Solving The Democrats' Southern Problem

Via Ruy Texeira at Donkey Rising, former Alabama congressman and founding member of the "Blue Dog" Democrats Glen Browder offers up some suggestions on how the Democrats can win back Southern moderates.
First, we have the required gratuitous slaps at "liberal elites":

The egregious aspect of the prevailing XBD [Extremely Blue Democrat] mindset is "blue conceit," a paralyzing conviction of angry, self-serving righteousness that blinds them to historical reality and impedes corrective action for our future. . . . [a] dysfunctional, elitist cultural mindset . . .  that resists the central, necessary correction for future revival in heartland America -- dealing aggressively and positively with the South.

Since I am probably a charter member this so-called XBD class, at this point I am ready to give former Congresscritter Glen a good, hearty "f@!* off!" Not only is a founding member of the most disloyal group of Democrats in Congress lecturing good, loyal Democrats like me (I've never voted for a Republican), he insists on basing his analysis on the shopworn conservative frame of liberals as "dysfunctional elites," while associating "heartland America" with conservative Southerners. But I desist.

I suppose we can all guess what is coming next:

As long as Democratic candidates and the party ignore or insult traditional values (while preoccupied with such issues as partial-birth abortion and gay marriage), the South will vote Republican.

Again with the conservative memes (doesn't he know that so-called "partial-birth abortion" doesn't exist in any medical literature, but is a term invented by Republican spin-meisters?)

But I am willing to concede that maybe there is room for maneuver on some of these tricky social issues ("safe, legal, and rare" abortions; civil unions or domestic partner laws in place of full marriage rights for gays; keep gun control as a state-level issue). But, would that be enough to turn Southern moderates back toward the Democrats?

Not according to one conservative Alabamian:

That all sounds like putting perfume on a hog to me. Browder fails to understand that the Democratic Party's core philosophy is the problem. That philosophy relies on an expansion of government which is supported by higher taxes, subservient to political correctness, and intrusive on individual liberty. No amount of halfhearted repackaging will change that.

But maybe this guy is not exactly representative of the Southern moderates that Browder would like to see us appeal to.

Then, Browder says something that really made me sit up and take notice:

Perhaps we should . . . develop a high profile national policy agenda aimed specifically at the problems that afflict so many citizens in rural areas and small towns of heartland America.  For example, we could launch a health initiative for working families, children, and senior citizens who live their lives beyond the advantages and services of urban society.  We can offer a new medical infrastructure plan including state-of-the-art health facilities, diagnostic services, and research/education programs for those areas.  More generally, we might consider expanding our party's commitment to the middle class, such as Medicare for everybody or at least realistic national health insurance that helps with catastrophic illness and long-term care.

Furthermore, while the Republican Party has focused effectively on international terrorism and expanding freedom, the Democratic Party can push aggressively and convincingly on universal domestic issues, such as social security, educational opportunity, job protection, tax fairness, political reform, and homeland defense--all of which resonate in this part of American society.

Well, now, here is something that we all can agree on, I think (although is it really XBD's that are blocking the much-needed national dialogue on universal health insurance?). Browder sounds like he is advocating the oft-derided "win them over with economic populism" message as part of our strategy to win back Southern moderates. I am on board with that.

I think there is an action item agenda for some of us here, too. I rarely see discussion of the economic and social problems facing rural America here or elsewhere in the liberal blogosphere. I think we need to remedy that.

UPDATE: Hey, I almost forgot the best part. Turns out Browder is a big fan of Montana's Brian Schweitzer (and who isn't these days), and quotes liberally from Schweitzer's Salon interview:

You need to have good solid policy—that's important. But you've got to touch people. They've got to know you; they've got to know that you believe in what you're saying. And that's probably more important when people vote than your policies. . . . They look up there and say, "That guy's a straight shooter. . . .If I had time to spend on these issues, I bet I'd come to the same conclusions that that guy would.
Again, I couldn't agree more! But, does this contradict the previous advice that Browder gave us about tacking to the center on social issues? I'm getting confused . . .

