Day By Day Cartoon

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Out of left field.

Kirk's a friend from HSX, and we both wrote double-blind pieces for each other's blogs on what the Democrats need to do to re-gain power in Washington. He didn't know what I would write, and vice-versa

So without further ado....

Originally, the purpose of this post was to describe what I believed that the Democrats had to do to win in 2008. However, I don’t believe the Democrats can win in 2008 without at least a little momentum going in, namely from doing well in 2006. So here’s what I think the Democrats have to do to be successful in 2006 to lay the groundwork for any kind of run in 2008.

Take the Initiative

This seems simple enough, but for some reason major political parties have problems doing this. The Democrats seem to be waiting for the GOP to eat itself. While it is doing a fine job, the electorate needs to be given some reason to vote for the Democrats. The GOP waited forty years before realizing that maybe they should do something and not just hope for the Democrats to screw up so badly that the country is handed to them.

Right now, we have a President with the lowest approval rating this side of Nixon. We’ve got the Chief of Staff to the Vice President under Federal indictment. We’ve got the Majority Leader of the House under indictment for money laundering (essentially). We’ve got a majority party with egg all over its face for not getting the Social Security reforms through it wanted.

There’s more here than even in 1993, the year before the "Republican Revolution". The difference is that the GOP had a plan, the Contract with America. And it had a revolutionary in Newt Gingrich. Right now, the Democrats don’t have either.

Find Religion

70% of the people in the United States believe in and/or have a personal relationship with a higher power. Several Christian denominations have been traditionally strong allies of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party has often been able to draw majorities in both the Jewish and Muslim faiths. Right now, the Democrats act as if the tables were turned and only a small minority of people in this country believe in a higher power.

The Democrats need to remind the country that God is not a partisan. Every time the GOP quotes Leviticus the Democrats need to quote Luke. Show the country how the GOP is doing with one of the main tenets of Christianity, helping the poor. Just this week, we’ve had the GOP tax reform panel suggest limiting employer provided health insurance benefits, at a time when 45 million have no health insurance. They’ve also decided to cut food stamps to help pay for extended tax breaks for the wealthy. They’ve already cut Medicaid in an effort to stem the red ink (the Missouri GOP has eliminated the program entirely beginning in 2008).

There are other issues which the Democrats can show that their traditional positions marry nicely with members of more liberal denominations. Environmentalism is a big one. Peace and the Death Penalty also lean more Democrat than Republican.

I know that the Democrats will never win converts in the more conservative denominations. However, the Democrats need to show that Christianity means much more than abortion and gays. They need to show a face that allows devout Christians to identify with the Democratic party rather than just showing them the door.


Everyone knows the income tax system is broken, well except the Democratic leadership. Part of the problem is the GOP, which passed a business tax cut last year where the explanation ran longer than War and Peace while espousing tax simplification. The Democrats need to come up with a plan to simplify taxes where the real benefits do not flow upward. I am of the belief that the vast majority of people should be able to file their own taxes. Simplify the W-2 reporting taking out the crap people don’t need and only listing relevant items to individual tax returns. Replace the plethora of tax breaks with one large break per person and filter out a lot of the flotsam. Keep only the barest of tax breaks: charity, retirement savings, and medical care. Cover everything else with the large deduction that everyone gets. This will do the most to simplify the system and keep it progressive.

For those that don’t know, this is what I do for a living. And I still believe that the only benefit to the current system is keeping accountants employed.

"A tax practitioner who opposes the devil of tax complexity is a bit like the preacher who struggles against the forces of evil: we fight on the side of the angels, but Satan is good for business."


I *hate* political catch phrases like "security mom" and "NASCAR dad". But the Democrats need to be able to make the "security moms" feel safe. The simple fact is that the GOP has laid out a plan for keeping the country "safe" from terrorism. No matter how misguided that plan is, it’s at least something. The Democrats have been too busy shrieking about the problems with the GOP plan, all the while reinforcing that the Republicans have a plan.

Now, I’m really not a smart enough guy to figure out the terrorism problem. And maybe no one is, but the Democrats at least have to have a plan that sounds plausible. The GOP has invading countries, building fences around the borders, and national ID cards. The Democrats have complaints about civil liberties and the tacit approval of illegal immigration. This isn’t going to cut it. While the memory of 9.11 fades and the electorate focuses on other things, another attack will happen. And when it happens the Democrats need to have something to say. Maybe it won’t happen by 2006, but I’d be willing to bet cash money it will by 2008.

As long as the Democrats allow the GOP to control in this arena, they will be the minority party.


Once again, this is the idea of doing something. The GOP has passed education "reforms" (again, no matter how misguided) at the Federal level and is working to do something about education at the local level. The Democrats, who have to worry about the teacher’s unions, have largely been for the status quo. The status quo simply is not working in cities such as St. Louis, where the schools are more segregated now then they have been at any time since Brown and where kids are coming down with lead poisoning from their broken down schools.

The Democrats need to do something to equalize the funding of school districts, first and foremost. While this is largely a local/state issue (as it should be) the national Democratic party needs to throw its weight behind some proposals similar to the national GOP has with school vouchers and other reforms. They need to have a plan to make schools better that is different from just throwing more money at the problem.

These five ideas are certainly not going to guarantee victory for the Democrats in 2006. They need to find good candidates to espouse these ideas in less than 500 words (I think John Kerry is still giving a campaign speech). They need to get organized. They need to find big issues that will dominate the campaign like the GOP have done in the last few elections.

For additional ideas, the DLC has prepared a "State and Local Playbook" for candidates to use to generate ideas.

Kirk writes for Left of the Middle. He is a pro-life Democrat that fiddles with numbers all day (very large ones) and spends his free time playing with his young daughter. He can be contacted at


Post a Comment

<< Home