Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

WHO'S THE ANTI-NEWT?....Liz Marlantes wonders aloud in The New Republic if 2006 could be a Democratic version of 1994, when Republicans won 54 seats in the House and and eight in the Senate and seized control of both houses:

In Democratic circles these days, there is much talk of 1994 with good reason. The president's approval ratings are bad, Congress's are even worse, and, most importantly, scandal is sweeping the nation's capital. The atmosphere is poisonous enough that some Democrats believe it could produce the kind of electoral storm last seen twelve years ago, when Republicans retook Congress by railing against corruption in Washington. Of course, the 2006 Democrats differ in many ways from the 1994 Republicans. One key difference may well be the lack of Newt Gingrich or, rather, a liberal version of him.

Marlantes may be right, but I doubt that she's really nailed the key factor. Yes, Gingrich was a pit bull, but the biggest thing he had going for him was simpler: he was on the tail end of a 30-year shift of white, mostly Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Pressure had been building along that particular tectonic plate for a long time, and in 1994 Gingrich was able to turn it into an electoral earthquake. Instead of gaining a few seats per election, he gained them all at a single time.

Without that underlying dynamic, the 1994 landslide would have been a fizzle, gaining a dozen seats, not 54. So while Democrats might very well need a Newt Gingrich of their own, what they really need if they want to win back control of Congress is a tectonic shift they can take advantage of and so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead. It'll be healthcare eventually, but in the meantime I'm stumped.

Kevin Drum 11:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (93)

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The problem is helping people to see that the horseshit they've been voting for when they vote for Republicans is either horseshit or fraud, and that the people they've been voting for really think it's pretty funny.

Posted by: cld on January 27, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

No pent up center-right frustration?

How about the K Street scandal?
Couple K Street with a balooning budget deficit.
Osama still out there.
Iraq fiasco.
Looming Medicare screw-up.
Outing of a CIA agent.
Spying on all of us?

Cut through it all and people look for leadership. Democrats need to prove they can be trusted as real leaders. Leaders fight for what they believe. They lead. Time for a fight.

Posted by: JC on January 27, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead. It'll be healthcare eventually, but in the meantime I'm stumped.

The reason you don't see it is the same as the reason they don't: You're not personally frustrated. Hearing about kids being killed by missiles doesn't bother you. In fact, you see rays of sunshine when it happens. Knowing that the president is at the helm of an illegal and corrupt regime doesn't cause you to call for his impeachment. In fact, you tick off reasons for why it shouldn't happen. The reason you don't see it from your little perch in the "center" is because the center has moved very far to the right. And, in fact, you're content with that also. You're stumped all right--stumped for a purpose for all the words you toss out, ostensibly in support of liberal values.


Posted by: jayarbee on January 27, 2006 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead"

I'm seeing a lot of pent-up frustration but both political parties are trying to occupy the center-right position. In such a situation, where neither party is offering any center-left solutions to national problems, voters are probably going to stick with the Republicans. As limp as the Democratic party has become, I'm not sure voters are to turn to them even when center-left solutions are screaming to be implemented. It's like being offered a choice between orange juice and grapefruit juice when you're really thirsty for a beer - neither really fills the need.

Posted by: Taobhan on January 27, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jayarbee: Feel free to vent, but I'm not the problem. The problem is that too much of the country doesn't agree with me or you. That's the problem.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on January 28, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

There's no reason tectonic shifts can't overlap, but I do see your point.

I keep waiting for "traditional" American libertarian-leaning conservatives to wake up and figure out they've been backing the wrong horse (see Digby's "Western Strategy").

Posted by: Sifu Tweety on January 28, 2006 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin may or may not ultimately be right, but I would be nervous right now if an overwhelming Dem victory looked like a slam dunk. This country has an incredibly short attention span politically, and an overwhelming feeling of victory today likely could not be sustained.

I would rather see the Dems gather some cohesive steam, and start slugging it out later in the year. That way, our national Attention Deficit Disorder electorate can be expected to remember the who, what and why of the choices.

Yeah, that doesn't say much for the electorate, but then again, look who is in office.

Posted by: jcricket on January 28, 2006 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

I notice that the Left will seize on almost anything to explain the 1994 victories other than the obvious fact that the Republicans put forward a simple, straightforward set of policies that resonated with a lot of people. I think every item in the Contract With America except one got out of the House in one piece, to be more or less eviscerated in the Senate.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 28, 2006 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

When we could have used a Newt Gingrich was two or four years ago, recruiting candidates, making sure no compromised Republican went unopposed, etc. Gingrich's most important work was done in the previous cycles, 90 and 92, setting the stage for 94.

Posted by: Mark Schmitt on January 28, 2006 at 12:25 AM | PERMALINK

I notice that the Left will seize on almost anything to explain the 1994 victories other than the obvious fact that the Republicans put forward a simple, straightforward set of policies that resonated with a lot of people.

The two most important being the need to ban the murder of the unborn and the need to stop the spread of the radical homosexual agenda. Until libs realize they must reject their extremist views on these issues, the American people will continue to hate them and vote against them.

Posted by: Al on January 28, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum, you claim the result of the 1994 House election was due to the defection of Southern whites. However wikipedia has a list of the 34 defeated incumbents (all Democrats) and by my count only 8 were from the South. For example Speaker Foley and four other Democrats were defeated in Washington state.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on January 28, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum, there is a lot of pent up frustration among Republican voters about illegal immigration. An America first program opposing illegal immigration, costly foreign adventures and corrupt special interest giveaways might capture some of them.

Posted by: James B. Shearer on January 28, 2006 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

No tbrosz, those policies were no more significant than Bush's policies in 2000, or 2004. It was all about the marketing. Asked to state what the Contract on America held, 9 out of 10 Americans would have been hard pressed on election day 1994 to name 3. For those who voted Republican, 99 out of 100.

By the way, I got my facts from the same place you did - thin air. The difference is, in the real world it is pretty obvious that policy debates haven't been the deciding factor since about the time Lincoln was President.

Posted by: heavy on January 28, 2006 at 12:37 AM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Feel free to vent, but I'm not the problem. The problem is that too much of the country doesn't agree with me or you.

How could you be so naive? The problem is they do agree with you. At least insofar as, like you, they were indoctrinated into a system which, unlike our constitution, must be taken on faith and worshipped as holy writ superceding all else: CAPITALISM. Survival instinct, rather than being placed in a perspective that subjugates it to reason is nurtured and drilled until self-centered greed becomes the highest standard of success in life.

Yes, Kevin Drum, you are the problem. Just as contented selfishness-driven people have always been the problem. You prefer settling for the scraps of the powerful and to plot ways to join their cabal, rather than to courageously call for their expungement. Yes, you'll sit on the sidelines and take token swipes at your masters. But you'll stop short of decrying their motives as being black-hearted because you share them. Even as you believe your goal is the betterment of mankind, you fear that truly saving the world might mean a reduction in your own status. In other words, yeah, sure, millions of kids starve to death every year, but how would stopping that affect ME?


Posted by: jayarbee on January 28, 2006 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Katrina is the tectonic shift dude.

Posted by: reef the dog on January 28, 2006 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what the Democratic Party establishment needs to do, but I know what they have been doing doesn't work. That may not be a huge insight, but it definitely has implications for me personally. I really invested a lot of time, energy, and money into 2002 & 2004, and both times we lost. Worse still, Democratic pundits and leaders would talk about how we lost "on the ground." When Liberals would push them to be forceful in Washington (i.e. fillibuster Alito - etc), they would respond that "first we need to win some elections."

