Soul Searching in Liberal Blogsphere
I think there is way too much soul searching going on in the liberal blogsphere, you'd think that we had just been handed another Mondale or McGovern.
Looking at the numbers, these numbers aren't disemble-and-restructure-from-ground-up numbers, these are we're-right-there numbers.
In Virginia we're at 45% (Kerry did predictably well in Northern Virginia, but he got 47% in South East VA which is military territory)
In North Carolina we're at 45% (could be Edwards effect)
In Arkansas, we're at 46%
In Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, and Ohio, we are within 3 points.
These are good building-on numbers. Remember, when Bush lost the popular vote, Rove didn't tear down Rome, he just simply asked, where can we get 4 million votes to put us over the top?
All we need to do is ask how to build our coalition.
When all is said and done, We simply need to ask whom we lost or who did not show up and why. We need to search for group with conviction that will be a steady perfomer.
I suggest that group is Catholics. Catholics were 27% of the electorate, compared with being only 20% of the population. Bush won the OH Catholic vote by 55-44 and the FL Catholic vote by 57-42. However, Kerry won the Catholic vote in IA, NM (63%), MN, MI, PA, WI and was only -1% in MO. The states in which Kerry won the Catholic vote are not that different from OH and even FL. The only difference, it seems, was the FL campaign did not take the Catholic thing head-on and neither did OH (I think). OH was more about guns and jobs.
It seems there was a strong Catholic radar in IA, WI, MI, MN as we specifically sought to counter the anti-Kerry Catholic campaign. But OH dropped off the Kerry Catholic radar.
In IA, NM, NV, and OH, we can build an effectve Catholic coalition that will consistently deliver for us. These are moderate Catholics who agree with Democrats on most things with the exception of Roe v Wade, which is an issue that can succesfully addressed. All the party needs to do really, is to soften its edges. It has a winning platform, the party just appears to people on the outside looking in, like a freak show in halloween.
I hope we don't go overboard with this soul searching. There is no need to revamp the party, we're right there on the cusp. We need to reach out to moderate and liberal Catholics and we can form a winning coalition.
As for where the party is going in the immediate future: the Dean people are the most vocal and are calling for Dean and an unabashed move to the left. They've always argued that going left will bring in more new people and offer a distinct choice. It doesn't work and never has. Kerry was a clear enough choice.
Here's my take on the future of the Democratic Party. There's going to be much talk about getting a candidate from the South or midwest, etc. The fact is that there isn't anyone who comes to mind who could step in and be ready for 2008. The 2008 potential candidates are Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, probably Biden, Bill Richardson and maybe Tom Vilsak of Iowa . . . Hillary would go nowhere, I do not think the party will embrace her. Vilsak would be an attractive candidate, but his lack of foreign policy would be his problem. Bill Richardson is very well suited and of course, there is John Edwards, who'd be out of the Senate. In this crowd I don't see who the next spark is.
What I envision is that after four years of Bush/Cheney and their extreme agenda, the nation will long for more common sense and a fresh start. I think time will work well for John Kerry, who'd still be in the Senate. As the years go by, I think people would reflect more on his proposals, his steadiness, his common sense, his solutions, and people would be more comfortable with him. I think there would be a ground swell to have Kerry run again. Why? Because people would feel like the know him better, everyone would have had time to evaluate his proposals, especially against the backdrop of the Bush Cheney policies. He wouldn't need to spend time introducing himself, rather, he can launch into the issues. I think after four more years, we would long for an articulate statemans, who desires to make us strong both at home and abroad, I think that he would fit the mold.
The other factor to consider is that Kerry bowed out of this contest gracefully, like Nixon did in 1960. He has left a good taste in people's mouths and has put the country's interests before his.
So basically, in my dreams, I am seeing Kerry/Edwards run again in 2008. Of course this is so premature it is not even funny. But it is a distinct possibility. Reagan ran in 1980 after a crushing loss to Ford in the primary. I'm sure in 1976, it felt like the end of the road, but life is funny sometimes. Nixon lost by hundreds of votes in an election filled with irregularities, only to come back eight years later and win the presidency. So a future run is not impossible.
As for the next four years, I have wondered what I can look forward too.
--Supreme Court nominess in the mould of radical Clarence Thomas types with histories of race issues
-Environment: more "clear skies," "logging galore," "drilling in ANWAR," no alternative fuel initiative, more oil drilling of our coasts, the continued relaxation of EPA standards, etc
-Economy and Taxes, more tax cuts for the wealthy, stagnating economy
-War of Terror, more Iraq, possible move to Syria or Iran, a possible draft
-Healthcare: group plans for small business, which do nothing about cost at all, health savings accounts-again, these benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor, the current crazy Medicare plan, nothing to bring costs down, no drug re-importation, no plan for people not covered etc
-Education: more of NCLB, more mandates, more costs, less funding, more bizarre
-Foreign Policy: this is where it gets quite interesting, I think China and the EU are going to emerge in their own right as developing countries seek to avoid the US and realign with other growing powers in terms of trade relations and security issues. Our friends would be Britain, Australia, Poland, Israel, everyone else gets the stiff arm. The Palestinian road map is done, the UN is toast, Kim Jong Il gets more agitated, etc
-Military--possible draft, VA funding problems, 15-20% of Iraq vets with PTSD, more deaths, a bad to worse Iraqi situation, an unstable middle east
--trade: free trade pact galore with no labor standards and nothing to discourage outsourcing, which they believe is good for the economy
--Social security--privatization of accounts, with no current funds to fund the $2 trillion in transition costs=more deficits
--Deficits--I know of no plan on the president's desk at this point to address this
I'll stop there. As you see, I don't expect it to be a wonderful next four years.