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E. J. Dionne Jr.: GOP stalls, but Democrats are split

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 12:29 AM
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E. J. Dionne Jr.: GOP stalls, but Democrats are split
E.J. DIONNE JR. THE WASHINGTON POST

GOP stalls, but Democrats are split

September 27, 2005

(snip)

But Democrats are less ecstatic about Democrats. Over the last several weeks, it was impossible not to run into Bush critics who would shake their heads and complain: "Yes, but where are the Democrats? Who are our leaders? What do they have to say?" The critiques come from the left ("Why can't Democrats stand up and be counted?") and from the center ("We'll never win if we look like liberal ideologues"). And almost every day, Democrats seem to give their critics evidence of division. The party splintered over the nomination of John Roberts as chief justice.

(snip)

But the party's problems are structural and can be explained by three numbers: 21, 34, and 45. According to the network exit polls, 21 percent of the voters who cast ballots in 2004 called themselves liberal, 34 percent said they were conservative and 45 percent called themselves moderate. Those numbers mean that liberal-leaning Democrats are far more dependent than conservatively inclined Republicans on alliances with the political center. Democrats second-guess themselves because they have to. Consider that in 2004, Democrat John Kerry won 85 percent of the liberal vote and defeated Bush by a healthy 54 percent to 45 percent among moderates. But Bush prevailed because he won 84 percent of a conservative vote that constitutes more than a third of the electorate.

(snip)

The core difficulty for Democrats is that they must solve two problems simultaneously and solving one problem can get in the way of solving the other. Over time, Democrats need to reduce the conservative advantage over liberals in the electorate, which means the party needs to take clear stands that could detach voters from their allegiance to conservatism. For some in the party, this means becoming more moderate on cultural issues such as abortion. For others, it means full-throated populism to attract lower-income social conservatives. Some favor a combination of the two, while still others worry that too much populism would drive away moderate voters in the upper middle class. The debate often leads to intellectual gridlock.

(snip)

Is this an insoluble problem? In recent weeks, Democrats, who sense an opening from Bush's collapse in the polls, have held rounds of discussions on the importance of having a "clear message" and maintaining solidarity and discipline in the face of a normally tough but now tattered Republican message machine.

The truth is that opposition parties normally get a chance only when the governing party disappoints. For the time being, that means that Democrats will have no problem staying united behind the imperative of keeping Bush on the ropes. The flow of negative news about the administration will do much of the Democrats' work for them. Solving the party's larger intellectual and tactical contradictions will take more time. That means its leaders will have to brace themselves for more criticisms from their impatient, not-quite-so-loyal loyalists.

Dionne can be reached via e-mail at postchat@aol.com .


Find this article at:
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050927/news_l...

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joemurphy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 12:59 AM
Response to Original message
1. It's because Democrats generally supported everything Bush
did. Chicken-shit, cynical, ambitious, and lacking in principle. Kerry, Bayh, Biden, Clinton, Lieberman -- and all the others that backed Bush every step of the way. Our "leaders".
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. deleted
Edited on Wed Sep-28-05 01:11 AM by Pigwidgeon
deleted
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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 01:26 AM
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3. what the Party still doesn't understand is ...
that they need to include "little people" in the Party's internal dialog ... so far, they're just meeting among themselves ...

people are generally more willing to compromise when they believe they've been heard ... shut them out, and positions become more entrenched ...

Party leaders, especially Dean, need to address this by giving more voice to every Democrat ... job one right now is not figuring out how many drops of conservative seasoning versus how many drops of liberal seasoning will win the most votes ... job one is getting more Democrats involved in steering the big ship ... if we don't make the Party more democratic, the rifts we all see are going to do some real damage ...

we're running out of time and i don't think any of the elite Democrats understand this ...
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joemurphy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 01:45 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Formulating an agenda would be a nice strategy too. n/t
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dorktv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 04:57 AM
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5. Some of the Dem challengers are pushing their way into the
dialouge. They want us to vote their way on key bills but will not let us speak? Kind of lame.
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