Friday, December 10, 2004

Making New Democrats: State of the Party 4

Two days ago, the NYT ran a handful of short pieces on the future of the Democratic Party (written by actual Democrats: so no Mickey Kaus or Peter Beinhart or Joementum Lieberman) on its op-ed page. Mostly the pieces didn't say much of value, but there was one by Howard Wolfson that reminded me of something I've been thinking of for a while and that I think deserves attention. (so yeah, anything of value is in my definition something I either agree with or have thought of before, I guess).

Anyway, a practical step he recommends is that the voting for the Democratic chairman should be opened up to more of the Democratic Party members. A fairly straight forward idea, and a good one I think. But his broader point is that political parties used to be more involved in their communities, by, say, sponsoring Little League teams, neighborhood picnics, delivery turkeys on Thanksgiving and so on. The advent of TV and mass communication has had the effect of reducing the direct contact between party leaders and The People. Now, obviously parties used to be involved in people's lives in other important ways as well, such as through the art of patronage, which the establishment of a modern civil service has pretty much wiped out, and through party activities on election day that were later viewed as being coercive and potentially fraudulent, leading to various party and campaign "reforms" that lessened the role of political parties in mobilizing voters. The change from urban to suburban communities has also changed the degree to which parties are and can connect with voters. So some of these connections between the party and the voter will be difficult or illogical to restore.

But the point from Wolfson's essay, I think, and the argument I would make, is that these changes don't mean that the political parties (especially our own) can't reach out in different ways.

Now, what type of reaching out should the party do? First, we have to recognize that voter outreach can't just start the summer before the election and consist only of voter registration drives and calls to go to the polls on election day. Many groups did a good job this year of doing that, but it wasn't enough. The party will need to develop ideas for bringing politics to the people between elections.

Second, the substance of what parties do to involve people will have to be meaningful, and involve actually helping communities deal with problems. One of the reasons the Democratic Party has struggled to articulate a message and has struggled for votes in recent years has been its basic failure to connect government to people in a way beyond the cutting of checks from Washington. Knocking on doors and such other grassroots activity is good (and always trotted out as to what the party needs to do following an election loss), but it's not enough. The party will need to begin soon to involve itself in our communities and work with voters in ways that helps party leaders understand how various issues and problems can be dealt with, either by local government, voluntary groups, or by state or the federal government.

In an ironic sense, the nationalization and beaucratization of domestic policy through the New Deal and Great Society programs may have had the effect of increasing the distance between government, parties and the public, reduced the role of local government and party institutions in solving problems and meeting needs, and decreased the Democratic Party's ability to connect with voters for the purposes of building and maintaining and governing coalition.

Consider this my first installment regarding how and to what extent the Democrats must "economic-populist" their message.

Have a great weekend, and if you're in the Washington, DC area, try to stay dry.

Their Own Worst Enemy

There's an unusual proclivity among conservatives to at once offer multiple and contradictory responses to negative events and at the same time, to continue to fan the flames of those same events, ensuring that the negative images will linger longer than would have otherwise been the case.

Consider the recent press attention, and the conservative response to, the insensitive, and bizarre remarks issued by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in response to a soldier's query about the lack of adequate armor in combat. "You go with the army you've got"...and "all the armor in the world isn't going to prevent you from being blown up..." Imagine the wingnut response if Kerry or Edwards had said that.

Anyway, at first, the conservative propaganda jabberwokkies responded with the not unusual tack that went something like, "well, gee, what a swell, manly sort of man our man Rummy is, he faces the troops like a man, takes their questions, no big deal that there's a lack of armor, remember WWII when our troops were digging helmets and shields out of North Africa, yada yada yada. No story here, nothing to see here, please disperse."

That probably would have been the end of it. Some damage for the boys in red, but nothing significant. But the conservative brigade can't stop there. Now they're circulating a report that the question asked by the soldier was prompted by a member of the press. Lush Bimbo whined on his radio show yesterday that the question was a "set up".

