Very few groups have a ideological agendas that match up exactly with the platform of either party. Further, most group members disagree with a few of the positions the group a whole seems to have.
The key is not to duplicate Republican ideological appeals to voter groups, but to find the existing matches between the Democratic Party ideals and those of the groups we want in our coalition.
A large number of evangelicals place a high priority on both economic justice and social mores, but it's a fair bet that not all are equally concerned about both.
The Republicans have appealed to this group through their positions on social mores, but have offered verey little in the way of economic justice. However, they are the only ones making an appeal, so the evangelicals accept half a loaf from the Republicans rather than nothing from the Democrats.
Economic justice, however, is a good issue for the Democrats. We can compete with the Republicans by appealing to evangelicals on this issue. Those who believe economic justice is the most important part of their ideaogy would then have an alternative party to support. This would work far better than trying to take over Republican issues, which would offend our own base and never be seen as credible.
We can, and should, also appeal to small business.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses is one of the most powerful and reliable backers of Republicans in the country. But, aggain, they have multiple concerns. Thye like low taxes and free markets, but they also like large profits.
Democrats will never credibly appeal to them on taxes, and shouldn't, but we can make the arguemnt that cronyism is hurting them. We should ask them if any small business they know has ever recieved a multibillion dollar no-bid contract. If corruption costs them, they'll vote against it.
We don't needto re-invent the Democratic Party in ordeer to compete, but we do need to present our ideals as an alternative in as many ways as possible to as many people as possible
"I voted for the war because I trusted President Bush and his allies. I'll never make that mistake again."
That is all any Democrat needs to say in reponse to questions about the vote.
It admits the mistake
emphasizes the lie
connects Bush to other Republican leaders, and
confronts, which Newt Gingrich proved is one of the best ways of getting the media's attention. This differenc is the Dermocrats have a chance to confron with facts rather than a smear.
This is the time to start putting Bush and his cronies on trial in the court of public opinion. We have to force Bush and the Republican Congressional leadership to explain what they did, because in that court, the moment you have to start explaining yourself, you are on the defensive.
The undertanding of news shown by that simple statemnt is one of the reasons Gingrich was able to rise to power. From his famous confrontation with Tip O'Niel following his questioning of Denocrats' patriotism, to his campaign to bring down Jim Wright, to his takover of Congress, Gingrich acted as confrontationally as possible because it made good news, in the sense that it got readers' and viewers' attention.
Gingrich carried out this plan without any regard to facts and still won most of his battles.
Combine confrontation with the truth and you've got the Gingrich strategy on steroids.
Confront and contrast. Show how the Republicans have betrayed their own supporters, then offer voters something better.
I heard a smart observation recently: the Republicans are in the same position the Democrats were in in 1994, but the Democrats are not in the same position as the Republicans.
There were two keys to the Republican takover of Congress:
They effectively civicted the Democrats of corruption in the court of public opinion.
They offered clearly understandable alternative in the form of the Contract With America.
To take back Congress, we need to do the same. Fortunately, the Republicnas are effectively doing the first part for us. The corruption and incompetence of their leaders is is so plain that we need only repeat what the major newspapers finally have the courage to report.
The second part is where we really need to get to work. You can't win by running nothing against something; this was Kerry's problem. For whatever reason, the electorate was able to look at bush and say what they thought he stood for; it was much more difficult with Kerry.
The last Democratic President to win a majority of the popular vote was Jimmy Carter (Clinton won a plurality). Carter was seen as a "values candidate" before the term even became popular, and campaigned after the scandal-ridden Nixon years with a memorable promise that he would never lie to the American people.
Whatever specific issues are contained in Democratic campaigns in 2006, they must be presented in stark contrast to the secret, crony Republican government that listens only to insiders who are consistentley wrong and never take reponsibility.
Democrats have the oportunity to avoid a left-right conflict by promising competence further, they can redefine and sieze the moral high ground by promising openess, honesty, and reponsibility.
If Kaine wins, Mark Warner will definately run for president.
I'm not predicting that he will win the Democratic nomination (it's too soon) nor am I endorsing him (I haven't seen he platform). However, I think the rationale for a run will include the following points:
Many party officials are very aware that the last two Democratic Presidents were Southern governors.
A Kaine victory following the Warner Administration could be portrayed a a sign that Virgina is moving into the Democratic camp. A democrat who can carry Virginia plus all states who voted for Kerry would have 265 electoral votes; requiring only 5 more points to win: a switch of almost any other additional Bush state would do the trick.
Further, Virginia has large rural and churchgoing populations, a Democrat who can make even slight inroads with these groups on a national scale while holding on to more traditional Democratic constituents will have a good chance.