Now, I'm not saying we need to fillibuster Alito. I'm also not saying that we need to move to the left. But it would be great if I could turn on my television and see the Democratic Response (even a centrist response), and I mostly don't.

Personally, the Democrats aren't getting another cent or minute of my time until they change. I'm not going to tell them what exactly they need to do (I don't know), but I will tell them they need to stop doing the following three things:
1) First, failing to develop a real strategy of SOME SORT on foreign policy that isn't so idiotic that an emotionally immature 17 couldn't see through it;
2) Second, losing elections with horrible strategy determined by the Leaders in Washington; and
3) Third, acting like the entire reason they lost was the "ground game" run by their volunteers and the fact that they had to maintain some left-of-center base of which they constantly seem ashamed. I can vote for a Democrat who won't support my every issue, but I hate being treated like I'm the bastard step-son for being Liberal & Progressive. Every election cycle people start talking about "Sister Soul'jah (sp?)" moments and the needs for the Democrats to distance themselves from the Left, and then the Democrats decide to distance themselves not from a relatively obscure Leftist leader but instead from the left-most 35% of the Country.

Posted by: MDtoMN on January 28, 2006 at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK

The next techtonic shift will not restore the Democrats to power but rather will downgrade the federal government.

There are many reasons for this. Basically, the Democrats have failed to have credible policies since the breakdown of Keynesian economics. Reaganomics is now breaking down, to the detriment of Republicans - but it does not thereby follow that Kenyesianism will reassert itself. The nation state is growing outmoded because of vast social and economic forces. Globalizaton is at work.

One sign: the recent decision by China to diversify its investment portforlio to include non-US assets.

Other signs: the entire "Red State / Blue State" business evidences regional fragmentation. Latin American immigrants in Florida and the Southwest likewise create regional issues.

George Bush is apt to be one of the last significant American presidents; and the Alito nomination will turn out to be not such a big deal because the Supreme Court, itself, will not be such a big deal.

Posted by: Thinker on January 28, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

How about 100 dollar oil, economic recession, middle east chaos, bird flu, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, and an unbelievable corrupt and inept Republican party whose spent no time preparing and all of its time tearing down governmental infrastructure (military, scientific, social, etc.), bankrupting the federal government, and doing the bidding of corporate campaign donors.

I do my fucking best to set up your government for an incredible fall and you spend your time whining "I don't know where the tectonic shift could possibly come from."

Posted by: Satan on January 28, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Satan doesn't give a damn about homonyms.

Posted by: Satan on January 28, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin's basically correct that the '94 results were the final playing out of a very long-term process. The "Reagan Democrats" finally got around to voting Republican for their congressmen, and mostly have never looked back.

Not only that, there was an ideological basis laid for this shift in the preceding decades, with the right wing villification of government and taxation, and the establishment of a reliable network of rightwing radio talk, plus the emerging rightward slant of the traditional mainstream "liberal" media (which credulously repeated nastiness about Clinton, such as the mythical airport haircut story, or the pseudoscandal of Whitewater).

As bad as Bush is, and as unpopular as he is, there's been not anywhere near enough of the basic groundwork laid that would be needed for a real leftward shift in voting patterns. People dislike Bush, but still retain the disdain for Democrats that has been planted by years of Rush and of Fox News. And the dreaded "liberal" MSM does all it can to blunt news that makes the GOP look bad, creating specious notions of parallel Democratic guilt (as is happening in Abramoff), or just failing to report the obvious (as in the NSA wiretapping scandal).

To create a genuine tectonic shift would require a widespread economic collapse, a la the Great Depression, or perhaps a collapse and defeat of the U.S. Army in Iraq. (Sadly, either is possible, if not entirely likely.) Bush's current, less obviously catastrophic failures will chip away at the GOP position and thus help the Dems, but it won't be tectonic.

Oh, the Contract with America was a post hoc marketing device. It had little to do with the election results.

Posted by: jimBOB on January 28, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

For all the talk of the 30 year reign of the Democratic Congress and the Contract On, er For America and term limits, the simple fact is the passage of the Brady Bill brought the NRA back to life - I do not own guns and I supported the bill - However, this is what energized the Gun Lobby in the land. The NRA was able to regroup, the Second Amendment of Allan Gottlieb in Bellevue, WA raised a ton of cash and went after Foley with a vengeance - Gottlieb is still a force today along with the NRA. Never underestimate the mindset of the gun lobby. Write them off at your peril.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 28, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Feel free to vent, but I'm not the problem. The problem is that too much of the country doesn't agree with me or you. That's the problem.
Posted by: Kevin Drum

you're right ... you're a reasonably educated guy who still isn't paying enough attention to be angry or effective.

... the misinformed apathy of those more ignorant than you is the problem. This voting bloc literally needs to see their kids coming home in body bags, or their income being whittled away by inadequate insurance, and their jobs being outsourced so that they end up at walmart.

this vaunted swing voter bloc is too selfish to change until they bleed. under this administration, they will. they just need to hemorrhage enough to want a change.

alternatively, we can invest in education, make our populace smarter than their current chimpanzee status, and they will naturally vote progressively.

Posted by: Nads on January 28, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

What would happen if Democrats ran on a program targeting the need for government infrastructure to provide for the flourishing of small businesses in America ? Run solicitations for input online. You want a revolutionary program to get people engaged : try participatory democracy.

Posted by: opit on January 28, 2006 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not convinced that the Democrats, as a party, have the cujones to pull it off.

There are individual dems, who have cujones. Then there are a few more, who are opportunists, and are speaking out because all the scandals have weakened the repugs, but most democratic politicians, and the DNC (with it's impotent chair - Dean) are not doing jack squat to speak out. Most of them screwed themselves by bending over for Bush, and being "reasonable".

My message to the very large contingent that represents the leg-spreader wing of the Democratic party: Why should I vote for you if you won't fight?

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 28, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

To create a genuine tectonic shift would require a widespread economic collapse, . . .
Posted by: jimBOB on January 28, 2006 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's depressing, but I totally agree with this. I've felt this way for a few years now, but really, after 11/04, I'm convinced that they're too deeply entrenched in the for-profit-media now, that there's no way to uproot them. The free market has spoken, and as Aaron Brown said, television is the ultimate democracy. We've got unconstitutional mob rule now, in all four branches of government. The people don't have the power to push for change, the media won't inform them truthfully on the issues. Only an economic collapse severe enough to hurt the big Abramoff-class donors is going to change anything.

The frog can't jump out of the pot, they know the frog can't jump out of the pot, they know they can certainly turn up the heat full blast and boil the fucker, but they're still taking their time.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on January 28, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Medicare Part D, Kevin. Old people vote in midterm elections.

There's a reason the head of the DCCC got to write the Dems' bill on this.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on January 28, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

I think Newt & co. were assisted enormously by Rush Limbaugh and right-wing radio. That factor would tend to amplify swings to the right and reduce swings to the left, as media concentration increasingly favors the right.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on January 28, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

First off, I am sick to death of Dems calling Dems losers. Stop it and stop it now.

Second, cut Repub throats with illegal immigration. Get a plan and work it. Here's the big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters . Map it and tap it.

Third, get fucking bold and stay on message.

When asked about contentious issues like gay marriage, say it's for the states to decide. No more and no less. Don't allow anyone, media or wingnut, to draw Dems into hypotheticals. The answer is it's for states to decide.

Fourth, stop being nice to the opposition. No more patty-cake. Hardball and brass knuckles. Newt was a supremo whiner if not downright vicious sniveling snit. Figure out how to take a stand without sounding whiny.

