by user AYD
Today is a great day. Democrats have regained majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time since losing control in 1994. However, we would be remiss if we did not analyze everything about this election, both what went right and what went wrong. So, stealing a methodology that has been done over, over and over again, here is my list.
I am really bummed that some of our best and most exciting candidates lost. Tammy Duckworth, Larry Grant, Scott Kleeb, and Gary Trauner would have been terrific members of congress. However, even their losses demonstrated how great Howard Dean's 50-state strategy was. These races were in Henry Hyde's district in Illinois, Idaho, Nebraska, and Wyoming. Not exactly Democratic strongholds. Yet we lost these seats by a TOTAL of 36,579 votes. An amazing result in its own right.
Since the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a movie theme, I will continue along those lines. The key phrase from the great baseball film "Field of Dreams" is a great way to describe Dean's 50-state strategy. "If you build it, they will come." First of all, if you put credible candidates on the ballot, people will come out and vote for them. Some of them will win, and some of them will lose, but you won't know unless you get the candidates. We could have easily given up on Hyde's district but we didn't. We found a terrific candidate whose integrity and ideas simply forced people to vote for her. She created Democratic voters where there hadn't been any before.
By finding these candidates you also force the Republicans to spend money. If you build the Democratic Party everywhere, the Republicans will be forced to come and spend their money to protect their position. Every dollar spent in Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming is a dollar not spent in New Jersey, Missouri, and [[Florida]. The viability of the candidacies of Duckworth, grant, Kleeb, and Trauner forced the Republicans to spend money in Red districts making it easier for Joe Courtney and Chris Murphy to win their blue districts.
I hate to focus on the negative on what is such a great day. However, if we ignore these things we will be worse of for it. Chris Shays is still a Member of Congress. Heather Wilson is still a Member of Congress. Jim Gerlach is still a member of Congress. These are blue seats that we absolutely had to win. There is no reason with the national climate that these three were able to hang on.
It probably shouldn't, but it worries me that so many of our victories came from 2nd, 3rd, and no-tier races. I am ecstatic that wife-beating John Sweeney was shown the door, but how hard are we going to have to fight to keep NY-20 in the blue column. Florida 16 sent Mark Foley a message, but is Tim Mahoney going to be anything more than a 2 year Congressman? In perhaps the most favorable atmosphere a political party could hope for, we lost more close races than we won. John Doolittle, Marilyn Musgrave, and Jon Porter are all still in Congress. If the Democratic message isn't resonating with these constituencies in the current atmosphere, we need to take a long hard look at why. We would be remiss if we celebrated the victories of John Hall, Jerry McNerny, Jason Altmire, Paul Hodes, and Carol Shea-Porter without analyzing the failings of Diane Farrel, Patricia Madrid, Lois Murphy, Charlie Brown, Angie Paccione, and Tessa Hafen.
I try to stay as naive as possible and pretend that elections really are about contrasting ideas. When I was working on "The Hill" I really thought that for the most part people on both sides of the Aisle were doing their civic duty. They really believed in the message they were trying to sell to the American people. But this election has disillusioned me of that notion, perhaps for good.
Robo-calls and election shenanigans demonstrate that politics is not about having a conversation with the electorate. It’s not about laying out contrasting visions for America's future. Politics has become such a win at all costs endeavor that where the message was not resonating with the voters the solution became suppressing the vote. The American people deserve better. If, as the media and the Republicans claimed, the Democrats had no message, than there was no reason for the Republicans to resort to dirty tricks. But it turned out to be the Republicans whose message the people rejected. And as poll after poll suggested this, the Republicans turned their attention away from holding a political discourse to intimidating and lying to voters. They Republicans lost, they lost ugly, and I just hope they didn't drag down the notion of a national political discourse with them.
No movie themed post would be complete without the promise of a sequel, and that is what we need to work for. We need a sequel that is even better than the original, which movie fans know is rare. We need a sequel where we fix the problems with our message and/or operation that caused us to lose winnable seats in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and all over the country. We need a sequel that finds more and better candidates than we ran in 2o06. We need a sequel that talks to the American people in such a way that they demand a trilogy.
So go and out and celebrate tonight. We deserve to revel in our success. But we have the responsibility to govern now, and we have the responsibility to do the people's work so that they keep demanding another sequel.
If you want to see more of my writings please see www.angryyoungdem.blogspot.com