Looking at ’08, first thoughts

I am a firm believer that the dominant Democratic political strategy of the past twelve years has not been a successful one. This strategy has been to play the Sister Soulijah game of pandering to the right as much as possible while retaining a somewhat motivated base in an attempt to pick-off the marginal voter who normally would vote for a Republican. That strategy has failed to produce majorities for Democrats — instead it has deepened the minority position.

Seeing that doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results is not a logical nor sane position, something needs to change. One of the big changes that the liberal netroots are trying to push is to grow the party in order to deal with the the fact that liberals are outnumbered. The Democratic Strategist has a great post on this with some pretty intense data. Kevin Drum has the end result in a convienent format:

  • 42% say they’re conservative and really are conservative.
  • 5% say they’re liberal but are actually conservative.
  • 13% are genuinely centrist (or perhaps just confused).
  • 13% say they’re conservative but are actually liberal.
  • 27% say they’re liberal and really are liberal.
  • So the breakdown is simple; conservative lead roughly 47-40 with 13% truly undecided. The traditional Democratic strategist will look at this and try to get the 13% of indepedents with an overwhelming victory there to make up for the fact that the conservative candidate barely has to be breathing to get within a decent GOTV operation of a national win.

    The recent CNN poll further illustrates this problem. The three major big name Democrats (Clinton, Gore, Kerry) all had “no way in hell” numbers of 47%, 48%, 47%. Two major Republican national names (McCain and Guilianni) had “no way in hell” numbers of 34% and 30%. These results correlate well with the above identification of actual partisan behavior. The operational conservatives have locked down against anyone that they perceive as liberals already while the operational liberals have also done a decent job of consolidating against any conservative, but there is a little bit of growth left there.

    The grow the party and liberalism/progressivism campaign is a long term campaign. I believe that we will start seeing significant results from the 50 State Project by 2008, but the fruits will really start paying off in 2012 after the redistricting of the House occurs. Until then, interim measures need to be taken in order to remain competitive and thus reduce the damage that can be done to both previous liberal achievements (Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights) and future option space for liberal and progressive movement (Iraq, oil and energy rationalization, gay rights etc).

    Working to build an inside straight is tough work, while working to draw a full house is a little less difficult. I like Al Gore, and I truly think that he would be an amazing President. He has demonstrated excellent judgement on foreign policy, getting Iraq right both times that this question was presented to the body politic, and he has the vision to lead towards a new economic revolution that successfully deals with climate change while massively increasing the net wealth of the world. However, I have a hard time seeing how he can be elected. For these reasons, I do not believe that I can support Al Gore in the primary process if he is successfully drafted.

    I have never been a big fan of Hillary Clinton; she is the epitome of an opportunity cost loser — she has a platform and the ability to create attention for herself and causes and she chooses to rail against Grand Theft Auto. This is a logical extension of her political view that the way to power is to pander on cultural issues to conservative or fearful voters. While it is logical, it is not in my interest to reward this type of behavior. John Kerry has become a much better Senator than a presidential candidate. I greatly respect his work in the Senate, and for my birthstate, but unfortunately a “Massachusetts Liberal” is toxic to the national political appetite. He has too much baggage and I do not believe he has the right campaign instincts to respond to effective Republican smear attacks such as the Swift Boat.

    I am unsure who I want to support for 2008. Edwards and Warner right now are my top two choices, and Edwards with his narrative of hope and contrast is an extremely attractive candidate in my mind.

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