UPDATE II: I respond to some of the comment threads in a second diary that started as a comment but quickly became far too long to be a comment, so now it's another diary.

Tags: (all tags)



GOP Lite
Basically, they are saying that we should be GOP lite, which is how some of the Democrats ran in the 2004 primaries (Mr. Joementum).  Why would anyone want to vote for us when we would just be a fake, weak version of the Republican Party?  There are votes to be gotten on the left.  Bush didn't win the moderates, Kerry did.  Bush won by getting out his wingnut vote in the key states with the Gay Marriage Amendments.  We need to have a distinct and sharp agenda, not just take theirs.  According to the Blue Dogs, we should just go and become Registered Republicans just to win elections.  This isn't just about winning, it is about governing and making the United States a better place.  That is done through a liberal agenda.
by Max Friedman 2005-06-19 04:12AM | 0 recs
Mark me down as confused
Perhaps we should . . . develop a high profile national policy agenda   . . .   such as Medicare for everybody or at least realistic national health insurance that helps with catastrophic illness and long-term care.

Furthermore,  . . . --all of which resonate in this part of American society.

???????  That sounds exactly like an "XBD eastern liberal elite" platform to me. Southern Democrats need to turn off Faux News and start listening to and talking to Blue State Democrats.

Glen Browder would benefit greatly from an examination of the mote in his own eye instead of bellowing over the speck in the eye of Blue State Democrats. Browder's "paralyzing conviction of angry, self-serving righteousness" is an extremely accurate analysis of Zell Miller and red state Democrats.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Mark me down as confused
Who says southern Democrats watch Faux News?
I don't.

The problem is that the national Democratic party has run away from the south strictly because they are scared about social issues.

Economic populism has always been a winner down here.  The New Deal was strongly supported, at least here in Texas.  But if the national party doesn't show up, and allows the Republicans to control the debate down here using social issues, it doesn't matter.

A lot of the Blue Dog Democrats have won because of economic populism.  It's what distinguishes them from Republicans more than anything else

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:40AM | 0 recs
It sounds like Blue Dogs are progressive Dems
Howard Dean and progressive Blue State Dems are staunch supporters of kitchen table economic issues. Your complaint over economic populism is with the DLC Corporate Democrats.

Howard Dean is pushing a strong 50 state grassroots campaign. It was the DLC Dems and Terry McAuliffe who wanted all of the money to go to corporate beltway bandit elites.

As I recall, Blue Dog Democrats were also Biden's allies in passing bankruptcy restrictions. How does that squre with their support for economic populism?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: It sounds like Blue Dogs are progressive Dems
I'm saying that the South is economically populist, and you can win over voters using this strategy.  Yet the entire focus ends up being on social issues, so we get creamed

And again, where was Dean criticized in the diary.  I must have missed it.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: It sounds like Blue Dogs are progressive Dems
Not in the diary. In Broward's original story that the diary linked to.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Mark me down as confused
I'd like to see some Blue Dog voting records on economic issues.  The Blue Dog Senators of which I'm aware (and yes, I know they're different, but I think the politics are similar) all seem to vote pro-corporate whenever they get the chance.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 11:05AM | 0 recs
A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Levenson goes on to say that the South offers the nation an opportunity to recognize and  address its own dark issues:  

... it strikes me that one of the basic tensions that threads its way through many southern stories has to do with whether the region is still chained to its racial past, or whether it has reached catharsis, redeemed itself, and joined the rest of the country ...

I would suggest just the opposite, that the South is on the leading edge of a whole series of stories that are vital to the rest of the country because it has been forced, largely by virtue of its racial past, to publicly confront issues that the rest of the nation has been able to avoid.

Did this Levenson character ever identify what those "issues" are? Is "issues" some kind of code for racism? Is Levenson saying the South has confronted racism? The evidence that the South has "redeemed itself" from its racist past is very well disguised. I was struck by how completely Browder ignores Southern homophobia, which is a rampant epidemic among black Southern Christians as well as white Southern Christians.

The South, with its fine-tuned sense of civility, self-determination, and morality has always powerfully mirrored our national character.  And it remains a startling, beautiful, complex, and in many ways revealing reflection of America and what we've become.