I'm not sure what the conservatives are gaining here. The story, and the dumb remarks stay alive. Whether the soldier was prompted to ask the question by a member of the press is irrelevant. The soldier asked it. He could have opted not to. And when he asked it, the other soldiers cheered. The question referenced a problem, not only as seen by the troops, that are, you know, actually fighting the war and stuff, but it's an issue that was seen as significant by conservatives just a couple of months ago when the subject was John Kerry's "nay" vote on the $87 billion Iraq war supplement. Now it seems for conservatives that with Kerry and the election dispensed with, we can go back to not really giving a shit about the circumstances of the war or the threats from insurgents or the troops or how well the Shia's do in the January elections, or anything other than the usual promotion of the party in power.

So in case you have any doubt, for the conservatives there's no principle other than their own survival.


Winston pulled his coat collar around his neck as a gust of wind and rain swept against him. He reached the door of his apartment building as another tenent was heading out. He ascended the steps to his third story flat, bypassing the elevator which again was out of service. Winston had given up complaining about its malfunctioning, after being told that "you have to go with the elevators you have."

He was almost into the relatively safety of his flat when the daughter of his neighbor and coworker at the Ministry of Truth, Matthew Drudgery, rushed into the hall waiving one of those plastic models of the Ministry of Peace's latest gadgetry of shock and awe. "I've got you in my sights and will vaporize you, yeah!!" shouted the child. The child's mother appeared at the entrance of their door, slightly embarrased, and shooed the child back in. "They start them so young, you know," Mrs. Drudgery said in resignment.

Feeling slightly flustered, Winston entered his flat to the sound of the Faux Telly Screen bleating out the latest reports from the Party's ministries of Peace, Love, Truth and Plenty. The report from the Ministry of Peace was reassuring. The Party was now projecting that the number of troops stationed in Eastasia (Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia) would drop to
550,000 by the spring. Although Winston was well aware that the original number of troops sent to Eastasia had been 90,000, and that this number had been projected to decline till all the troops were back home, in some previous year long forgotten...Winston couldn't remember exactly.

Winston sighed (a dangerous tendency given the Faux Telly Screen's ability to both transmit as well as receive images and information) as he reached into his tiny refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of gin. Winston was on his lunch break. His duties at the Ministry of Truth involved maintaining the Party's news archives. Actually, Winston was responsible for changing historically reported events and information to conform with the current reports and estimates from the Party's other ministries.

This morning, for instance, Winston had been sent an archival document from last summer in which the Ministry of Plenty's spokesperson, Scotty McClemmons, had given a statement projecting the expected deficit in 2009 to be $850 billion. The Party was predicting that it would succeed in cutting the deficit in half by the end of the decade. This was now incorrect. The latest estimates were that the budget deficit would reach $1.3 trillion, and the older report would have to be edited to make it appear that last summer's estimate had been for a 2009 deficit of $1.7 trillion and that the new estimates showed the Party was now ahead of schedule. One of Winston's colleagues in the Ministry of Truth, Lush Bimbo, had remarked to Winston what a good job the Ministry of Plenty was doing this year, while they had coffee in the Ministry's cafeteria. "The Ministry of Plenty has really outdone themselves this year, haven't they, Winston?", Lush chimed. "They're projecting a cut in the deficit from $1.7 trillion to $1.3 trillion." Winston secretly disliked Lush Bimbo. Lush was the type of Party member that swallowed the Party's pronouncements with the most gullible acceptance, but also the type upon which the Party was most dependent on for its support.

Winston returned to the last sips of gin before turning to his next task. Arranging himself at his desk just out of the vision of the Faux Telly Screen, Winston cautiously reached into the drawer and pulled out a worn but unused notebook, the kind that had been popular some years before, but which now, because Party members were not permitted to write, were hard to come by.

Winston pulled out a short, broken pencil, of the kind that also used to be common, that he had found on the street two days ago.

With both the decrepit pencil and the worn notebook, Winston began to write.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Red State Discovers Gray Areas

Here's a little gem tucked away in the NYT this morning on that grand, red state values laden, sport of cockfighting. Cockfighting is where they put razor blades on the birds, place bets as to the likely winner, and let the birds fight to the bloody death. Sound good? Only two states in the union have not banned this "cultural heritage": New Mexico and Louisiana. New Mexico's beautiful. I got my master's degree there. Las Cruces, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe are great. The deserts and mountains are wonderful. The Very Large Array (VLA) from the movie "Contact" is there, too. But if you stray too far from the beaten path you're likely to discover that there are people there that don't know the war's over.

