Every five diaries, or front page post, for that matter, is a dissection of "I-know-where-the-party-went-wrong-and-this-is-how-to-fix-it." Or, perhaps this is being too fair, as most of them never reach the fixing it part. While I have my own opinion of who to blame for 2004, or 2002, or 2000, or 1994, etc. I can't really say that I share the sorta doom mentality affecting much of our party. There are things Democrats do right and well. There are things to be optimistic over. And there are things Republicans do wrong.
And shame on you for forgetting it.
So I thought I'd help the people out by including what, IMHO, our assets are, pointing out the fractures that are equally distressing to the Republican party that nobody talks about because they aren't such negative Nancys, what's not broken, and what is looking up.
I'm going to do it in three parts, the first starting with our assets, the second with Republicans weaknesses, and the third one covering MESSAGE issues. Of course they are bound to overlap, but this is my general format.
In sum, I declare the glass half-full today.
So, let us commence with our ASSETS
After this, there are many more people and leaders I feel worthy of note that will be summed up within the definition of other assets. I also will not include candidates for the 2008 nomination if I can help it, as obviously, my stated above point of already being in love will color my judgement of any of them. But there will be a mention of 2008, don't worry.
- Howard Dean: I was never really on board with the Deaniac thing. I flirted with the campaign, but frankly, I flirted with a lot of campaigns in 2004. I was a straight-up campaign whore who never fell in love in the primaries. So sad. (Don't worry, to make up for it I'm already in love with Mark Warner for 2008). But a lot of what Dean said did sorta stir a fire in the belly of every partisan when he said it. This is what makes him a great DNC chair. He ought watch his mouth more than he does, not because I'm eating my own, but because that is sooo not his job as DNC chair, and why let a half hour of well-said talking points on MTP get clouded by one dumb ass remark. He's red meat for the base, and has excellent things to say in regard to party organization. Plus, he's not corrupt, which is actually more of an asset than people give it credit for.
- Harry Reid: I heart Harry Reid. I think his leadership in the Senate is one of the main reasons there was such a quick turnaround from the post-election depression. He keeps his guys in line. The final defense is, well, defending. Now, some of what he's done is the result of Daschle's reign, and it's not fair to take his credit away. And for full disclosure I'll mention that I have never really forgiven Daschle for Democratic post-9/11 response (2002). Neither have I forgiven Gephardt. But I'm still willing to stick by my belief that other than the loss of a seat, the forced change in leadership was a blessing in disguise and we are better off with Reid. I've always liked Reid, ever since the Jeffords switch, which he was given primary credit for. I think Republicans screwed up. In their anger to slit Daschle's throat, they got a leader less likely to compromise who sounds stronger in sound bytes. Too bad he won't challenge Ensign.
- Nancy Pelosi: I'll keep this one short, because the reasons are similar to Reid's. Pelosi is a much better minority leader than Gephardt was. Gephardt never really got that we were the minority party. Pelosi is a strong-arm, something which I approve of, even though it causes a lot of grumbles around the Hill. I understand the grumbles, and she's hard to entirely judge because being minority leader is such a pathetic position to be in. It's impossible to be successful at anything. So it's hard to judge what a good or bad leader looks like. I could change my mind on her, but I have support for Pelosi through 2006. Depending on those returns we will see if she retains my confidence.
The Support Team:
- George Soros and The Pheonix Group: I know, I know. ACT didn't work out so well. Preachin' to the choir, people. But there are some things they did do well (see also field organization). But Soros hasn't abandoned Democrats. He's just started thinking long-term, which, IMHO, is where our big check writers should've been all along. The million dollars should also be for long-term investment, and the smaller checks should underwrite your ongoing, regular expenses (campaigns). That's how a foundation works. A small percent of the general fund is all you leave for immediate investment which the rest is set aside to continue the health of the foundation in perpetuity. Now, these guys have been real sneaky and on the down-low about their plans. They aren't seeking press, and their address is not even listed (although if you're interested it's on Wilson Blvd in Arlington). But all the snippets and leaks are highly exciting. These are the Federalist Society of the Left's bank roll. This is the beginning of the noise machine and training camps. Some of them might not survive to see their ideas bear fruit, but they're still investing, which I think is so-damn-cool. Before 2004, there was not the motivation to bank roll this kind of endeavor. The party was so concerned about election to election it never looked to the future. Well, corrective remedy in progress. Spread the good news. Or actually don't, this kinda stuff works better on the DL.
