Friday, November 05, 2004

fallout notes...

So we're all thinking what about what went wrong or what needs to change. On Wednesday, I was afraid -- the kind of fear I last felt in the summer of 1992 when Patrick Buchanan addressed the Republican National Convention and talked about the need for a cultural war. Molly Ivins wrote that his speech sounded better in the original German.

Today, I am not so afraid. There is a blue sky outside, and life is too short to scamper in the shadows -- but fyi, most gay folk I know are feeling a little nervous. Because this is not a political blog and because I have always had an aversion to the earnest pontificating of, say, formal newspaper editorials, (something I produce from time to time when I get on my soapbox), I offer no sage advice. But politics is on my mind. Here's a brief summing up of what's on my mind concerning the future of the party and the country.

  • This year is not 1972, 1984, or 1988, years in which the map only showed two states in the Democratic victory column. In the second term election of an incumbent, they usually blow away the opposition. Not this year. It was a very close election, for the second presidential election in a row.
  • As Kevin Drum has pointed out, there are major states that the Republicans cannot win. As you look at red state-blue state by population, you see more how close the election was.
  • Democrats need to mount national campaigns and not put all our money and effort in the so-called swing states. Engage the country. Does that mean not prioritizing swing states? No. But don't pull out of all states that are not close. If we retreat to where we we are safe, then we will keep retreating. We must address national themes across the nation. Missouri, for example, used to be a bellweather state. We have abandoned Missouri pretty much, in terms of making our case there. If we are going to be a national party in the Congress, we have to find those places in red states that aren't so red. Abandoning Missouri or Texas or even some of the so-called Deep South States completely isolates Democratic candidates in those states.
  • Grass roots organizing works, but it must be maintained. And expanded to other states.
  • Politics ought to be more than anger. It ought to also include ideals, dreams, hopes.
  • Be more honest about what we support and believe in. This forces us to explain ourselves, not try to cover up or hide what might make ourselves or others uncomfortable. We cede too many so-called "third-rails", untouchable subjects.
  • Not just react -- this is the hardest thing for a minority or out-of-office party. But instead of trying to isolate various examples of bad decisions by the Rs over the next four years, we ought to have an idea about overall, arching goals and plans on how to move the country toward a better future. Our critique of their bad decisions should be contrasted to our overall plan for that future.
  • The president who in his last term chose not to be president of all the people now has a lot of very hungry wolves to feed over the next four years. They only eat red raw meat. Progressives and liberals and centrists will have possibilities to reclaim this country.
  • The president claims that he has enough political capital to make sweeping changes -- we have to remind him and the country that our concerns did not go away on Tuesday, that we are also Americans and that this country is bigger than he thinks it is.

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