Turns out the subject of a cockfighting ban has come up in the state again, and those pesky outsiders from Hollywood and PETA are stirring up trouble, in the case of the former, reminding the state of its desire for production companies to film there, and well, maybe those companies might not want to continue putting their bucks in the Land of Enchantment if the state doesn't move into the 21st century and ban cockfighting.

This has gotten some of our cockfight-loving, anti-abortion votin', red state friends in a tizzy.

"I oppose abortion, but I'm not going to tell Pamela Anderson or even my daughter not to get one - it's their choice," said Louisa Lopez, who operates one of New Mexico's largest cockfighting pits, the Gentlemen's Arena Game Club, on the outskirts of Socorro, a small town south of Albuquerque. "So who are these outsiders telling me what to do? Who are they to come here with their ideas of what's right and what's wrong?"

OK, so the election was about values and how we need to return to a culture that tells right from wrong, right? Or wrong? Is the "right-wrong" distinction only for certain issues? If so, how do we know which ones? Is abortion a member of the "right-wrong" distinction or not? This New Mexican makes it sound like it isn't. But it seems like we've been hearing over and over about how everything's a matter of "black and white" (though not in the racial sense). What are we blue state heathens to make of this? It certainly isn't hypocrisy, now, is it? You know, defining issues as right or wrong in an abstract sense to gain political points or to outlaw something that offends you, but then claiming that the right-wrong concept doesn't apply to your pet vice or to your "cultural heritage"?

Paging Cal Thomas, The Corner, Townhall, John Leo, William Bennett, anyone, anyone?

Maybe gay rights activists and other "moral relativists" should consider this "cultural heritage" argument in support of their respective cause. This may be the crucial "out" that is needed in the culture wars. If your issue is a "cultural heritage" than it doesn't fall into the right or wrong, "there is an absolute truth" value continuum.

Thank You, Ma'am, May I Have Another?

Mo Dowd layeth the smacketh down on Rummy and our swaggerin', gussied up CIC.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

You Don't Have John Kerry to Kick Around Anymore

And where, by the way, are those Swift Boat Vets when you need them?

The Current Crisis: State of the Party Part III

In picking up the pieces from November 2, most of the advice for Democrats from friendly as well as non-friendly quarters can generally be classified into two main substantive courses of action. The first, and perhaps most abundant and unsolicited type, calls for Democrats to reshape their message to accomodate rural voters, religious conservatives, and red-state dwellers generally. This is what might be called the "values" thesis. The second is a call for Democrats to return to a message stressing economic populism. This theme, which I shall dub the "populist" argument is perhaps best identified by a well-noticed book this summer called What's The Matter With Kansas?, by Thomas Frank. In it, Frank noted the apparent incongruity on the part of mid-western and small town inhabitants to vote on the basis of religious and cultural issues and for the Republican Party but in opposition to their own economic self-interest. This second line of thought is deserving of a more considerate and reasoned response and approach that I can muster at this particular time and for that reason, I will put off a more thorough discussion of it for a later posting.

But my delay in joining this discussion on the politics of economic populism has another, more important cause at heart. That is, I believe the nature of the crisis that we face has more to do with the first issue, that siren call for Democrats to ape the rhetoric of conservativism in appealing to voters. Essentially it is my belief that the nature of the problem we face, and the route to challenging, if not correcting, the direction of American Politics it embodies lies not in shifting the focus to economics over values, but in addressing the values issues head-on.

One of the paradoxes of American politics over the last couple of decades has been the simultaneous call from conservatives for more "freedom", "less government" and a promotion of the value of "individualism" at the expense of collective action, while at the same time conservatism has publicly ridiculed individual liberties and through rhetoric as well as practice, worked to grant the government and society greater control over the individual.

