Solving the Democrats' Southern Problem, part II

From the diaries--Chris

After reading some of the thoughtful comments in my previous diary, "Solving the Democrats' Southern Problem," I'm becoming increasingly convinced that writing off the South is a bad idea for the Democrats. I think there are real steps that we can take to woo Southern (and Western, and Midwestern) moderates without abandoning traditional liberal commitments of equality for women, gays, and other minority groups. Plus, forcing the Republicans to fight in some of these Southern states is just good political strategy.

I think Glen Browder has a point that treating the South as if it were a culturally and economically separate region from the rest of the country is a vestige of the 1950s and 1960s. The South is the fastest growing region of the country, both economically and population-wise; living standards there have alost caught up to the rest of the country. And, as Governor Wallace predicted, much of the country has moved closer to the South in terms of political culture as conservatism has grown. Problems like racism and chronic poverty are no longer centered in the South; Northern cities are more segregated than are their Southern counterparts.

Attacking the Republicans in a center of their strength is a page straight out of Karl Rove's playbook, and would force the Republicans to divert at least some resources to defending their position there; resources that would not be available for attacking us elsewhere. We obviously can't win all or even a majority of Southern states anytime soon. But we must be contenders in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Florida, and we will make winning national elections much easier if we can pick off a couple of these states.

In addition, as Browder emphasizes, fabricating a successful progressive "Southern strategy" will help us in other areas of the country that share cultural affinities with the South - Midwestern states like (southern) Ohio or Missouri where we desperately need to become more competitive. It might even help us in the West; note that Browder obviously admires the approach that Brian Schweitzer is taking in Montana.

To me, the key is to develop an approach that appeals to moderate Southerners (what Browder wants) without abandoning fundamental commitments to good Democratic voters who value social equality for groups like women, African-Americans, and gays.

Undoubtedly, this will be something of a high-wire act, but maybe it can be done. How?

(1) Economic Populism

I think a reinvigorated class appeal to Southerners, Westerners, and Americans in general must be foremost in such a strategy. This would essentially be the mirror image of what Republicans have done over the last 30 years -- form a coalition of business, wealthy elites, and the white working class based on cultural and values issues, religious faith and patriotism (basically what successful conservative parties have been doing for a century or more -- see Disraeli in England, Bismarck in Germany, or McKinley in the US).

The only possible winning coalition that I see for the center-left in the near future is one that combines the "emerging Democratic majority" - the McGovern coalition of educated upper middle class liberals, women, minorities, etc (which is not yet large enough to assume power on its own) and a significant portion of the white working class (still the largest portion of the electorate).

The traditional way we do this is by appealing to the thing we all have in common: we are not rich, in an economy and political system that is increasingly run by and for wealthy elites and corporations. This will be especially relevant to the South (and West) if we begin to study and develop a policy agenda to alleviate some of the economic and social problems that plague America's rural areas and small towns.

I know this won't please Wall Street and the DLC, but it must be done, in my view.

(2) Social Issues

This is the tricky part; how do we acknowledge the real issues that many white working class voters have with American culture, without breaching fundamental progressive commitments?

One thing is to offer compromises on some of these issues:

  • On abortion, maybe the Bill & Hillary approach: emphasize "safe, legal, and rare," and offer policies to explicitly reduce the number of abortions in this country.

  • On gay rights, perhaps what Paul Rosenberg suggested in a recent diary: insist on equal rights through civil union or domestic partnership legislation, do not fear to state our approval for gay marriage, but do not foist gay marriage laws on a (at the moment) substantially unwilling population. We keep a fundamental commitment, while acknowledging concerns of many of the white working class voters we want to reach.

  • On guns, recognize the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-protection or for sport, and recognize that different parts of the country have different preferences for gun regulation, so keep the issue at state level as much as possible (the Howard Dean/Brian Schweitzer approach).

  • On popular culture, Mark Schmitt has an interesting take on the issue:

. . . avoid "policy literalism." Just because people in polls say, "I'm concerned about sex and violence in the media," doesn't mean that the only response is to propose a law that would somehow limit sex and violence in the media. . . . a well-constructed way of talking about the time pressures of the modern economy is fully responsive to the concern about values.

Even better:

. . . there may be an opportunity here for a broader shift in the debate about the market and government. . . . "to complain about market capitalism run amok, about the public interest subverted, and about moral decline." The argument would be that, "when financial self-interest is touted as one of society's greatest virtues, as it has been lately, individuals will behave badly," and that includes Enron and other examples of the breakdown in corporate ethics, but it also includes selling lowest-common-denominator culture to kids, only because it makes money.

So perhaps we can integrate the class appeal and critique of modern American capitalism that I suggested above with parental concerns about pop culture in a way that doesn't subvert our commitment to freedom of conscience and the First Amendment. Wouldn't that be a neat trick!

I think the real challenge here is to make people see that liberal Democrats are willing to acknowledge the validity of the concerns of traditional values voters (yes, we feel their pain) through publicly, loudly, and clearly offering some compromises on these issues, rather than the actual content of the compromises themselves (which will prevent us from having to breach those fundamental commitments that I spoke of). The perception may be more important than the reality here.

The objective would be to take the yoke of cultural extremism off of our necks and to place it squarely where it belongs, on the Republicans' necks. We Democrats are not the extremists on abortion, gun control, and gay rights, the conservatives are. Do most people realize, for example, that the 2004 Republican platform essentially calls for doctors who perform abortions to be prosecuted for murder? Since most Americans believe that abortion should be legal at least part of the time, even Southern moderates might not be down with the religious right's approach to this particular issue.

This is what Armando over at Daily Kos refers to as the "Lincoln 1860" strategy:

. . . Lincoln [in his 1860 Cooper Union speech] shoots right across the bow of the South.  What was he trying to do - obviously, flip the extremist label - place it on the South, take it off the Republicans.

That is what we need to do to the Republicans on these cultural issues.

Tags: (all tags)



OK, one at a time:
#  On abortion, maybe the Bill & Hillary approach: emphasize "safe, legal, and rare," and offer policies to explicitly reduce the number of abortions in this country.

Why do people think this isn't what the Dems have been doing with things like sex ed, access to birth control, and lifting women out of poverty.  Problem is, the Republicans don't care about actual results, just control, and they do their damndest to shoot down any practical solutions.  I hear this over and over again (from Bruticus, for example), and the bottom line is that Dems are already doing this.  I think what the Democratic Party refuses to do is take a moral position which says abortions are sinful.  That's what the Fundamentalists on this issue are looking for.

# On gay rights, perhaps what Paul Rosenberg suggested in a recent diary: insist on equal rights through civil union or domestic partnership legislation, do not fear to state our approval for gay marriage, but do not foist gay marriage laws on a (at the moment) substantially unwilling population. We keep a fundamental commitment, while acknowledging concerns of many of the white working class voters we want to reach.

Or, you just take the state out of marriage altogether (my preferred solution, but one which would horrify a lot of people).  Let's be clear:  equal rights without equal status is a fantasy.  Even leaving aside the federal preferences that civil marriage gives, on principle, separate but equal is not equal.  Didn't we learn this already?

# On guns, recognize the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-protection or for sport, and recognize that different parts of the country have different preferences for gun regulation, so keep the issue at state level as much as possible (the Howard Dean/Brian Schweitzer approach).

Why don't people read the 2004 Democratic platform on guns?  Seriously, what's already in that platform is pretty much what you propose.  The gun issue is a false issue, unless you get the Dems to agree that they love guns as much as the Republicans say they love guns.

It's funny that you cite Cooper Union.  Here's what I take away from that speech:

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: OK, one at a time:
I fully agree with you on each of these points. You are absolutely right that what I have proposed is not really all that far from what Democrats are already proposing and have been for a long time. That's actually part of the point I was trying to make.

The problem is that many white working class voters are not getting the message. Conservative Republicans have successfully painted us as extremists on these issues: "abortion on demand"; the "slippery slope" that leads from the assault weapons ban to a total ban on private ownership of handguns; the idea that electing John Kerry would mean outright gay marriage throughout the nation, etc. All of which is complete and total bullshit, of course.

So the question I would pose is: how do we get the message across that we are not the extremists on these issues, the Republicans are? That is our challenge.

In politics, perception often trumps reality, something I haven't fully grasped until recently. Sometimes what I might once have thought of as "empty gestures" have real meaning for voters, and send important messages about what a party or poltician stands for. This is the sort of thing we liberals have to master. It's what Republicans have been doing to us for decades. Clinton was great at using small-bore initiatives like school uniforms or the v-chip to assuage the concerns of  white middle class values voters.