Is this satire or willful blindness? Finely tuned civility? I missed the finely tuned southern civility and morality during the Schiavo debacle. Browder has been bathing in the "excessive whiffs of magnolia perfumery" he correctly identifies in Levenson's essay. My deepest fear is that the ugly, simplistic divisiveness epitomized by Faux News and Browder's bashing of XBDs epitomizes not only the south, but America itself.

Conversations with Successful Politicians in the South and Red America.   I suggest that Chairman Dean and other leaders/activists consult extensively with practical public officials who have dealt successfully with the cultural and political challenges of heartland America--such as Montana's Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer.  Montana is not the South, but Schweitzer is walking, talking evidence of successfully mixing heartland values and progressive politics (Tim Grieve, "Life of the Party"; April 19, 2005).

I suggest that Browder not only join the conversation, but also remove the Limbaugh/Hannity wax from his ears. Start listening to Dean instead of demonizing him.

Somebody help me out here. Is Schweitzer saying anything at all differently from what Howard Dean is saying? Is there one iota of difference in either the message or substance? Why is Browder complaining about Dean and XBDs, but praising Schweitzer?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Where did he mention Dean?

I think he probably had Kerry in mind, not Dean

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Dean is the epitome of what Browder refers to as XBDs.

frenzied discombobulation when someone mentions that guy in the Confederate-flagged pickup

Despite Chairman Dean's loud assertions and  quick forays into the Old Confederacy

 Which baffles me, because Howard Dean is doing everything he can to reach out to the South.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Well, Dean is trying and that's great.

That said, the confederate pickup truck reference was misguided.  Not in its intent, which I agreed with, but its stereotypical imagery.  It's not like Confederate Flag is displayed commonly.  It's actually very rare.

And for African-American Democrats, it is an uncomfortable symbol

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
I honestly believe that NO ONE misunderstood that statement.  Everyone knew EXACTLY what he was saying.  So why does anyone even bring this up as some kind of malformed statement.

You don't like the language?  Whatever.  Dean didn't put the confederate flags on the damn trucks.  But they're there, and everyone wants to act like it was a faux pas to mention it.

What makes black democrats more uncomfortable, Dean's mention of the situation or the fact that these racists/whatever-they-think-the-flag-stands-for-ists can drive around with this backwards symbol and no one even brings it up?

I think what made everyone freak out was that you had this white northerner who by rights has no street cred on the race issue, except for one thing:  "The only difference is [he's] got the balls to say it in front of y'all and [he] don't gotta be false or sugarcoat it at all.  [He] just get[s] on the mic and spit[s] it and whether you like to admit it {ERR} [He] just shit it better than ninety percent of [the politicians] out there" (thanks Em, for lending a lyric).

That's it... no one misunderstood what he was saying, they ALL simply chose to criticize the phraseology and ignore the message.  Everyone was so quick to cry foul about bringing up the dirty little secret that we just accept this symbol, and that, furthermore, this symbol has actually come to represent the whole southern strategy of the GOP.

No... I guess it's much more important to talk about how some people's feelings got hurt, and maybe some [purely theoretical] idiot could somehow, someway interpret that statement as some sort of endorsement of the that flag.

Whatever... that whole thing was manufactured by FOX news, and the democrats just went along with the whole stupid thing, because Dean had already scared the shit out of DC Dems and the M$M.

That statement was balls-on accurate, and it speaks to the heart of this thread.  And it did it succintly and without any ambiguity.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Well, I live in the South (Texas).
Where do you live?

His statement definitely did not help us in the South.

Then maybe you will understand what is reality.

Until then, quit acting like an expert.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
I believe teknofyl mentioned the other day he was from Oklahoma.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
I live in Oklahoma, and every person that i've discussed that comment with knew what he meant.  I see people with confederate flags on their vehicles occasionally.  They pretty much invariably vote Republican.

How did his staements hurt us in the South?  So... you don't have dudes w/ Conf. flags driving around, or some of them vote D where you live?  Or none of them are poor?

