Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Advice to Demos: forget about the South

Democrats should forget about the South, writes Thomas F. Schaller in the WaPo.

"The first rule of electoral politics is: Don’t Try to Win the Last Election. Why, then, do some Democrats seem bent on reviving a disintegrated New Deal coalition in order to replay, and somehow win, the 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988 elections all at once? The bitter truth is that the Florida recount was the Democrats’ last stand in the South for the foreseeable future. Gore capitulated at the vice president’s residence in Washington. Appomattox would have been the more fitting location."

Of course, everything he says is arguable, yet, it’s interesting, and, you can learn a lot from the essay. If the Demos really gave up the South, they would have to win something like the equivalent of an inside straight to win a presidential race. That would mean working the South-West seriously, plus the mid-West, especially Ohio, and also not losing any more of the Hispanic vote. I don’t think any of that likely, at least for 2004.  

Discussions - 3 Comments

For the reasons you point out, it’s very difficult for any presidential candidate simply to write off an entire region of the country. To do so and win, the candidate basically would have to win out in every other region, which is unlikely. What you didn’t mention, of course, is the genius of the Founders’ constitutional design. The design of the electoral college requires candidates to run a national campaign, and makes it very difficult to neglect entire regions of the country. People who want to abolish that system never think much about that, of course.

This is a stupid policy for the Democrats. Look at the past 40 years worth of Democrat presidents and what were their home states. LBJ was from Texas. Jimmy Carter was from Georgia. Bill Clinton was from Arkansas. The guy who came several hundred votes in Florida from becoming the next president in 2000 was from Tennessee. Now let us look at the Democrats who lost the past forty years worth of presidential campaigns. HHH was a liberal from Minnesota. Mondale was a liberal from Minnesota. Dukakis was a liberal from Massachusetts. Carter lost to Reagan because he was a crappy president and Reagan was Reagan. Is there a pattern here?

If the Democrats write off the south then they are blowing off a significant portion of the black vote, which is really important to the Democrats as shown in Louisiana.

In any event, I think the Democrats are writing off the south because they are going to nominate Howard Dean. Let us look at Dean. He is the former governor of the state in which he rode the wave of same sex unions. Vermont has three members of Congress. Their House member is an avowed socialist. One of their senators is a turncoat. The other senator is the poster-child for liberal obstructionists in the Senate Judiciary Committee. How will this go over in the south? Add to that the widespread anti-military and anti-Americanism in regards to the War in Iraq of Howard Dean and this is a recipe for disaster in the south for the Democrats.

What the Democrats need is to nominate a moderate southern governor. Bob Graham used to be a reasonably sane and rational guy. He was a pretty successful two term governor in Florida before he went to the Senate. His campaign was a disaster and he turned into a fruitcake. Zell Miller would be dream candidate for Democrats who want to beat Bush; fortunately for the Republicans this isn’t going to happen. Miller would appeal to Independet voters and those Bush voting Democrats. In addition, Miller would get the black vote because the vast majority of blacks don’t vote for Republicans. This would be severely complicated by a third party run by Ralph Nader or an indepedent Dean. Alas, the DLC is dead and the left once again controls the Democrat party.

I agree this would be a bad move by the Dems. Sure on paper they can concentrate on the rest of the country, but if they have publically written off the South, the GOP can concentrate on the rest of the country as well. Only with the South’s electoral votes already sewn up.

This is grasping at straws stuff. It means they want to nominate Dean, they know in their heads that that will mean disaster, but in their hearts they want to nominate him anyway. So you get articles like this as they try to convince themselves it won’t be the train wreck that everyone can see coming.

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