"Republican" always needs an adjective: corrupt, incompetent, out of touch, greedy, borrow and spend, Katrina, etc. Quit being nice.

Fifth, get tough with the MSM. Get in their face. Digby describes how the Right has done it: "The right has mau-maued the press by going aggressively in their face with everything they've got every time they write a word that can cause them trouble. And back in the day, they carefully fed the press the kind of tabloid scandal stories that made good copy and caused ratings to rise. They work this stuff from all angles."

I want to make more Deborah Howels bawl their eyes out. Boo-hoo. Fuck you. We need to organize bloggers to swamp media when they spread around specious wingnut propaganda. For example, Abramoff gave money to the Dems. Why aren't Dems filing lawsuits for this slander? At the very least, Dem attorneys need to threaten litigation if retractions aren't offered. How dare Dems let the MSM malign them like their fodder for tabloid headlines. Don't let them get away with this shit. Look at the MSM revenue streams. Wingnuts are constantly threatening if not actually boycotting media properties.

Sixth, encourage local liberal bloggers and support them in their local markets. The Burnt Orange Report stands out in my mind in Texas. Who has Ohio? Florida? Etc.?

Seventh, more liberal radio.

Eighth, for chrissakes, bring forth Christian liberals to counter RR froth. Get a Christians for Liberals speakers bureau together and let them do the heavy-lifting on wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion.

Ninth, the future is the universal theme for everything -- Medicare, SS, jobs, wages, environment, education, foreign policy, etc. Want a bright future? Vote Dem. Want to go backwards? Keep voting Repub. Uncertainty about the future should be inexorably tied to Repub; secure future tied to Dem.

Tenth, the minute a Repub adopts a Dem idea, make a stink and spread the news. See Kerry and Iran. See Kerry and the GWOT.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 28, 2006 at 4:13 AM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13:

I like the way yer tawkin' ....

But Kevin's right; we *do* need a standard-bearer.

Who would people nominate for Newt of the left?

I'm still stickin' with that feisty little doctor from Vermont.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 5:27 AM | PERMALINK

All of the current scandals have a common thread that reflects a deep Republican failure--competence or more precisely incompetence.

Katrina, Iraq, the WOT, Medicare D, the ballooning deficit, bankruptcy reform, and even the corruption scandals are all examples of the incompetence of the Republican leadership.

Scandals, what does corruption have to do with competence, you might argue? A competent leadership would have demanded high ethical standards out of its membership and would have been willing to preemptively sacrifice bad actors instead of covering up. Palosi's tacit agreement to effectively shut down the functioning of the house ethics committee looks smart in retrospect. The scandals now in front of the justice department are much, much bigger than they needed to be had they been nipped in the bud. Heckofajob Denny, thanks.

Right now people want to believe that Democrats can restore competence to their government. That is the underlying theme that Democrats need to adopt.

So far the Republicans have done a great job convincing folks they are incompetent. Now we need to remind them that Democrats are competent.

How do you do that? Policies,and programs help. Staying on message. Demanding competence from the administration. All of the current issues need to be addressed from the point of view of competence. Even the NSA story can be viewed from the point of view of competence. Had the administration been competent it would have been able to figure out how to conduct its spy program without violating the 4th amendment.

Get on the competence message and stay there.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 28, 2006 at 5:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bob,

Yes, we do need a standard bearer. Hell, we need a pack of standard bearers. I'm thinking about who the "Newt" should be. Damn, if I'm not also pissed to define a Dem leader via Newt, a Repub. I understand the comparison so I'm not knocking Kevin. But liberals need to differentiate ourselves by our own yardstick. Cranky, aren't I?

I like Dean and always have. Gave money to him. I've entertained a secret wish for Dean to break out and form a new party. He seems like a good "Newt" to me. Dean is feisty, an adjective that's also describes Newt.

I also like fiery Rev. Gore.

I'm still thinking on it.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 28, 2006 at 6:03 AM | PERMALINK

Ive read this entire comment list, and no one has mentioned the housing bubble. Folks, it is bursting as we speak. There is a good chance, though not certain, that many many people will lose their shirts (and houses) by the midterm elections. If you are looking for a tectonic shift in voter patterns, game plan for this one. What is the Dem plan to clean up the mess? More specifically, the mess has been caused by a toxic convergence of greed-is-good speculation and technological advances in debt assessment (e.g. Home equity loans). The details are complicated, but the political message better not be. The Republican are to blame. End of story.

See
http://thehousingbubble2.blogspot.com/

for some background. The comments can get histrionic, but there is no denying that the real estate market is poised at a historic moment. I hope that none of Kevin's readers have taken out a 100% I/O loan in the past year, expecting to resell soon.

Posted by: troglodyte on January 28, 2006 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

From Throz

I notice that the Left will seize on almost anything to explain the 1994 victories other than the obvious fact that the Republicans put forward a simple, straightforward set of policies that resonated with a lot of people.
I think Throz makes a decent point here. The Contract on America DID matter twelve years ago.

It's also too early to present its Democratic counterpart. You don't want to give the Wurlitzer too much time to react before the election.

Besides, the Republican Party is deconstructing before our eyes without any significant outside assistance. They can't seem to come to grips with their own internal contradictions and criminality. There is no reason to offer them a cohesive set of Democratic threats to coalesce around right now. Wait until after the primaries. Then the fun will really start.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2006 at 6:07 AM | PERMALINK

Reef the dog

Katrina is the tectonic shift dude.
Together with the attack on Social Security, followed by the Medicare Part D disaster which we are currently watching be played out. The election in November is going to coincide with a lot of seniors hitting the "doughnut hole" where they are expected to pay for insurance that doesn't cover anything.

Guess what. Seniors vote, and they talk to their kids.

The mere incompetence in implementing the Part D, bad as it is, is nothing. Wait until the seniors recognize how the whole damned plan was designed to screw them over. That will start for many this Summer.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sticking to my own message, I came up with this as a correction of the line item veto, which, along with term limits was the best known of the items on the contract with America;
Government budgeting is a mess and the problem with the line item veto is that it would place most of the power of the purse in the hands of the president, but a way around this would be to break the bills into their constituent items and have each legislator assign a percentage value to each one. Then re-assemble them in order of preference and have the president draw the line at what is to be funded. Not only would this break up the budgetary log jams which make over spending irresistible, but it would take away a lot of the power this process gives to the legislative leadership and parties and returns it to the level of the individual legislators. Rather then a veto over-ride, everything over 66% is an automatic pass.
Specific proposals would have to appeal to the broad spectrum of legislators, not just a few power brokers. It would require the leadership to lead by inspiration, not just herd them around like so many cattle. Democracy is a bottom up process and the Republic is a top down entity. This would clarify that relationship. It is the congealing of power in the legislative branch which is the source of much current corruption.

Stick to a simple message and repeat it till people notice.

Posted by: brodix on January 28, 2006 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

Social Security and Medicare are Democratic programs, and Republicans will only screw them up. Repeat this early and often. It is nice, simple, and true. The public already knows this about GWB and social security. By November the Medicare lesson will be complete. Many people know that both SS and Medicare need some sort of reform that will involve sacrifice of some kind. The question is, which party can devise and enact reform without screwing the average American? The Dems. Repeat early and often.

There are so many anecdotes to support this view that Jay Leno wouldnt need a new monologue topic for a year. Figure out a way to communicate Repub incompetence in a way that is funny and not shrill, and you have a winner. In that sense, Dean is a better spokesperson than either Hillary or Kerry.