Now, I would prefer a more substantive politics and policy agenda than that, but we should be able to come up with "non-empty" gestures that send the messages we want to send to the white working class.

by tgeraghty 2005-06-19 05:00PM | 0 recs
Re: OK, one at a time:
I call that perception-reality problem "Surface over substance".  

I think that the first step is showing working class voters of all colors that the Dems are really on their side.  If you don't show that you can be trusted, that you will fight for them, they will dismiss you.  And I like your #1 -- I have been a ferocious proponent of the economic populist approach (which doesn't have to start all that large to be meaningful).  Then you get credibility for everything else (or at least respect when you differ).

By contrast the "tack Republican on social issues" model won't work worth a damn -- too mushy, and you're stuck with pro-corporation, socially conservative Republican-lite.

by paperwight 2005-06-19 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: OK, one at a time:
"On abortion, maybe the Bill & Hillary approach: emphasize "safe, legal, and rare," and offer policies to explicitly reduce the number of abortions in this country."


Bill Clinton used "safe, legal, and rare," and it worked for him because he emphasized it.  He didn't just say it here and there.


"On guns, recognize the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-protection or for sport, and recognize that different parts of the country have different preferences for gun regulation, so keep the issue at state level as much as possible (the Howard Dean/Brian Schweitzer approach)."


Nobody reads the platform.
You have to come here and emphasize it.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 06:22PM | 0 recs
Re: OK, one at a time:
"On guns, recognize the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-protection or for sport, and recognize that different parts of the country have different preferences for gun regulation, so keep the issue at state level as much as possible (the Howard Dean/Brian Schweitzer approach)."

You are so correct. In the Northeast and inner cities, gun control is about crime, drugs and keeping assault wepaons off the street.
The issue of gun control in rural areas is about something else entirely......

This has got to be a state issue. But Democrats have traditionally been horriible at leaving anything up to the states. (and with good reason most of the time) But this one is different...

by Bruticus 2005-06-19 06:34PM | 0 recs
I agree with v2aggie2 all the way.  It's true that these methods are a viabale southern strategy. mostly.

But you have to get here, have strong Dems here at state/local level.  And show up here and make your case.

We have Democratic governor.  We also have Tom Colburn.  We could go any way, on a given day.  If Democrats show up and hustle, they could shoot 30-50%, much better than the ol' goose-egg.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
For both you and v2aggie2.  I think both of you have your hearts in the right place, but here's what a lot of us get out of this exchange, over and over again:

  1.  We hear "Dems need to do X to get the Southern vote".
  2.  We respond "Dems already do almost 100% of X, why do you (a Dem) not know this?.  And besides, the remaining % of X you want us to do basically turns us into Republicans.  Shouldn't we stand for something better and different?"
  3.  We hear "Well come down here and say that".

You live there.  You say it.  I live in California.    But stop blaming me for Southern Democrats not knowing the facts about what the Democrats already do, and the compromises the Democrats have already made.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 08:19PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
Well, Arkansas is a Democratic State.
We won every other race in the area where I was working at (Texarkana, Arkansas) as part of the Arkansas Victory 2004 Campaign.  We even won 1 of 2 Texas races that we were assisting with (just across the stateline), even though we were an Arkansas campaign

Yet in the Presidential Election, Bush won.

Why should the locals substitute for Kerry?
There is no substitute for the real thing.

I am a precinct chair in Gregg County, Northeast Texas and we are working hard here in a very uphill situation.

And, I'm not the candidate for President.

And who was blaming you?
I do have my thoughts about the California Democratic Party (having lived in California for 8 years previously and still following it), but I will leave those for another day.

The South has given us our last 3 Democratic Presidents.  It can't be that hopeless.

As I said earlier in this thread:

Arkansas gave the Democratic Party Bill Clinton, the only 2-term Democratic President since FDR.

In return, the national party gave Arkansas the shaft.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:35PM | 0 recs
not Republican lite
first off, I don't blame you... the main problem is the strtegist-DLC line itself.

By ceding the South, what I am talking about is that the Democratic party just accepts that the south is going republican.  but it's not really a trend that is based in any rational reason.

The idea that southerners will always be or are all racist is just not true, and i'm just glad to see the Dems making a show here.

Southern poor will benefit from democratic platform issues just as much as coastal poor will.  They can be convinced of that.

No reason to necessarily change what you are standing for.  Just don;t give up the region.  People here have to be convinced like anywhere else.  Why are Ohio and Florida swing states, and OK and CA not?

You guys have a Red Governor.  Plenty of rich white people.  But you are viewed as solidly Democratic.  I'd say that it's a little stupid for R's to write CA off or D's to ignore it.  Same in OK or TX.

Of course, if you wait until 2008, it's not gonna be real viable.  that's where R's have kinda seen the light.  Following the 24-hour news cycle comes the eternal campaign.

Sorry... to be honest, I really think that the Dems ARE going to make hella inroads into the south in '06 and '08.

These last two razor-thin elections have highlighted that the old notions have kinda dried up.  The blogosphere, internet campaigns, etc... these make it much more practical for any partisan to contribute/volunteer in any campaign, even one that isn't local to that person.

These blog conversations probably contain more data for the DLC to analyze and digest than nearly anything they've had access to.  Same on the GOP side, though I think that our side is more vigorous.  GOP blogs have a serious me-too/dittos kind of vibe.

So... I'm sorry if I came off as a whining dem.  I am actually encouraged by what I see.  I sincerely hope that we get some Democratic candidates woth a shit down here, because nearly all of our Dems have been Republicans dressed up, because of the strategist conventional wisdom that only this kind of candidate could win here.

I just am anxious to see more, and that's because I know in my heart that the democrats can win some states in the south.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: not Republican lite
Of course, if you wait until 2008, it's not gonna be real viable.  that's where R's have kinda seen the light.  Following the 24-hour news cycle comes the eternal campaign.

You have no way of knowing this, but I am on record as being in favor of the 24-7-365 campaign, out of necessity, not love.

Sorry... to be honest, I really think that the Dems ARE going to make hella inroads into the south in '06 and '08.

I hope so, and I hope they do it by showing that they actually care about working people.

by paperwight 2005-06-19 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: not Republican lite
He's right, though. The Republicans have their own news network that also moonlights as off-year, campaign machine.
Blogging and the Internet can't compete with TV.  
by Bruticus 2005-06-20 06:20AM | 0 recs
Re: not Republican lite
Uh, didn't I just agree with him?
by paperwight 2005-06-20 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: not Republican lite
Misread, my bad! ;-)
by Bruticus 2005-06-20 08:21AM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
I should also note that you are right that state parties need to step up.  Arkansas has been pretty top-notch.  Texas, meanwhile, has had some issues
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:46PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
Hey, I my have projected the "blaming me" line, but as a CA Dem, I hear constantly that my extremism (!)  is what's losing the South.
by paperwight 2005-06-19 08:48PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
Actually... far from blaming extremism, I think it's tepidity that costs us here.

if there's one thing that doesn't go over in OK, it's being seen as a pussy.  which is how Kerry and gore was seen.

that's what i love about dean.  love 'im or hate 'im, you know that he's speakin' his mind.  before you can vote for anyone, it helps if you think that they stand for something besides (re)election.

Those damn pundits (except Donna Brazil and Ron Reagan!)... they always gush over Bush 'standing firm' and 'not backing down' and 'sticking to his beliefs', etc.  Then, in the same segment, they'll complain that Dean is isolating moderates or whatever.  I mean... come on... double standard?  That would be putting it lightly.

Who are these mythical voters who swallow GOP BS hook-line-and-sinker but carefully parse democratic statements syllable-by-syllable with near superhuman sensitivity anything resembling an criticism of the administration or the GOP?  If these are who we are trying to win over, whu would wew even bother.  the 'moderate' or 'swing vote' described thusly is pretty much Rush Limbaugh, but maybe not addicted to pills.

Let them keep Rush... that not who we are working on.

Frankly, I hope that the West gets some more clout in the primaries.  A dose of CA Dems would add some tenacity.  Let's face it, Boxer can let
'em have it with both barrels and kick 'em in the jimmy when they aren't looking... she'll still win.  A little fire in our bellies does us good.

I'm all about a pluralistic Democratic party.

by teknofyl 2005-06-19 09:23PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
The DLC Dems are the ones who need to stop listening to Faux News and stop going on Faux News. The DLC Dems are the problem, not progressive Dems.

I also agree with your analysis that Southern Dems need to start talking more about their platform instead of criticizing the national platform. Southern Dems spend so much time responding the Rush and Sean's dishonest portrayal of "liberal" national Dems that they  don't develope their own talking points.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 09:57PM | 0 recs
Re: 100%
I don't think it is your "extremism" that is losing the South.