As for this latter tendency, there are three main sources of this growing totalitarianism: Nationalism; Religious Fundamentalism; and Law and Order Authoritarianism. I distinguish between these types because each has unique attributes, but it should be pointed out that the three are far from mutually exclusive. They all share the same enemy: non-conformity in thoughts, words, actions, appearances, languages and allegiances; and the freedom of individual privacy and public expression. And from each spring the sources of attack against various liberal institutions, beliefs, and practices.

Let's consider the issue of Nationalism first. There have frequently been conflicts between nationalism and "patriotism" on the one hand, and individual liberty on the other. For the last half of the last century its basis was the Cold War. More recently matters such as the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, the discussion and introduction of a flag-burning Amendment to the Constitution, to a certain extent the first Gulf War, and more recently, the events of 9-11, the so-called "war on terrorism", and of course, our pre-emptive strike on and continued occupation of Iraq have created tension between nationalistic reative jingoism and the freedom of expression through dissenting opinion. Wrapped up in much of this have been continuing revelations from historical scholarship challenging conventional myths about America's founding and founders from Columbus to Thomas Jefferson, which have generated a great deal of hostility from movement conservatives towards colleges and universities, as well as the press, for supposedly being "anti-American".

In the context of each of these issues, conservatives have argued emotionally and vehemently, and with little respect for the right to freedom of expression, for a curtailment of individual liberties, both formal and informal, although not in so many words. It is usually cloaked in the language of the risk that certain behaviors or words cause, references to any useful symbolic reactionary tools, such as the images of 9-11 or some other period of national distress. During the present war we were and are told that to dissent is an afront to our "troops" and an encouragement to our "enemies". One "popular" anchor warned all opponents of the war to "shut up" once it started (or presumably face the consequences, from institutions or vigilantes it wasn't clear). Another favorite target of nationalism conservatives (as well as other conservatives as we shall see) in addition to colleges and universities are organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Despite the fact that the ACLU exists to protect prominent American "values" such as freedom of expression, the right to privacy, and freedom of and from religion, it has been tarred and feathered by conservatives in political campaigns, op-ed columns, and think tank "research" as an insidious and seditionous organization for its heretical positions and support of religious and political minorities. Conservative opposition to the ACLU and civil liberties proponents came to prominence during the election campaign of George H.W. Bush in 1988 when he accused his Democratic opponent, Michael Dukakis, of being a "card carrying member of the ACLU", as if this was a bad thing. Ever since then, the Democrats have been beating a hasty retreat from defending or being associated with the ACLU, the liberal label, and with civil liberty concerns generally. The emergence of Fox News on cable TV and its rabidly pro-Republican, pre and post war cheerleading hosts and "reporters" has given conservatives an additional platform from which to advance their desire to suppress dissent and control individual behavior when the Republican Party is in charge and its cultural and military war aims are threatened by the institutions and values of a free society.

Religious Fundamentalism. Much has been written over the last couple of decades about the rise of cultural evangelicalism, mega-churches, and political-religiously charged issues such as abortion, gay rights, and sex education. Similar to nationalism conservatives, religious fundamentalists have a strong aversion to multiple points of view, free discussion, the scientific method, and non-mythically-driven, non-emotional, non simplistic decision making. Consequently, places where these principles and approaches can be found are among the primary targets of religious fundamentalists. That information and debates may approach moral and political issues from a broader point of view than sexuality are particularly dangerous to religious conservatives. This is particularly why their primary bulls eye, as with nationalism conservatives, is naturally the college campus and public education as a whole. Hollywood and the entertainment industry also come in for more of their fair share of criticism and opposition, despite the fact that many television and cable tv stations are owned and operated by conservatives themselves, such as Fox, which promote a tyrannical cultural conservativism on its news network, but produce a wide range of sexual and violence-laden smut from its entertainment division. Feminist organizations, such as NOW, and Planned Parenthood, which strive to improve opportunities and choices for women are also seen as a threat to religious control, as of course are the ACLU, which among the liberties it seeks to protect are those of religious and non-religious minorities. Among the more informative pieces regarding religious fundamentalism is this one linked to by Digby. The prevailing advice from the punditry is for Democrats to embrace and accomodate these views. But as the linked piece suggests, fundamentalists are not interested in compromise, negotiating, or concerned about non-religious freedom. As Lee Child, a writer to the NYT letters section, noted recently (link unavailable from Friday, December 3), the position of fundamentalists is that we do not have a right to our different opinions and that this position (by religious fundamentalists) requires not understanding but opposition.