Posted by: troglodyte on January 28, 2006 at 6:33 AM | PERMALINK

Its funny how every two years we get all these articles about this being the year that the Democrats regain the Congress.

I CONSIDER THESE ARTICLES NOTHING MORE THEN
JACK-OFF MATERIAL FOR THE DAILY KOSTERS AND THE DU.

I SHOULD PROBABLY THROUGH KEVIN DRUM INTO THE MIX AS WELL.

Posted by: Patton on January 28, 2006 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

MDtoMN

I don't know what the Democratic Party establishment needs to do, but I know what they have been doing doesn't work.
What did the Democrats do in 1932? They allowed the Republicans to deconstruct because of their own incompetencies. The same was true in 1954.

What the Republicans offer simply doesn't work as a governing philosophy. It seems necessary for every new generation of voters to learn this for themselves. 9/11 seems to have screwed up the timing a little this century, but the facts haven't changed. Republicans can't govern.

So you bitch that the Democrats haven't offered a clear opposition? "Competence" in governance is not a clear opposition philosophy. But it matters. Social Security reform - Katrina - Part D of Medicare - Iraq.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Failure is its own reward. This is not the time to get in the way of repub;lican incompetence. Wait a few months. Wait until the Iraq Vets are running for office and find their joint voices.

This is going to be a very interesting election, and the Republicans will not like it. At all.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2006 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

I hate to weigh in on the side of the naysayers, but Democrats lack the party discipline of the GOP, not to mention the fact that many, sadly, don't even bother to get up off the couch to vote.

It may take an economic depression or a nuclear attack on an American city, two events that seem inevitable with the Doorknob in Chief we currently have, to turn the tide. I pray that I'm wrong.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on January 28, 2006 at 6:41 AM | PERMALINK

brodix:

I like very much your general idea of a reformed line-item veto-type budgeting reform, but I'm unclear as to the mechanics you sketched out. Please rephrase and spell out the process as concretely as you can. The idea of restoring power to individual legislators as opposed to the committees is absolutely terriffic, but we need to know how it works.

Generally speaking, the line-item veto was a very powerful element of the Contract With America and something like it should be revived. Maybe just doing away with earmarks and shutting the minority out of final bill negotiations and disallowing amendments. Something like legislative bugetary reform would dovetail perfectly with the lobbying scandal. We need to some up with something simple and workable, and we need to be able to describe it in a sentence.

Apollo 13:

I was a Howard Dean activist and spent many days "freezin' for a reason" in New Hampshire.

We won my section of the state :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on January 28, 2006 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

everyone thinks that Republicians issued the Contract for America and that was reason for 1994 victory.. What most forget is that Newt and republicans had been trashing democrats in the media that whole year. (Using Newt's GOPAC list of words to describe your opponent that he had developed a few years before). The Contract for America was only issued 6 WEEKS before 1994 election --

Posted by: smartone on January 28, 2006 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Again, the left gets it wrong....The Republicans did BETTER in other ares then the South in 1994.

While the Republicans won the House vote in every region except New England, their biggest margins over the Democrats were in the farm belt of the Midwest (9.1 percentage points), the Rocky Mountain States (8.8), the South (7.5) and the Southwest (5.3) were less advantgeous to the Republicans.

Posted by: Patton on January 28, 2006 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

Jimbob's thoughts that Kevin is basically correct is something I agree with. The '94 election results nationally were the final playing out of a very long-term process. That the "Reagan Democrats" finally got around to voting Republican for their congressmen and Senators is correct, and mostly those voters have never looked back. I think this is a major insight into the last decade.

In 1994 Bush defeated incumbent Governor Ann Richards in a very close Texas election. It was a change that had taken a century in Texas, and was related to the entire American South. In Texas it was a direct result of the change started when John Tower won the special election for the Senate seat abandoned by LBJ in 1961 and was directly related to the reaction to the Civil Rights Movement.

Texas has never been more than just loosely connected to the South, and in the case of the backlash to the Civil Rights Movement it was a trailing indicator only. Nixon (and Lee Atwater) picked up on this and used it. But the tide is rolling out. Race, while still important, is no longer the key to Southern elections.

The national issues this year are going to be Social Security Reform, Katrina/Rita incompetence by FEMA, the incompetence in Part D of Medicare (primarily Congressional, but also the implementation), Iraq and its related incompetence and Republican corruption as exemplified by Jack Abramoff and friends.

God! I beg for the idiot who holds the office of President to present Health Savings Accounts as his major issue! That in itself will be worth at least 5% of the vote towards the Democrats!

Then there will be the local issues, which I can't even guess. This is the off-year elections, of course.

This is not going to be a good year for Republicans, and the results will last for a generation.

Posted by: Rick B on January 28, 2006 at 7:17 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps someone would like to research this, but my recollection is many GOP wins were by an eyelash, and fueled by HUGE financial advantage. In at least one recent cycle Big Pharma, for example, outspent the DCCC.

Aside from cash--which goes beyond campaign contributions and includes the massive professional PR weight leveraged against all the media--the other GOP advantage was George Bush's very effective personal campaigning.

These tactical advantages have been muted or erased. don't think it will take an earthquake to shift the House.Gingrich won because he ran to the poll-tested middle, supported very liberal Republicans in districts like mine (Silicon Valley suburbs), and exploited public disgust with congressional scandal.

Don't forget: God loved the Democrats or he wouldn't have made so many of them

Posted by: Steve High on January 28, 2006 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

"Yes, Kevin Drum, you are the problem. Just as contented selfishness-driven people have always been the problem. You prefer settling for the scraps of the powerful and to plot ways to join their cabal, rather than to courageously call for their expungement."

Jayarbee is right, most Americans are Marxists at heart. If only the Dems renamed themselves to the Marxists, 2006 will be the landslide year we've all been waiting for.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 28, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

The 1994 landslide was caused by massive voter ignorance. Control or intimidation of the media by the right wing, which we saw during the Reagan years and which was in evidence in the abuse heaped upon Dukakis in 1988 and Clinton in 1992, had finally resulted in a situation where most voters actually believed that Democrats were fiscally irresponsible, weak on national security, and beholden to some mythical "radical left" composed of gays, radical feminists, and socialists.

That dynamic has NOT changed. Voters are still under the same misimpressions. They must be set straight, but I doubt if such misimpressions, which were two decades or more in the making, can be reversed by this November.

Posted by: dan on January 28, 2006 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

"In other words, yeah, sure, millions of kids starve to death every year, but how would stopping that affect ME?"

Stopping it would hurt the ecosystem, the biosphere, mother Gaia. In short, stopping it hurts all of the citizens of our fragile planet, on the cusp of collapse.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 28, 2006 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

"I think Newt & co. were assisted enormously by Rush Limbaugh and right-wing radio. That factor would tend to amplify swings to the right and reduce swings to the left, as media concentration increasingly favors the right."

Maybe the Left should petition the New York Times to start endorsing Dem candidates to counter balance Limbaugh... how about trying that?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 28, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

"Don't forget: God loved the Democrats or he wouldn't have made so many of them"

So high voter turnout is the key for Dems to win, just like in 2004.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 28, 2006 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

"I CONSIDER THESE ARTICLES NOTHING MORE THEN
JACK-OFF MATERIAL FOR THE DAILY KOSTERS AND THE DU."

