Sunday, January 4, 2015

Memo To Dems: Be Proactive Not Reactive

Now that they control both Houses of Congress, Republicans are going to do everything they can over the next two years to advance their agenda. Elections do have consequences and, as the minority party, Democrats are going to have to make the best of them. And that means not sitting around licking their wounds.

If they're smart, they will take their President's lead. Since November, Obama has signed an executive order on immigration, reached an accord with China to limit greenhouse emissions and started the process of normalizing relations with Cuba. He's also threatened to veto a Keystone pipeline deal should it pass. Not bad for two months.

Here's a few suggestions for Democrats:

Don't copy the Republican playbook. Over the last six years, the GOP was basically the party of No. They acted as obstructionists and brought Washington to a virtual standstill. I'm not suggesting that they sing along with Mitch, mind you, but they have to pick their battles carefully. What they can ill afford going into the next presidential election is for Republicans to brand them as the obstructionists. That would play right into their hands and place Hillary Clinton or whoever the nominee is into an untenable position. Say no when appropriate, but when the opportunity presents itself, be amenable to some of the less objectionable legislation.

Case in point, the trade agreement that Obama struck while in China. Progressives don't like it one bit, but centrist Democrats and many Republicans do. If I were Harry Reid, I'd push my caucus to sign on to this deal. It's more than just a bone to throw Senate Republicans; it's an opportunity to prove to the electorate that they're willing to play ball. And it chips away at the argument that the GOP has been making for the last six years that Democrats don't care about business and jobs.

And speaking of jobs, Democrats should spend the next few months building a narrative of how good the economy has been doing under their stewardship and how many jobs have been created since Obama took office. No doubt Republicans will attempt to take credit for the latest GDP growth, as Grover Norquist has already done. It is vital that Democrats counter this ridiculous propaganda with real data. Historically, this has been very difficult for both the Party and the Administration to do, but do it they must. It would be the political blunder of the century if, after standing on the sidelines and cheering on the fire, Republicans managed to get any credit for putting it out. This cannot be allowed to happen.

And, finally, Democrats must define what it is they stand for. There's no doubt the base was disheartened last November and showed it by staying home. Articulating a vision for the country that speaks to this base is vital for success in 2016 and beyond. Know your strengths and avoid the typical infighting that has plagued the other Party. Unlike the GOP, the Democratic base is growing. It would bode well for the Party to remember that. Any thoughts of throwing the base under the bus to appease the few remaining Blue Dogs would be electoral suicide. It's simple math: when both party's bases turn out, Democrats have a decided edge.

So, there it is, Dems, your road map to victory. Follow it and good things can happen; ignore it and you do so at your own risk.

No comments: