Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why Central & South Georgia is fertile territory for Democrats

Suppose you're a Democratic candidate for governor, running as a Moderate/Conservative Democrat, locked in a pretty tight election. With a few months to go in the campaign you are either trailing or tied in every South Georgia County. Shouldn't you at that point cut your losses and invest time and resources elsewhere, in key swing counties you might actually win?

Roy Barnes, who in 2002 basically ignored Rural Georgia essentially stopped campaigning on the countryside, only the presence of TV Ads flooded the airwaves in Rural Georgia, In 2006 Mark Taylor had limited resources due to a bloodied primary battle between then Secretary of State Cathy Cox, had minimal presence in South Georgia. In 2008, Jim Martin went to a few South Georgia Counties & campaigned, but that was it. In much of Rural Georgia, there was no evidence in each circumstance that the Democrats were even contesting for the U.S. Senate, or Governor.


Efforts to compete in Rural Georgia, at the statewide level are not only likely to succeed, but likely to help & strengthened the Democratic Party as a whole. Attempting to win over conservative-to-moderate white voters in Rural Georgia requires backing away from some strong principled progressive positions that may not be in line with majority of Georgians who are center/right voters.

Democrats should concentrate on building a solid brand image based on moderate conservative principles: a smart educational strategy that addresses actual vulnerabilities instead of relying on the same 'ole adage of putting more money into the schools; economic policies based on the notions of statewide investment and providing a better quality of life to all; and strong support of our judicial system & public safety officials (Law Enforcement for example). In addition, Democrats should focus on particular issues on which they can actually deliver the goods, and should try to identify emerging issues that might benefit the party over the long term.

Democrats can compete in Rural Georgia, not in the distant future, but here and now—by embracing a populist approach on economics and addressing the concrete issues of jobs, wages and economic stability.

Democrats need to stressed his or her personal faith and cultural conservatism, following the traditional strategy of trying to prove to voters that one can be a Democrat and a culturally in the mainstream at the same time. Now this may work sometime, while at other times, it might not. But a candidate's campaign can take off if he or she began emphasizing concrete, lunch-bucket economic issues on the stump.

Look at Gen David Poythress for example, if were to win the democratic nomination he can couple his pro-military cultural conservatism with a strong position against massive cuts to education and an even stronger populist economic pitch. Aided by an very unhappy electorate of teachers, unemployed workers & small business owners he can win definitely win in November.

Voters in Rural Georgia, especially white working-class voters, are now ripe for an appeal from a populist center/right democrat candidate on economic concerns, from education to job creation to to employment. Republican economic policies and the economic pain they have brought on this state have created a growing constituency for a revival of the class-based populism.

The Georgia Democratic Party itself might get reinvigorated in Rural Georgia at the grassroots level—not as a brand, but as a concrete organization that mobilizes constituents and turns out voters. Throughout the short period of Republican ascendancy in the Rural Georgia, the State Democratic Party has largely been an empty shell at the county level, with often only minimal resources available to state parties as well.

IT IS SIMPLY IMMORAL FOR THE GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY TO STOP COMPETING IN RURAL GEORGIA.



Rural Georgia Counties, after all, comprise the state with the highest levels of poverty, the most inadequate provision of health care and education, the most severe legacy of racism, and the worst-paid, least unionized worked force. To abandon Rural Georgia to the right wing, to refuse to challenge the echo chamber of conservative rhetoric, amounts to refusing to challenge the most severe examples of politics in Rural Georgia. Yet while money and volunteer time may be inherently scarce resources, a candidate's time is. Do we really expect Roy Barnes, David Poythress, Du Bose Porter, Thubert Baker to spend precious time in September & October courting voters in Vidalia, Rochelle, Adel, Crawfordville and Nahunta? I do!

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