Democrats Should Look Outside Of Washington For 2008
While many of us wait to see the next shoe drop from any number of problems facing the Bush Administration and the GOP, it is no longer too early to start looking ahead to 2006 and 2008. The main priority for the Democrats is not 2008, but taking back at least one house of Congress next year. Doing so will set the table much better for a return to the White House in 2008, especially if Democrats can regain the investigatory power from capturing one house of Congress. I’m glad to see that someone else has finally written a first start towards our own “contract” for next year, even though I have taken my stabs at this months ago. Regardless, Democrats need to lay out specific reasons why returning them to power next year is necessary, and we need to start the dialogue now about what those themes should be.
Having said that, what will the party’s prospects be in 2008, notwithstanding GOP efforts to steal the election machinery in this country between now and then? Well, recent developments show that some familiar faces are making noise about running again. You already knew about John Edwards’ travels around the country, as he is an almost-certain candidate in 2008. We already know about the coronation-in-waiting for Hillary. But none other than Al Gore may be running in 2008, according to his money people, and he is being advised to pair up with Barack Obama for the run. And most recently, inexplicably the heretofore wise David Yepsen from the Des Moines Register now touts John Kerry for an encore in 2008, based on him being vetted already, wiser about running an aggressive campaign, and for having more class in giving up sooner in 2004 than Gore did in 2000. Those are Yepsen’s observations, not mine I would add.
I want to go on record now and say that for the Democrats to win in 2008, they will need one if not both parts of the ticket to be from outside the Washington Democrats club. In 2008, Democrats will need to run as the party of reform, as a party that can clean up the mess left behind by eight years of Bush/Cheney. And frankly, the best way to do this is to also run against the Washington Democrats who have enabled Bush and Cheney to screw this country up. No matter how many good strategies the Russ Feingold’s or the Democratic punditocracy have for dealing with Iraq, the truth is that our candidates in 2008 need to simply be able to say “I didn’t vote for that mistake, nor would I have made that mistake.”
Plus, whether it be Joe Biden, Russ Feingold, John Kerry, John Edwards, or any of the other Washington Democrats, they have all at one point or another soiled themselves to some degree in what has gone wrong these last five years, and the GOP is counting on running such a “you too were wrong” campaign against any of them. The best way to screw this up for the GOP, especially when they run a McCain or an evangelical nutcase as their nominee in 2008 is to run one or two people who have no connection to the failings in Washington this decade, who can say that they have won with bipartisan support in a tough state by balancing a budget and running a good ship.
After watching the Bush Administration, a so-called "experienced" foreign policy team is worthless, so any claim that Washington insiders need to be at the top of the ticket is out the window. Rather than having some Democratic wimps and clowns from inside the Beltway telling me they are electable, I would support two folks at the top of the ticket who can distance themselves from the Beltway and run an aggressive, values-based campaign against the GOP on a variety of issues.
So let’s think about putting people at the top of the ticket who can:
·Run an aggressive and values-based campaign to clean up Washington;
·Place Main Street ahead of Wall Street;
·Push for energy independence, tax fairness, and health care solutions; and
·Reject profit opportunities for GOP campaign contributors paid for with blood treasure.
And this time, let’s use campaign consultants like Mudcat Sanders or David Axelrod who have won outside the Beltway and in the South.
Who are some possibilities here? Well, although I will be studying these folks more over the coming months, how about pairing a couple of Democratic governors from GOP states, who have good ratings with their electorates? How about Virginia’s outgoing governor Mark Warner and North Carolina’s Mike Easley, as well as Montana’s Brian Schweitzer?
Warner’s approval ratings last month in Virginia, a state that went for Bush and could be a 2008 swing state, was a staggering 66% approve, 26% disapprove. Hell, his approval rating amongst Republicans was 62% approve, 31% disapprove.
Easley’s ratings in North Carolina in September were also staggering, 64% approve, and 30% disapprove. 58% of the Republicans in his state support him.
Schweitzer had an approval rating in September of 66% approve, 27% disapproval, with an approval spread amongst Republicans of 20 points, 54%-34%.
All three of these states could become Democratic swing states in a 2008 race with these folks at the top of the ticket, thereby undercutting the GOP’s entire electoral strategy in the South and Mountain West. And by 2008, Democrats need to be able to offer a clean break from the Bush Administration, with folks who can separate themselves not only from Republican mistakes, but also from Democratic complicity.