Law and Order Authoritarianism: This sub-theme has diminished, at least overtly, from the mainstream media, and the halls of Congress, due in part, to the decline, at least nationally, of many criminal indicators, and due again, in part, to a reluctance by the out of power party to argue on behalf of opposing interests and ideas. The acceptance of the death penalty by President Clinton and most of the candidates running for the nomination last year is one example of this. The absence of any major debate regarding the so-called War on Drugs is another. Conservative attacks on liberal supposedly "soft on crime" candidates and policies have done much to prevent the emergence of any dissent on matters of criminal justice issues where civil liberties and government control conflict. In both cases, conservatives have argued for greater resources and rights for government and its security industry apparatus at the expense of the rights, liberties, and lives of individuals.

Subsumed in the discussion of civil liberty protections from each of the three lines of the conservative totalitarian program outlined here is the Right to Privacy. While conservatives pay lip service to, and strenously promote the idea of "freedom" and "liberty", conservatives are strangely hostile to the notion of a Right to Privacy. Conservatives such as Antonio Scalia scoff at the very notion of a Right to Privacy and don't believe that the Constitution provides for it. Among conservatives he is not alone in this view. If there is anything you need to know about the cold, beating heart of conservatism it is this opposition to the Right to Privacy. (Should you happen upon the next meeting of the Federalist Society or the Young Americans for Freedom Foundation conference, or the American Conservative Union jubilee, you might want to be careful about bringing up the subject of the Right to Privacy, lest in the aftermath of doing so, you generate such an outpouring of spontaneous foaming at the mouth that animal control specialists armed with rabies vaccinations are summoned to quell the disturbance).

This opposition to the Right to Privacy brings us to another institution and process much belittled by movement conservatives and increasingly in the press as the structure most putting a break on malignant authoritarian designs: the courts. Notice the arguments advanced by the anti-gay marriage Constitutional Amendment advocates for example: "activist judges" (although since the cases are technically brought to the courts not by judges but by the parties involved in the suit, the judges aren't doing anything to advance an agenda, so it really isn't "activism" in the usual sense of the word, and for that matter, regardless, the courts are, you know, a legitimate branch of government, but nevermind), "out of control courts", decision making by "unelected judges", "judges need to interpret the law but not make the law" and so forth. Opposition to the courts is not new, but opposition to courts for EXPANDING individual rights is relatively recent, and deeply troubling. Beware the typical conservative subterfuge in defense of opposing the courts: something called "strict constructivism" in interpreting the Constitution. What this means to law and order conservatives and religious conservatives as well, is that in matters relating to the rights of people, we should defer to the circumstances of the late 1700's (meaning that people should get less rights than we would grant them today in an era of women voting, non-slavery, Miranda warnings, etc) and base rulings on the "intent" of the framers/founders, however such intent may be divined, inherently conflicted as it likely is in the many statements most of the founders may have uttered on the issue or the lack of statements as the case may be. But for Law and Order conservatives and religious fundamentalists, the real issue isn't "strict constructivism" or "intent" or whether judges are "activists" or any such legal nicety. The real issue for conservatives is the need to ensure the ability to control and punish people and to limit the freedom of minorities, whether religious, political, economic or otherwise.

In summary, this is the conservative establishment as we know it. The main threat from this conservatism is its war on individual liberties and its preference for religious, nationalistic, and punitive hierarchies and systems. And it has advanced this preference cleverly, from a wide range of angles, using symbolic, highly charged, and manipulative language.

The challenge for liberals is to call this conservatism by its right name--oppressive, backward, and threatening to freedom, the individual, and to our way of life and most important values. And to do so unapologetically, without fear for the immediate consequences. Liberals must redeem the word "liberal" as a positive attribute, unhesitantly defend liberalism's contributions and advances in our society over the last century and a half, and zealously guard the institutions that protect liberal values, individual freedom, and the growth of knowledge and opportunity, such as the ACLU, People for the American Way, and our colleges and universities.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Michael, We've Got Your Back

To: Peter Beinart, Al From, Bruce Reed, Will Marshall
Fr: Jay B. Bulworth
Re: Purging Michael Moore

Hey guys, do us all a favor, and shut the **** up.

