Sunday, December 3, 2006

Let's Not Do as They Do

We can learn a few things from the Republicans. This week, the Republican Governors Association chose Sonny Perdue as Chair, and Perdue immediately installed Nick Ayers, his 24-year-old campaign manager as the youngest executive director ever of the Association. The choice of Gov. Perdue, a Southerner who despite re-election carries substantial ethical baggage because of his questionable land deals, underscores that Republicans have no intention of correcting the course that has so marginalized their Party. They instead sent a signal that they will continue to embrace those with ethical clouds looming and that they are at best a regional party, a southern party, to be specific.

On a national level, the congressional Republicans took a similar approach, re-installing the old guard despite losing both houses of congress. They even gave Trent Lott his old job back despite the fact that he was earlier forced to resign following some "racially insensitive" remarks. (In 2002, at the 100th birthday party for Sen. Thurmond, Lott said of Thurmond's 1948 campaign: "I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.") Click here for the whole story on Lott's issues with such stands.

In a way, this is good news for Democrats. On a national level, for the first time is a decade or more, Republicans are behind the curve. They are now where voters were, not where they want to go. The challenge for Democrats, if we are to stay in power, is to have the vision to see where voters need to go and then lead them there.

In Georgia, the shoe is on the other foot, and the inability of the national Republican machine to turn itself around is only good news if we take notes and refuse to do what they have done. Instead, we must do a no excuses analysis of the recent election and correct course. Democrats can win in Georgia. Democrats did win in Georgia (Baker and Thurmond, for example), but not if we continue on the same course with essentially the same leadership. I am not suggesting that we jettison valuable institutional knowledge, but I am suggesting that in the upcoming elections for Party leadership and as we field candidates and hone message for the upcoming elections, we need to send a signal that we heard the voters. I hope that we will have the courage and vision to lead as opposed to simply going where the opinion polls take us.


Tina said...

Agreed !! Anybody else who wants to jump ship from the Democfratic party needs to go ahead and do it now so the party can be rebuilt with more dependable materials.

Kathy said...

The largesse of the GOP is boundless this fall. First, giving us so much to be thankful for nationally, and now, as our Christmas gift, they've elected ethically challenged Perdue and and his sobriety challenged campaign manager to take the reins of the RGA.

If we blow this chance of a lifetime, it will be our own fault. Republicans have grown so cavalier that they believe the rich and the right wing evangelicals can keep them in office indefinitely. I have wondered often how thumbing one's nose at right and wrong while operating for personal profit exemplified Christian values. It must be that brain-stem voting thing, Amy. Keep em focused on gays and abortion, and you can put anything else right past em.

The pendulum is swinging back in our favor. We have to be smart in our focus and appeal to the other brain stem issues as well as to the better angels of our human nature. Personally, I would favor centrist candidates of either sex and a centrist message. That's how Bill Clinton won two elections.

The GOP has spent much time and much money ensuring that "liberal" is a dirty word evoking a knee jerk negative reaction at least from Georgia voters. It's time to reframe our message taking our voter base into account. Even the most terrific candidates can do no good if they aren't elected. We had some exemplary folks running for the legislature this time and they all got torpedoed by the L word.

Those Democrats who were successful this time out were decidedly centrist in orientation, and the ones you mention are not specifically lawmakers. In other words they did not have to deal directly with the "liberal" business and all that is perceived to entail. Baker and Thurmond were elected on their fine records, not their particular leanings on issues.

Painting Judge Hunstein with the "liberal" brush did not work because she had the support of many who are not liberals. As it was, she had to spend an outrageous amount of money to fend off a third-rate knucklehead like Mike Wiggins.

If Democrats -not Dixiecrats- are to gain power in Georgia, we must do more than just be organized, etc. We have to be able to appeal to a much broader base.