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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Sunday, January 22, 2006

democrats 2006

Here are five strategy proposals for the Democratic Party in 2006:

1. The absolute first organizing principle for everything we do, bar none, is to take back the House of Representatives within the next two election cycles.

We may not be able to take back the House in 2006, but we should run with that goal as our clear intention. We should calibrate our campaigns, our message, our fundraising and our coordinated grass roots efforts with this as our first priority.

Now, of course, the Senate, the State Houses, and the Presidency are equally significant. I'm not saying they aren't. But the Democrats need to remember this essential nugget and its corollary: a majority party seeks to win a majority in the House of Representatives, and a party that does not seek to win the House is, de facto, the LOSER in American politics.

In 2002 and 2004 we looked like a party that was just, you know, trying to avoid being locked out altogether, and what happened. We got locked out. The Democratic party may not succeed in taking back the House in 2006, but we damn well should look as if we are intent on trying. The candidates we run may not all win this time around; but they damn well be good candidates who might win next time.

Like I said, everything flows from this effort, including our efforts to win majorities in the Senate, Governorships and State Houses. Our 2008 Presidential campaign should flow out of our goal of taking back the House. Not the other way around.

2. We already have our message, we just need to be fifty times more clear in delivering it.

We will fix Health Care.
We will fix Education.
We will fix the Budget Mess.
We will Clean up Corruption and enact real campaign finance reform.
We will make government work for you.

Enough of the distractions and bullshit and divisiveness. The only reason we want a majority so we can do things. We aren't about being "not Republicans;" we are about enacting good legislation that makes American work better, period.

The Democratic Party needs to do something big, and soon, to make clear to the country that this effort, more than anything else, is why we want their votes. Not negativity. POSITIVITY. There is so much to do. We need votes to help us do it. To make America better.

3. We need to unilaterally end the broken cycle of divisiveness

This has to be a major part of our reform. We have to be the reform we intend to make. The only way to really convince people that the Democratic Party has turned over a new leaf and means business is to show them.

That means that we take some responsiblity for saying: the time for Swift Boating is over. We simply won't do it or talk about it. To speak in the vernacular, homey don't play that game. Our job is simple: to provide a clear alternative to the GOP in positive terms that everyone can understand.

So, enough of the BS. The Democratic Party will happily provide clear alternatives to the GOP, and when it's possible we will bend over backwards to work in a bipartisan fashion.

We need to make clear to the American public that if they give us a majority in Washington that the long national nightmare of partisan gridlock and posturing will be over. We will end it ourselves. Our job is to provide clear, simple, straighforward Democratic policies and solid Democratic candidates. If you like them and want to see the change we'll make, vote for us. It's that simple.

4. We have an answer to the war and foreign policy: it's called working together

2006 is not going to be about playing politics with the war. We Democrats know that the only solution to the global challenges this country faces is to work together.

So when the GOP plays politics with terrorism and America's safety, we don't answer by pointing fingers. We say, simply and clearly, that we Democrats are eager to work to solve the global challenges this country faces, including the war in Iraq, and we will work with everyone in a bipartisan fashion to make that happen.

We shouldn't play politics with foreign policy. The American people don't want that.

Yes, the Democrats and especially our vibrant liberal base have a different vision about foreign policy than the GOP. Truth is, in America having a different point of view is a strength not a weakness. Yet even the hard core liberal base of the Democratic Party knows that we have to work together to make change. We will work with anyone and everyone to solve the situation in Iraq. That's part of our basic philosophy.

How can we be for strong alliances and mulitlateralism if we aren't willing to work side by side in our own country to solve the challenges this nation faces?

In 2006 the Democratic Party needs to say: the era of bashing and posturing on foreign policy is over. If you elect us, the very first thing we will do is sit down with the GOP and, in bipartisan fashion, get's this country back on track again at home and abroad.

There is no time to lose.

5. To every Presidential contender in 2008 we need to send this message: help us in 2006

If you want to lead this party and this nation into the future in 2008, you need to get your ass out there and help us in the struggle to win Democratic majorities in Washington and in every state in 2006.

The 2008 primary should be a "no-brainer". Whoever steps up and helps us win in 2006 should be the nominee. Whoever's message and party leadership galvanizes our base in 2006....should step forward and help us take the next step in 2008.

Whether it's Hillary, or Obama, or Edwards, or Kerry or Warner or even one of those "guys who's not running": Vice Presdent Al Gore or Howard Dean: it's what you do in 2006 that should determine how your candidacy is measured in 2008. That, at the end of the day, will be the mark of whoever is worthy of leading our party forward.

Personally, I would love to see three years of Democratic unity. I would love to see three years in which we finally articulate how excited we are about all the postiive ways we want to move this country forward.

We need to send a clear message to the nation. The BS and partisan bickering ends now.

We are Democrats; we are the change you're looking for.


