Where are These Guys Coming “From?”

December 8, 2004

Democratic Leadership Council brainchild Al From and his successor, Bruce Reed, weigh in on the Democrats’ dilemma in the Wall Street Journal today and offer their solutions. There are some damning admissions in this piece. Here are a few selected quotes:

In the blue states, 2004 was a close contest. In the red states, it was a bloodbath. Down the stretch, Democrats didn’t even contest 23 of the 31 states Bush won. As a result, he won 202 electoral votes without lifting a finger. Republicans now hold 39 of 46 Senate seats in those uncontested states.

Don’t you love that? It was a bloodbath.

[We must] [c]ome to terms with the main reason we lost the red states: Too many Americans doubt whether Democrats will be tough enough in the war on terror.

From’s right about that, as I wrote in my marathon post yesterday.

Some Democrats want to write off the red states, or pretend that the same old formula will make them turn blue. Joe Trippi wrote recently on this page that Democrats’ top priority should be to play to our base because only the grass roots can save the Democratic Party. To be a grass-roots national party again, we have to realize that grass won’t grow in the desert.

I hate to tell you, but this is exactly right. The Dems are going to continue to marginalize themselves if they gravitate toward Howard Dean and Michael Moore. Joe Trippi, bless his liberal-anointed heart — is clueless.

We believe the heartland is a prime target for Democrats, if we put our heart into it. Let’s not forget: For all the talk these past four years of a nation hopelessly divided over guns, gay rights and abortion, Bill Clinton was able to carry a dozen red states in 1992 and 1996, with the same positions as Democrats today. The Democratic Leadership Council is teeming with red-state governors and other rising stars who likewise have figured out how to champion Democratic principles in hostile territory.

I added the bold and italics so you would not miss that From and Reed, intentionally or not, referred to the red states as “hostile territory.” And to a great extent, therein lies the Dems’ problem. The authors are correct that Dems need to expand their base, broaden their appeal, rather than just focusing on igniting their base. But tucked away in this paragraph is the implied admission that it’s going to take more than a mere “strategy” to do that. It’s going to require fundamental change in who they are. They are going to have to “assimilate” among the red-state foreigners. 🙂