Monday, March 6, 2006

Running the Wrong Way

Yet another article on the multi-faceted Democratic Party going into another election.

From Arizona to Pennsylvania, from Colorado to Connecticut, Democratic candidates for Congress are reading from a stack of different scripts these days.

At the Capitol in Hartford the other morning, State Senator Christopher Murphy denounced the “disastrous prescription drug benefit bill” embraced by his Republican opponent, Representative Nancy L. Johnson.

Jeff Latas, a Democratic candidate in an Arizona race, is talking about the nation’s dangerous reliance on oil imports from the Middle East. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, says he is running against “the arrogance and cronyism” displayed by Washington Republicans.

And in New Mexico, Patricia Madrid, the state attorney general, is urging the United States to set a timetable for quitting Iraq.

“We have a lot to run on,” said Ms. Madrid, who is trying to unseat Representative Heather A. Wilson.

These scattershot messages reflect what officials in both parties say are vulnerabilities among Republicans on Capitol Hill, as well as President Bush’s weakened political condition in this election year.

But they also reflect splits within the party about what it means to be a Democrat — and what a winning Democratic formula will be — after years in which conservative ideas have dominated the national policy debate and helped win elections.

And they complicate the basic strategy being pursued by Democratic leaders in Washington to capture control of Congress: to turn this election into a national referendum on the party in power, much the way Republicans did against Democrats in 1994.

Well, I’m no political sage, but I’m not sure I think it’s such a good idea to try to nationalize 2006 election since it’s not a presidential election and Tip O’Neill was right: all politics is local. The folks in New Mexico don’t care about the inside betting on the Indiana 8th district, and having a one-size-fits-all campaign only works if you intend to exploit the greed, fear, and bigotry of the electorate, and that’s something the GOP is much better at than the Democrats. I’m not sure I’d want to have someone like James Dobson or Fox News doing the heavy lifting for the DNC. (Oh, please, trolls; don’t hand me that crap about the “liberal media” and Michael Moore; that’s small potatoes compared to the gangsters in Colorado Springs. Get over your culture of victimhood.) It may seem like it would be easier for the Democrats to win if they go that way, but it also makes them no better than the people they ran over.