  • Can't go there. Unless Dems are prepared to say what they will do about foreign policy, it just doesn't cut it.

    I think that ought to mean the US will renounce pre-emptive beligerence and use our considerable power to enhance international cooperation and strenghthen international law.

    Gore currently seems to have the guts for that -- none of the rest of them seem to. Different Dems will have different foreign policy prescriptions -- but they have to have some prescription, not try to duck.

    Saying "we will talk with everyone" isn't good enough.Voters will never hear it; it is like saying "blah, blah, blah." And it is unprincipled. Foreign policy needs a moral stance more sophisticated than might makes right and it is up to Dems to propound it.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 9:03 PM  

  • There's a difference, but not necessarily a conflict, between being a progressive and fighting for our values and ideas...and winning elections.

    That's a distinction that not a lot of people make. But we should. It would be wise.

    Are you saying that you'd rather fight the "pure fight" and let the country be GOP?

    I'm not. That's why I both work to get Democrats elected and push for progressive ideas.

    I think progressive ideas are best. I think they deserve a hearing. I think that we can work inside and outside the Democratic party, and that we shouldn't be "above" that.

    I'm also realistic. We aren't even 20% of the country. We share the country with a bunch of people who are citizens too. It's a democracy.

    If our politics means that we just "can't touch" a discussion that would have Colin Powell and John McCain at the table, then we are going to end up with Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby at the table and Powell and McCain on the sidelines.

    I think the "lesser of two evils" mindset is a huge simplistic trap that the left has let get into their head and color everything. Personally, I think it comes from a mindset of wanting to feel "pure". Nobody's pure.

    I would really like, in my lifetime, to see the progressive movement become more pragmatic and savvy.

    It's not about purity. It's about the long haul. One can work to win elections and be principled...with a little "room" for pragmatism.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 11:40 PM  

  • I understand you. And even agree with you a lot. After all, I've devoted a lot of my life to electing Democrats, some good and quite a few quite useless. I can be frighteningly pragmatic. And I expect to continue to be.

    But we have to demand seriousness when it comes to making war. The country is off the deep end, so intoxicated by its power that it can't even figure out that it is currently losing several wars -- and killing an awful lot of innocent people who happened to be in the way.

    This won't get discussed at all by staying with a business as usual approach. The country is more off the rails that at any time since about 1967 and really in trouble. The system needs to be jarred, not massaged into working better. It has been before in my lifetime and though it doesn't look like it at the moment, I think it will be again.

    Meanwhile, we of course work to elect as many Dems as possible and push the hell out of them.

    But we don't accept their weasely garbage as good enough. It isn't.

    In practical terms, that means it is as important for Dems to primary Lieberman as to try to replace Pombo, for example. And it may mean bolting from a Presidential nominee if we get one who is pro-war, at least for me. Congresscritters seldom have very fixed convictions, so I can work on ones who I disagree with -- if made to, they'll bend. But with things as bad as they are, I won't be able to work for a triangulating Presidential nominee.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 12:43 AM  

  • Would the McCain torture bill count as triangulation?

    I'm for it.

    When I asked:

    How can we be for strong alliances and mulitlateralism if we aren't willing to work side by side in our own country to solve the challenges this nation faces?

    It was a serious question for the left.

    Philosophically, I want to work with one eye on "local/national" and one eye "global".. I want our ideas to win because they win people over, because they work for people.

    That includes peacemaking, and rules for conduct that follow human rights.

    I find being accused of "triangulating" here just a total bummer, but I'll say this:

    If working in good faith to make change with whatever allies I can muster is triangulation, then fine, I'm for "triangulation."

    But this post is about taking back the House and coming together as a party by finding new allies.

    That is not the "Clinton strategy". It just isn't.

    To be honest I think the response on dailykos as well embodied this real fear that "letting go of divisiveness" means not fighting, means giving in, means sellling out.

    Not for me. It doesn't mean not fighting. I never said that.

    It does mean letting go of "divisiveness" and pure stand points and saying let's get real and work together.

    That is, at the end of the day, a progressive way of doing things. It's democratic.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 6:41 AM  

  • k/o -- I feel bad that I've contributed to sending you a bummer here. I trust that you are working to find a place to stand from which to push for the good of our country. So I engaged heavily. I didn't read the thread on dKos -- that place has gotten so big I can't usually manage to work my way through things.

    I'm with you on the McCain torture bill -- Democrats do have to push on those things. And, despite being consistantly distracted by Republican posing, Democrats do have to practice seizing the high ground by framing proposals as for the good of an ideal of our country. Keeping that high ground does mean being willing to dialogue with people of reasonably good will.

    But Dems have to mean that they care about more than political advantage. Those of us who don't like the direction of our country are stuck in the terrible position of being horrified by the people in power -- and being unable to trust, on past behavior, their logical competitors. That's my inside-outside position.

    Too many Dems are really not that different in their approach to the international equity issues on which I currently putting my emphasis.