I thought that was Fitzmas?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on January 28, 2006 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin is absolutely right about the significance southern realignment, but don't downplay the importance of Newt Gingrich. It was crucial to the Republican success not only that they have a Gingrich but that they have hundreds of other Gingrich-like political leaders who went out and attacked the Democrats in unison. Until the Democrats get to the point that they care enough about their country to fight, they will never win big.

The first step will be getting enough self-respect and cojones to be willing to defend themselves against Republican aggression. As Carville said, in the age of the War on Terra, no one will believe you will defend them if you won't even defend yourself.

Posted by: The Fool on January 28, 2006 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

I am not sure that even with a tectonic shift we will shake lose the visegrip of incumbency in this country. A dem is running against our republican representative for life. But the local party is so weak here in this conservative area that his chances of beating the machine are extremely remote. There are cabals installed within many congressional districts that are now multigenerational. Sometimes the original old head of the clan is still deeply installed along with all the business and lobbying interests to make sure that a successional line is guaranteed to preserve the power flow to and from Washington. Sometimes the grip of this cabal extends to and engulfs several congressional districts.

Maybe it really is time for the dems to get serious about proposing term limits along with other much needed reforms. We really do need a lot of new blood in Washington in both the dem and rep ranks. When we see the dems run candidates against some of their own old tired faces then we will know that they are really serious about running a tighter ship and taking over the controls of government.

Posted by: lou on January 28, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

its a snark fest!!


ff: Stopping it would hurt the ecosystem......


you have more excuses than gwb....

Posted by: thispaceavailable on January 28, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

ff: petition the New York Times to start endorsing Dem candidates to counter balance Limbaugh..


so the myth of the liberal media is finally dead?


Posted by: thisspaceavialable on January 28, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK


ff: So high voter turnout is the key for Dems to win, just like in 2004.

dems did set a record....

just like gwb did.....lowest margin of victory...

other than supreme court justices...

how's that second term going?

Posted by: thisspaceavailable on January 28, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

The culmination and final fruit of the "Southern Strategy?". nonsense!

The 1994 GOP victory was the recently purchased right-wing media flexing it's muscles. And baby, you ain't seen nothin yet!

Thank goodness Reagan changed the ownership rules ( 1983 ) and made all this mass media consolodation possible. What a gift to the board!

Now every ambitious media player will have to see things the big corporate way or they won't be heard or noticed or stand a chance of the fame, the admiration, the big money.


Hence Kevin Drum.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on January 28, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't read thru all the posts so maybe this has been discussed.

But, there will never be another shift of these voters back to the left. Never.

Kevin, maybe this is not apparent in OC, but these rubes will always vote against their best interests because of bigotry, gun laws, and religion.

Healthcare? They would just rationalize away it's problems by repeating the "if the niggers weren't getting free rides" card that is a catch all for them.

My father worked union construction for nearly 50 years. One of his "favorite" stories was a conversation he had with a laborer of his about I think the 92 election.

Now this guy made about $6/hr, and was barely getting by. He said he planned to vote for Bush because he "didn't want those librul democrats taking his guns away".

I live in Houston, and have lived here all my life. Believe me, this is the thinking and the talk down here. You can go into any bar or church or public place and strike up a casual conversation, and you will soon realize these people are lost.

This is what we are up against. Nothing will trump this thought and these people are lost to the party forever, especially if we keep trotting our the vichy DLC cowards that are so prevalent in the party.

The only hope is to at least sway the mushy middle to our side periodically.

Posted by: Chris on January 28, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

There's some good stuff in this thread, here's my 2 cents:

A lot of folks on the left seem to want to reprise 2000 and 2004. I'm hearing a lot of calls for a "standard bearer," someone who will lead us to a big confrontation with the Republicans wherein a pretty definitive public repudiation of their decade of control obtains.

I don't think that's what we should want. 1994 was a pretty perfect storm for a lot of reasons, and such events are pretty historically rare. We need a strategy that fits the reality on the ground in 2006.

1) Any gains are positive. This must be the mantra. Dems have a tendency to see anything short of total victory as a defeat, and then we can rush into our circular firing squad.

2) All politics is local in off-year elections. I don't care much for Daily Kos, usually, but I do agree with him that every office must be challenged. Off-year elections usually average about 30% turnout, so every voter in every precinct is key.

3) We don't need a national campaign. We need hundreds of decentralized campaigns with a common theme - 5 years of concentrated Republican power has been a disaster no matter how you slice it. I live in Southeastern Missouri where everyone but me is a "christian conservative," and I can tell you that there is a huge undercurrent of real dissatisfaction and fear with Republican government, especially in the lower-middle and lower classes, which is mostly what we have down here. Folks want to hear someone credible speak truth to power.

4) This is the crucible for 2008. If our party suffers reversals in 06, this is a real problem. Rather than looking to the people who failed us in 2004 to carry us through 06, we need to see who proves themselves effective here to set the stage for 08.

If we're re-fighting the past, we're by definition fighting battle we lost. I think 2006 will not, cannot be 1994, but if we play our cards right, we can show some real gains and set the stage for recapturing the Presidency and Senate in 08.

Posted by: Arr-squared on January 28, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

dems did set a record....

just like gwb did.....lowest margin of victory...

So how come GWB acts as if he won a landslide? Congress is mighty pissed off about the NSA news. He's told them to stick it and I don't see them doing much about that. Am I missing something?

other than supreme court justices...

Don't forget the lower courts now. Alito and Roberts were the products of lower courts and GWB has appointed about 1/4 of all lower court judges and has 15 openings now. By the time he's done he'll have appointed 1/3 and it will be the most conservative group in 80 years. This also applies within the justice dept and other agencies.

how's that second term going?

It's going. Ask Schroeder or Martin. I especially liked Condi's announcement at the State Dept. You know, the one where she told everyone, "If you want a dead end job in the State Dept go to Europe. While we still have a few jobs there".

I'm also a big fan of the Asian-Pacific partnership. You do know of course Kyoto is absolutely dead. GWB handled this brilliantly by not touching it. We had Bill Clinton flying to the Canadian meeting of the Kyoto freak show, in a private jet of course, practically begging the folks to keep the faith and last week Al gore is insulting Canadians as dupes of big oil for voting in Harper. Don't worry about Harper. He's not going to pull out anytime soon. He's going to watch it collapse. He's also going to watch GWB along with India, China, Japan, Korea and Australia create the new model for global cooperation on pollution and be one of the 1st new members added. Harper won't quit Kyoto until every Canadian understands how insufferably stupid it was to join in the 1st place.

You go Al!!!! I'm sure Canadians enjoy liberal elitists just as much as Americans.

So how are Harry and Nancy doing? Is Harry enjoying this little filibuster Kerry went over his head to schedule? Some party leader!

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
Perhaps a better comparison to make would be the 1974 congressional election when the democrats gained 43 seats. Read the following excerpt about the 74 election and you can see that the tectonic shift you search for would be a continued drop in the polls for Bush combined with a serious downturn in the economy. The Republicans will be pinning all their hopes on bolstering Bush's war on terrorism as the best defense against the dems making any impact via congressional investigations into Bush's overreaching of his presidential authority. The fear factor will be front and center. The republicans will do everything they can to pin Osamas face on every democratic ass they can. With the repubs in control of congress the dems will be essentially powerless to make their case against Bush's overreach.

excerpt from :
http://www.dirksencenter.org/print_michel_nrcc.htm#1974

The 1974 Congressional Elections

The ultimate test of the NRCC's effectiveness came in November 1974. For Republicans, the elections played out against a somber backdrop. In August, the government reported that, for the second consecutive quarter, the gross national product had fallen. Increasing unemployment and run-away inflation threatened to cripple the economy. Watergate claimed its most significant casualty on August 9 when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, followed by his controversial pardon on September 8. A new campaign finance law signed into effect by President Gerald Ford on October 15 made the rules used for past campaigns obsolete.