When we want advice about how to screw up our party, lose elections, and sell our souls, we'll give you a call. Until then, Michael's welcome any day.

I know Michael Moore. Michael Moore's a friend of mine. Guys, none of you are worthy to carry Michael Moore's camera strap.

Let me ask you this, you holier than thou blowhards. Where were you when this Administration was lying its ******* *** off about Iraq, when the news media was mocking war protestors and slobbering all over itself to show us the shocking and aweful demonstrations of brutal, unprovoked aggression and arrogance, while it was ignoring the deaths of Iraqi civilians in its whoring chase for ratings? Where were you when the speedboat veterans for the ministry of truth and the other Cheney-Bush gang members were lying about John Kerry's war record all the while attempting to cover up the non-existent National Guard "service" of the "man of faith" from Crawford? Where were you when Republican convention goers were sporting "purple heart bandaids", thereby denigrating the service of not only John Kerry but all those who have sacrificed on behalf of their country, voluntarily or not? Where were you when Zell Miller stood on the convention platform and charged all those with the audacity to dissent from Our Leader's commands as traitors? Where were you when the Bush henchmen were fighting like hell to keep as many (minority) voters off the ballots, so this torture-loving, civil liberties violating regime could stay in power for at least four more years?

Gentlemen, I loathe you. You emit a foul and displeasing odor. You are all a big, giant piece of crap.

Oh, one other thing--go **** yourselves.

To Oppose

Resolved: It will be the policy of this blog to not post about every bit of political minutia, scandalous remarkings, or wingnut emissions that get run up the flagpole, or other liberal blog postings about such material. It will, instead, be the policy of this blog to progressively enunciate an agenda for the Democratic Party and to analyze any significant and necessary contributors therein.

But today I will kindly refer you to Josh Marshall's Talkingpointsmemo and his discussion of the little matter of the new presidential cabinet and sub-cabinet nominees, some of whom, Democratic Senate members, I implore you, are begging for something approaching an honest, thorough, and rigorous questioning, and if need be, opposing.

Here I am speaking primarily of the president's selection of former NYC police chief, Bernard Kerik (who'd rather just be called plain "Bernie"), as head of Homeland Security. It seems as if he deserted his job as trainer in chief for the Iraqi national police force, abruptly departing a mere two or so months into what was expected to be a minimum six-month tour of duty, and at a time, Josh notes, when things were going to hell in a hand basket over there. And, oh, yeah, one other thing. This Bernie's a political hack, campaigned for dubya predicting doom and despair for the war on terra should JFK II be elected, and has in turn served as Rudy G's resident butt-boy.

I'm not arguing for a full-scale assault on all the president's nominees. But where credible evidence suggests that such individuals may not be up for the task, or whose backgrounds lend themselves to serious concerns, it is incumbent upon those members of congress to investigate and to oppose such nominations if and when they are voted upon in committee or on the floor of the Senate and to make such opposition known.

On a somewhat related note: The failure of the Democrats to oppose, or to at least challenge the president's Iraq policy and the mass hysteria and propaganda about "the brutal Iraqi dictator" being generated by the news media that surrounded that policy, made it difficult if not impossible for the Democratic candidate (with the exception of Dean or Kucinich) to argue, two years later, in the midst of a presidential campaign, what was wrong with the war. Let's not make this mistake again, in the name of political expediency, for nominations or anything else, from introducing any much needed opposition. And for those of our Senate friends contemplating a run in '08, let's hear from you about these issues NOW, not three years from now in the snow of Iowa and New Hampshire about how deserving and electable a candidate you are. Now is your time. Stand up and be counted. Prove yourselves.

If Nominated I Will Not Run, If Elected I Will Not Serve

I need to say a few words about the DNC Chairmanship and the Presidency '08 rumours that have been going around. In the few days I've been back, many of you have written, called, and faxed to inquire as to my availability for these illustrious positions, based on various reports circulating throughout the Internets.