The thrust of Dean's statement was that poor, white southerners, especially those poor and trailer-trashy enough too stick or even elaboratly paint the Stars and Bars on their most valuable possession, consisntently vote Republican.

They do this because of GOP wedge issues, pure and simple.  Dean was speaking about southerners who desperately need better schools, better access to health care, an increased minimum wage, and who are disprportionately, directly, and negatively affected by the Iraq war.  These are somehow, miraculously, the GOP bastion of support.  WTF??

But does anyone deal with that issue?  No... we'd rather get our panties in a wad because he used a racially charged, but completely accurate symbol.

I am from the south, and I do get it.  I was registered Republican when I turned 18.  My brother votes for Bush, and he's in a friggin' labor union.  He's not a racist, or an idiot.  But he buys into the whole Bush-is-a-country-boy bullshit, and that is effective because the Dems gave up the South, and the R's have been able to pretty much paint the political landscape down here ever since the Civil Rights battles.

So still... tell me... how did Dean's comment hurt us?  Who didn't get it... who honestly thought "Wow... I can't believe that he would say that the Democrats should go after Southen voters by adopting the values symbolized by the confederate flag!  No way I'm gonna vote Democratic!  I love civil rights, and the Confederate Flag is not what I believe in!!  I'm voting Bush/stying home!"

Maybe Texas is a lot different from Oklahoma, but here I didn't run into a single person.  I heard some offense taken about bringing it up.  But hey, them's the breaks.  Sometimes when you tell someone that their fly is open they get a little huffy.  Our fly is way open doen here.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Well, it didn't help us.

NASCAR is a bigger influence down here.
Why not just use this reference?

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
And I agree, the intent of his comment is perfect.

But this is a soundbite culture.

So guess what's going to be remembered.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
i know what I'll remember.  The comment hurt Dean among southern Dems, but I still contend that it did nothing to hurt Souther Dems.  The comment hurt Dean among Southern Dems because of the 'conventional wisdom' that it was an unforgivable gaffe, not for any actual effect the comment had.

in fact, i think that after 2006 when the Dems make more inroads into the south than anyone in Punditopia expects, the comment will become a topic of conversation again, and everyone will be saying how Dean was right.

Oh sure, they'll still bitch about the comment, but they'll have to add that Democrats made headway regardless of the comment, so they'll just be talking out their poop-chute...

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
You make some good points here.
Certainly, this was not an unforgivable gaffe.
I supported Dean in the primaries, and knew what he meant by his comment, which concurs with your interpretation.

And, hey, the DNC is in the South!
This is what matters, and I'm glad to see it!

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: A Magnolia Blossom Dreamland
Amen to that!!!
by teknofyl 2005-06-19 07:45PM | 0 recs
dean threatens southern dem incumbents
while the red state parties are happy to see the money and the training and the staffers for the first time in ages, getting people all riled up and actually running for things will be good for the democratic party, but also stands to lead to some competition for tired old incumbants. the rejuvenated southern grassroots might help us take several southern state legislatures and eventually some congressional seats back from the republicans, but in doing so they could end up making some of these guys who think they have the trademark on southernness run for their money and justify themselves. if we start winning on a populist fightin' dem platform, it removes the greatest self-justification these guys have, ie. "you'll lose unless you let us do the talkin', you elitist yankee lib'rul." once we start seeing authentic southern liberals and populists running and winning primary challenges, the whole DLC/blue dog sheen goes out the window.

the DC heathers don't want to see that. many state party functionaries won't like that, once the southern grassroots get up and running. change necessarily threatens those who benefit from the status quo. dean knows that, they know that, and their hollers suggest that they feel the tide coming in.

by wu ming 2005-06-19 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: dean threatens southern dem incumbents
just so, just so.  The 50 state strategy is nothing less than a new vision for the Democratic party.

Crazy as Zell Miller was, maybe he just went kookoo from actually being a Democrat in the ceded south for so long.

To win in the south, we have to reach the people here that should be democrat, but aren't.  it's that simple, and Dean waas making that point w/ the Flag comment.