- Field Program: Democrats have always kicked Republicans ass on the field. Why do you think, having been out-gunned money wise the past thirty years, we've only been out of power for 12, and managed to keep it as close as we have? (See below) In the same way that Republicans have been doing direct mail and small donor bases for years and Democrats are just doing it since soft money was taken away by BCRA (McCain-Feingold), Republicans are just starting to copy a field plan that Democrats have had on the ground for the past twenty years. Rove's vaunted 72-hour plan? We've had one of those for like ever. So yesterday. Secondly, the Republican field strategy is entirely based on rural districts that will only show in high-profile elections. This is too our benefit, although it cost us in 2004. What it means is that the off-years are ripe for the picking, and we don't have to pander to particular base like they do. We can get out the vote without relying on gay marriage ballot measures.
- Field Organization: I thought ACT was a stupid way to spend your money. You shouldn't have to fly volunteers out to canvass Cleveland. There are enough Democrats in Cleveland to canvass Cleveland. And ACT didn't target swing and rural districts. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. But they did use these awesome palm pilots which is a field organizors best friend. Plus they established canvassing software in a bunch of districts that didn't have them before. Kudos. And a lot of what they did effectively can be utilized by other campaigns. Republicans didn't really have an independently funded grassroots test vehicle like this, and they won't develop one because they won. I am fundamentally of the opinion that, despite them winning, the model they won on is flawed. They got a fluke because the election was so high-stakes. But it's not a sustainable model. You can't rely on a fever-pitch happening all the time. The people get burned out. In which case, it's super nice that we've added a lot to our grassroots programs.
- Development Software: The campaign committees finally have access to Mozilla. About god-damned time. And NGP is working along side Democratic GAIN, etc, to centralize state party and individual campaign software. Eventually, we'll all be on the same page software wise and you'll be able to move from state to state, campaign to campaign, without learning a whole new set of software. And our state databases will be able to interact.
- The 50 State Strategy: This is a great idea, both mid-term and short. And I think the problems I forsee long-term are fairly easily avoided. Namely, the DNC does not have to pay anyone to work with the New York Democratic Party, so it's needly bureaucracy there. That negative, which the solution is simple enough to, is clearly outweighed by the benefits of having a functional Wyoming Democratic party. Buy your Democracy bond. It'll make you feel better. I swear.
- The Class of 2006/2008: Have you seen our recruiting numbers? If you haven't, and you're in a bad mood still. Check them out, because they will tell you that qualified Democrats are jumping into the races, while Republicans are waiting to see what happens next. You know what? Our field sucked in 2004 and in 2002, because in both 2001 and 2003, challenging Republicans seemed like a dumb thing to do. So good challengers stayed home. Paul Hackett? Tip of the good candidate iceberg. He wasn't even considered a good candidate. I thought our presidential field sucked in 2004. However, among the hopefuls for 2008, I can think of 4 at the top of my head I would be more satisfied with than the 2004 field combined. Republicans, however, can't be too excited about their choices. They've got McCain, true. And he would be a formidable candidate....except if you glance up at field strategy and realize that Republicans are relying on fever-pitch from the social conservatives, then you will realize why McCain has serious problems as a Republican nominee. That's what you get when you pander. The rest of the field. Really? Allen is the best you can do? He's my senator and I'm just surprised that that's all they've got. I mean, he's a light-weight.....it's a lousy field, and they know it. Nobody has a hero. There's no religious right darling. No business darling. And moderates and independents have been chased out of the party.
- Yes, it still is reasonably close. We didn't really lose that many seats that it wasn't predictable we'd lose. We lost Southern Senate seats due to retirement. Well, we lost the South in the 60s, and the folk retiring were a lot of hold-overs from that day. I'm not going to pretend that Castor wasn't a bitter pill to swallow, or that I didn't think Knowles could pull it off. But, frankly, we were in a bad spot with the seats open in 2004. Plus, in the House, we pretty much broke even except for the Texas Redistricting. Well, they cheated in Texas, and I still think that scheme is going to bite them in the ass. I still just hope it's Delay whose own hijinx could be his kiss of death. If only for the irony, people. If only for the irony. Anyway, we can overtake it in two cycles, if we get the Big Mo and play it right. Furthermore, both Gore and Kerry's elections were close as close can be. Bush likes to claim that because he eked out two narrow victories he has a mandate, but let's remember that a stadium full of people, in either election, would've been enough to sway the results. One stadium full.
I'll close on this thought, which will be covered fully in Part III. We're right on most of the issues. Sometimes, it takes awhile to see that, but eventually, the fact that we're trusted more on Social Security, Health Care, Education, and were right about Iraq is going to mean something.
Discuss. Chew me out. Think happpy, positive thoughts.