I think that Hollywood, unfairly, defines the image of California Democrats in other parts of the country.

And I myself am not a big fan of Hollywood Liberals, simply because they get too much airtime and are often not knowledgable.

I think it becomes the attitude more than anything else.  Folks may feel that they are being talked down to by the two coasts.  Having lived in 6 states (Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, California, Texas), I can see the potential pitfalls.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 10:51PM | 0 recs
Excellent example of spin
Hollywood has next to nothing to do with "liberalism." Hollywood is accurately defined as rabid corporate scumbags on steroids. There are hollywood actors who are shallow caricatures of liberals. They get M$M attention because they are manufactured corporate celebrities, not because of their political beliefs.

If it was up to me the Democratic party would say straight out that none of the shallow, hairbrained Hollywood eightballs speak for the Democratic party. Of course they get buckets of money from Barbara Streisand and Hollywood, so they suck up to them for their money.

Why did Biden and Warner criticize Howard Dean instead of Hollywood eightballs? Has any Democrat ever criticized a Hollywood star?

Screw Hollywood and every demented, egotistical, headcase, airhead in the whole damn town. Aside from Bono, and a few exceptions you can count on one hand, none of them are capable of stringing together a coherent sentence on foreign policy, economics or any other issue of national importance.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 11:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent example of spin

Bono does good work.  He studies up, and is passionate about what he is working on.
And he is above the politics, because the cause is so much more important than that.  And having grown up with U2, I'm not surprised.

Here is a quote that says a lot (from My Life, by Bill Clinton)


Larry Summers, who knew everything about economics but little about popular culture, came into the Oval Office one day and remarked that he'd just had a meeting on debt relief with "some guy named Bono -- just one name -- dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and big sunglasses.  He came to see me about debt relief, and he know what he's talking about."


by v2aggie2 2005-06-20 09:27PM | 0 recs
you are right
about many of these things being in the dem playbook already.  i dont recall kerry or gore frothing at the mouth about aborting more babies. kerry didnt even blink an eye when bush let the assault weapon ban expire. the things listed in this diary are good ideas, but i think we have been doing them already for the most part.

an immense challenge, I think, is going to be concocting and effective and realistic economic populism.  protectionism is a tricky gamble and it can be a third rail type of thing. also, lets not forget much of the job growth in the south comes from "right to work" that scales back the role of labor unions and makes labor cheaper, resulting in more but worse jobs.  not really sure how to incorporate combatting that into a platform.

People might not agree with me and its certainly open for debate, but I have a sense that generally speaking Gore lost 2000 in the left margins and Kerry lost 2004 in the middle/swing votes.  This highlights the necessity for the type of "high-wire act" suggested in this diary.  People who simply think tacking left or right wholesale is the answer are not looking at the entire problem.

by dre2k5 2005-06-19 05:02PM | 0 recs
Excellent points, but
"On gay rights, perhaps what Paul Rosenberg suggested in a recent diary: insist on equal rights through civil union or domestic partnership legislation, do not fear to state our approval for gay marriage, but do not force gay marriage laws on a (at the moment) substantially unwilling population. We keep a fundamental commitment, while acknowledging concerns of many of the white working class voters we want to reach.

We have an apporval for gay marriage? This is an issue that's tearing at our party, and even the Log Cabin Republicans have let it go for the sake of other issues.
If the Democrats are even remotely serious about making inroads in the Sout, they should go for civil unions (and make it a civil rights issue) and leave it at that. This party has to wake up and realize that unless it's message has some time of Christian moral fiber to it, Southerners aren't buying it.  
As far as abortion goes, (As I have been saying) they can steal this from the Repugs by focusing on making abortion rare (enter those 17 points I keep ranting about ) Southern Baptists won't have a problem with us wanting to give alternatives to these women besides banning abortion altogether.

This party has got to learn to seperate gay marriage and abortion. Everyone who is for one, is not necessarily for the other, especially minorities.  

by Bruticus 2005-06-19 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent points, but
that's a winner.  State unequivocally that A) gays have a RIGHT to seek civil unions and legal protections and B) religious institutions have a fundamental right to REFUSE to perform these ceremonies.

Many fundie churches tell their members that if gays are allowed to marry, they will be forced to perform gay weddings.  This is an issue we have to meet directly.

by sjs1959 2005-06-20 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent points, but
Many fundie churches tell their members that if gays are allowed to marry, they will be forced to perform gay weddings.

(a) yes, this lie needs to be confronted head on.
(b) that won't matter to the Republican Fundamentalists -- they pretty much want gays gone.
(c) yet another reason to separate the whole concept of civil and religious marriage.

by paperwight 2005-06-20 01:25PM | 0 recs
Excellent Diary!
You are to be commended!
I give this an enthusiastic recommendation.
Your points are all good.

Bill Clinton has noted the Republican strategy in the South:

"God, Guns, and Gays"

The big key is that WE HAVE TO SHOW UP!
We didn't in 2000 and 2004, and we paid the price.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 06:15PM | 0 recs
Some examples from Arkansas
I worked for the Arkansas Victory 2004 Coordinated Campaign.  This included the Kerry-Edwards campaign as the main focus along with other state legislature/US House/US Senate races.

During the campaign, two disturbing things happened in particular.

First, the Republican party sent out literature saying that Kerry would ban the bible if he became President.  Obviously, this is bullshit.

But despite the best efforts of the state party and dedicated Democrats who continually contacted media through LTE's, etc., none of this is a substitute for Kerry showing up and pressing flesh.  

Second, a Democratic hunter came to our field office and asked for literature that he could give to a hunter friend who believed that Kerry would ban all guns.

Again, Kerry could have helped by simply showing up and taking all of this head on.

In the end, we had no presidential/vice-presidential appearances and no TV ads.

Yet we still won 45% of the vote.

We can win in Arkansas.  We just have to show up.
And we can expand this success to other Southern states

And for the national party to abandon the state that gave us the only 2-term Democratic president since FDR is criminal in my book.

Arkansas gave us Bill Clinton.
The national party gave Arkansas the shaft.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Some examples from Arkansas
I have a strong feeling Arkansas isn't the only state that could have possibly gone dem if the national campaign had helped out. One of the things that really got to me was putting Edwards on the ticket for southern appeal- and then completely conceding the south. They didn't even pretend to make an effort in north carolina.

although they aren't in the south, missouri and colorado are states the national team pulled out of when they still had a realistic chance.  at the time i thought there just wasn't the resources to go around, but then we learned the campaign had 15 million dollars leftover after election day. boo!

by dre2k5 2005-06-19 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Some examples from Arkansas
You're absolutely right.

I never understood the North Carolina thing.
Why pick Edwards and keep him OUT of the South, even North Carolina.

Some small states don't even require long stays.
Arkansas is 300 miles by 300 miles in dimensions, for example.

At some point, you can only spend so much time in Ohio or Florida

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 07:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Some examples from Arkansas
Though this may seem inconsistent with the answer I just gave to teknophyl (sp?), I think you're right.  The national party shafted you.

Of course, they shaft us in CA as well, since they think we're "safe".

by paperwight 2005-06-19 08:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Some examples from Arkansas
True, but you were pretty home free.
We could have used the times, it felt like an "us against the world" situation.

If we're losing California, then we REALLY have problems.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Some examples from Arkansas
Which is why I'm so glad that Dean's beefing up the state parties.  (The record-setting cash amounts he's bringing don't count what he's helping the states rake in.)
by Phoenix Woman 2005-06-20 06:51AM | 0 recs
The Solution to the Southern Problem
From Big Dog's Political Dogfight page, True Listening to Other Democrats:

Political Listening.....True Listening to other Democrats

Listening, true the Political Context has always been difficult and minimal. By definition, most come to Politics with a pre-disposed reaction to certain issues.

Listening to those who disagree, especially if their disagreement is in a 'disagreeable' format, is nearly impossible to anyone who's inner convictions are deeply held.

Visit The Insurgent Political Campaign and listen.
(10 minutes)

Then let's see if we can listen to each other instead of screaming past each other.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: The Solution to the Southern Problem
Listening is definitely important.
We forget this a lot.
by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 07:41PM | 0 recs
One big thing that Republicans have going for them, is that a lot of what they say is simple: no "targeted" tax cuts, instead, George W. Bush says. "Do you pay taxes?  If you pay taxes, your taxes will be cut."  If abortion is "murder" or "a sin", declaring to make it legal, safe , and rare does not satisfy.  The GOP's verbal warfare and policies that actually increase the number of abortions are more comforting.

