Joe Conason's Journal

Three smart explanations of why Democrats were trounced -- and how they can turn things around.


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Salon Staff
November 13, 2002 7:03PM (UTC)

Remedial education
For Democrats still wondering why the Republicans now control the entire government and what to do about it, three smart essays are available on the Web today. With the kind of hindsight that points toward wiser decisions in the future, the Washington Monthly's Paul Glastris outlines the Democratic errors that allowed Karl Rove to execute the GOP strategy so well. Glastris takes a shot at pundits who criticize without offering solutions, and then offers three ideas that might have better protected Democrats from the Bushkrieg. His suggestion for a progressive tax cut, which has also been mentioned in this space, remains highly relevant -- as does his urging of new Democratic initiatives on national security and defense policy.

On the American Prospect site, Ruy Teixeira, coauthor (with John Judis) of "The Emerging Democratic Majority," examines post-election polling data that reveals some of the specific reasons for the late Republican surge. Teixeira emphasizes how much closer this election was than the 1994 debacle, which gave Republicans the House and crippled Clinton. Like Glastris, he believes that voters heard the hollowness of the Democratic message and either stayed home or voted Republican, especially in the swing suburban counties. (The prescription drugs platform didn't cut it.) Without a strong security agenda and a broadly appealing economic plan, those voters aren't coming back in 2004. He correctly points out that an internal, left-right debate over mobilizing urbanites or wooing suburbanites is worse than pointless. Both must be done to win again.

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Often overlooked in the post-election discourse -- but painfully obvious to the progressive public -- is the increasing hostility to Democrats and liberals in the media. The bias once arguably suffered by conservatives has tilted the other way, as Consortium News argues persuasively in an editorial today. And until American liberals cope with that problem, their message will be muted, distorted and mostly ignored.
[9:09 a.m. PST, Nov. 13, 2002]

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