Between the Blue Dogs, the Rose-ian “I’m tough on immigration” ads and the shying away from our President – who, I’ll remind you, is the last person who actually energized the Democratic Party -- we aren’t the Democratic Party anymore. We're simply a group of people constantly reacting to the demands of a radical right.
I’ve got to hand it to the Republicans. At their heart, caricatures like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell only serve to define Republicans like Rick Perry as smart, practical leaders. If you’re used to seeing a sequined political figure doing the cha-cha, a potential Presidential candidate who wrote a book seems downright cultured. And it’s not a far leap from the seemingly acceptable ideology of many Republicans – anti-immigration, anti-gay marriage, pro-life – to the hairy under-armpits of the Mama Grizzly platform. As long as you can take at least one tiny step away from that, you’re a beacon for Republican radicals everywhere, somewhere just off the coast of crazy.
But these characters also give Democrats an opportunity to form characters of their own and a formula for what gets people's attention. Is it really that there are no voters left out there who believe that the premise of “terror babies” is a cultural fallacy as fake as the Botox-infused mouth it’s being spewed from? Or is it that Democrats have just stopped allowing our own true believers to make a counter argument -- or, better yet, a counter offer -- in a more compelling way?
Democrats in Texas have a problem. Weak, flavorless and not good for cooking, the Democratic Party – particularly in Texas – has tried to blend in so much that we’ve lost our relevancy. We’re the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Republican Party. We were so afraid someone would stop and notice we were Democrats that we forgot one thing: we couldn’t make voters forget about the (D) next to each one of our candidates. "We're not crazy like them, but we're kinda' like them" is a fool's strategy.
"But we need the moderates." Who are these moderates, and where did they get us? They certainly didn’t get our Democrats elected. Our campaigns are over. Most of our people now aren’t in office. And frankly, that’s how it should be. Because if you can’t embrace our President, then how can voters know that when the chips are down, you’re going to embrace the children of our state who go without health insurance? If you can’t stand up for your own Party’s beliefs, then who is going to go to the ballot box and stand up for you?
The Democratic Party is suffering from an atrophy of character. We have lost any conceivable moderates to attrition, because the Republican Party at least has the ability to define who it is – regardless of the fact that they’re the drunk guy at the holiday party, at least everyone remembers that guy’s name. Our fixation on “the bad guys” does no good if we’re not worth listening to in the first place. We need deliberately distinct leaders and we need to be unabashedly unafraid to support those leaders in bringing back the fundamentals of what matters to Democrats and -- as one insider so eloquently put it recently -- "the tangible consequences of voting for them."
And if you’re shaking your head at all this saying "No, that won't work" then what will? We already tried it your way.