The Moose Counseling Service continues its therapy for disconsolate Democrats.
Slowly, my donkey friends are working through Elizabeth Kubler Ross' stages of grief. The empathetic Moose feels your pain. In fact, about twelve years ago, he was in your place. The Moose had just lost his job in the Bush I Adminsitration and he we beginning his new gig at the Christian Coalition. Democrats were in complete control of the White House and Congress. The Moose thought he had joined the losing side.
However, the Elephant retooled as an insurgent guerilla political fighter. He embraced a reform agenda of transforming an ossified Democratic Washington. Led by Newt Gingrich, the G.O.P. developed an alternative program and offered the Contract with America. Assisted by liberal overreach, the Elephant seized Congressional power and has not relinquished it since.
This elephant experience can be instructive for the donkey. As the Moose sees it, the biggest problem for the D's is that they have steadily become culturally removed from the heartland of America. Specifically, they often appear disdainful of religiously observant people. Check out this quote in today's New York Times,
"I have been made to feel by the liberal people that my faith makes me weird," Ms. Johnson said. "I don't wear my religion on my sleeve either; I'm quiet about it. But I firmly believe that my country was founded on faith, and when I saw the popular vote this time, it made me feel like I'm not such an outsider, that there are others like me, and a lot of them."
The Moose can attest that nothing motivated religious conservatives more than their perception that liberal elites have contempt for their faith. Once, a Washinton Post writer characterized them as "poor, uneducated and easy to command." That quote alone was a inestimable recruiting tool.
Even though Republicans are in political control, much of the country believes that liberals dominate our culture - and that it is deteriorating. Democrats need to spend less time in Hollywood and more time at Pentecostal prayer meetings. Too many Democrats scoff at President Bush's profession of faith. They snickered when then Governor Bush pronounced at one of the primary debates that Christ was his favorite philosopher. That may very well have been the moment when W. solidified his relationship with the religious conservatives - more important than his position on gay rights and abortion.
Take it from the Moose - Mr. Donkey, your views on economic growth and health care access are not going to be heard unless broad swaths of America believe that you are one of them.
Moose Correction - Several Mooseketeers have helpfully noted that Congressman Lloyd Doggett was also a survivor of the DeLay purge - thanks and Hook'em Lloyd!