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Trippi's Wall Street Journal Column on the Future of the Democratic Party

Tue, 30 Nov 2004 16:07:23 +0000

  Joe Trippi wrote the following column which appears in today's Wall Street Journal.  Please comment and let me know what you think. The Grassroots Can Save the Democrats By Joe Trippi The staggering defeat of the Democratic Party, and its ever-accelerating death spiral weren't obvious from the election results. Two factors masked the extent of the party's trouble. Without the innovation of Internet-driven small-donor fund-raising and a corresponding surge in support from the nation's youngest voters, John Kerry would have suffered a dramatically larger electoral defeat. And the true magnitude of the Democrats abject failure at the polls in 2004 would have been more clearly revealed. Mr. Kerry raised nearly half of his campaign war chest over the Internet. He was so successful at online fund-raising that he actually outspent the Bush campaign in this election. But it was the outsider campaign of Howard Dean, reviled by most of the Democratic establishment, which pioneered the use of the Internet to raise millions in small contributions; Mr. Kerry was just the beneficiary as the party nominee. And it was the risk-taking and aggressive Dean Campaign that forced the risk-averse Kerry campaign to opt out of the public financing system. Had that decision not been forced on Mr. Kerry, he would have been badly outspent by George Bush; he would not have been competitive at all throughout the long summer of 2004. Mr. Kerry's lead among young voters hid just how bad Election Day really was for Democrats. In the 2000 election, voters between the ages of 18 and 29 split their votes evenly; nine million each for Mr. Bush and Al Gore. But in 2004, two million more voters in this age group turned out to vote. And while Mr. Bush won the same nine million votes, 11 million voted for Mr. Kerry. But when we set aside his two million new younger voters, the true disaster of 2004 is revealed. In 2000, Mr. Gore and Ralph Nader won a combined total of 54 million votes. This year Mr. Kerry and Mr. Nader got 53 million (ignoring the two million new young voters). It turns out that Mr. Kerry was a weaker candidate than Mr. Gore. Mr. Kerry lost so much ground among women, Hispanics, and other key groups, that the millions in Internet money, the most Herculean get-out-the-vote effort in party history, and the largest turnout of young voters in over a decade, could not save him. Had the young voters stayed home, the sea of red on the electoral map would have grown to include at least Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire-perhaps one or two more. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush, received 50 million votes in 2000, and 59 million in 2004. He added nine million votes. That is because Karl Rove had a plan and the Bush campaign stuck to it. There is no doubt that they executed it brilliantly. But the problem for Democrats is not Mr. Rove; it is that they're doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. That's the definition of insanity. * Since the Democratic Leadership Council, with its mantra of "moderate, moderate, moderate," took hold in Washington, the Democratic Party has been in decline at just about every level of government. Forget the Kerry loss. Today the number of Democrats in the House is the lowest it's been since 1928. Democrats are on the brink of becoming a permanent minority party. Can the oldest democratic institution on earth wake from its stupor? Here are some steps to pull out of the nose-dive: * Democrats can't keep ignoring their base. Running to the middle and then asking our base at the end of the campaign to make sure to vote is not a plan. It sure hasn't worked. And to those who say talking to your base doesn't work-Read the Rove 2004 playbook! * Democrats must reconnect with the energy of our grass roots. One of the failures of the DLC was that its ideas never helped us build a grass-roots donor base. As a result Democrats held a lead over Republicans in only one fundraising category before this election cycle: contributions over one million dolla[...]



Lay Off Mayor Newsom

Mon, 08 Nov 2004 20:49:45 +0000

As the saying from Network goes, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

As if "losing" the Election last week wasn't bad enough, now I have to sit and listen to people blaming San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for our electoral woes.

Moral this and moral that.  Values this and values that.  Evangelicals this and evangelicals that.

According to dictionary.com, morals arise from conscience or the sense of right and wrong.

How can we expect anyone watching this election cycle to know exactly where the Democratic Party stood on the issue of marriage equality?

While the Republicans had a clearly misguided stance, no one could accuse them of wavering in their bigotry.

Don't blame Gavin Newsom.

Mayor Newsom did something few Democrats are willing to do today.  He stood firmly behind his beliefs and as a result I predict his margin will not only improve among liberals but moderate voters as well when he's up for reelection.

You see voters don't necessarily want someone they agree with 100% of the time, they want consistency and commitment.

We Democrats are easy to attack on moral issues (and many others) because we continue to nominate candidates that equivocate to appease the supposed swing vote.  Equivocation equals weakness in the eyes of the voters whether or not this weakness actually exists.

I'm not asking our party to deny the complexity of issues like George W.  But if we refuse to nominate charismatic, plain spoken, candidates with clearly defined principles and beliefs last week's election is only a precursor of what's to come down the road.

When half our Senate and House candidates campaign across the country saying they don't support FMA because they see it as a state issue it not only infuriates the right but confuses the middle and left.  Republicans are left thinking our candidates support Gay Marriage and Democrats are left thinking they think the state should outlaw it.  Where is the morality in this position?

Imagine if you will our Democratic candidates saying they don't believe the Federal Government should sanction slavery because our FEDERAL constitution should never encourage discrimination.  Further more, they believe our states should be left to handle this issue because, as the theory plays out, they are better suited to discriminate.

I defy you to find a shred of logic or morality in this approach.

If we can't stick to our progressive morals how can we expect to match the right on the moral issues?

Had the Democratic Party been as clear and consistent as the Republican Party we'd be able to blame San Francisco... but we weren't.  Until we are, we should all lay off Gavin Newsom.