Wither, the Democratic Party

Yesterday the Democrats got their heads handed to them on a silver platter. In the meantime, the Republicans picked up 4 seats in the Senate. In thinking about it, the Republicans are going with ever more conservative candidates and over the past few years have even campaigned against members of their own party who were not conservative enough. The result has been that liberal Republicans are extinct and moderate Republicans are endagered species. An incidental byproduct is that there is no longer a political “middle”. We are divided between left and right with no middle (and of course republicans don’t like shades of grey – it’s all black and white). Conventional wisdom has it that to win an election you have to capture the center. The idea being that there are more people in the middle than on the far left or far right. But if there is no political center, how are you going to win? This is the problem the Democrats face.

It seems to me there are several options.

1) We can model ourselves after the Republican party. We can come up with one message and make sure all our candidates stick to that message and that message alone (incidently, I had a hard time telling our Republican candidate for governor from any other Republican candidate running in the U.S. because their campaign messages were virtually identical). I don’t much care for this option because it does not allow much room for independent or creative thought and turns people into loudspeakers mindlessly spewing out whatever message is plugged in.

2) We can rebuild the center. Starting on a statewide level we can rebuild the party by creating messages that appeal to the common interests. We would also have to work at the federal level to make sure we don’t loose anymore ground in the House and Senate. One of the great things about the Democratic party is that we have conservatives, moderates and liberals all coexisting in the same party – unlike the Republicans. This is our greatist strength. So we have the foundation, we just need to build towards the center. Because even though a lot of states went red, not all of them are conservative enough to elect, say, a Rick Santorum. There is enough flexibility in the party to be able to appeal to some of those voters.

3)In the meantime we need a new senate minority leader. I personally am all for a “Nancy Pellosi” type who can stir up a hornets nest. I think it would be bad for the party to replace Daschle with someone indistinguishable from Daschle. Of course, since Senate Republicans broke with tradition and sent Frist and others to campaign against Daschle, I think the Democrats should return the favor and target Hastert, Delay and Blunt in the house.

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