One thing that many great Americans from Lincoln to FDR to Martin Luther King did was to be simple and to be sure and confident.  We not only spoke to people's minds but to people's hearts as well.  We neeed to do this again.

We will know when the right person is there. I could suggest magic formulas and I might even get lucky and be right.  A few such phrases follow:

I believe that working men and women, whether in the farm, the factory, the school, or the office, are the backbone of this country.  Whenever we reward wealth and forget about work, we are taking a step away from our best future and walking away from the values and the sweat that made our country great.  I will do everything in my effort, with your help and prayers, to make sure that we in government live by this words every day.

I believe that moral law is written not just in the sacred books of mankind but also in our very hearts.  Morality to be real and powerful must ultimately come not from ther book but from the heart.  God has given us the ability to judge right from wrong.  I believe that abortion is a powerful moral decision for individuals in our society.  Although I will fight for changes that will tend to make abortions less common, I will leave that personal moral decision up to the individual women of this country.

God is love.  The course of this country over more than two hundred years has been to expand freedom and brotherhood and to work actively against hate.  At one time onlywhite men who owned land had full rights.  Over a long time we expanded those rights to include some black men and some white women.  I do not propose to erect barriers to love or freedom that will seem as foolish to future generations as the fugitive slave law seems to our own.

Anyway, keep it simple.

by David Kowalski 2005-06-19 08:23PM | 0 recs
Too Much Micromanagement
The tactical key in the South is to have strong state parties along with the DNC. The DNC should not bother trying to "infiltrate" the state party on state issues. Sure, when the Presidential campaigns rev up, the candidate gets to decide where he or she stands on something.

But why can't Tennesee approve civil unions while Alabama votes for a gay marraige ban? Why does the Democratic Party have to treat the South as a monolith? Why can't we accept that each state is different, that we need to do our homework and become far more understanding the whole UNITED part of the United States of America? We have the vibe right in some places...we understand how to win in California and what's holding us back from Kentucky?

by risenmessiah 2005-06-19 08:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Too Much Micromanagement
Not from Howard Dean and the DNC. There are two reasons Howard is so popular with state party officials:

(1.) Dean has been decentralizing the money from from D.C. to the state organizations.

(2.) Dean has been making it very clear that State Democratic parties have flexibility to craft their own message.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 07:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Too Much Micromanagement
Hey now Gary, when did I say Dean was part of the problem. If anything, I'm more worried about the denizens of MyDD treating the South like some giant mystery when it's pretty simple why we are struggling there:

When we had massive defections from the Democrats to the GOP, the local and state Democratic parties were left in the lurch. When the DNC and national candidates rode into town, it was always seen as an "outside presence" which in South makes you look like a carpetbagger.

So while all it took was rebuilding the local and state parties, we saw guys like McAuliffe believe people like Bill Clinton that such measures were not necessary.

by risenmessiah 2005-06-20 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Too Much Micromanagement
The tactical key in the South is to have strong state parties along with the DNC. The DNC should not bother trying to "infiltrate" the state party on state issues.

Then I'm not sure exactly what you were getting at with that comment. That sentence sounds exactly like Howard Dean's agenda and what Howard Dean wants the DNC to do and not do.

Howard Dean's strongest supporters should be in the South. He is addressing exactly the problems you mentioned, but does not appear to be getting credit for his efforts. Instead of berating him for his comments, southern grassroots activists and southern Democratic leaders should be trumpeting his success at pouring DNC money into rebuilding local and state parties.

Dean's actions have been speaking far louder than his words, but reactionary Southern Democrats, like Warner, have engaged in knee jerk criticism of his truthful criticism of the Republican party and right wingnut religious fascists. Like I said earlier, Browder and his southern fans need to examine the mote in their own eye, before they point to the speck in Howard Dean's eye.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Too Much Micromanagement
"Instead of berating him for his comments, southern grassroots activists and southern Democratic leaders should be trumpeting his success at pouring DNC money into rebuilding local and state parties."


They have been praising him

by v2aggie2 2005-06-21 07:27PM | 0 recs
The meaning of a Democrat in Texas
In Texas, there has been shock about the fall of the Democratic Party and the takeover of Karl Rove and the Republicans.

But, really, nothing had changed.
Prominent conservative Democrats became Republicans.  And the conservative Democrats who remained in the party were not up to the task of keeping the Democratic Party strong.

Of course, there have been good Texas Democrats such as LBJ, Ann Richards, and Jim Hightower that were not part of this lousy conservative Democratic heritage.

Now, we are at the next stage, THE BEST STAGE!
A stage of REAL change.

There is new blood in the Texas Democratic Party.
The party is becoming a liberal-to-moderate party (still closer to moderate than liberal, but definitely left of center).  

And I am glad to be a part of this change as a Precinct Chair in Gregg County, Northeast Texas.

Things are changing.
Just give us time and support.

by v2aggie2 2005-06-19 08:57PM | 0 recs
Minimum Wage
A great documentary is on FX called "Minimum Wage." It's a doozy. Check it out.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-19 10:05PM | 0 recs
Absolutely agree
But be prepared - ultraliberal fanatics will accuse you of being everything bad on Earth - the word "traitor" will be, probably, the most mild.. These people (i rememmer my "discussions" with Gary Boatwright an Parker) are utterly unable of anything, but slander people who disagree with their point of view. No arguments, facts or names, no analysis, but a lot of slander and slander only. They say, that they belong to "Democratic wing of Democratic Party", but i am convinced, that they belong to "Masochist wing of Democratic party" - the people who utterly relish a possibility of being humiliated and flogged by Republicans election after election.  Good luck, have a good discussion and a lot of patience..
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 01:00AM | 0 recs
I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
I've never called you or anyone else a traitor. You are without question a complete asshole.

My apologies to rectal cavities everywhere for dragging down their good name.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 01:53AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
You did, Gary. Not in this topic, but many times. You just confirmed, what i earlier sad about you -  masochistic idiot and fanatic. You personally deserve no better, then good flogging. I don't like republican wingnuts, but i  will be very grateful to them (and even ready to send them some money) if they will flog you every day - be it an election day (especially) or not. May be after 10 or 20 years you will finally get some gray matter in your brains. But honestly i doubt it - an idiot will remain an idiot for life...
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 04:38AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
I was wrong. You are not an absolute asshole. You are an absolute lying asshole.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
Well, Gary, enough. It's you, who is a liar and you know that quite well. Even if you use another words in place of "traitor" the essence of your posts is always the same - no one shall dare to disagree with your ultraradical positions, which are to the left of Joseph Stalun (may be even you know, who he was). If someone disagrees - he is a "fucked Republican "hack"", who has no place to even speak here, even less - to be a Democratic party member. Sometimes i think - are you a sole owner of the party??. Or, at least, it's biggest donor?? Who are you, nobody from nowhere, to decide - which party can i be a member, or whether or not somebody's idea is worthy of discussion. Sometimes i think you want a role of God Almighty. Too naughty, isn't it?
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
Stalin, of course..
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
Are you sure you don't mean Linen? I think you have your Bolsheviks confused with your Marxists.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
Gary, i am born in Russia, it's my motherland. I know who was Lenin and who was Stalin, i was a "Young Communist league" member myself before beginning to passionately hate both Bolsheviks and Marxists. I saw, what happened in Russia after 74 years experiment to "build a Communism in one country". FYI - even now i am in Russia (i have to care about my old mother), and only God knows how long i will stay here, but most likely - at least some years. So - don't try to lecture me on these subjects, plese.. Agreed??

And, in order not to vilify each other publicly (as we did many times and probably will in the future if all goes as it did) - i propose, that every discussion on any subject would be accompanied by detailed analysis. If we speak about Congressional elections - let's go to "district-crunching" and discuss plusses and minuses of candidates in every district. With no "sacred cows" and no "villains". Otherwise all our discussion here will be reduced to "asshole" and "idiot"

by smmsmm 2005-06-20 11:39PM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
And, in order not to vilify each other publicly

You mean aside from calling me a Stalinist?

i propose, that every discussion on any subject would be accompanied by detailed analysis.

LIke all of your links to my comments calling you and others traitors?

Otherwise all our discussion here will be reduced to "asshole" and "idiot"

I call 'em like I see 'em. You are a lying asshole and an idiot. Don't blame me for your personal problems and character defects. If you don't want me to call you a lying asshole, stop lying and stop being an asshole.

