Losing Attitude

Article excerpt

As the President's poll numbers sink, and Congressional Republicans look over their shoulders, the Democrats are feeling better and better about the upcoming midterm elections. The Democrats need to pick up fifteen seats to take control of the House. That has always seemed like a long shot. But the worse things go for Bush, the more the number of seats in play increases--to thirty-six at last count, according to the Cook Political Report.

But even if the Democrats gain a majority in Congress in 2006, it won't be a progressive majority. The party leadership continues to promote caution on withdrawing from Iraq, criticizing the President, or taking a stand against the aggressive and unconstitutional policies of this Administration.

The conventional wisdom is that taking too clear a position might get in the way of letting the Republicans hang themselves. Gaining on the Republicans while standing still only reinforces the party leadership's sense that doing nothing is the best way to win an election.

So why be surprised that some Dems are even promoting losing as a winning prospect? Really. In May, Tony Coelho told Adam Nagourney of The New York Times that not gaining majorities in the House and Senate might be better for Democrats, since then they won't be blamed for the mess the country is in.

"The most politically advantageous thing for the Democrats is to pick up eleven, twelve seats in the House and three or four seats in the Senate but let the Republicans continue to be responsible for government," Coelho, a former House Democratic whip, told the Times. "We are heading into this period of tremendous deficit, plus all the scandals, plus all the programs that have been cut. This way, they get blamed for everything."

So when, exactly, can we expect a change of direction? When the Republicans start governing responsibly, ending the deficit, reforming government, restoring domestic services, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts? It will be a cold day in hell before the Democrats judge it a safe time to change the direction of the country.

And if they do manage to stumble into power, what are the chances that the Democrats will take bold steps to rescue the country from all the bad policies this Administration has brought on us? Not much, judging by the nervous attitude of the current leadership. Change is going to have to come from below.

Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean has incurred the wrath of House and Senate leaders by refusing to focus all of his group's funds on the next election. Instead, Dean is channeling money into long-term party-building activities in all fifty states.

That sort of thinking is anathema to the set-aside-everything-to-win-this-time Democratic Party.

"We have gone from election to election, and, if we don't win, then we've dug ourselves into a deep hole and we have nothing to start with," Dean told The Washington Post. "That is a cycle that has to be broken."

"The way you build long-term is to succeed short-term," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chair Rahm Emanuel shot back, after a contentious meeting in which, the Post reported, Emanuel left Dean's office spewing invective. …