Confessions of a Hoosier Democrat

Blogging Indiana Politics and the 2008 Presidential Race.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Memo to Democrats: Get in the game

I need to buy Mark Joseph a beer... he's hit the nail on the head with a few of his points in his latest column on

Note, especially #4 and #6...

Nobody enjoys a football game where one side is running up the score while the other side self-destructs. In the interests of bi-partisanship and an exciting and fairly matched presidential campaign, here are some suggestions for how Democrats can make '08 a real contest. As things stand now and unless they come up with a Plan B quickly, Hillary Rodham Clinton is going to have her clock cleaned by George Allen. But there is still hope for the Democrats and plenty of time for them to change course. Here's how Democrats can get back in the game:

1) Pray really hard that the Republicans give you an opening by nominating Rudy Giuliani or another left-leaning Republican for president. This will alienate the GOP's base, whose members will not be able to bring themselves to vote for him. When millions of devout churchgoers stay home on election day 2008, the White House will be yours again...provided you don't energize them by nominating Sen. Clinton.

2) If the Republicans nominate John McCain, this too may be a win for you. Once he's their nominee, spend part of your advertising budget running commercials quoting McCain trashing various conservative Christian icons. Reminding these voters of McCain's attitude toward many of their leaders will depress turnout.

3) Change your platform on abortion and make the party officially neutral on this hot-button issue. Use some vague, noncommittal language like "we respect the views of all Americans on this divisive issue, and understand the heartfelt concerns of those who believe in a woman's right to choose and those who believe in the unborn child's right to life. There is room in our party for all points of view and we leave it up to each member of our party to follow their conscience on this difficult and divisive issue." In a flash you'll win back the hearts of millions of conservative Democrats, moderate to liberal Evangelicals, and suburban housewives who may be pro-choice but want some limitations. Remember, Billy Graham, the famed evangelist, is still a registered Democrat, though he hasn't voted with you in some time. This will put the votes of the Billy Graham's of the country back in play.

4) Nominate Indiana Senator Evan Bayh for President. Bayh learned from the 1980 defeat of his father, Senator Birch Bayh, how to present liberalism with a mainstream face. He's your man. If he's the nominee, you win and the Republicans lose.

5) Engage the conservative churchgoing audience, don't ignore them. Do your best to hide the condescension you feel for them. Meet with their leaders. Go on their talk shows. Tell them about the change in your party platform on abortion. Don't sneer or condescend. Remember, these are voters you are trying to win over to your side and insulting voters is always a bad idea.

6) Don't hesitate to criticize the president, but do it respectfully. Fifty-one percent of the country voted for him. When you call him names, his voters take it personally. Remember that each time you call him an idiot, you're also calling his voters idiots-not a good idea if you're looking for their votes. Whenever you can, flummox your opponents by criticizing the President for not being conservative enough on issues related to national security. You're already doing this on the Ports issue; do it on other issues like immigration.

7) Do something crazy to shake things up. Propose a flat tax that exempts those earning less than 20K a year or use that Social Security proposal of Robert Wexler's and make it your own. Anything will do, just show the country that you have a pulse and can do more than say no.

8) Begin softening up Allen, the likely GOP nominee now. This guy smells like Reagan, and will be serious trouble for you if he makes it out of the primary. Right now he seems smart, tough, genial, firm and gracious. You will have to provide voters with an alternative interpretation: Coach's son who had everything handed to him in life, intellectual lightweight, blow-dried preener who wants too much to be president-the choices are yours. They may be slim, but if you don't come up with something, he is going to take '08 in a 55-45 cakewalk.

There's still time. Nobody likes a blow-out. Remember the Whigs. Get back in the game


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