Being an idiot is a congenital problem. I don't know how you can rectify that problem, but I'll let it slide if you stop lying about me and stop being an asshole.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:24AM | 0 recs
My apologies to idiots
I apologize for the offensive comparison to smmsmm. It is not my intention to unfairly demean loving and honest people with congenital disadvantages who live fuller and richer lives than low lifes like smmsmm.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:33AM | 0 recs
You showed to all, who you are
Gary. I hoped exactly for that answer. You are so easily provoked, fool.....
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 05:52AM | 0 recs
Re: My apologies to idiots
Frankly, Gary, you make my life much more hilarious then it would be without you. When i see your "political correctness" mixed with invectives - i have a very good laughter. You are probably talented clown, Gary. You don't know "too much" on subject you try to write on, but you give people a very good reasons to laugh. As you may understand - i don't care of being called an "asshole" by you (or, fot that matter, by anybody else, even your beloved Howard Dean). I don't give a damn about your so called "principles" - they are nothing to me. But i get a good laughter. Keep writing, you, an idiot, and i will have it forever...
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: My apologies to idiots
Just as you confuse the difference between Stalun and Linen, you are are not aware that you are being ridiculed. Don't take it so hard smmsmm. I'm only making fun of you because you make it so easy.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: My apologies to idiots
Thanks, Gary. Then we both play the same game and both are satisfied. Let's continue...
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 07:29AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
If you were born in Russia, you should know the difference between Stalun and Linen.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 07:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I've got your ultraliberal fanaticism
Lenin, "my dear friend". Lenin.. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov.. Party nickname - Lenin. Born 1870, died 1924. Are you convinced?
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 07:27AM | 0 recs
Quick NC Comment
First, Kerry might have had a chance in NC, might now.  But, one thing is for certain, we can do more than be a contender in NC in 2008.  In the last election, state democrats won the House back, increased their lead in the Senate, won the Governorship with wider vote margin than Bush or Burr, and won MOST other state-wide races.  We are at 6-7 in the U.S. House right now and in the upcoming election several House GOPers are in serious trouble, especially since DNC is focusing on NC early!

So, in 2008 we will have a Senate race against a RNC hack who has voted against NC time and time again (Dole), U.S. House races (in which the Dems have control), State House races (in which Dems have control), State Senate races (in which Dems have control) - all of these alongside a Presidential race pitting Democrats against the worst economy and benefit crisis since Bush I.  

In summary, NC should go Blue in 2008 unless the Presidential candidate is viewed as weak on defense and weak on blue-collar jobs.

by Robert P 2005-06-20 05:08AM | 0 recs
Texas Justice
Why nothing librul elites say or do can help the South and the South needs to start cleaning up their own act, instead of criticizing librul elites. From Molly Ivins, Never Steal a Turkey in Lubbock, and Other Tales of Texas Justice: Racism, 'Tuff on Crime' judges and gutless politicians warp the system.

(1) Racism. In 1998, James Byrd Jr. was dragged to death behind a pickup truck for being black in Jasper. Two of the three men responsible got the death penalty. This was not first time in Texas a white man was given the death penalty for killing a black man. It was the second.

(3) We elect our prosecutors. There are 254 counties in Texas, nearly every one with its own elected district attorney. The way to get elected is to be "Tuff on Crime." The way to lose is to be "Soft on Crime." In the big cities -- Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, among the 10 largest in the nation -- we get the usual plead-out mill: perp's public defender advises him to cop to reduced charges, anything to avoid a trial.

But in the small towns and rural areas where heavy crime is rare, a D.A. has to whup on whoever gets caught. Sometime in the '80s, a guy in Lubbock stole 12 frozen turkeys. They were recovered, still frozen. Not only no damage, but no defrost. The guy bought 75 years, which works out to 6.3 years per bird. Don't steal a turkey in Lubbock.

(5) An appeal process that isn't worth squat. If you're in, you can't get out. If you draw the death penalty in Texas, you effectively have 30 days to present new evidence. After that, you're toast. Doesn't matter if someone else confesses on Day 31. Doesn't even matter if you could provide DNA evidence proving it wasn't you. (The Legislature is still trying to fix that one.) Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are of the opinion that actual innocence is not necessarily a bar to execution (Herrera vs. Collins). It took a near-miracle to get the Tulia drug defendants out.

(7) A bent system. For years Texas used an expert witness most people called "Dr. Death." Never saw a perp he couldn't guarantee would be a mortal menace for the rest of his days. Only one solution: Kill him. Just one little hitch: In many of those cases, Dr. Death never examined the accused, never talked to the accused, never got near the accused. He was reprimanded twice in the 1980s by the American Psychiatric Assn., then expelled from the group in 1995 because his evidence was found unethical and untrustworthy.

In another case, the Supremes threw out the death sentence because the psychologist said the perp was a danger on account of being Latino. Then there was the Houston police lab, so unbelievably sorry, sloppy and just plain maliciously wrong that the courts had to throw out a bunch of those cases too.

But please don't get the idea that just because a few of these errors were caught on long-shot appeals, justice actually works here. We know about so many more miscarriages it would make you vomit, and can't even guess at how many we don't know about.

I'm at 932 words and I haven't even gotten to the 5th Circuit, the parole board, why you can spend months in jail without ever seeing a lawyer ...

Here's the syllabus to Herrera vs. Collins:

Held: Herrera's claim of actual innocence does not entitle him to federal habeas relief. Pp. 6-28.

Which is why Bush loves Scalia and Thomas. This case is a legal abomination and the librul Supreme Court voted 6-3 that actual innocence was not a defense in a death penalty appeal.

Blackmun's dissent Justice Blackmun, with whom Justice Stevens and Justice Souter join with respect to Parts I IV, dissenting.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 05:24AM | 0 recs
Foreign Policy
A big omission from this diary is that I haven't said anything about foreign policy.

Do Democrats need to nominate a pro-Iraq war "hawk" to contend in the South? I'm not so sure myself, since most of us are not hawks it would be difficult to honestly portray ourselves that way.

Would we be better off just leveling with people and coming out for a "non-imperialist" liberal internationalist foreign policy (which doesn't, in my opinion, mean "never use force," but use it cautiously and as a "last resort")? I think so; at least, that would be my preference. But would Southern moderates go for that? Could we pitch it in a way that would appeal to them?

As food for thought, there have been a number of interesting posts at TPM Cafe and Democracy Arsenal on this topic recently:

by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Policy
This is a good point. Foreign Policy was been a traditional weak point for us, because the American People usually wants to seem agressive abroad. Dems are usually more intellectual so we usually know that a shoot first policy   just gets everyone shot. I'm certain that we are all Clintonites here, but FP will definitely  go down as his achilles heel. No matter how you cut it, not reponding to tthe first WTC attack, the embassy bombing and the Cole, will be a black mark on his record.
All may not be lost though, because I believe that world policy in the near future will require more diplomacy than military action. America's nuclear policy of " yes, we and our allies can have nukes, but nobody else, because we said so" is starting to wear thin.
Foreign Policy killed Carter, crippled Mondale and Dukakis, and Kerry's ambiguity in this help cost him the election.
We are going to need somebody who can talk tough, but thinks first.  
by Bruticus 2005-06-20 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Policy
I think by 2008 whether a candidate support the invasion in 03 or not will be very much secondary to his or her plan for the current situation. In that way I think there is some leeway for what kind of foreign policy a candidate can have to be competitive in the south.

my 2 cents: clinton did hit back after the embassy bombings, and the same people who are calling it "swatting at flies" and "pinpricks" now are the same ones accusing him of bombing 3rd world countries to distract us from monica lewinsky.  as far as serious action in south asia back then, the military establishment seriously opposed an invasion of afghanistan. Steve Coll's book Ghost Wars details this very well.  also, I defy any republican or democratic clinton detractor on this issue to find me an elected official in either party that advocated an invasion during the clinton administration

by dre2k5 2005-06-20 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Policy revisionism
No matter how you cut it, not reponding to tthe first WTC attack, the embassy bombing and the Cole, will be a black mark on his record.

That's garbage. Clinton responded appropriately to both attacks and was accused of "wag the dog" diversions. Any blame for Clinton's foreign policy "failures" has to consider the bogus impeachment of Clinton as well as their complaints that he bombed "an aspirin factory."

Dude! You have to stop listening to Limbaugh and Hannity.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:38AM | 0 recs
Warmongers need not apply
The so called liberal robust hawks dominate the DLC, the Democratic Party Elite and the current slate of Democratic primary contenders.

By 2007 they will be shooting spitballs at any progressive or rehabilitated hawk who comes out early against Bush's Iraq war. Every single Democratic Senator will lose all credibility as a foreign policy leader if they don't jump on the DSM bandwagon very soon.

