Friday, March 4, 2011

Interlude before moving to Part 2 of: Do Georgia Democrats have what it takes to Play Ball Again here in the Rural Red?

The Republican Party here in Georgia, all will agree, is at an all-time high, while the Democratic Party, most will agree, is at an all-time low. Some have even gone as far to say (like myself) that the Democratic Party is collapsing, falling apart, or imploding. Is this an accurate assessment or just the wishful thinking of partisan activists?

Democrats typically were the majority in the state government, the very time Georgia rose from the ashes of the civil war to the south's major superpower, the leading progressive state in the south

Look, Democrats have to begin with a bottom-line admission to themselves: They LOST the 2002, 2006 & 2010 elections, therefore, there is something wrong with them that needs changing. The Republicans do not have to change their strategy because they are winning--at the state level, in the statehouses, at congress, and everywhere else that the parties contend.

Democrats have lost 3 straight statewide elections for governor. And the only reason Perdue won in 2002 was the public was punishing Barnes and the Democrats for 1) Changing the confederate flag & 2) Teachers were mad as hell--so it was not so much a win for them (GOP) as a loss for them (Dems). (So I thought). This means that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH DEMOCRATS. It is not the Republicans who are broken. Dems are the ones who have to change. Our state does not accept our vision and our values, which they mistake as those of the National Democratic Party. So Dems (who are dominated by the progressives) have to redefine what it means to be a progressive in a state in which liberalism was never a popular option (if it ever was). To give you the short answer up-front, what this means is that the Democratic Party needs to become a populist party again rather than a liberal party. I've said in the past & most recently that it needs to stop shunning consevrative democrats 7 begain to embrace them regardless of their views & positions.

Some Georgia Democrats nowadays want to start a race for governor, senator or any other statewide race by conceding huge parts of the state to the Republicans. Of the 159 counties, probably 60% of them are so red that Democrats do not even bother to field a campaign there, they concede them without a fight. There are probably 40-45 counties that I wou;d consider a potential swing county, where by definition dems have to fight the Republicans. In other words, Democrats have to fight Republicans for votes even in the blue-counties, while the Republicans can take more than half the state for granted without having to defend their voting base. This puts the Democrats in the position of a football team who must play the entire game only in their half of the field--such a team cannot win many games in the long run. If Democrats are going to be born again as a majority party, they have to speak to the whole state again. . . . When Democrats choose not to compete on three-quarters of the Georgia Red Clay soil, they have no margin for error in statewide elections--and they're almost sure to be a permanent minority in the state legislature. Meanwhile, Republicans squeeze them on the turf they still hold. A majority party must be a state party, not a regional one.

Now we have three options; three approaches for democrats to turning this all around:

1) They can insist they were right all along and stay the course, confident that the voters will come to their senses in the next election cycle

2) They can wait and hope for the Ga Republicans to self-destruct due to their supposed extremism or overreach that, they like to assume, puts them out-of-touch with average Georgians

3) They can change something about themselves that will make Democrats more attractive to at least some of those red-county voters who are presently voting against them

First about the supposed extremism of the Republicans and their potential to self-destruct. Some of us made this exact same argument starting in 2005 when republicans took total control of the state legislature. We were SURE that Georgians would not tolerate the right-wing policies of the GOP. Well, we were totally full of crap. Perdue defeated democrat Mark Taylor overwhelmingly in 2006 and went on to lead a "Georgia" conservative revolution that is still steam-rolling along with the 2010 knockout of Georgia Dems. So if you are waiting for the Republicans to self-destruct, don't hold your breath..........FOR NOW!

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