DEMOCRATS LEARN THE ART OF OPPOSITION

From Washington Monthly’s May issue.

Sampler:

Democrats are lame, feckless, timid, and hopelessly divided, with no ideas, no vision, no message, and no future: You’ll never fall flat at a Washington party by repeating this bit of conventional wisdom because everyone “knows” it to be true. . . . The Onion gets an easy laugh from a parody headlined “Democrats Vow Not to Give Up Hopelessness.” . . .

But the truth is that Newt Gingrich and his Contract loom so large-and today’s DC Democrats seem so small-largely because of the magic of hindsight. Back in 1994, Republicans were at least as divided as Democrats are now, if not more so. . . . As for unity of message, the now-revered Contract with America didn’t make its debut until just six weeks before the election; Democratic pollster Mark Mellman recently pointed out that one week before Election Day, 71 percent of Americans said they hadn’t heard anything about it. And while political journalists rushed to hail Gingrich’s genius after the election, before November they were more likely to describe Republicans in terms we associate with Democrats today. “Republicans have taken to personal attacks on President Clinton because they have no ideas of their own to run on,” wrote Charles Krauthammer in the summer of 1994, while a George F. Will column in the fall ran under the headline, “Timid GOP Not Ready for Prime Time.” . . .

What the GOP did so brilliantly in 1994 was exploit Clinton’s weaknesses (his 1993 tax increase, his wife’s failed health-care initiative), as well as the sense among voters that reigning congressional Democrats had become complacent and corrupt (reviving the Keating Five and House banking scandals). Well, guess what? This is precisely what congressional Democrats have been getting better at doing over the past 18 months. And just as most observers missed the coming Republican revolution in 1994, so they’re missing a similar insurgency today . . .

On virtually all of the major slips this White House has made in the past year, there have been unnoticed Democrats putting down the banana peels. . . .

The examples that follow are enlightening and should give heart to those eager to get the country back onto a sensible, progressive track.

Well worth the full read – especially for disillusioned Dems. (And then forward to all your frustrated friends.)

Meanwhile, click here to find one of the hundreds of grassroots events this Saturday at which you can help hand out 750,000 door hangers with a Democratic message – or print some for yourself and go out canvassing with your kids. Because the best answer I ever heard to the question, Why are you a Democrat? was preceded by a long, thoughtful pause and then – looking me straight in the eye – was this simple:

‘Because I have children.’

 

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