I have to say I'm sorry about these rumours. They're false, completely without foundation, have no credibility, and I'm terribly sorry I started them.

Please cease and desist all such efforts on my behalf.

I will be making a DNC endorsement shortly.

Thank You.

To South or Not To South: State of the Party II

Wow. I didn't realize what hard work bloggering is. It's hard. I was all set to post a discourse on what Dems should do about the South, then that frenchman, Michael Berube, goes and does it, but he does one better, and plants the finger of blame on Democratic failures not on the Old Confederacy states, but on those of the Lousiana Purchase, which gave us OK, Mizzou, Kansas, the Dakotas, etc. The Plains States. And he's right, for more reasons than one.

But since one is all I know, I'll go on with what I was going to say anyway. Consider this an open letter to the future DNC chairperson.

"Dear Howard/Simon/Joe,

Obviously you're all aware of the fact that our candidate did not win a single southern state this Fall, and pretty much across the board, wasn't even competitive in them. Even before the campaign started there were calls to write off the South. Aside from a visit or two to LA early on, I'm not sure our standard bearer ever went below the Mason Dixon line.

Now, as have many others, I've had occasion these last few weeks to question the wisdom of everyone's favorite president, Honest Abe, in not just letting the southern states go when he had the chance. But he didn't and we still have them, every federal dollar sucking, Jerry Falwell exporting one of them.

But here's the thing. If I can be blunt, let me run down with you some statistics you might find interesting. Mississippi, 36% black. Louisiana, 33% black. Georgia and South Carolina, 29% and 30% black. Alabama, 26% black. And oh, yeah, these states are all among the poorest in the country. Now, back in 2000, about 9 out of 10 blacks voted Democratic. Now, how is it, that with such high percentages of black individuals, and with such low levels of income, we ain't competitive there?

Now, it's possible that black support for Democrats may be lower in the South, like say, 8 out of 10, but that's a big maybe. In any event, with the high proportion of blacks, and the proponderance of blacks to vote Democratic, we don't need all that many white votes down there to win.

So get to it. Please.

Love, Senator Bulworth"

Sunday, December 05, 2004

State of the Party, Part I

Short post today, but as I get started here I feel compelled to offer whatever brief analysis I can regarding the outcome of last month's election. While much of this has been hashed and rehashed throughout blogland, there are a few items that have largely escaped the note of some of my fellow bloggers, and of course, not surprisingly, our friends in the so-called "liberal media".

Like most of you, I've spent the last month in considerable pain, forced to endure the spectacle of the Administration's unchallenged claim of a supposed mandate based on a 51% of the vote, and results from exit polls showing that a small plurality of voters identified "values" as their main issue of concern, a finding that has given the authoritarian wingnuts gruel to chew on.

Folks, here is what you need to know about presidential elections: The results almost always turn on the economy, the popularity of the incumbent party, and foreign policy broadly defined. They are rarely if ever about ideology or "issues" as we understand them.

Second, here is what you need to know about elections involving an incumbent running for his party's second straight term. They usually win. Big. Look it up. FDR in '36, Ike in '56, Johnson in '64, Nixon in '72, Carter in '80, Reagan in '84 and Clinton in '96. The only one in the group to lose was Carter. The others won by larger popular and electoral margins than Our Leader and his 51%. When presidents are running for their party's second term they usually do very well.

With that in mind, it needs to be said that Kerry and the Democrats by extension, did very well at the presidential level. At the presidential level, there is no crisis. Here that? SCLM this means you. The race was very close. In a way, that is what makes the result so painful. But 2008 will be a very winnable race and I would expect the Democrat to be well positioned, whomever he or she may be.

Some of you may be wondering if in my return to society I haven't faced the facts regarding the results in the House and Senate races. For gosh sakes Jay we lost 4 seats in the Senate, and that Tom Delay got more seats in the House. Well, I have. And I'll attempt to address them in the next post, or the second, or the third, whatever it takes.

For now, for your encouragement, please read Judis' and Texiera's The Emerging Democratic Majority, and call me in the morning.

And don't forget, "we stand on the edge of a new millenium..."