Thursday, August 15, 2013

Is The Democratic Party Still Alive As A National Organization?


Tuesday, conservative polemicist Byron York was worrying the Republicans could lose the House in 2014. And if the Democratic Party was even vaguely competent, they could.
Republicans haven't worried about losing the House because, first, having won by a landslide in 2010, they got to control the redistricting process, and they have used that power to draw districts that give them an advantage. Second, Barack Obama, having won re-election, is not particularly popular, and his ratings could slip further by November 2014. And third, history teaches that the presidential party just doesn't gain seats in the mid-terms of a president's second term. So, the thinking goes, Obama's Democrats can't win. The House will stay Republican.

Unless it doesn't. Behind the scenes-- in whispered asides, not for public consumption-- some Republicans are now worried that keeping the House is not such a done deal after all. They look back to two elections, 1998 and 2006, in which Republicans seriously underperformed expectations, and they wonder if 2014 might be a little like those two unhappy years.

"The majority is at risk," says one well-connected Republican strategist. "It should be a good year, but you need to run like you're trying to win, and you need a good, solid strategy."

...In both years, '98 and '06, Republicans concentrated more on going after Democrats than on laying out a solid plan for governance. They were the opposition party more than the alternative party. And they suffered for it.

What is the GOP plan for 2014? It's not clear. But there are indications some Republicans believe that, with a weakening president, a strategy based mostly on opposing Democrats will be enough to keep control of the House. But voters are sending some warning signals... Voters don't approve of the way Obama is handling the economy. Yet they prefer him over Republicans.

What that should tell the GOP is that Republican candidates don't need to tell voters what a bad job the president is doing. They already know that, and besides, Obama won't be on the ballot in 2014. What GOP candidates need to do is convince voters that they would do a better job than Democrats.

If they don't-- if Republicans stick to being an opposition party on the attack rather than the alternative party offering an agenda-- then Obama's much-discussed dream of retaking the House in 2014 might come true, despite all the odds. And that would be a nightmare for Republicans.
What York isn't taking into account is how pathetic the Democratic Party is as a fighting entity; he's too worried about his own sick party. And it goes beyond just Nancy Pelosi's catastrophic decision to keep Steve Israel on as head of the DCCC after his pathetic performance in 2012. As long as he's chairman, the Democrats will never take back the House. He's a born loser who would rather back losing Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party (like himself) than win with mainstream progressive Democrats. But the DEmocrats suffer from more than just Steve Israel.

If primaries are a symptom of political vibrancy, in state after state after state, the Democratic Party is nearly moribund. And if another symptom of party viability is an ability to field credible candidates everywhere, the party is virtually a corpse. Today I was looking through ActBlue and Politics1 to see where Democrats are giving Republicans free rides to reelection and also trying to find where entrenched or unfaithful Democrats are being primaried. The results made me sick.

Before I run down some of the bad news, let me point to a deep red district in the Houston area (TX-07) that is represented by corporate whore John Culberson (R). The district has a PVI of R+13 and Obama didn't even break 40% against Romney there. But two Democrats are battling each other in a primary to take on Culberson, James Cargas and Lissa Squires. I found this quite from the Houston Chronicle on Squires' campaign site:
"Challengers for these sorts of safe seats have a dual duty: Try to win a race in unfriendly territory, but also lay groundwork to help future candidates. From that perspective, there is something to be said for Lissa Squiers' approach of taking the strongest position possible and unapologetically charging forward."
I hope after Israel blows the Democrats' chance to win back the House again, his successor will take this idea to heart. It's the only way to build back a vibrant and worthwhile Democratic Party. Right now the number of Republicans getting free reelection passes in startling and defeatist to the extreme. The number of states with no Democratic challengers to sitting Republicans-- and no primary challenges to Republican-lite Democrats-- is shocking. As of now, there are no serious Democratic candidates running against House Republicans-- or primarying ConservaDems-- in any districts of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wyoming. That's a national party? And that doesn't count the dozens and dozens of winnable seats being left on the table in states like Michigan, Ohio, New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Florida and other states where the Democratic Party is supposed to still at least be breathing. Nor does it take into account the grassroots candidates who are taking on right-wing Republicans without so much as an acknowledgement from the DCCC, let alone some actual help.

The Republicans may be in bad shape, but their luckiest day was the day Pelosi reappointed Steve Israel to the DCCC chair. Give that job to a fighter-- a smart one-- like Alan Grayson and the GOP would be on their last legs in 2 cycles.

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At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in pa7 and could not agree more.

At 8:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 6:56 PM, Anonymous me said...

The Dems suck, and the repubs suck even worse.

They are in cahoots.


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