In a Newsweek web exclusive, former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman identifies what went wrong for the Democrats this fall:
This is interesting, the failure of the Democrats, especially as regards their plan to scare the elderly. Alternatively, to hook them by making promises about prescription drugs. The thing I would say that we should all keep in mind is that the elderly are a tougher lot than some of us give them credit for, and – if my older relatives are any indication – they’re much more interested in the war than they are in prescriptions from heaven. Both my surviving grandparents love W. and want the US to kick ass in the war on terror. All other concerns are on the backburner, because these people have seen real war. It’s not a Vietnam situation we’re in where we can opt in or out, depending, and treating it like one cost the Donkeys dearly. The older folks have a better idea than anyone what we’re in for over the next few years, and they’re more ready than most of us to deal with it. Interesting times we’re living in, kids. The “Greatest Generation” gets it, but the Baby Boom doesn’t, and they’re running the party machinery these days. I don’t see the Donkeys as viable for quite awhile due primarily to this war, and this I definitely didn’t anticipate in the Clinton years, when I saw nothing but decline on the horizon for the GOP.
“Social progress”? Like the ghettoized permanent underclass brought about by welfare?
Steve — you’re right on. If there were new ideas, we’d be hearing about a bright young Dem pol willing to joust with the party’s special interests. It’s a political marketplace, after all. No, the new ideas are all on the GOP side.
I think JT has a good point, and it will likely be proved by seeing how quickly Harold Ford, Jr. is pushed under the train.
I also blogged about an article in the Boston Globe about John Kerry. It says he’ll file a statement of candidacy soon, and it included various quotes by Kerry on assorted issues. What struck me is that there was nothing new there–nothing. It was the same slight tilt that Daschle et. al were saying before the Election Day disaster.
The night after the election found me on the phone with my mother for over an hour. She was a Gore delegate at the Democratic convention in LA back in 2000. She was, in a word, crushed. Being from NJ she backed Lautenberg and was at his celebration but she said the whole mood was one of stunned disbelief that Lautenberg was the Dems new shining light.
On my blog today I’ve posted my prediction for the front-runner for the Democratic 2004 ticket. It’s not Hillary. It’s not that the Democrats are out of ideas, it’s that they’re completely unable to comprehend that their old ideas are unworkable. They can’t grasp, for instance, that their core constituencies voted for Republicans. A perfect example: my grandmother, over 80, lives in Miami Beach, jewish, had never voted for a Republican in her life. Guess what? She voted Israel in this election, deciding that all other issues were less important than the safety and security of Americans. She voted Republican. Not just one or two. All of them. The Democrats don’t understand.
I would argue that there are some who understand, but that they are hopelessly outnumbered.
At a dinner last night for a Dem friend of mine, he made the observation that he was one of the handful of “liberal pragmatists”; that is, someone who had VERY liberal ideas, but also played the political game enough to recognize the “limits of the possible.”
In the course of dinner, I was informed (by other dinner folks) that the Party HAD TO, in no uncertain terms, swing Left, because it was the swing to the middle that had cost Townsend her seat. I was told that the Dems all understood that they had had no message this election cycle, but that the problem was determining what it should be now (and, scarily, amongst this group of Dem activists and party types, no one had a coherent answer). And, finally, I was told that, since Virginia had a lower sales tax than DC or MD, it was incomprehensible why the state’s voters had failed to raise their own taxes, in order to pay for more roads. As though there was some kind of “race to the top” on tax rates.
I kinda thought that these three observations might be related, but decided that that wasn’t really for me to say…..
Peter has it right, the Dems aren’t out of ideas, they just don’t realize their ideas are unworkable. They have all sorts of ideas that appeal, in theory, on paper, to a large swath of the electorate. But they are never able to articulate implementations that the average voter can stomach. Everything is either too expensive, or grossly unfair to some group that middle of the roaders aren’t willing to screw over for the sake of someone elses “Progress” (and it is a capital P). For decades the Democrats didn’t really bother, didn’t think they needed to have a feasible plan, just a compassionate one. I’m not sure many of them ever learned how to think in those terms, to be pragmatic like Dean’s friend.
And so here we stand, at modern day liberalisms Waterloo. After see-saw battles, Le Haye Sainte (the Senate) has just been stormed by the Republicans, Blucher (national security concers) wasn’t delayed after all, and it looks like The Imperial Guard may be breaking, routing…
When you’ve been as consistently and emphatically wrong for over 60 years as the Democrats have you just don’t wake up one day and get it right.
They are hostage to their own tired, rancid idea of creating a socialist utopia. They are as dead as the notion that centralized control of everyone’s life is either desirable or workable let alone both.
They are dead-men walking and the American people had better push them over and cover them with electoral dirt in 2004 or they may come back and eat the rest of our economy and our freedom like something out of Night of the Living Dead.