This group of folks will flock to the banner of whatever party has the most energy coming from their base. They will be like folks who never pay attention to sports then root for the presumed front runner as soon as the play offs start. They don't really know which party is doing what; they only know what they see on TV and make their choice accordingly. There is no point getting mad at these folks. They are not going to change and the way to win them is to win your base.
We, as Democrats, failed to fire up our base. Our elected Dems spent too much time trying to woo Republicans and failing to put a headlock on our Blue Dogs. We did not talk about the 300 billion in tax cuts that everyone (okay almost everyone) in the U.S. got from the stimulus. We did not talk up the benefits of the stimulus in real terms, but instead went for the "less jobs lost" meme which is too easy for Republicans to dispute.
We took, way, way, way too long to pass HCR, and that time was spent watering it down. We did not aggressively get out and show the LGTB community that we were serious about their issues, and they rightly felt like they were ignored. We chose to try to do energy legislation and bumped comprehensive immigration reform. This gave the Latino community reason to doubt our sincerity. We failed to bring card check forward and our Labor allies had to wonder if we were serious about helping them.
We did all of these things out of a calculation that our base was going to vote for us anyway, after all where did they have to go? Well, they had somewhere to go, to the polls and they did not do it. Many of the very people we disappointed with our policies and our overly solicitous attitude towards Republicans voted anyway, but they were not excited, they were not noisy and they did not carry the independents with them.
Sure there were structural problems that was going to make this a hard election, but that is no excuse. We are the party that will actually do things for the working folks in this country but because we did not control the frame the working folks don't know that. They think we are the problem, even though it was only a few years ago that the Republicans drove this country in a ditch with the same policies they will try to pursue in the new Congress.
The fact of the matter is we need to stop chasing Independent voters and start focusing on our base. We are a Big Tent party and that can be hard, but it is exactly because we are a Big Tent party that exciting our base is the right thing to do. We need the Dirty Freaking Hippies and the LGTB community and the Latinos and the African Americans and Unionists to be jazzed up to vote for us. The White Working Class Male voter is not our natural constituency anymore. We should not chase him, as he is going to be less and less of a force in politics over the long haul.
This is why we failed, we did not brag on the good things we did. We did not explain why they are good things and we compromised too much with people who were not negotiating in good faith. The Republicans have taken the House. They are willing to shut down the government and perhaps even stop us from raising out debt limit which could cause a default of the United States.
They are not going to be able to fix the problems of the nation with their policies; they can only make things worse. The next two years problems will be laid a the feet of Republican's and their Neo-Hooverite idea of cutting spending across the board.
So we should shun their ideas and work to make our base happy. If we want to retake our majorities and keep the White House it will not be by half measures, we have to show that Democrats are the better choice and dance with the ones who brought us, our base. Being Liberal or Progressive is not a bad thing. It is the way the nation is going to be heading for the next couple of decades. If we want to win we need to embrace that and put the screws to the Republican agenda of afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable.
One of the things we should not do is start to lay blame on the left side of our party for this loss. That they were not on board with the policies of the leadership and felt betrayed is a our failure. We have to win our voters, not just count on them as safe. Yes, it is hard to keep everyone happy in a Big Tent party but ignoring our most active and growing demographic is a failure to understand the future of our party. We have to come together and that means moving our policies as a party to the left. There is no energy or win for us in the center, especially since the Tea Party has pushed the Republicans so far to the Right.
We can move to consolidate our base by moving the Left, by putting out head gear on and playing hard nosed politics. Politics never ends, ever. This is a set back but unlike the Republicans we do have the ability to assess where we went wrong and correct by changing, but it is important that we learn the correct lesson.
It is our choice, we should not learn false lesson that the nation wants us to be less liberal. That is the millions of secret and corporate dollars speaking; it is not the true voice of people. If we, as Democrats, really stand with the people the future electoral cycles are ours to win. If we don't then the power of money and an energized Republican base will keep us from serving the nation as we want to.
The fight starts now. We can redeem ourselves in 2012 but not by thinking we don't have to work or court the base. Disaffected Progressives you have a stake in this too. If you want better than we got this time, then you have to keep working. Establishment Dems, you have been shown you can't hold power by being middle of road, by being too willing to compromise with Republicans who want nothing more than your destruction. Rank and file Dems, you've been here before, we know what it takes to win, now is the time to screw our courage to the sticking point and set our sites on victory in 2012.
The floor is yours.