We live in a sound bite age, and he certainly gave a sound bite.  The 50 state strategy is vision he was getting at, the idea that never got discussed in the fray.

The investment of the DNC in state parties will pay off, if only in viable, reliable input into what's going on.  Southern voters are to the GOp what blacks (lamentably) have been to the Democrats.  A constituancy that is largely taken for granted.  The difference is that blacks are, because of a disproportionate shafting on social and economic issues, a more natural bloc for the Dems (true, we should be seeking solutions from the black community more often).  These poor southern whites have no real economic reason to vote GOP.  It's all psychological, baby.

So hell yeah... I'm delighted to hear that the Elephants will have to earn OKlahoma, because Ok-ans see their schools going to shit, just like everyone else.  We have major job loss and increasing poverty and crime.  Abortion as a wedge can only go so far, but Democrats have to show up if they want to play this court effectively.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 07:02PM | 0 recs
Re: dean threatens southern dem incumbents
I want to beleive in your logic. But whenever I start thinking about how Red States whould go blue based on economic difficulties, I start thinking about places like Ohio and West Virginia where unemployment is skyrocketing and some dumasses still voted for the cowboy.
Sure if Gore hadn't run his mouth about hoping that gas goes to 5 bucks a gallon (so that America would look at alternative fuel sources) he would have taken WV.
So what was Kerry's excuse?
by Bruticus 2005-06-19 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: dean threatens southern dem incumbents
kerry's excuse was that he was basically a douchebag for the whole cycle.  he was obviously floating around w/ the polls.

The big difference between N and S is that a lot of people here kinda like Bush on a personal level (I find him irritating in the extreme), and to be perfectly honest, they don;t keep up w/ a lot of stuff.

It was pretty obvious that Kerry was chasing the wind during the campaign, trying to sound like Dean when that would help him, trying to sound like Lieberman when that would help him.

I think it basically came down (for a lot o people) to voting for a guy you liked but disagreed with vs. someone that you disliked and thought was a pussy.  I don't think its a surprise who the good ol' boys chose.

That's why I think Dean could have pulled it off against Bush.  Anyone who voted for Kerry would have voted for Dean, some people who didn;t vote could have come out.  And the conservatives who are pissed about the budget would have actually had a candidtate to vote for!  Some of these guys voted Reep even though Bush has no restraint whatsoever, just in the hopes that the more conservative part of the GOP might reign him in.

I know, i know...  this isn't what 'common sense' tells you.

by teknofyl 2005-06-20 08:10AM | 0 recs
i basically agree with Glen, whom i remember (and respect) since his Congressional days. He is basically right on most important issue - electability. The situation is very simple: you either want to win at least part of the South or no. If first - you must surely move toward the center, and to a considerably degree. Most of all - on social and foreign policy issues (South, especially "White South" (so to say) is markedly conservative and "patriotic" as they see it, while being somewhat "populist" on economics). If you don't want to accomodate - well, that's your right, but then you will lose national elections well too frequently.. The same about Senate (4 Democratic and 22 Republican Senators from the South is not enough??) and so on. Ideal Daemocratic candidate for the South is a Mark Warner-style (or even slightly more conservative) and, preferrably, southerner (regional loyality in the South is high). For those who will point to Al Gore campaign and his loss of the South: Gore was never considered an authentic "Southerner" in the South - he is a second-generation politician, who spent a lot of time in Washingtonsince his youth. A member of Washington elite in short. Such politicians seldom carry South - that makes clear distinction with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton
by smmsmm 2005-06-19 06:38AM | 0 recs
No, moving toward the GOP is bullshit.

Dems win when they open up another front.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-19 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: disagree
I expected these words and nothing more from you. You always rehash ultraliberal's dogmas without adding anything "your own" to it. Frankly - i am not interested of reading what you write - you are so predictablre that i could easily write your posts himself
by smmsmm 2005-06-19 07:09AM | 0 recs
you want original?
I'm thinking a good front to open would be Israel-bashing...

