As the Republicans' misfortunes are growing at a tremendous rate and the likelihood of at least some Democratic advance becomes possible, I think we Democrats need to stop and ask, "Do we really want to be in the lead right now?" The American public's confidence in government is at an all time low
. Also, according the same poll the Democrats' negative rating isn't exactly something to be excited about considering it is in the 60's. So again, why, if the country does not trust Congress and it isn't showing any real love for Democrats do we want to step up right now? Especially when we have no plan of action, no blueprint for how we are going to put the public on our side as well as restore the confidence in our legislative branch.
I think the hidden question I am really asking is why do we want to take control when we have NO PLAN for what control will look like. Isn't the risk of squandering our first real chance at leadership in over 10 years too great to take a back seat to an immediate short-term gain? Isn't it likely to be a very long-term loss if we fail or bungle it?
I believe that the Dems negative numbers are as high as they are because we are being lumped in with the Republicans for no reason other than we have not offered anything to make us look different. Example 1: When President Bush went on national television (after his disturbingly long absence from command) to lay out the Administration's plan for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast why was there no follow up by the Dems with a PLAN? No, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi standing in front of a podium saying Bush did not say enough, is not a plan. We offered good criticisms to be sure, but we failed, yet again, to distinguish ourselves from the Republicans. So when the Bush plan as well as the Democratic criticisms were reported the next day, and no Demacratic alternative plan was reported, the public was somewhat reasonable to assume that the Dems are as worthless in this country's hour of need as the Republicans had been because we, as is Bush, are still not offering any concrete suggestions or strategies for getting out of this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (we seem to be in disasters in Gulfs all around the world!). Conclusion: Bush's speech offered an opportunity for Dems to grab the spotlight because Bush did not really offer anything of substance. The Dems could have shone by offering to America a road map for the Katrina response including ways to pay for the plan. This country is so desperately looking for a response from the government because it failed to respond when it should have the first time. Unfortunately, Dems FAILED TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE. Example 2: The current state of the Iraq war. There is no doubt that Americans are starting to pull the wool from over their eyes and are becoming increasingly critical of what they see. Here again the Democratic Party has been unable to craft a solid plan for where to go next in Iraq. Given the complexities of our military position I concede that a singular vision may not be possible but certainly we could be capable of creating two or three solid strategies that are fully outlined, detailed, and budgeted. Should we be successful in creating such plans then we can present to the American public a reason for them to see that there is a lot more than a dime's worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties.
I am afraid that if we jump in now and are successful in taking over the House, Senate, or both without a solid plan we are in a precarious position to fall quite hard should we not make any noticeable changes (at least noticeable from the public's perspective). I am willing to guarantee now that the consequence of that fall would be a drought in leadership significantly longer than 10 years. The public swept us out in 1994 because we had abused our position and failed to innovate for nearly 40 years, any return to leadership now would be on tenuous grounds and would require that we build trust and do so swiftly. Trust cannot be built without a foundation and I suggest that that foundation be a thorough, thoughtful, detailed agenda put out and followed by every single Democrat running for federal office. Without such a plan I am left asking, "Do we want this mess?"