How can any Democratic polician make a pretense to leadership if they are silent on the biggest issue in the Democratic party?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 09:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Foreign Policy
Here's another piece I meant to link to:

Iraq Isn't a Partisan Issue; It's a National Security Issue by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Has anybody come up with a feasible exit strategy from Iraq that I could link to? All these items so far are from "stay the course" types.

by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 09:59AM | 0 recs
Exit Strategy for Iraq
That is precisely the point I made last week when I called the "stay the course" hawks Impossible Dreamers.

Kevin Drum has an interesting post about Leaving Iraq:

Phil makes the case that since the Army is stretched to the breaking point, it has little choice but to begin troop drawdowns fairly soon anyway. Given that, they'll make lemonade out of their lemons:

I believe that the U.S. military will preserve itself rather than let the war tear it apart.

What does this mean in practical terms? Simple. Over the next year or two, you are going to see an increasing amount of effort being applied to "Iraqification". We are going to devote more and more troops to getting their security forces "trained and ready", such that we can draw down our forces and hand over the country. The building of Iraqi forces is the key task for the U.S. in establishing a new and stable government in Iraq.

But cynical or not, maybe this is the right formula. We should make the argument that (a) it's only the fear that we plan to stay in Iraq permanently that keeps the insurgency alive, (b) we can eliminate that fear by publicly announcing a timetable for withdrawal, and (c) with the wind taken out of the insurgents' sails, Iraqi forces will be adequate to keep control.

Of course, this all depends on the notion that Bush & Co. want to withdraw from Iraq in the first place. This is, needless to say, far from clear.

Nobody has an exit strategy from Iraq, because the only plausible exit strategy looks too much like defeat. Which of course it is.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Exit Strategy for Iraq
Thanks -- I thought you posted something like that recently, but I couldn't find it.
by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Exit Strategy for Iraq
Huffington asks Where are the Democrats?, and points out that:

While Democrats are crisscrossing the country, holding conclaves in search of what the party should stand for, Russ Feingold introduced a resolution in the Senate on Tuesday calling on the president to create a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq. Thank God at least one prominent Dem has the good sense to know what the party should stand for -- and, just as important, the cojones to act on that knowledge.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 11:38AM | 0 recs
Ratchethead Bush
I'm digging Feingold more and more.  It's clear that Bush views any talk of withdrawal as a sign of weakness or defeat.

Clearly this man has no idea how to admint when he's wrong.  And any idea that makes him think that he might look wromg seems to be discounted just for that egomaniacal reason.

Eventually, of course, it will happen... when even his own party has abandoned him or, when the Dems win back control in '06.  Which will happen if the BUsh does as he's won to, and 'stays the course' on every thing.

This guy really takes the whole 'your first instinct is usually the best one.'  Has this guy ever changed his mind about anything??  His brain is like a damn ratchet!!

by teknofyl 2005-06-20 12:08PM | 0 recs
Juan Cole has an exit strategy
by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Juan Cole has an exit strategy
Unfortunately, those are exactly the strategies Bush and Bolton rule out. They look like excellent exit strategies for Democrats to get behind. Attack head on the bogus Theocon theme that the UN is responsible for global failures like Darfur.

For example, that dipshit Scarborough blames the UN for Darfur. Like the UN can do anything in Darfur without US support. Darfur is singularly a failure of the US, not the UN. If we weren't bogged down in Iraq, it is possible a joint US/UN effort could be mounted in Africa.

Democrats should be attacking Bush for his failure to address what Colin Powell himself named genocide. Theocon foreign policy is a global failure of monstrous dimensions. Bush's presidency will be a historical stain on the honor of the United States.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:44AM | 0 recs
Will the tail wag the dog?
From Phil Carter at Will the tail wag the dog?:

At a certain point, will U.S. military manpower and force structure considerations come to dictate our policy on Iraq -- and our exit strategy/timeline?

Today's New York Times carries a pair of provocative columns on the situation in Iraq. Both suggest that the U.S. will find a way out of Iraq soon, by handing the country back to the Iraqis, come hell or high water.

In the magazine, former White House counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke writes America faces a choice between staying the course and instituting a draft because of military overstretch. Further, Clarke argues that the situation in Iraq may have gotten to the point where our inertia is the biggest factor keeping us there.

Analysis: This is something I opined on last week at dinner with a couple of friends who think and write about these issues. When asked to predict when the U.S. military would experience a meltdown, my answer was "never". Simply, the generals and senior civilians in the Pentagon won't let that happen. I believe that the U.S. military will preserve itself rather than let the war tear it apart.

What does this mean in practical terms? Simple. Over the next year or two, you are going to see an increasing amount of effort being applied to "Iraqification". We are going to devote more and more troops to getting their security forces "trained and ready", such that we can draw down our forces and hand over the country. The building of Iraqi forces is the key task for the U.S. in establishing a new and stable government in Iraq.

Further, I think the U.S. government may subtly and secretly push the Iraqi government to "request" the U.S. draw down its force presence.

Read the rest . . .

Wes Clark talks about "cleaning up the mess" in Iraq at Salon, Get Moving:

Wes Clark talks about cleaning up the mess in Iraq and says Democrats better start convincing Americans that they can keep our country safe.

Salon also reports on Clark's "incendiary speech", That Flag Is Our Flag.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Will the tail wag the dog?
What's that old saying about Generals fighting the last war? The DLC "robust military hawks" are fighting the last campaign:

"There's another party out there, and they would have you believe that they're the best qualified to keep America safe and secure," Clark said. "I'm here to say it's not so."

In a building riff that brought veterans to their feet, Clark said: "That flag is our flag. We served under that flag. We got up and stood reveille formation, we stood taps, we fought under that flag. We've seen men die for that flag, and we've seen men buried under that flag. No Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay is going to take that flag away from us."

But that didn't stop him. "Let me tell you something," Carville said in a sudden moment of quiet directness. "John Kerry is a better man than George W. Bush. I'm talking man to man. Man to man, it ain't even close."

It was an electrifying moment for the veterans in the room, even if Carville's ad hominem attack doesn't fit within Kerry's "Stronger America" theme. And by the time Carville was done, there was no chance of getting it back. Former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland, who lost limbs in Vietnam, lost an election thanks to Republican smears questioning his patriotism, and who now serves as the emotional center of the Kerry campaign, closed the deal with veterans by following Carville's charge.

Cleland contrasted Kerry's vow with Bush's record. "You don't create a shooting war and close veterans' hospitals," Cleland told the crowd. "You don't avoid the war of your generation and then send another to die."

Earlier in the event, one of Kerry's Swift boat "brothers" vowed that, if Kerry called them for one last mission and said they were going to hell, "he'd have a full crew."

Cleland took it one step further with harsh commentary on the incumbent and confident predictions for the future. "We're not going to hell," he said. "We've been to hell. Now we're going to the White House."

Better late than never? Or too little too late?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 11:20AM | 0 recs
Let's start out west

Democrats have a solid lock on the Kerry/Gore states (New Mexico, New Hampshire really the only wildcards).  

We seem to be close to winning Colorado and Nevada and making them spend big bucks in Arizona.

The South it seems to me, needs to be cherry-picked electorally- specifically, Warner appears he would win VA, Clark probably helps in Arkansas.

by jgkojak 2005-06-20 08:21AM | 0 recs
AS far as the South goes...
Your're right. But even three Southern states with no state loss from '04 will give us a strong victory in '08. I think Warner  in Va, Clark in AK, Harold Ford can help us in Tenn, and let's not forget that NC has a Democratic governor.
The trick is to let the state parties tailor the message to fit their state, and to not get bent out of shape if local candidates don't agree with the National Platform verbatim, or (god forbid) somebody disagrees with Howard Dean.
ANd to be bluntly honest, I don't know why the dems gave up on Florida in '04 either.    
by Bruticus 2005-06-20 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: AS far as the South goes...
[Clark in AK]

Arkansas is AR.  Alaska is AK.  Just for future reference.  People from both states can get a little touchy about that one.

[The trick is to let the state parties tailor the message to fit their state, and to not get bent out of shape if local candidates don't agree with the National Platform verbatim.]

Who does?  Seriously?  The problem is when people start attacking the national platform (or some imaginary Blue-State extremism) using Republican talking points, which are then exploited by the Republicans in their constant "Democrats are just a buncha latte-drinking volvo-driving librul eleetist" drumbeat.

[, or (god forbid) somebody disagrees with Howard Dean.]