Show how the GOP is in the pocket of the Israel lobby. This should help wedge Southerners away from the GOP.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-19 07:31AM | 0 recs
Re: you want original?
Actually, I would guess that the South is fairly pro-Israel
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: you want original?
You can thank Dubya for that. Traditionally, Israel was a Democratic issue, thanks to many American Jews being liberal/Democratic. Now that we are embroiled in a war and Israel's location is more important than ever, now the Powder blue star is as american as apple pie. It doesn't help the Dems that Libermann is ultra centrist...
by Bruticus 2005-06-19 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: you want original?
Nyberg is a raging Israel basher.  He beleives EVERY bit of anti-Israeli propaganda, and is utterly blind on the issue.  Only he could try to bring Israel into the issue of Democrats and the South.  If you want a real taste of who and what this guy is, go to kos and look up his comments.  Chances are, you will not bother responding afterward.
by dhonig 2005-06-19 09:37AM | 0 recs
Legit political discourse
It's considered legitimate discourse to talk about being "tough on terror" even though it's code for killing 100,000+ Iraqis that had nothing to do with 9/11.

It's considered legit discourse to bash government in the South even though it's code for "the feds do too much for the Darkies".

So racist code language is OK, even for Democrats.

But discussing any deviation from unquestioning fealty to the Israeli gov't is considered anti-semitic and unacceptable.

I say this is bull.

If the Dems could connect with middle America with some Israel bashing, would the party do it? I suspect the answer is "no". But code language for slaughtering Arabs is OK. Code language for "we've gotten past rocking the boat to help the Blacks" is OK.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-20 08:13AM | 0 recs
Southerners don't vote for Southern Democrats
According to you smmsmm, Warner would be the ideal Southern presidential candidate.  How many states do you think he would take?  Virginia, Florida, Arkansas maybe.  At most he takes 3 states.  Clinton took 4 Southern states each in 1992 and 1996.  Even Carter only took his home state of Georgia in 1980.  Southerners haven't voted for Democrats on a national level since the mid-70's no matter where they are from.  Democrats need to stop looking to the South for their candidates and their electoral fortunes.

Democrats need to shore up the Midwest (particularly Ohio) and look to the Mountain West to pick up the electoral votes that they aren't getting from the South.

by Double B 2005-06-19 11:40AM | 0 recs
call the beast by its name
If Southern conservatism was about controlling the size of government, why no reaction against W expanding government?

Convince Americans that the GOP is an arrogant elite that only cynically engages in sops on cultural issues because of their contempt for regular folk in tax policy, regulation and military affairs.

Make that case and then Southerners, Midwesterners and other Americans will punish the GOP.

by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-19 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: call the beast by its name
All true.

We need to focus on economics and fairness down here.  We need to focus our campaign on nurturing the common ground that we really have on economic issues with many rural Southerners.

We need to address race strongly down here as well.

Social issues like abortion, right now, aren't a winner for us down here right now, so to focus on these issues will obscure our common ground and play into the hands of the Republicans.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 09:03AM | 0 recs
Re: call the beast by its name
Repeat after me, Republicans are not against expanding the size of government.  Bill Clinton expanded federal spending by 32.7& in 8 years while Bush grew it by 33% in 4 years.  They just are aagainst having the rich and corporations pay for it.

"Conservatives" spend more than liberals but they do spend on different things: military procurement (weapons and contractors) instead of troops and the VA, tax breaks for big businesses instead of job training, subsidies for imports instead of education, government subsidized use of government lands and mineral extraction instead of conservation.

So do we want smart spending and smart stewardship or cash funnelled to cronies?

by David Kowalski 2005-06-19 11:14AM | 0 recs
where to focus
BTW, there are more House seats in-play in a few Midwestern states than in all of Dixie.
by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-19 07:00AM | 0 recs
Re: where to focus
Can you count? Count numser of seats in all Midwest and all South. I fear you had an extremely low grades in mathematics in school..
by smmsmm 2005-06-19 07:10AM | 0 recs
only you're wrong




What was your weak suit? Math? Geography? Or reality?

by Carl Nyberg 2005-06-19 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Umm, sorry to intrude on the insult-fest, but didn't you just prove yourself wrong?
by dhonig 2005-06-19 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
That was my thoughts. And whoever said that Mark Warner could 'only' get three states. Isn't that 3 more than Kerry got? I mean, anything is better  than nothing. And it's not like we're going to lose the Norhteast and West if we nominate a Virginian.

