money, and still got 48% of the vote in a year of
low unemployment and inflation.
Moreover, the party does have a number of plausible,
down-to-earth, centrist candidates for 2008, including Bill Richardson, Evan
Bayh, John Edwards and Dick Gephardt, if he can be dragged back into the
muck. Meantime, the Republicans may well
do what they did after the 1994 elections and go off the deep end, turning off
the electorate in the process. Iraq remains
unresolved, the possibility of a currency crisis looms, and another recession —
possibly even a nasty one — may come before the next Presidential election
In addition, this election proved something that
many of us had suspected: The Democrats are now the party of big money. With the backing of Hollywood
tycoons, billionaire self-styled intellectuals like George Soros, trial lawyers
and wealthy individuals with particular interest in causes like gay marriage,
the party isn’t likely to be shy of funds next time around. It outspent the Bushies in 2004, and probably
will do so again in 2008. Finally, the
party still has its black voting base to turn to and turn out.
All of this is solid ground upon which to build for
Democratic victory in four years. If the party can get back to talking about
mainstream issues, responding to the concerns of tuned out working class voters
by addressing common concerns like the U.S. trade deficit, uncontrolled
immigration, crime and terrorism, it can win again.
Some imagination on these subjects would help
immensely, of course. For instance, why
not offer to eliminate federal phone charges as a trade-off for increased
gasoline taxes? How about federal aid
for higher teacher salaries matched to expanded school choice programs? Or tying reduced Medicare physician benefits
to medical tort reform? Plainly, if the
party comes up with some novel proposals addressing real problems, voters might
respect it more and take it more seriously as an alternative to the
What the Party must not do is turn once more to the
Kool-Aid pouring cult-leaders on its leftmost fringe. Calling John Ashcroft and George Bush
fascists is bad politics in addition to being dim. There is no way for a party to win American
elections led by a contingent of America-haters. The Democratic Party must not turn itself
over to Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky, or to their politer acolytes. Their message just won’t be taken seriously
or the rest of “fly-over” country.
It was the infatuation of left activists with Howard
Dean which led the party to choose John Kerry as a poorly scrutinized
alternative. The party mustn’t make this
mistake again. But the party’s various
Jim Jones-types are out there, pouring out the cups.
Take, for instance, occasional editrix/socialite Tina Brown. After the election, she showed typical depth and seriousness by comparing her situation as a disappointed Kerry-supporter to the plight of women living under the Taliban! Party members might note that she is not a U.S. citizen and couldn’t run either Talk or The New Yorker profitably. Wouldn’t this suggest that her awareness of life in the U.S. might be less than keen? Democrats might ponder this as she relentlessly plugs Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions.
Foremost among the hoisters of
the cup, though, is the left-wing attorney Markos “Kos”
Moulitsas Zúniga, who is widely known on the web for his Daily Kos weblog. Most recently, he attracted notice for
spreading bogus exit polls (which were, to be fair, also posted by right-wing
outlets like National Review), which purported to show that John Kerry was
going to win last Tuesday. This was just
one of many instances of his getting the facts wrong over the last week.
On Friday Kos featured a blog
entry which claimed that Ohio
may have been lost because of Republican fraud, no matter that Republicans won
the state by over 130,000 votes. On
Thursday, Kos wrote a preposterous and inscrutable mathematical analysis
purporting to show that Democrats in 2004 had done better than in 2000 in key
states like Iowa, Ohio
and Wisconsin. Kos himself
was forced to admit that he couldn’t understand the math behind this bizarre
claim (“The formula for the index is probably simple to anyone with even the
most basic grasp of mathematics, but I don’t fall into that camp. Hence, I
won’t try to explain it,” he wrote), although this didn’t stop him from putting
up the tables with the “evidence”. In all it was a typical week of Kos nonsense.
The point of the Kos blog is to reassure the faithful that all is wrong (i. e. right for the Democrats). This message of hoping for the worst and ignoring the real lessons of recent elections is absurd—witness the self-proclaimed members of the “reality-based community” mirroring exactly that which they claim to see in Republican partisans—but more importantly, it can’t and won’t lead to the sound policies and sensibly centrist approaches needed to make the party popular enough to present the electorate with real choices and real debate.