Wednesday, June 15, 2005

MH - The Dilemma for the Democrats

Jeremy Lott at Get Religion with a nice piece on Matt LaBash’s Weekly Standard article on Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Sanders. (When I first saw that I thought he was talking about the great Twins pitcher of the 60s, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who until now was the only Mudcat I’d ever heard of.)

LaBash’s article dovetails into the points I’ve made again and again in the past: the stakes for the Democrats should they continue to refuse to realize how they alienate a significant part of the populace:
Mudcat thinks that the party has turned away from one of its natural constituencies — white southern Christians (called “Bubbas”) — and is now paying for it. He wants Dems to soft-peddle some cultural issues such as gay marriage and cast themselves as a culturally sane, economically populist (i.e., interventionist but not entirely predictable) party. There are plenty of antics in the article, but it’s worth remembering that Mudcat helped Mark Warner win the Virginia gubernatorial election in a state that trends Republican.

So if it’s this obvious, you might ask, why don’t the Dems do it? The popular theory is that they’re afraid of alienating their special-interest bases (and by “them,” I’m referring to the Dems who tend to be more pragmatic than ideological dogmatists), but Mudcat ain’t buying that:
“Politics is about addition, that’s all it is. It’s not difficult,” he says, giving me a primer on Mudcat math. “If I go get a white male,” he asks, “how many votes do I get?” One, I reply. “No,” he says impatiently, “I get two. Because I just took one away from Republicans.”

It is the most elegantly simple precept, he says, one that could end the Democratic drought, and yet they don’t see it because they think targeting Bubba males alienates their base and smacks of racism. “No it doesn’t,” he says. “My African-American friends want to win as much as I do. . . . Democrats are insane. They say Republicans are insane, but they win. I don’t see anything insane about winning.”

And they used to say it was conservatives that would rather be right than president. I don’t think any changes are imminent, but it’s a subject that’s constantly fascinating.

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