2vaggie, put it best. The Dems give up on the COnfederacy because to win some states, they will have to modify the abortion/gay marriage plank. What Democrats fail to realize is that plank isn't part of our core values.
Economic Populism,
Social Security,
and Getting out of Iraq is.

These are winning issues. Not pushing for gay marriage or getting sucked into a moral debate with Republicans about abortion, when they know they will never get enough support to overturn Roe v. Wade from thier own party, anyway.

by Bruticus 2005-06-19 12:45PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
There are no guarantees that nominating a Southerner doesn't turn off other elements of the party (Gore lost NH while Kerry won it).  The point of my post is why are Democrats as a party continuing to look to the South as electoral gold?  The party has nominated 4 Southerners since 1976.  Those 4 Southerners have picked up a grand total of 9 states of the Old Confederacy (out of 44).  Southerners don't vote for Southern Democrats on a national level (even Clinton who spoke to them on populist issues).  Democrats are better off trying to attract candidates and voters from other regions (particularly the Mountain West and Industrial Midwest).

Does anybody notice that Republicans don't have this problem?  They have taken a total of 4 electoral votes in the Northeast (New England, Pennsylvania, NJ, and NY) the past 4 elections (New Hampshire in 2000).  And I NEVER, EVER hear or read about them needing to attract candidates or voters from that region of the country.  They play to their base and expand from there.  If they aren't doing it, why are we?

by Double B 2005-06-19 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Since when have Democrats as a party looked to the South as electoral gold?


by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Bob, that would be "Before the Civil Rights Act and Nixon's Southern Strategy put the South firmly in Republican hands." What do I win?
by paperwight 2005-06-19 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Yes...and that was a long time ago!
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 05:39PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Not so long ago. Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. I am not ready to give Republicans 168 EV (173 if you count WV, which culturaly seems rather similar to the South) to Republicans "on golden plate" - that's way too much. To win nationally Deocrats must win at least some Southern states - 3 or 4 may suffice. Yes, theoretically it's possible to win Presidency without winning single Southern state, but it's highly unlikely..
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 01:15AM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
Democrats have been trying to "recapture" Southerners since Reagan's 1980 landslide.
by Double B 2005-06-19 05:44PM | 0 recs
Gore only lost NH due to Nader
Gore + Nader > Bush in NH (like Florida).  Bad example.
by Geotpf 2005-06-19 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Gore only lost NH due to Nader
Actually I think you just proved my point.  A more liberal candidate doesn't lose New Hampshire in 2000.  Nader received votes because Gore was far too moderate.
by Double B 2005-06-19 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Gore only lost NH due to Nader
exactly. running conservative southerners runs the risk of encouraging defections to third party lefty candidates in the northeast, west, and upper midwest that threaten to tip solid states to the (r) column, just like running lefty yankees hurts us in the south. it goes both ways, and the way out is to build enough trust or common ground in the party that the factions can hold together when it counts.
by wu ming 2005-06-19 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: only you're wrong
First of all - i consider KY a basically Southern state. Second - you proved my point fot me, thank you. Third - i have Ph.D in Mathematics, and had excellent grades in geography. The South has 1.5 times more House Districts then Midwest, in fact - most congressional districts of any region if US. So, only complete fools (i mean - people like you) can ignore that region.. It's you who live in ollusory "perfect liberal world"...
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 01:09AM | 0 recs
To win in the South...
We have to run on economics and fairness.
We also need to address race meaningfully, like I believe Bill Clinton did.

But if you want to run on gay marriage and abortion down here, we will never address the above issues at all.  They will be lost.  I'm not saying these are not important issues.  But we can't even begin to talk about them down here until we hammer home my 1st paragraph

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:54AM | 0 recs
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
A-men.  The Southern White Victim Culture will never be soothed.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 04:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
Well, Arkansas is a Democratic state.
Why can't we replicate their success in other parts of the South.