A caller on Larry King suggested that a cruise company could send a ship to the area to help house refugees. Yes, it would cost a lot, and no, I don't expect any of them to do it out of Christian charity, but I think the positive publicity the first company to get in their would earn would be worth more than a year's adveritising budget.
Let's suggest to these folks that they can do very well by doing a lot of good here.
The bad political judgement he is showing regarding Roberts is nothing compared to his vote for a war against the wrong enemy, new consequeses of which we seeing every day abroad and at home (after all, the people best trained to deal with floods are now in a desert country).
I would accept this from a Democratic Presidental contender if they only had the guts to say the following "I supported the war because I trusted President Bush; I'll never make that mistake again."
To my knowlege, no Democrat who voted for the war has had the guts to admit they were fooled. In fact, they only Member of Congress who has admitted this is Walter Jones, the North Carolina Republican who gave us "Freedom Fries"! He recently said:
``If I had known what I know now, I wouldn't have voted to send troops into Iraq,''
``The intelligence and the justification were extremely weak.''
Let's give our support first to the Democrats who were willing to oppose this travesty when Bush was lying to the nation through his teeth, then to Democrat who are willing to admit they were fooled by the Adminstration's propagand machine. But we should not support any candidate who is unwilling to cease support for the war.
Bush and the Republicans are either unable or unwilling to do what they've promised since 9/11: keep Americans safe:
They aren't protecting us abroad from Al Qeda because they invaded the wrong country, and they aren't protecting us at home because the National Guard are in that country.
The people best trained to deal with flooding are in a desert fighting the wrong war.
Americans have been promised security by the Republicans on a daily basis for years, and now we are seeing that this has been a lie.
Democrats can, and should, point out the failures of Bush and his Congrrssional allies, but they also need to give Americans something to vote for. They can do that by exchanging the inane fight over the size of government for a debat over the effectiveness of government.
Arguing for effective government moves the fight away from ideology to competence and governing style. The Republicans will loose that fight on every count: their willful ignorance of expert advice and intellegence has led us into the wrong war nd left us unprepared for disaters at home; their fear of telling the true costs of their policies or asking for sacrifice has left us with no funds for needed services; and their insistence on secret policymaking leave holds no one accountable.
These points form an umbrella issue that covers both the Administration and it's allies in Congress. When Democrats are accused of "playing politics" the should simply respond "if that's what it takes to keep America safe, then we'll play, and play hard."
Recent posts have discussed a possible 435-seat campaign in 2006. I think this is workable if, and _only if the netroots and volunteer who worked so hard in 2004 can be convinced to do the same. The netroots are more issue-centered than geographically-oriented, and can help nationalize the election, whereas the volunteers would work in the actual districts.
Unfortunately, mid-terms usually don't generate the same excitement that presidential elections do. If we can't successfully nationalize this, there are a couple of ways we can split the difference:
Concentrate donations and activism on candidate facing the most offensive members of the Republican Party, including the leadership. For this to work, we would need to effectively make the case that the actions of the members have hurt people across the country, not just in their own districts.
Concentrate donations and activism in Congressional districts in States where Senate seats will be up in 2006 in order to generate support for both Congressional and Senate candidates.
One MAJOR caution: precinct and voting patterns show analysis that we have to be very careful to concentrate our efforts on turnout in known Democratic precincts. The last thing we want to do is send volunteers into strong Republican areas, which historically gets the Republicans fired up to vote in opposition to our candidates.
Judge Roberts, what limits, if any do you see on the use of Executive Privilege to keep secret the names of advisory groups formed to guide national policy?
In a related question, which, in your opinion, takes precedence, the ability of our citizenry to know who is promoting policy and how, or the ability of the Executive or Legislative Branches to keep such information secret?
Finally, to what extent, if any should an Administration be held responsible for leaks that cause demonstrable threats to national security?
What obligation, if any, do you see on the part of the Federal Government to ensure that elections to Federal office are conducted fairly and in a manner that maximizes the ability of voters to gain timely access to accurate and verifiable means of voting?
While you are correct in saying that the advantages of wind and solar are beginning to far outstrip their downside, there is a major problem with relying on market forces to solve our problems energy security and health issues.
A market-based approach to clean, independent energy is based on the fact that fossil fuel is limited. All we have to do is wait until the supply becomes so limited that alternative becomes a cheaper alternative.
However, there are a couple of disadvantages to this approach.
First, even if there were a truly level playing field between different types of energy, we would have to wait for the price of fossil fuels to go up. While we are waiting, we will face continued poisoning of the air and water supplies.
Second, this approach ignores the vast amount of vested interest in maintaining the current system. As long as those unwilling to innovate control the political system, there will be no fair market competition, and those who profit from fossil fuels will have an incentive to go to war over control of a shrinking supply.
