How the Democrats can (theoretically) win an election.


5 comments posted

"Democrats always had one thing going for them. It was the party that spoke truth to power. It was the party that said you have to let everyone drink from the same water fountain. It's the party that said girl's soccer is important, too. It's the party that stopped Richard Nixon, and ended the Viet Nam war. We used to have stones."

You are very wrong about this. In the South, Democrats were, and to a surprising extent remain, the party of racism, the anti-Lincolns. This is not some quaint anachronism, not when one third of the populiation of this nation resides in the South. It is why a putative Democrat like New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin supported Bush for President in both 2000 and 2004, and Governor Blanco's Republican opponent when she ran for office (that and maybe a good dose of sexism). It is why Democratic candidates in the South often distance themselves from the national Democratic party. It is why winning an election supposedly requires moving to the right. It's one reason Eugene V. Debs said he was embarrased to be a Democrat, and left the party. Someday "Democrat" may mean what you say it does in the South, but not yet. Being "Progressive" absolutely will drive people from the Party, but at what cost do we keep them?

(accidentally posted this to the wrong entry before, sorry about that)

anonymous lurker's picture
Posted by anonymous lurker (not verified) on 16 September 2005 - 7:21am
I'm very aware

of Southern Democrats and their racist agenda - I live in Kentucky. I'm talking about the Party leadership, the mainstream Democrats that embraced Dr. King and the Labor movement.

Support the Women's Autonomy and Sexual Sovereignty Movements

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 16 September 2005 - 7:12pm

Morgaine, I agree with almost every thing that you suggest here about the strategy that Democrats need to adopt if they're going to get anywhere, and I agree with you that it draws on the better half of the Democratic Party's tradition. But I'm puzzled by the way that you act as if this better half were the only history that the "mainstream" Democratic Party "leadership" has.

It's certainly true that the Democratic Party leadership eventually came around to a position that sometimes vaguely resembled justice. But that doesn't change the record that the Democrats racked up from their foundation right up to about 1965. When you say (emphasis mine): "Democrats always had one thing going for them" and add "It was the party that said you have to let everyone drink from the same water fountain," it's puzzling; puzzling because as you well know, almost every single politician who led the campaign of "massive resistance" against integration, and for militant white supremacy in the South, was a Democrat at the time (cf. Senator Strom Thurmond, Senator James Eastland, Senator Richard Russell, Governor Orval Faubus, Governor George Wallace, et al., not to mention the long history of Democratic leaders such as President Woodrow Wilson and all the way back to the chieftains of the slave power in the 19th century). Moreover, these men were not minor players in the national Democratic Party or marginalized by other Democrats. They were the Party leadership in their states, jealously guarded their power in national Party committees and the Democratic Caucus in the federal House and Senate, and in return for it were pampered and catered to by many other Democrats (such as Roosevelt or Kennedy) who did not share their beliefs, but just didn't give enough of a damn about Black people to risk their electoral prospects on challenging them. (When Democrats wax nostalgic about the "national party" or the "solid South" that used to win them elections, they are waxing nostalgic about the congealed power of Southern white supremacy.)

When folks like the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party said "No more," and took on the militant segregationists within the Party in 1964, mainstream Democrats like Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey didn't get their back; they were apoplectic and did everything they could to marginalize the campaign. The effort to break the back of the Klan Caucus of the Southern Democrats was won at last by oppressed people who were marginalized, disdained, and ignored by the national party leadership, quite against the will of the "mainstream Democrats."

In a similar vein, I'm also unclear on what the Democratic Party leadership ever did to end the Viet Nam War. I do know that they started it.

If Democrats want to win they have to come out for justice. But when they do so, they will be building something substantially new, not recovering some past glory.

Rad Geek's picture
Posted by Rad Geek (not verified) on 18 September 2005 - 10:21am
I'm from the Women's Studies set, a war-hating hippy and an LGBT and I've got news for the boys - I AM the Democratic Party - or I should be. If they keep kissing elephant ass, I'll soon be Green, which is the wave of the future anyway if the Dems don't find their spines.

I actually agree with much of your post, but I think your insistance on privileging certain identities over others is no better than some other person saying they're "tired of group X always ruining things."

Sounds like a recipie for permanent minority status to me.

Seems to me that an effective political party in a binary system (such as we've got) must either locate its identity within a demographic which can come close to winning an election more or less on its own (e.g. the GOP and white males), or it must transcend individual identity in favor of an effective federation/coalition with some kind of meta-identity constituted around shared values.

anonymous lurker's picture
Posted by anonymous lurker (not verified) on 19 September 2005 - 7:18pm
Let me get this straight, outlandish josh

You think everyone should just STFU and let the existing privileged identity classes run things the way they see fit?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 20 September 2005 - 1:03am