Friday, November 10, 2006


50 State Strategy

It's a good thing.

There's been some speculation about whether or not Howard Dean's 50 State Strategy is indeed the best way to go about leading the DNC into the political future. The more I think about it, the more I realize that there's no question in my mind: it is definitely the way to go about things.

Imbiciles (with unclear and unholy agendas) like James Carville can bray all they want about what gains could have been made had Howard Dean targetted DNC funds to high-impact races, thus potentially increasing Dems' lead in the House of Representatives.

I would ask Carville: even if that were the case (which I don't believe it to be), what's the point? We took the House -- in the short term, that's all that matters. The size of the majority is far less relavent than the majority itself. But more to the point, how does that help the Democrats rebuild our party infrastructure, with 5 more or 10 more House seats? We won governorships. We won state legislative houses. THAT'S the sort of thing that helps Democrats over the long term. THAT is what will help us avoid the "short bench" phenomenon that's hurt us in so many places. THAT is what will make the word "Democrat" (and even "liberal") less frightening to people in places like the West or in rural areas or in certain suburbs, or even the South.

Digby asks whether we should let the Republicans have the South as we consolidate political power elsewhere (actually, he suggests we stop kowtowing to Southern sentiment and running away from progressive principles in a quixotic but conventional-wisdom-friendly effort to win the South). My answer is that, while it's tempting to let the Southern Strategy play itself out so extremely that we have a permanent 2/3 majority for time immemorial, the truth is that there's far too much potential in the South - and soon. Large black populations, populist traditions, greater cultural change (including more visible gay populations), terrific colleges, increasing latino populations, northerners moving south, and the massive house of cards that is 21st Century Christian fundamentalism mean that Democrats continue to be viable there, and will continue to be, particularly if the GOP decides to tack to the right.

In the 2004 senatorial elections, we had close calls all over the South: Mel Martinez, Jim Bunning, David Vitter, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint, and Richard Burr each won their elections with less than 55% of the vote. Now it's true that five of them were going after open (D) seats, but for a region that's supposedly out of our reach, we just can't forget it.

Similarly, in 2002, the open-seat victories of John Cornyn, Lamar Alexander, Lindsay Graham, and Elizabeth Dole, plus the upset win of Saxby Chambilss over Max Cleland, all happened with 55% or less of the vote. In the most oppressive political environment I've ever seen.

Plus, Bush has low approval ratings in 47 states (he's above 50% only in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah). And also plus, Democrats have the governorships of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia (not to mention Kansas and Wyoming).

Finally, it's about being the change we want to see. Respect everyone - give them all a chance to succeed. Because the Democratic party will continue to exist everywhere, even if it's just in the hearts and minds of a few gay kids who wake up one day and say "fuck this shit, I deserve better!" And make their own change. Don't you want to be there to see it?

To summarize: the 50 State Strategy is where it's at. We need to keep mobilizing in the South, without selling out to the conservative mentality. Dean is God. And Illinois could use some help, too, Mr. Dean. Don't forget us.

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