To address this, there are only two policy options: increase the price of fossil fuels through taxes (not likely), or foster the innovation necessary for reducing the price of alternative fuels.
In addition, we need research on more effective energy movement and storage. The advantage of fossil fuels is that you can move them to where you need them; other forms of energy require power lines or batteries to get to the point of use, and both of these technologies are inefficient. I would love to see an effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project to create a room-temperature superconductor or a high-capacity battery; this would instantly make any form of alternative energy cheap no matter where it was used.
Campaign contributions and pork are not the same thing: Campaign contributions go to election efforts, pork (if it's not yours) or bacon (if it is) goes to constituents in a legislator's district or state.
All Members of Congress are expected to bring home the bacon for their districts and states; it's a reasonable request from their constituents.
This expectation can be used in favor of the environment and energy independence as well as against it. There are plenty of Congressional districts that have no fossil fuels to exploit but would still like federal funding to increase employment. We need to make a credible case in a bipartisan block of key Congressional districts that grants for alternative energy project will bring create jobs. Legislators get something to brag about, and environmentalism and energy independence are promoted at the same time.
The major problem we have is that stopping Roberts would require the use of the filibuster, which, under any scenario I can imagine, will trigger the nuclear option. The filibuster is the most potent parlimentary tool the opposition has, and can be used to block legislation in additon to appointments. We cannot afford any precedent that erodes the power of this tool.
However, we can make use of the hearings to strike at the secret, crony government that Bush & his Congressional allies have put in place. A 7/21/ Washington Post article described Roberts as being deferential to the Executive Branch. There is the opening for serious questions, and the opening shot for 2006.
The Democrats can use this rare public forime, expeted to be watched by many voters (whose confidence in Bush is dropping) to ask, over and over again, what Roberts' believes should be the extent of executive power. For example:
What, if any, are the limits on Excutive Branch members (for example, Karl Rove) use of classified
material sensitive to national security for political gain?
What right, if any, does the public have to know the names of coporate members of policy task forces? (such as Cheney's energy task force)
What are his views on the war-making power of the Legislative Brach as outlined in the Constituion. What limits, if any, are ther on Excutive encroachment on this power?
Does the Admionstration have an obligation to to provide timely and accurate information on the conduct of war to the legislative Branch?
I've mentioned before that an effective umbrella frame of Bush and his Congressional allies is secret, insider government (though maybee secret, crony is better.) This frame is based not on ideology, but on the effectiveness of government: secret, crony government gives you bad self-serving policy, experts replaced by yes-men, and no accounability for corrupt or criminal behavior, and no one willing to take responsibility for failure.
The secret crony government of Bush and Company started on day one with Cheney's invocation of Executive Privelege to keep the names of his energy task force secret; this was validated by Supreme Court action that allowed them to remain secret until after the 2004 elections.
This was just the beginning of hidden policy making, resulting in a war against the wrong enemy, justified in part by a smear campaign involving a national security breach by a senior White House official, Karl Rove.
So, even if Roberts is confirmed, the Democrats can, and should use the hearing to pound away by asking:
What, if any, limits he believes there are to executive privelege?
What are his views on the Excutive Branch's Constitutional obligation to provide timely and accurate information to the Legislative branch?
Given a strict interpretation of the Constitution, what, if anything, would he consider an overreach by the Executive into the Legislative Branch's power of the purse and authority to declare war?
And any other questions that focus attention on actual or potential Supreme Court rubber-stamping of Bush and his Congressional allies.
This will be a rare time that the Democrats will have a moment to shine the light on the Bush Adminstration and its allies. They should use is to the greatest advantage.
Now is the time to give the huge numbers of activist who fought for the Democrats last year something a chance to get involved again.
With the Supreme Court fight the kickoff (and strong efforts in the New Jersey and Virginia governors' races, we can begin to nationalize the election by pressing home the message that niether the Court nor the Congress exist to act as rubber stamps for a secret, insider adminstration that encourages corruption and endangers our security. Remember, the Republicans came from much further behind in 1994 to win a majority.
On the positive side, we need to frame a Democratic majority as one that will be reponsible, open and accountable. Democratic policies will be made for consumers instead of oil companies; for patients instead of the pharmaceutical industry; and for real security instead of political gain.
Of course this will take work.
Experienced e-activists, campaign volunteers and fundraisers need to start attending or creating meetings where they can teach new activists and each other skills necessary to win. Above all, we must always give activists something rewarding and measurable to do including:
Fundraising in as many creative ways as possible.
Informing the committed and persuadables of developments as quickly as possible through as many media as possible.
Registering new voters.
Recruiting/training new volunteers to help with items 1-3.
Our goal should be to get a key group of local volunteers in every congressional district. When broken down into regular, measurable tasks over the the year and a half before the election, this becomes doable.