    Oh for a time when I could go back to bashing them on things like welfare policy and health care ...

    Anyway -- just want to say, I trust that you are trying in the best of faith to help us all find a way forward.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 7:30 AM  

  • Hey!

    I've been talking with experts and reviewing Alito's record for the past several weeks.

    Are you aware that in the next few days, Senators are deciding whether to send this guy to the Supreme Court, or filibuster.

    He is NOT just a garden variety conservative. He is another Bush ideolog, who supports elevating the president above the other two branches, thus basically thwarting the Constitution.

    If you think we've seen an "abusive father" in the GOP so far, you ain't seen nothin' once Alito gets on the court. Bush thinks he can torture, spy on Americans, etc. with impunity -- he'll be right with Alito as a justice.

    Alito is 55 years old -- that means his life expectancy is 28 more years -- or, 7 consecutive presidential terms.

    Are ya gonna do SOMETHING?

    800 426-8073 -- ask for your Senators

    Don't believe the lullaby being played by certain people to put the public to sleep -- Alito is NOT a "done deal." Lots of activity behind the scenes.

    It¹s time to call your Senators and tell them they will represent YOU by filibustering Alito.

    Want to know more about this guy's views?

    "Ninety-one percent of Alito's dissents take positions more conservative than his colleagues...including colleagues appointed by Presidents Bush and Reagan.'" -- "The Case Against Alito," The Nation, editorial | posted January 5, 2006, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060123/editors

    See my compilation, which people are stunned by:

    Pokey Anderson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:32 AM  

  • KO & jan, take a look around at the polls. As of now GW is hovering around the mid 30's (Pew's latest had it at 38 - unmoved). Most I've read/seen have dems "preferred" @ around the mid 50's. Right now it's ours to lose, and I'm one of those who have advocated (rabidly) for positive solutions for a long time.

    You're both right. Where to from here?

    By Anonymous rba, at 12:35 PM  

  • I see much reliance on the McCain name, as some sort of bi partisan paliative.

    I suggest a careful reading of Nat Hentoff in the Villge Voice. As for Nat, I do wonder if he NOW grasps what support for the war was really all about. He supported the War and the route this nation would take, with but a few peeps from the sad Dems, was laid out.

    Pity that Levin, who does indeed know better, gave cover to McCain, Lindsay Graham and Kyl.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:24 PM  

  • Jan, thanks for the comments.

    I think this is totally fair:

    Those of us who don't like the direction of our country are stuck in the terrible position of being horrified by the people in power -- and being unable to trust, on past behavior, their logical competitors. That's my inside-outside position. .

    I also think we need to get beyond our doubts. Not because your observation doesn't ring true, but because it blinds us to the possiblities of new dynamics.

    In a nutshell, I DO think there are new ways of doing things on the horizon...and even though I appreciate you challenging me....I stick to that observation/hope.

    I'm sorry for disagreeing...I just feel frustrated that perhaps I haven't expressed myself clearly.

    I'll keep working on it.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 9:34 PM  

  • I heard Howard Dean discuss those 5 points last Tuesday morning in Kansas City. He said that as soon as a Democratic House and Senate takes office, they will pass healthcare legislation and put it on the President's desk for him to sign.
    And a afterwards I asked him about that.

    About how committed the currently elected Democrats are to getting Healthcare for everyone. And I made it clear I wasn't talking about just "children" or some small part of the population. Everyone is affected and limited by our current (busted) system.

    He said they are very committed. I asked if being millionairs made it difficult for them to understand the pressure we live under with things as they are.

    And he said that most Congressmen aren't millionaires and they are very aware of the problem. He got pulled away at that point so I couldn't pursue it. But, he seemed very convinced that something was going to be done.

    A local Congressman (Emanuel Cleaver) was there and I asked him the same question. He thought about it for a long moment and said that 90-95 percent of his fellow congressmen are "very committed".

    He was pulled away as I asked why it didn't happen the last time we had control.

    Kid Oakland, I really appreciate the articles you've written on this subject. It's very important to me and I love reading the way you lay the issues out.

    My (very new) blog, Eat 4 Today is about health care. Your blog was one of the first I added to my blogroll because of these articles (We're too small to make a difference, but I wanted to let you know)

    By Blogger katiebird, at 4:35 AM  

  • As usual, I find much to agree with in your post here k/o, but I think you're dreaming if you think you can remove the stench of Atwater/Rove from politics.

    We can lead by example, which we've done since FDR.

    But the evildoers in the GOP will always have a Joseph McCarthy, Swiftboaters and other such scum to churn the waters. And cheat the public.

    I am of the belief that we are in for another Civil War in this country. And that the partisan bickering has now reached a point of no return. And that it can all be blamed directly on the Republicans.

    But, that's just me. And my opinion.

    By Blogger Ratprick, at 12:32 AM  

  • WA WA WA! You Liberals Need To Grow Up!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 PM  

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