PLAYBOOK FOR PROGRESSIVES: 2012-2020
One overarching idea: The Democratic Party showed what it could do in 2008 and 2012. It projected a more successful image campaigning than governing (cf early Reagan or Nixon—domestically). The Democrats need to forget about gloating and antagonizing the Republicans and aim for “holding the center while moving the whole operation ever so slowly and incrementally to the left” (the Europeans are good at it in both directions, we can do the same while avoiding what seems to be the epithet “European”).
Sure there will be clashes with the Republicans; Obama needs experts in working with Congress (Daschle types) without the hemming and hawing of 2009-11. Of Course some questions just don’t have ready answers, and the Republicans may just try a “post Appomattox rearguard action”..but I don’t think the Bobby Jindals and Marco Rubios are going to settle for the Party of No. The idea would be for the Democrats to reify a Progressive movement with a call to centrists and “moderate”, Chaffee-Snow-Specter-even Christie Republican followers to join up. Perhaps this is too idealistic, but some Democrats need to get off their high horse and leave the vilifying of Republican troglodytes alone. Let some Keith Olbermann’s bloom, but as free lance provokers
Let the Republicans, the Fox News Crowd, use that playbook. Of course MSNBC and an energized liberal radio can be tried again (maybe use “Progressive” for now—invite moderate independents like Ron Reagan and Charlie Christ to come on air and have their say). Paradigms are not shifted over-night. The worst of the World Recession seems to be over, this is still a center right country, the election was only a snapshot. Reform will have to come by stealth. If stealth and moderation does not work, the democrats should seek evidence that a donnybrook will fall their way. The Affordable Healthcare act should have been something Obama could have campaigned on in 2012. a point of consistent pride. As it kicks in we will hope that it, and comparable, smaller programs will go the same way, that is be better “promoted.”
Race: Head of black dalliances with Republicans at the pass; let them call themselves independent, but make sure they vote Progressive Democratic; Obama lost 2% of the black vote 95-93 this time. Black success stories should be wooed assiduously by Democrats and convinced that you do not have to become a Republican just because you have made millions selling Pizza, or—whatever
Gender: Continue to offer women incentives to stick with the Democratic Party (PDP—Progressive Democratic Party); get more of them to run for office and appoint more to the bench and bureaucratic positions—seamlessly—not that much different from current practice; the republicans will try to take some women away, the PDP must be vigilant; they must not be antagonistic or dismissive about abortion: they must follow Obama’s tack of discouraging it socially/psychologically while not interfering with it politically-legally: no mean feat
I am talking about doing the doable right now. Obamacare was a tremendous accomplishment. The next big push should be energy independence but, More, climate change; those republicans who are scientifically sane, should be nurtured and encouraged to speak out—they can do so as Republicans without really hurting the PDP, which will have the advantage on this issue for the foreseeable future; the PDP must nibble fringes of the Green Republicans and Independents
Youth– As specified above, the Progressive Democratic Party MUST rpt MUST get every expert, social media guru, and Financial angel available to make sure that the youth vote never falls below 60-40, and aims for 70-30; the Republicans will Always capture at least 30% of the college and 20-something vote. They did this even in the late 1960’s and early 1970s when I was a young republican, when I believed that the Liberal wing of the Republican party had a future, with the Javits-Scott-Percy-Romney(1)-Hart wing of the party could draw on the domestic impulses of the Lincolns and T-Roosevelt’s… 1st you have coalitions, then your coalitions—you try to “Brand them” as pragmatic progressives… The goal by 2020 and more by 2030, is to have debates Not about things like Creationism v. Evolution or abortion v. choice, or taxation v. privatization, but rather How do you improve schools, How do you reduce fossil fuels (the Tobacco industry model might have something to teach us here.
Military Spending– Here is some ripe fruit for both deficit reduction and fiscal prudence; it will take a slow education process, preferably led by ex-Military and defense think tank experts, NOT the traditional Left Peace Shock Troops (they come in later; they can chatter to the faithful for now in their own bubble, the Revolution is not coming for the next 10-12 years)… almost every military expert will tell you that the $800 billion defense budget (incl some veteran costs) can be cut by 20% (arms, not veteran rehabilitation) without even feeling it; military bases (and later prisons) must ever so gently and incrementally be phase out: think what we could do with a lean, smart military 500-600 $billion per/year now as the goal, $200 billion less than currently; deficit spending and national debt reduction through military sanity Must become Cool, an Art form… Look, food stamps are great, but the savings from military spending cannot be seen to be going to Entitlements for Now, a better target should be Education, education that stresses competitive components, for now, but phases out mindless testing and gradually encourages a more Finnish model… this will not be easy… now on to..
EDUCATION– Here is a real battleground, so many sub issues, but some more ripe fruit for progressives, if they play their cards right; the Scott Walkers need to be stopped and discredited, without necessarily turning the clock back to the status quo ex ante Walker, Ohio, Benno Schmidt, Charter-ists… All voices will have to be heard, but money and smart social media-ing should be put in the service of pragmatic reform that does not trash teachers, schools, tenure, liberal arts… maybe some pilot programs of job retraining and “trade” schools for displaced workers and smart high school students that simply aren’t cut out for Plato and Milton (sorry)
Immigration– Not my area, but I do know that the de-whitening process must seem non-scary, gradual, constructive or the backlash will continue.. certainly the Democrats/PDP should not let the Republicans get ahead of them on high profile
Hispanic personalities… they need to nurture strong electoral candidates, always, and now use their momentum in 2012 to make bureaucratic and judicial appointments of moderate progressives who are just centrist enough to make Republican senate filibusterers think carefully before saying NO
Gun Control– Another third rail in American politics.. this is not going to be a quick fix process… when a Columbine or Tucson happens, alas, you seize the opportunity to zero in on assault weapons, gun shows, strengthening the Brady legislation; you have to gradually discredit the nutcase-interpretation of the Second amendment; the NRA is not going away nor will it be “humanized and reformed.”.. but we can give respect to sport and target use of weapons
The economy– Surely the Big Enchilada… again not really my area, so central and multi-faceted… the short term strategy must be search for common ground, but no capitulation to the Far Right—those people want respect but they also do not respect namby-pamby-ism.. god help us, but at least until 2016, we need some Avuncular Reagan types (Volker? Let’s get him to cut back on cigars)… after 2016, if Hillary wins or a talent hunt for a new Clinton with a chastity lock on his zipper turns up someone appealing and substantial, then we unleash the Robert Reich’s and Elizabeth Warren’s.. Until we can say that the electorate is Not Center-Right, but rather Center-Center (2016) moving Center Left (2020 or after—at best), we need to keep polarizing figures in Massachusetts and California, and try them out on the National stage… A dirty not so little secret is that when Obama finishes up, should a white candidate be the best PDP person, then the certifiably insane right will cool down like a reddened infection… but we cannot and will not turn the clock back.. the Zeitgeist rules, an in this USA place only 3 things can generate real change: 1. Truly charismatic leadership, 2. A looming catastrophe (maybe global warming), 3. Education and likeable, smart incrementalist reformers—Clinton/Obama types…TAXES also tough, but there are signs that sanity is widening http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-door-to-compromise-on-the-budget/2012/11/14/af4b75b8-2e97-11e2-beb2-4b4cf5087636_story.html