The Washington Post has a couple of interesting articles on the current state of the Democrats. Starting with a piece exploring the Dems reluctance to commit to an agenda, the Post also includes an EJ Dionne column that looks at the “Democrats’ Real Problem“.
From the former:
Some Democrats fear that the hesitant handling [of a public agenda] is symbolic of larger problems facing the party in trying to seize control of the House and Senate after more than a decade of almost unbroken minority status. Lawmakers and strategists have complained about erratic or uncertain leadership and repeated delays in resolving important issues.
And the latter:
The Democrats’ real problem is that they have failed to show how their critique of the Republican status quo is the essential first step toward the alternative program they will owe the voters in the presidential year of 2008.
The make-up of the two parties really creates a much mire difficult position for the Democrats. You can say what you want about minority outreach and such, but the GOP is largely a coalition of two groups – fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Some of our people are motivated by god and guns, and some are motivated by taxes and a sound economy.
Democrats have a much tougher time. They are a coalition of many. They all have varying degrees of liberal belief, but any one of them generally claims to be more liberal than the others. Take for instance a story related to me by a liberal Democrat friend after he moved to San Francisco.
I hadn’t been in San Fran for long when I heard about the Castro Street Fair. I thought it would be a lot of fun to check it out. It really represented to me what liberals were all about – being who you want to be without fear of being judged. So I went. I had been there about a half hour when I lit up a cigarette. I couldn’t believe the reaction. I was hissed at. People yelled at me. I thought, “Wait a minute. You’re saying it’s ok to walk around in a leather thong with a vibrator jammed up your ass but f**k me if I smoke.” It was BS.
That is the Democrats problem. They have to unite the causeheads. They have to unite a lot of people who feel that their cause du jour is the only important goal and the party should get behind them. Crafting a national agenda that appeals to that base, while at the same time attracts the moderates in America, is nearly impossible.
It’s even harder when the one thing your base can agree on – hatred for the President – is a sentiment that the middle of America doesn’t share. Moderates may think that Bush has done a poor job, but they don’t see the guy as a bad person.
Base Democrats do.
If they craft an agenda that appeals to the moderate view of Bush, their base will accuse them of selling out and the blog chatter will reach a fevered pitch. If they craft an agenda designed to galvanize the base, they will turn off middle America.
It’s going to be a tough job. Good luck with that, fellas.