April 10, 2006

Case for Hope

For all those who just can't let go of their pessimism (Larry) or just think that democrat's are helpless babes (Erin) I highly recommend Not as Lame as You Think by Amy Sullivan, which makes a pretty good case that the Donkey are learning to use their teeth. Case in point - Bush's social security privatization program didn't just die on its own. It was murdered:

Most of the press corps expected the debate to be a painful defeat for Democrats. Not only were moderates predicted to jump ship and join with Republicans to support the president's plan, but Social Security-one of the foundational blocks of the New Deal social compact-would be irrevocably changed. But then a funny thing happened. Reid and Pelosi managed to keep the members of their caucuses united in opposition. Day after day they launched coordinated attacks on Bush's "risky" proposal. Without a single Democrat willing to sign on and give a bipartisanship veneer of credibility, the private accounts plan slowly came to be seen by voters for what it was: another piece of GOP flimflam.

As the privatization ship began sinking, Republicans challenged Democrats to develop their own plan, and when none was forthcoming, pundits whacked the minority party for being without ideas. But not putting forth a plan was the plan. It meant that once the bottom fell out on public support for Bush's effort which it did by early summer Democrats couldn't be pressured to work with Republicans to form a compromise proposal. It was a brilliant tactical maneuver that resulted in a defeat at least as decisive as the Republicans' successful effort to kill Clinton's health-care plan.

And now the immigration debate has blown up in the streets for the GOP. Now I have typically been pretty down on the effectiveness of street protests, but the sheer numbers of people who have come out are making everyone take notice.


larry said...

So cite me a national election since 1992 in which pessimism didn't turn out to be correct.

(More to follow.)

larry said...

Amy Sullivan has certainly done a good job of concentrating on the filled part of a half-full glass. And in the spirit of comraderie, I won't focus on the empty part - the four years in which the Dems went along with nearly everything that Bush threw at them, including Iraq and disastrous budget policies, that we'll all be paying for until the middle of the century. At which point the effects of global warming will make those matters moot.

The Dems have finally determined that being Republican-lite is not a winning strategy. Took them long enough. They have been aided by the fact that all the Repubs in Dem clothing (think Zell Miller) are gone. Well, with the exception of Mighty Joe L, and we're hoping the good folks of Connecticut will see the light there, too, and replace him with either a real Democrat or a real Republican, at least someone who acts consistenly with his/her chosen label.

And the change of leadership has been very positive. Harry Reid has surprised everyone. Let's hope we see him as majority leader before long.

But let's not forget the Dem's most recent, and perhaps most important, misfires - the Supreme Court nominations. Probably there was nothing that could have stopped Bush, but the long-lived Neanderthal control of the SCOTUS will haunt a future Dem president and Congress, if either or both should occur in the next few decades. Remember what FDR went through when he tried to rescue the country from the policies of his predecessor. (Disclaimer: No, I'm not that old. Everything I know about FDR I read in history books.)

And as Amy rightly points out, the press is a huge problem. They may be coming around, but that process is slower than Bush reacting to a hurricane. It may still hurt the Dems big time in 2006 and 2008.

The other big problem is the many, many gerrymandered districts throughout the US. This is something that Dems are usually complicit in, even when they are in the minority. It's the duopoly thing - even more threatening to Dems than Republicans in power is the possibility of yet another party (Greens, Libertarians) gaining traction and starting to eat away at the corporate gravy train that nourishes both parties.

And then, there's the question of whether the Dems know how to run a decent presidential campaign. I think it is widely acknowledged that both the Gore and Kerry campaigns were disasters. Do the Dems have the guts to really come out swinging? (Remember Ohio, where they shoved the anti-war Iraq veteran - I forget his name - aside in favor of a party hack.)

So, this pessimist sees a glimmer of light, but I think it is too soon to tell whether it is a light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel or simply the first view of yet another Republican steamroller.

The Craig said...

We really do better than you think

1992 - Clinton Won

1994- Gop takeover of Congress

1996 - Clinton Won

1998 - Dems picked up seats in Congress

2000 - Gore wins popular vote, Bush wins on techincality

2002 - GOP picked up seats

2004 - Bush wins

If the dems pick up seats this election, then we are 2-1-1 in presidential years and each party will have gained seats in 2 out of the last four Mid-term elections.

If you look at the last 20 years its a real mixed bag for results. What matters is how you look at it. This is a closely divided nation and each party has a real chance to win or lose.

Every campaign is a mix of brillance and screw-ups. You don't think Clinton had all kinds of screw-ups? The reason you think that Gore's campaign was a disaster was he lost. A few hundred votes in Florida and we would all be calling him a great campaigner and talking about how pathetic the Bush campaign was.