In the general election on November 5, Democrats gained 43 seats in the House. Although the party holding the White House usually lost seats in off-year elections, history was small consolation to Republicans. For the most part, the Democratic gains in the House were not marginal seats won by Republicans in 1972 but solid Republican districts despite the NRCC's Incumbency Protection Program. Democrats won four Republican House seats in New Jersey and California, five in Indiana and New York, and three in Michel's home state of Illinois. Their victory was overwhelming. "I remember it so distinctly," Michel recalled in an interview years later, "because the times were so bad that there were 63 congressional districts in the country out of 435 we couldn't even find a Republican candidate to run for Congress. It was that bad. In other words, you gave away 63 seats before you even began."

Posted by: lou on January 28, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I like Dean and always have. Gave money to him. I've entertained a secret wish for Dean to break out and form a new party. He seems like a good "Newt" to me. Dean is feisty, an adjective that's also describes Newt.

I also like fiery Rev. Gore.

apollo, bob,

Allow me to offer some advice if you want to win. Lose this worship for losers! Dean got crushed in DEMOCRATIC ONLY primaries. Gore inherited his Senate seat and has never won an election outside TN.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

KEVIN DRUM: so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead. It'll be healthcare eventually, but in the meantime I'm stumped.

That's because our leaders are fucking cowards. And, as has been pointed out by posts above, because folks like you aren't frustrated by death, destruction, and corruption.

Posted by: EconoBuzz on January 28, 2006 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Well, well, the Drexel Hill Dummy has crawled out from under his rock and will now infest this thread for the remainder of the day.

No, Witless, we neither want your advice nor will pay a whit to or for your blather.

Chris was correct about the $6.00 an hour construction worker voting for Bush I because he didn't want his guns taken. I had a major falling out with a friend in Utah over this issue. He was absolutely that Federal officials would come for his guns.

It was not only Foley in the State of Washington who was defeated by the money supplied by Second Amendment (Google the organization) - Can't recall her name at present, but the fine lady from Southwest Washington also lost her seat to Linda Smith - There were also two others - Will check it later - It was because of her vote for the Brady Bill - Many simply do not realize the power of the gun lobby in rural America - We lost in 94 because of our courageous stand in passing the Brady Bill - Hell of a price.

This same Second Amendment money machine also derailed gun locks in an off year 97 election in Washington - The NRA types came out en masse and voted No on every initiative, gun related or not.
Several of the intiatives, one for health care coverage, were heavily leading before the gun lock measure was added. It was never close after that.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 28, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

In an exit interview given by President Bill Clinton, he said the following:

..."So we lost probably a dozen members of Congress who the NRA took out"......

He also added, "So we had a low turnout of our voters and an inflamed turnout of theirs."

http:www.mega.nn:8080/anpp/clinterview.html

In an off year election, emotion or an inflamed group of voters counts heavily.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on January 28, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich advanced ideas that resonated with the voters in 1994.

The reason the Dems haven't connected with the voters yet is they have advanced nothing but Bush hatred.

Posted by: GOPGregory on January 28, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Liz Marlantes wonders aloud in The New Republic if 2006 could be a Democratic version of 1994...

Not unless the Dems decide they actually want it. Which I don't think they will. We joke about it, but, face it, dominance is just not what we're about, and our politicians reflect that. Their own desire to have the gravy train back on their tracks is the only thing that might motivate them, and frankly, I'd just as soon not see that. Never been much for that "sure, they're a buncha crooks, but they're our buncha crooks" bit.
Not to mention that, with the media we've got these days, it's like trying to bicycle uphill with a flat tire, and mutts nipping at your ankles...

Posted by: Doozer on January 28, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

We lost in 94 because of our courageous stand in passing the Brady Bill - Hell of a price.

Posted by: thethirdPaul

There is nothing courageous about denying law abiding citizens their constitutional right to buy and own a firearm. It was pandering to the left wing base and forgeting who actually gets out and votes.

If the left paid more attention to keeping criminals in jail and enforcing existing gun laws. Instead of trying to find new ways to curtail gun ownership. The Dumbercrats might win a few more elections.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 28, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ask the Henry Hyde question: What's the issue on which we are prepared to LOSE?

After the 1992 election, Hyde spoke to incoming Republican freshmen, the last to serve in the minority, and told 'em to go home and write down on a piece of paper what the issue was on which they were prepared to open disagree with their employers -- the voters -- and lose an election: happily, proudly.

He said, be honest about it: no fair saying "my commitment to our national defense is absolute", if you happen to be in a district with an air force base and a navy shipyard.

He added, let's face it: politics is a complex business, with trade offs everywhere. Reasonable people can disagree on whether we should do this or that, and how much we spend on something, or who should pay for it.

You might be a pro-life candidate in a pro-choice district, or you might actually think we can win the war in Iraq, but your ostensibly political base does not.

So, Hyde told 'em, you will be tempted to blur differences. You will vote for something, before you vote against it. Sometimes, that ambiguity will be honest, even principled. But he insisted they realize that if there is NO issue on which you not only know, but expect that you will disagree so clearly with a majority of the voters that you are willing to lose an election over it: you're not worth a damn.

The health of a republic can be measured by the nature and clarity of such disagreements between the elected representatives and the voters: a sensible voter will NOT agree with his rep on everything. You may want to elect a guy who will say you're wrong on several things, cuz you think he's right on other things.

What the Contract with America did in 1994 was give voters everywhere a BRAND Republicans identified with: elect us, the voters were told, and this is what we'll do. If you don't want these things, vote for the other guy.

They won -- because they were willing to lose. People identify with candidates like that.

So: what are we willing to LOSE on?

Posted by: theAmericanist on January 28, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Gingrich was a pit bull, but the biggest thing he had going for him was simpler: he was on the tail end of a 30-year shift of white, mostly Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

You guys consistently underestimate your Republican opponents. Gingrich was also a tireless and forceful advocate for the power of entrepreneurship and the free market. His speeches were full of examples of wealth-creating enterprises that grew without prior planning by government agents and university economists. His many examples of successes by common people and futility of government and academic folks who thought they knew more than common folks but were mistaken are among the reasons that swing voters are unimpressed by claims like the claim that Kerry supporters had more education than Bush supporters.

Then the big win in 1994 came when he rallied his troops behind the contract with America. Most people, when they heard the items in the contract, agreed with them; subsequently, the Republican majority passed 8 of the 10.

Instead of emphasizing the power of the people (a theme of both TR and FDR, by the way, with their "square deal" and "new deal"), contemporary Democrats emphasize the pity for the people.

In 2005 and currently, the Democratic theme can be characterized as "Just say no to Bush". If you want to win, come up with a list of 10 reasonably specific and reasonably achievable goals to work for. I think the Supreme Court is a loser for Democrats right now: the ABA, slighlty to the left of center but certainly mainstream, rated Roberts and Alito as "highly qualified". Voting against "highly qualified" judges is not a winning strategy.

another strategy is to rally behind the Democratic winners of Red states: Casey in PA is likely to win the senate race, the governor of VA (both are pro-life if I remember correctly.)

I think the Democrats would benefit most from repealing all the campaign finance "reforms" of recent decades. Even more than Republicans, they seem to be dependent on contributions from a small and unrepresentative slice of the electorate. Right now, "corporate" donors represent a lot more voters than do public employee unions, and are not as far from the "mainstream".

