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The Democrats Should Come Out Swinging

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The Democrats lost not because they were wrong but because they were weak.

They were weak in their fighting. And they were weak in presenting the values and the kind of America they stand for.

How else but by Democratic weakness can we explain how raising the minimum wage keeps winning by large majorities with support from people who then go vote for Republicans who have fought to block such a raise?

How else can we explain that voters unhappy with the failures of Congress to take care of the people’s business will vote for politicians who made it their priority to see to it that Congress could not take care of that business?

The people have bought a raft of lies, and the Democrats have been too weak to make the liars pay a political price.

Now the bullies of the right are coming forward to bully the Democrats some more. This we saw yesterday when the Republican Speaker of the House spoke contemptuously of the President of the United States in a way we Americans are not supposed to talk about a president.

Speaker Boehner warned President Obama against “poisoning the well” (by taking an executive action the Republicans don’t like). No one would drink from it anyway after what the Republicans have thrown into it these past six years.

Will President Obama let himself be bullied? Will the Democrats in general respond to their rejection by the voters by acting deferential to the victors?

God, I hope not. That’s the last thing we need for the Democrats to do.  

The Republicans were hardly deferential in 2009 when they came out of their second straight rebuke from the voters. And in that case, the Republicans had pretty well called the shots for eight years, and the mess they were rejected for was of their own making.

Now the Democrats have been rebuked. The people are not happy, and understandably so. But what has made the people unhappy is mostly the result of deliberate Republican choices to sabotage our political process.

And now they’ve been rewarded for it once again (see 2010).

If the Democrats apologize for policy positions that might have taken the country forward, if they take the position of supplicants seeking compromise with people who disdain compromise, then the despicable and unAmerican tactics will have been rewarded once again.

No, we cannot have that. The Republicans have pressed the battle since Obama was elected. The Democrats, in their weakness, have hurt themselves by being out-messaged and out-fought one more time this fall.

Let this new Congress, which is so ugly to contemplate, with for example a climate denier (James Inhofe) becoming chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, become the inspiration not for surrender, but for the Democrats finally swinging like they mean to get a knockout.

Call out whatever the Republicans do that would have made our Founders cringe. Call out whatever they do that a Dwight Eisenhower or Barry Goldwater or even a Ronald Reagan would have thought dishonorable.

Put forth a vision of how American can move forward, and tie that vision to the issues over which the struggles ahead will be fought. FDR inspired people with a liberal vision of the greater good. Is there any reason American liberalism, in this time of widening inequalities and other injustices, cannot put forward a powerful vision again?

Press the battle for the minds of the people who went into the voting booth this past week and handed more power to the disgraceful party the Republican Party has become.

Go forward with executive action on immigration. Take every measure to available to deal with climate change, including standing firm against the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Press the battle. That is what this nation desperately needs.

It’s no time to give in to bullies.

The Democrats should come out swinging.

  • I’m bolding the parts that REALLY jumped out at me/made me snort milk out my nose (I’ll withhold further comment until I hear from others).

    Richmond Mayor and DPVA Chairman Dwight Jones Thanks Volunteers and Candidates and Lays Out Vision for Virginia Democrats as 2015 Elections Loom

    Richmond, VA – Earlier this afternoon, Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for US Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Warner, acknowledged the gap in the number of votes received by both candidates was too great for him to overcome and conceded defeat. In response to this announcement, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, issued the following statement:

    Today is a good day for Virginia Democrats. Senator Warner ran a strong campaign and was able to stem the tide that saw Democrats lose tough races throughout the nation. We are grateful the voters of Virginia saw fit to return Mark Warner to the US Senate and we are looking forward to the next six years of his leadership. I would also like to commend Ed Gillespie for running a spirited campaign. As any elected official can attest, campaigning is often a grueling and thankless task.

    I’d also like to take this time to congratulate and thank all of our Democratic candidates at both the federal and local level throughout the Commonwealth. I was encouraged to see so many great races and Democrats made the party proud, regardless of the outcome.

    Once again, democracy is the real victor and we’d like to thank all those who participated in these elections; from volunteers, to donors, to staff, and to the candidates themselves, we owe everyone a debt of gratitude.  

    We saw quite a few things happen on Tuesday, not least of which was the underscoring of the importance of a strong, coordinated party operation and the role parties need to play in supporting candidates. We witnessed the ever growing influence of big money media operations and shadowy outside interest groups over our electoral process. Unfortunately, this isn’t likely to change anytime soon. But as we saw in our races, when the party is able to effectively communicate with its base, Democrats win. While we may not be able to overcome the circumstances in every situation, our network of activists can make the difference in support of our candidates.

    The 2015 campaign season has already begun in Virginia. And while it will be quite some time before we see an onslaught of mailers or the multitude of volunteers making phone calls and knocking on doors, how we organize our party now is essential to our success next year. We are actively recruiting candidates to run for office, registering people to vote, engaging contributors, and encouraging more volunteers to engage through their local Democratic committees and clubs. This is the business we conduct as a party. And it is through this activity that we can build a stronger party. A party strong enough to stand up against outside influencers, elect Democrats to office at every level, and continue to lead the Commonwealth toward a brighter future.

  • Andy Schmookler

    I just came across a piece by Paul Krugman, excellent as usual, in which he says, “[N]ow is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything.”

    The piece as a whole is worth reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11