Same comment as above -- people need to stop attacking with Republican Talking Points; if you disagree with something he says, then say "my differences with Dean are not important.  my differences with my opponent are."  Dean is doing his job:  empowering the State Parties (one of your hobbyhorses, and one with which I happen to agree) and saying things that the elected Dem leadership doesn't have the spine to say.

by paperwight 2005-06-20 08:50AM | 0 recs
None of the above...
It's Louisiana where we finally need to make a stand in the south.


  • Seven of her 8 statewide elected officials are Democrats (exception being Sec. of State).
  • The State House and Senate are both 2/3 Democrat controlled.
  • The Governor is the only Democratic Governor in the Deep South.
  • SHE'S a woman.
  • Until last year, La. was the only southern state to not elect a Rethuglican Senator since reconstruction (Vitter squeezed in with 51% of the vote in Nov).
  • Our other Senator is one of the last southern Democratic Senators - and SHE's a woman.
  • La. is the ONLY southern state to vote for Clinton BOTH times (AR and TN don't count).
  • I could go on.

Kerry's campaign poured millions into native son John Edwards' North Carolina, and yet Kerry did only one point better there than in Louisiana.

So please show us some love. AR and LA are where its at. VA is getting there. TN  and NC are lost, and I'm not so sure about FL either.

by LouisianaDem 2005-06-20 12:34PM | 0 recs
we could just follow this advice.

I'm kind of partial to it myself, but how long would we be waiting?

by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 10:14AM | 0 recs
Common Sense?
That's a pretty novel and radical approach.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Or
This is sound advice... especially on Iraq and healthcare.  The country's going there no matter what either party says.  Dems could benefit by getting there first.

Actually, the tax thing as well.  Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts... am I the only one out here screaming...


Sorry... whew!  Ok... that feels better.  Except that it didn't change anything...

by teknofyl 2005-06-20 12:55PM | 0 recs
Democrats are stupid on taxes
Schwarzenegger ran against the "car tax," which is basically a license renewal fee, with help from the talk radioheads. Most Californians pay about $100 a year for their plates. The talk radioheads convinced Californians that they would be better off without the "evil" car tax. I think it cost California $3 Billion per year to cut a relatively painless tax that is now exacerbating our budget problems.

Democrats don't have a clue how to talk about taxes. They also don't know how to put together a budget. If they had half a brain they would be proposing bringing back the car tax and putting it directly into new roads along with the gas tax that they've been stealing for other pet programs.

The secret to political success is giving the voters what they want. Californians want relief from traffic congestion that is a result of ignoring our roads for twenty years. They should be crucifying The Porkinator on traffic congestion and potholes.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 01:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats are stupid on taxes
I'm really sick of the conventional wisdom that raising taxes is death.

On the flip side though... I knew this one dude in Tulsa... man, you;d think he was Democratic material all the way.  Shitty wages, lotsa kids and no way to get them insurance or even pay for housing and food w/o stamps.  White (though you wouldn't know it by talking to him!) and ex-military, but basically poor and in need of assistance.

YOu know what his biggest issue was... taxes!!  I mean... this dude wasn't paying taxes!  His net federal tax rate was something like -25% because of the earned income credit!!!  And here he was voting GOP because he thought taxes were somehow unfairly applied to him and his.

This is the kind of case that illustrates GOP success in framing the whole tax debate over the last 2 decades, and almost makes my head explode.

These people have played on everyone's desire to be the rich guy.  You sit at home and watch The OC holding your lottery ticket, dreaming of how if you win you're gonna bang Paris Hilton if only the big bad governemnt doesn't tax you so much that you can't afford her!  Then, you vote like you ARE a multibillionaire who somehow can't make due with 1/2 of billions... ohhhh no... if you don't have that carribean island, you'll just DIE!

Somehow, Dems have to get taxes back into rational thought mode.  Like anything else, it's a question of cost vs. value.  In a lot of areas, the gub'ment can return and excellent value for a modest cost.  Sometimes paying more taxes is actually a good deal.

Like schools, roads, and police.  Would you really like to either pay for those or not have access?  What about the military?  Should they only defend those sections of American that can afford it (putting aside that they only defend those American INTERESTS that can pay the politicos)?  Why not healthcare and higher education?  The net benefits would outweigh the costs for society as a whole and, I feel, for most individuals in society.

by teknofyl 2005-06-20 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats are stupid on taxes
YOu know what his biggest issue was... taxes!!  I mean... this dude wasn't paying taxes!  His net federal tax rate was something like -25% because of the earned income credit!!!  And here he was voting GOP because he thought taxes were somehow unfairly applied to him and his.

We have lots of those morons in California. The talk radio crowd is absolutely convinced that it is bad for corporations to pay taxes. Larry Elder's audience thinks corporate CEOs are incapable of committing fraud or being corrupt. I heard a substitute guest host on Elder's show try to convince his audience that guilty as sin Rite-Aid execs should be thrown in the clink. He couldn't believe it when Elder's audience called in and disagreed with him.

Hopefully the Dems can capitalize on the Porkinator's jihad against teachers and cops and firefighters. A large percentage of educated Californians understand the simple proposition that roads and schools cost money. It's the ignorant red county folks that we have to work on. The ones that vote for Rohrabacher, Bill Thomas and Duke Cunningham. For some gawdawful reason, they like crooked politicians who take their taxes and give it to filthy rich corporations.

How can anybody believe that the $8 billion in welfare to energy companies in Bush's energy bill is anything except payola? Why is that confusing?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats are stupid on taxes
"A large percentage of educated Californians understand the simple proposition that roads and schools cost money."


The problem is the state doesn't have any money.

Of course, the proposition system accounts for about 45% of the state deficit.

Maybe one day, this worthless system, which lets the governor and the legislature off the hook, will die its well-deserved death.  There is more lobbyist activity for propositions than in the legislature

by v2aggie2 2005-06-21 07:33PM | 0 recs
Get a morals agenda
The central problem in the South is that the GOP has re-defined the class war away from economics and towards cultural values.  See What's the Matter with Kansas.

Culture has always been the defining issue in the South, and frankly I am dubious that we can solve this problem, but there are things we can do to minimize it.

For one thing, we can get a morals agenda.   It would begin by speaking at issues that are all around: divorce, single parents, the decline in behavior children in schools.

It would then seek to address the ills in the context of economics, not religion.  Why are families under more stress than 30 years ago? Because there is less job security.  Why are kids less well behaved in school?  Because their parents have time to spend with them at the very same time that they are being subjected to a pervasive materialism via television.

The key connection to make is the connection between materialist values and capitalism.  Once this is made, then the solution becomes the articulation of non-materialist values.

None of this means apologizing for, or changing a position on gay rights or abortion.  And that is what I think is missed in most of the discussion on the left about the morals issue.  The morals issue is primarily a cultural issue, not a political one.  People on both sides of the abortion issue talk about the morals issue.

That is the nuance that is being missed.  It is also the opportunity.

by fladem 2005-06-20 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Get a morals agenda
Well, I tend to talk about things this way.  And so to a lot of folks, including Jim Wallis.

A budget is a moral document.

by paperwight 2005-06-20 01:27PM | 0 recs
I've been posting about the need to compete in the South for a long time now... This is exactly the kind of traction we need to compete... I live in Georgia -- the governor may be in trouble... And if anybody can locate Roy Barnes, it's feasible that he could knock off Chambliss in '08...

...One thing we're up against is a very entrenched Right Wing talk radio culture though...Somehow, the Hannities and Bortz types have to be countered in the media down here... A lot of folks simply take everything they hear on the radio as the gospel...we've got to figure out a way to stimulate the thinking parts of their brains...or at least the part that enables a person to determine his/her own opinion...

A little while back, my neighbor assumingly asked me if I had read the latest Sean Hannity book, as if a new printing of the bible had been released or something...and it was my obligation to grab a copy...  I of course told him I thought Hannity was just a loud-mouth quarter-truth hurler...

On another occasion, a friend told me he heard on the "news" we were winning in Iraq... I asked where, so I could grab a copy of the story... And he said, "Sean Hannity said it"... these entertainers are very big in the south...


by HKingsley 2005-06-20 12:43PM | 0 recs
Impeach George
Straight Talk from the Heartland: Impeach George Bush!
by DailyDissenter 2005-06-20 02:05PM | 0 recs
Nearly as good
Kerry is chickenshit:

Walking a tightrope on a politically charged issue, Sen. John F. Kerry vowed weeks ago to raise the controversial "Downing Street Memo'' as an issue in Washington, but has since publicly held his tongue on the matter. Instead, Kerry has been enlisting other senators to sign onto a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee seeking answers about the memo, aides said.