And I thought we had a 50-state strategy

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
If by 50-state strategy, you mean "watering down principled positions so they're not offensive to the majority of people in all 50 states", then no, not so much. If, however, you mean "take a principled stand (with some wiggle room for local candidates) and fight for it in all 50 states, forcing the Republicans to actually contest elections", then yes.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
Well, how do you "water down" economics.
That is our hope down here, and the same concerns exist here that exist in other parts of the country.
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
I don't.  And I don't back off on the commitment to the rights of women and gay people.  The problem as I see it is that I have yet to see many Southern Democrats (at least at a national level) stepping up on the economic front.  I need to do the work, but at first blush, the Blue Dogs look a lot like pro-corporate Republican-lite.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
That's the point.
You don't have to water down the economic issues here
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
A perfect summary of what we should be trying to do.  We're doing too much of the former and not enough of the latter.
by Double B 2005-06-19 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
The problem is that WE DON'T EVEN SHOW UP!
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Westward ho!
How many seats you can win in the West? Exact numsers and districts - not your usual demagoguery. And how do you intend to defend such Democratic seats as AL-5, AR-1, FL-2, GA-3, LA-3, MS-4, MO-4 or even MN-7 and OH-6 with your beloved ultraliberal candidates??!! Concrete and detailed answers - or shut up, plese!!
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 01:20AM | 0 recs
The rocky mountain west
Democrats really are doing quite good in the rocky mountain west. I think Idaho and Utah will belong to the repugs for awile but Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, and Montana are electing democrats to local and state wide offices for the first time in years, Kerry did much much better than Gore in the west. I belive that in the future the south will be the only region the repugs will be able to win.
by Odysseus 2005-06-19 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: The rocky mountain west
This is exactly where Democrats need to start looking in Presidential elections.  These are historically Republican states that with a good, well-articulated "Democratic" message can start turning blue.  Gore didn't spend any time there in 2000.  That's got to change in 2008.

I would only add Jason that I think the Great Plains states (Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma) are going to be Republican for a long time as well as the South.  I don't know why exactly, but they just don't vote for Democrats in Presidential elections.

by Double B 2005-06-19 05:54PM | 0 recs
Magnolias and Moonshine
It's a common retort by Northerners that the South had the future of America all wrong. That manufacturing was a better source of jobs than agriculture, and that immigration was a better policy than stagnant population growth. But now that most of America's immigration and manufacturing jobs are in Dixie, the big cities of New York and Chicago (and now Los Angeles et. al) all seem to be hemrrhoraging employment to the "dismay" of the urban elites.

So understand whether or not you agree with Glen Browder, chances are good that you have little or no concept of what the South is like. If you think it's all Dukes of Hazzard, NASCAR, and guys named Jefferson Davis ____, let it go.

The Democrats had a giant opportunity to push ideals that made them appear to be not just a party of urban elites and the urban masses, but also the rural voter. Instead, they've never taken the lead on this. As a result, many blacks in the South are slowly trending conservative, whereas before that never occured. And this isn't about abortion or gay marriage.

It's about understanding that since FDR, many of our largest military installations are located in the South. Drawing a Rosharch test as your foreign policy does not help there. Poverty is a big issue, and often women are the breadwinners in those families. Ignoring the minimum wage, pay equity, and domestic violence prevention won't help us. And it's about recognizing how weak and disorganized many Southern states are institutionally. How they really need reform not just from the federal level, but at the state and local level to make taxation and services more fair. Oh, and dare we forget, it's about acknowledging that even in the South, most major universities are not considered truly Southern. That while Duke University rakes in huge amounts of research dollars and the University of Texas has one of the nation's largest endownments...they aren't seen as truly Southern as places like Vanderbilt, UVa, or Emory.

The Republicans understand these things, pay them lipservice, and do remarkably well. By actually adressing and rectifying them there is no telling how much Dems could achieve.

by risenmessiah 2005-06-19 05:26PM | 0 recs


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