Posted by: contentious on January 28, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

You want a tectonic shift?

War with Iran.

There's no doubt Bush wants it; there's no doubt he'll get it; and there's no doubt he'll fuck it up like he did Iraq.

Worse than Iraq: Iran hasn't been strangled by a decade of sanctions; and US forces are barely hanging on in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Look for Iran to be our Moscow (Napolean and Hitler) or our Afghanistan (USSR): the final blow - not only to our military, but to our pretentions of superpower status.

Posted by: CaseyL on January 28, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich went out and raised money (as did DeLay later) and then campaigned for individuals to get them into Congress. Those candidates/congressmen owed him allegiance and made him speaker. Riding the wave and buying his office: how Republican.

On the Dem side the party builder is Howard Dean. He won't be in office, but he is there trying to get people into office. In office Nancy Pelosi seems to be doing a pretty good job holding everybody together.

Posted by: MarkH on January 28, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

heavy wrote this: in the real world it is pretty obvious that policy debates haven't been the deciding factor since about the time Lincoln was President.

heavy also wrote: it's all about the marketing.

Both policy and presentation are important. John Kerry was a pretty effective proponent of his health care plan; but I think most voters agreed that it had to be more expensive than he claimed. So put together a real plan with realistic numbers, and take advantage of the inaccuracy in Bush's prescription drug plan. I think you might have a chance.

Another note about the South. Gingrich was a part of the industrialization of the south. A lot of you still haven't apprehended the industrial growth of the South. These newly industrialized states are not sympathetic to Democratic attempts to bail out the overpriced and underproductive workers in failed Northern industries. Even within some Northern states, like Ohio, the auto workers of the successful plants are not so sympathetic to the autoworkers of the unsuccessful plants: again the theme of overpriced and underproductive. America exports automobiles, and the factories and workers that make those automobiles are successful in the global economy; they expect others to find ways to succeed. I don't mean to assert that the autoworkers of the successful plants are a homogeneous group, but the theme of competitivenes and productivity is out there. The UAW doesn't represent most autoworkers any more, and the Democratic party needs to recognize that fact. "Marketing" the UAW and the Democratic party together probably won't get the Democratic party above 40% in the national election.

Posted by: contentious on January 28, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Regardless of the national policy, local politics always intrudes in the primaries.

Dems end up appealing to the left, Repub appealling to the right. They hit center in the nationals.

Dems are stuck. As soon as a Kerry or a Gore start promising every tiny little group their own program, the national debate is fixed.

Repeat this mantra, and solve all of our problems: Tax the rich heavily; cut government everywhere.

Posted by: Matt on January 28, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

We lost in 94 because of our courageous stand in passing the Brady Bill.


Soldiers, Police, Firemen are courageous. Describing politicians as courageous demeans the term.

Kevins analysis grossly over-estimates the role of the NRA but ironically this mis-guided conventional wisdom has essentially put the NRA out of business. The NRA has little to do. Aside from Big City mayors and other die hard liberals no one supports radical gun control and never did. Thus we are regularly exposed to Democratic nominees like lurch walking out of the woods with a rifle in his hand so we can see he's learned his lesson.

Clintons 1st two years were one disaster after another. His instincts sucked on both health care AND gun control. You didn't lose because of too much courage. You lost because of too much stupid.

One other thing Kevin isn't addressing is the change in redistricting and the increased power of incumbancy. Each work against big changes. This isn't 1994. This is 96, 98, 00, 02 and 04. The liberal faithful are sure, "This time we get control back"!

I don't think so.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

If it's any consolation, Jesus lost the vote to Barrabas.

Of course, his religion was fringe until the state took it over to use as a war totem.

Liberals don't win elections. Remember the Democratic party was for slavery before it was against it.

That doesn't mean there isn't an opportunity to beat the Republicans, but as Progressives, not Liberals. People are looking for a vision of the future, not the ability look at different points of view.

Bob,

The name I use for my idea is, 'Priority Budgeting'.

Remember the Line Item Veto was a very simple concept, that the President could go through a budget bill and strike out any item. Obviously it would never get passed, let alone work, because it would eviscerate the legislative ability to do anything other then propose spending. Talk about strengthening the Presidency.
For that reason, I would imagine, politicians are either every bit as dumb as they sometimes appear, or, more likely, it wasn't a serious proposal in the first place.

Now my idea; Break the budget bills into all these "items", then have every legislator assign a percentage value to each of these items. Obviously with some mechanism for combining Senate and Congressional bills. Now this might take some time, of course, but any indecision could be reasonably reflected in the value assigned. There wouldn't have to be the agonizing of an either/or vote. Also, getting a good score for any item would necessitate it being written as clearly as possible because it needs to appeal to every legislator equally, no matter their seniority. Legislators would actually be forced to read and sign off on everything they propose! What a shock!
Once the bill is re-assembled in order of preference, then the President draws one line between what is funded and what is not.
In the current situation, this would cause a lot of screeching, as a lot of local projects will never make the cut, but the current situation is not going to last much longer, looking at the various financial bubbles out there, that are growing exponentially.
It would be sold as is taking the nation of the welfare teet of government borrowing and so while any individual and their local congressman don't want their local funding cut, given the option of voting against everyone else's freeloading would likely overcome the personal trepidition.
Something like this will be necessary, no matter what. Sooner or later, the government isn't going to be able to borrow any more and they will have to find a way to drastically prioritize what funds they do have. Being the party to beat the inevitable will be a strong foundation for a long time. The grown-ups return.

Posted by: brodix on January 28, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Look for Iran to be our Moscow (Napolean and Hitler) or our Afghanistan (USSR): the final blow - not only to our military, but to our pretentions of superpower status.

Casey, Not only are we the worlds greatest superpower but the gap between the USA and rest of the world widens each year. Our Air force, barely occupied in Iaq, could destroy Iran's military in a week. Our Navy, barely occupied in Iraq, could destroy Iran's military in a week.

We spend more on military R&D than the rest of the world combined and the other innovative services (UK, Japan, Israel) are strong allies

It's widely thought the EU is the worlds 2nd superpower but that's nonsense. They are not united diplomatically or militarily. NATO has collapsed while neither France or Germany can project power outside their borders.

To the extent China and Russia are competitors they are each weak. Both are capable of stealing but not developing technology or of innovation. Russia's population is collapsing and their military has been in statsis since the 80's. China is growing a very small base and as with all authoritarian governments is not capable of innovation or flexibility. If they can't steal it they can't come up with a better product.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Another question I'd like to hear a reporter ask the president;

If any law written before 9/11 is potentially outdated, does that apply to the Constitution as well?

Posted by: brodix on January 28, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

So how are Harry and Nancy doing? Is Harry enjoying this little filibuster Kerry went over his head to schedule? Some party leader!

Yeah...we'd do a lot better with the Abominable Dr. Frist. I wonder if he's made any insider trades lately. Or maybe he's been too busy with his patented videotape diagnosis business. One thing's for sure...he'll cry like a little bitch if the Dems get enough spine for a filibuster.

Posted by: mr. ziffel on January 28, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

One thing's for sure...he'll cry like a little bitch if the Dems get enough spine for a filibuster.


They are going ahead with the filibuster. Dr. Frist is going to end it Monday afternoon. Sam gets voted in Tuesday morning and sworn in the next day. Spine has nothing to do with it. It coms down to smarts. They got beat, and beat badly, by a smarter man.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

On the Dem side the party builder is Howard Dean. He won't be in office, but he is there trying to get people into office. In office Nancy Pelosi seems to be doing a pretty good job holding everybody together.


