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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

What Do The Democrats Do Now?

Are you feeling angry? Overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness? You can’t function socially and have a “sense of disillusionment, of not wanting to vote anymore”?

Then you are probably a Democrat suffering from a severe electoral hangover, according to one licensed Florida psychologist, quoted in the Boca Raton News. Douglas Schooler says he’s treated fifteen clients and friends for “post-election selection trauma.”

Democrats, like the Red Sox, have a long history of losing the presidency. The last full Democratic presidency, not counting Bill Clinton’s two terms, belonged to Franklin Roosevelt.

In 1928, Democrats lost to Herbert Hoover, but won back the presidency (again and again and again) with Roosevelt, thanks to the Great Depression. In 1988, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, much to his chagrin, lost to Vice President George H.W. Bush, and the Democratic Party moved towards conservatism.

Now, they are at a crossroads. “The Democrats have to decide if this is 1928 or 1988,” Rick Shenkman, editor of George Mason University’s History News Network, recently told a Washington Post columnist, saying that it came down to whether they should re-invent themselves.

There is now, and will be for the next several months, a question of how did the Democrats lose. How did they lose against a president who’s approval rating was hovering below fifty, with a war in a foreign country becoming a mess, a major international criminal still on the loose, and a still barely recovering economy. That will debated on campuses, in newspaper columns, and college textbooks. But a new focus should now emerge, to look to the future and build a truly national party, and one that does not just take the Northeast and Western Coast.

What Democrats need to do is bring some game to the ground forces. President George Bush actually won the election by about 140,000 votes in Ohio. That’s a far cry from 537 votes in Florida four years ago. Republicans have obviously been preparing since then to win both the Sunshine state and Ohio, and they succeeded brilliantly. Democrats need to take Republicans’ leads and churn out their base and expand it come next Election Day.

Democrats were constrained to battling a tight election in just a few states. Next time around, go national. It will be costly, but will prove worth it in the long run. Talk to the voters. They need to make it crystal clear to the American people what their values are. Health care is a value. Good education is a value. Marriage to the person you love is a value. A sound economy is a value. Faith, when it is not forced on other people, is a value.

They must look to winning more gubernatorial races, especially southern ones, since they are breeding grounds for future presidential candidates. Senators, it seems, do not make good campaigners. Some are divisive figures as well, like Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who cannot seriously win in 2008. The electoral math just does not add up.

New leadership must be installed. In the Congress, Democrats must focus on being the Loyal Opposition, drawing up counter-proposals to the radical ones sure to come out of the Bush administration. They must be vigilant and truly fulfill their democratic role, since it seems it’s the only way the media, as some have said, will fulfill theirs.

For a serious shot at 2008, Democrats must lay the groundwork now, groundwork they should have lain in 2000, and maybe even before that. Until then, they will remain in the minority, and if they keep on the same track and the Republicans keep having their way, an inept, nearly silenced one.