Translation: John Kerry is too chickenshit, to step out on a limb for the American people, all by himself.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-20 03:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Nearly as good
Leave it up to Kerry to do something I can agree with Gary wholeheartedly on...............LOL.

I mean, damn, what's he holding back for? He's not running next time, and his Senate seat is safe...

Oh yeah, I forgot. Kerry and Bush are frat brothers. I hear they have a secret handshake and everything.

Too bad, I'm only half joking on that Skull and Bones thing. It disturbed me that members of the media used to ask both of them about their membership and both would flatly answer that they couldn't talk about it. ?!?

So much for your liberal media.

by Bruticus 2005-06-20 06:18PM | 0 recs
vs. Boatright? Who would win?
by Paul Goodman 2005-06-20 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry
I dunno, but Boatwright's got my vote.
by tgeraghty 2005-06-20 07:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Kerry
And Kerry got mine..
by smmsmm 2005-06-20 11:42PM | 0 recs
Bring it on! n/t
by Gary Boatwright 2005-06-21 05:48AM | 0 recs
Consolidate in southern cities and work outwards
If you look at the 2004 presidential election results by county, kerry killed in urban areas--north, east, west, south. The issue isn't red states vs. blue states or some geographic area vs some other area. It's all about town vs. country.  We should consolidate our support in large and moderatlely sized cities and work our way down to small towns. Concede no state and work every major town in america.
by schwompa 2005-06-20 04:17PM | 0 recs
Uh huh... good point.
by teknofyl 2005-06-20 05:01PM | 0 recs
Has anyone run the numbers
comapring democrat strength with gays and without?

Suppose every gay voter just stayed home or voted Green because the Democratic Party told them to "shove it": would democrats gain enough Reagan Democrats back to make up for that?

Can polls tease that out?

by Paul Goodman 2005-06-20 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Has anyone run the numbers
That would be despicable, imho.
by InigoMontoya 2005-06-20 07:56PM | 0 recs
FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Democrats are now willing to apologize for having done nothing wrong in order to cover their asses, vote against the party's best interest based on the rationale "they have to in order to win in their area", publicly stab a colleague in the back, AND according to Biden on his latest big mouth appearance on the Sunday shows, "not tell the truth because he can't BECAUSE he plans to run for President".  Democrats have somehow come to believe that wining is more important than principle and the end justifies the means.  This makes them Republicans; and as a country and a people, we have had enough of lying, greedy, unprincipled politicians and their practices.  We need leaders with courage and values who would rather lose on the merits of an argument then win by any means.   I ask again.  What good is having a D after someone's name IF they vote against us and speak against us because their career is more important than the job.  

Third Party will not work, which means we cannot take our country back if we do not take our Party back.  We need to put the Joe Biden's and Lieberman's on notice that they had better find an ounce of truth, courage, and integrity in HOW they do their jobs or they don't deserve the job.   IF Biden becomes the party's nominee, this life long Democrat promises to vote for his opponent and send his/her campaign $500  - even if it is Frist.  Biden is no better than any other whore out there, and I am done with them - regardless of their party.  We need a huge internal fight with the Democrats for the heart and soul of this Party.  If Biden exemplies the values of the Democratic Party, I want NOTHING to do with Republicans and Democrats.

by oakland 2005-06-21 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Do you still expect to win after all you wrote here? The winning is an essential reason for existence of any party - Democratic, Republican, Green, Communist - any. You really believe that you can win a majority on "pure progressive" platform? I don't - moderates (i mean people like myself) will simply refuse to vote for it. What will you do next???
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 04:59AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Hear, Hear.
  1. You have to be in the room to make a change.
  2. You have to get elected to be the room.
  3. You have to have at least 51% of the people to vote for you to get elected.

  4. 51% of the people will not vote for a extreme leftist platform in most places.

Undfortunately, 51%  of the people will vote for an extreme conservative because they usually are closet racists/homophobes/sexists, and  deep down inside most folks like blaming somebody else for all of thier problems....

Anyway, I digress. All of these progressive policies aren't worth  a damsn if we can't get our guys elected to put them in place. And we have to tailor our message to get elected.

This is politics.(or as Newt put it ,"War without Blood")
 Leave your heart at home.

by Bruticus 2005-06-21 06:47AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Undfortunately, 51%  of the people will vote for an extreme conservative because they usually are closet racists/homophobes/sexists, and  deep down inside most folks like blaming somebody else for all of thier problems....

What price the world if you lose your soul?  You and smmsmm seem hell-bent on saying "we have to win" and fair enough, but win on what grounds?  On just being a team with a different name?

by paperwight 2005-06-21 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Yeah, i am hell-bent on it. Because, without winning all your excellent dreams are worth nothing. So, i will do whatever it takes, to win. Not more, but not less. If, winning neccessary 218th vote in House would require to run an ultraconservative candidate somewhere in the South,who would vote with party on procedural issues only - i would gladly do it... Because pluses from being in majority and having control would, in my opinion, far outweigh "ideological purity". You can call me a cynic - i am, but i think i am closer to the truth. Politics is never made in white gloves...
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Well, at least we know where you stand -- you stand for nothing.  By contrast, I think that a party should stand for something, and that's a path to winning.  I note that the Republicans have managed to take power by standing for something (something vile and deceptive, but something).

And now you and I can proceed to ignore each other, because I don't think we have anything more to say to each other.

by paperwight 2005-06-21 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Oh for crying out loud!..... "I note that the Republicans have managed to take power by standing for something (something vile and deceptive, but something)."

Republicans have tilted the playing field! They are striving to get rid of the Democrats as a viable  party for the forseeable future. We do have the time or teh luxury to run these noble excercises in futility that you are suggesting.If we don't do something big in 06 and 08 then tis thing is going to be over. We must do what it takes to get elected, because we have to save this nation. Period.

We do stand for something. Something better I might add. But unless we change tactics we're not going to get a chance.

By the way when we were in power, we never tried to wipe them out, because Dems understand the meaning of the word opposition.

You want that ?

by Bruticus 2005-06-21 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
Well, i don't give a damn about ideology. Never was and newer will. I am fed up with ideological "purists" since my childhood days in Russia. Be it a marxism, liberalism, conservatism or any other "ism". I stand for power, control and ability to do something. If tomorrow i would be offered an exchange of 20 Tom DeLays on 20 Gene Taylors in the House - i would agree immediately. I don't care that Gene Taylor is, probably, the most conservative Democrat in the House - the only thing, which is of interest to me is, that people like him are electable in districts, where Nancy Pelosi couldn't even win a primary, and the fact that he still vote Democratic more often tthen any other person who could be elected in his district. Period.
by smmsmm 2005-06-21 11:13PM | 0 recs
Re: FIRST, we need to take our party back.....
BTW - i completely agree with your proposal to ignore each other. You can live without me, i can surely live without you...
by smmsmm 2005-06-22 02:50AM | 0 recs
Southern problem
I tend to agree that we need to consolidate urban areas and work outwards. Kerry did better than Clinton and Gore in some southern urban counties.
In 2004, Kerry lost 165 counties that Al Gore had carried. Kerry won 54 counties that Gore lost.
Of those counties we lost, 110 were in the south and the border states. We need to work as hard in the rural southern counties that Gore and Dukakis managed to won, but Kerry didn't.
It was great for us to pick off Fairfax County in Virginia, Charlote and Greensboro NC, Savannah Ga, Austin Tx, and come within an eyelash of carrying Dallas Tx.
There is no excuse for us running worse than Walter Mondale an any southern county.
by TOMC 2005-06-21 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Southern problem
We actually won the city of Dallas.
We barely lost Dallas County.

Good points...

by v2aggie2 2005-06-21 07:42PM | 0 recs
Competing in the South
I unequivocally agree that the Democrats must carve out their own niche in the South if Democrats want to win.  Remember 50% plus one of the vote is required to walk away a winner on Election Day and Democrats will continue to face disappointment if they do not do something in the South.

Even Edwards, a north Carolinian was not utilized to his full potential.  It almost seemed as if they were purposely keeping him out of the South and that was a critical mistake of the Kerry campaign.

I also believe that we need to use technology to get Southern Democrats out there to help candidates out whether it be by blogging, forwarding campaigning information and newsletters to their less democratic friends and acquantainces and get people interested in the Democratic Party again.

Maybe John Kerry should have spent more time printing campaign newsletters that encouraged Southern Democrats to get out there and rally for the party instead of simply asking for more campaign donations.

Not only do the candidates need to spend more time creating a braoder base in the South, their Web sites and other technological communication methods need to be enhanced to reach out to the supporters they already have who will in turn publicize the Party and the candidate.

by aedc 2005-06-21 01:08PM | 0 recs


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