Posted by: MarkH

All these two Dumbercrats have done is move the party further to the left and splintered it even more than it already is. When the Dumbercrats lose ground instead of gaining it. You can blame them and the likes of Ted Kennedy for pushing the center further from the left. I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 28, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Ziffle, Check this out.

50 Plus One
Bush is not a president interested in winning bipartisan support for anything. What that means for his State of the Union Message

ELEANOR CLIFT Newsweek

Jan. 27, 2006 - Get ready for the divider, not the uniter, when President Bush delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday to a packed House chamber. It will be a ceremonial evening, with Chief Justice John Roberts likely to be joined by newly confirmed Associate Justice Samuel Alito in the front row to look up admiringly at the man who made their careers.

You can bet this caused Eleanor a great deal of pain to write. She's not often correct but on this she nails it. GWB was elected by Conservatives to lead as a conservative. If he gets 52 votes he's given the libs too much.

Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Klues for Kevin!

so far I just haven't seen any big, pent-up frustration on the part of center-right voters that might turn large numbers of them into center-left voters instead. It'll be healthcare eventually, but in the meantime I'm stumped.

Let's draw Kevin a map!

Posted by: TLB on January 28, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

If any law written before 9/11 is potentially outdated, does that apply to the Constitution as well?

Posted by: brodix

Some laws that are written around changing technology should be modified as advances are made. If changes are needed in the constitution then amendments can be made. Other than that the constitution should be the rock that laws written by congress are based on.

Bush has claimed what he is doing is legal and constitutional. There is some disagreement on that and may have to be settled by SCOTUS.

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 28, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Bush has claimed what he is doing is legal and constitutional.

"How eager you are to become slaves."

-Tiberius

Posted by: mr. ziffel on January 28, 2006 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

1994 was, if I remember, driven partly by passage of the Brady Bill for gun control. Add to this Gingrich's nationalized election for House seats, and the fault was lubricated.

Democrats don't yet seem to have any equivalent. In my corner of Florida, Republican congressmen (D. Weldon, T. Feeney)seem in no danger of having meaningful opponents.

Posted by: Dave on January 28, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin, pretty shrewd insight for a Californian.

... a 30-year shift of white, mostly Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Pressure had been building along that particular tectonic plate for a long time...

Absolutely. Sometimes I wonder how many people recognize that that is close to being the whole nine yards.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

eventually ... old white southerners will die. it's like waiting for the maoists to die off.

Posted by: Nads on January 28, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

1. You are never going to convince Middle America that domestic spying on calls concerning AQ is a hot issue.

2. The tidal wave of Liberal criticism like "Jesusland" and "Wingnuts" and calling everyone between Cali and NY stupid and ignorant sure doesn't play to most Americans and has done nothing but exacerbate our tenuous relationship with Middle America.

3. Plamegate just doesn't mean ANYTHING to your Wal-Mart shopper. If she had been a man, in the 007 mold then we would have an issue. Ask your average neighbor who Plame is and you'll get nothing but blank stares.


Here is the key.

The only thing that will strike a chord with the swing voter is someone that appeals to them, someone they can relate to. Not Al Gore, not (H) Clinton, not Dean, and darn sure not Kerry. We need a hard talking common man/woman who exudes decency, strong will, common speech but eloquent in the (B) Clinton way, and someone that doesn't reek Liberal. Dean had it right though. NASCAR and the Rebel flag is the answer. How do we appeal to them? Until we figure this out we sure are not going to win majority or even the White House. We have to face it, the issues that appeal to us sure don't appeal to them.

Posted by: qwerty on January 28, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK
Marlantes may be right, but I doubt that she's really nailed the key factor. Yes, Gingrich was a pit bull, but the biggest thing he had going for him was simpler: he was on the tail end of a 30-year shift of white, mostly Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Pressure had been building along that particular tectonic plate for a long time, and in 1994 Gingrich was able to turn it into an electoral earthquake.

Sure, the timeframe has been much shorter, but if you don't think there has been a similar pressure building in the Republican Party -- partially driven by that same shift -- I think you are missing something important. And I think its not simply a matter of time and pressure, but that pressure formed by people who are members of a party by identity (or independents who vote with one party from habit) but out of step with the current elected leadership of that party on substance, plus a crystallizing event to trigger the shift. In 1993-1994 it was disappointment of those who had been long on the edge with how Democrats ruled when, no longer burdened by divided government, they had control.

And I think 2006 has the possibility to do the same in reverse. There were grumblings as early as 2001, though they were masked by the rally-round-the-flag effect after 9/11, and later by the initial success in selling the Iraq war.

But now? I there are lots of signs that the wheels are completely coming off.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 28, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

But now? I there are lots of signs that the wheels are completely coming off.

cmdicely,

You've got to get out of the echo chamber. The wheels are coming off the Kerry Filibuster. It's a pitiful effort based on weakness and incompetence. The wheels are coming off the Swann candidacy. He leads Rendell in the polls. The wheels are coming off the Blackwell (OH) candidacy. He leads. The wheels are coming off the Steele (MD) candidacy. He leads. The wheels are coming off the Keane candidacy (NJ). He leads. The wheels are coming off the Kennedy candidacy (MN) he's tied. The wheels are coming off the NSA 'scandal'. Only 2/3s of American support Bush. The wheels are coming off RNC fundraising. They've only raised 2x's as much.

What Kerry has just shown is positioning for 08 has already started. Harry has 43 other Senators to keep on the same page and 10 of them are running for President. No chance. In 1994 Newt had an organized party fully united behind the Contract with America. Clinton had an abysmal start with several scandals, tax increases and the Hillarycare debacle. In addition, we found out in 94 Clinton is inept as a party leader/strategist.

Bush has very low polls but he still owns his base and his base is much larger than yours. They are upset about spending but they are very pleased with Roberts and Alito. In the SOTU address GWB will speak of spending control AND extending his tax cuts. He will go into 06 with the strong support of his base.

It will be interesting to see if Casey is able to maintain his 10% lead in PA. His full support of Judge Alito won't please the liberal faithful.


Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

The 2006 tectonic shift is in blue and swing districts who have progressive Republicans in office.

It started with the loss of Rep. Connie Morella in Maryland in 2002; and without Tom DeLay's Machiavellian gerrymandering, Republicans would have lost two more seats in 2004.

The recent loss of Leslie Byrne in Virginia bodes extremely well for Democrats. Byrne is a left/center who lost her seat to Tom Davis in a very blue district. She was considered too liberal. And without doing a little research to come up with the exact margin, suffice it to say Byrne barely lost in a state that overwhelming supported Bush in 2004.

The Republican "brand" is in the toilet; both in red and blue and swing states, but especially in blue and swing ones.

Put an effective candidate with a strong message and if Democrats don't pick up the 15 seats they need to take over the House with exit polls in their corner, then I'll be convinced Diebold is behind their victory and a whole lot more!

Posted by: Mimi Schaeffer on January 28, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: rdw on January 28, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

But now? I there are lots of signs that the wheels are completely coming off.

Posted by: cmdicely

Keep dinking the purple koolade! Incumbancy and Dumbercrat ineptitude will at a minimum maintain the staus quo.

The Dumbercrats don't have any solutions or positions other than those related to Bush hatred. That hasn't gotten them anywhere but the losers bracket and will continue to do so. I love it!

Posted by: Fat White Guy on January 29, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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