The Moose suggests that the donkey should not obsess on W.
Here is a profound pre-holiday political observation - Bush will not be President in 2009. That simply means that Bush-bashing is not enough. In fact, W. is becoming increasingly less relevant. The Moose is not certainly not suggesting that he is irrelevant, but his political prowess is surely eroding as is his significance for the future fate of the Democratic Party.
The apparent failure of social security privatization presents the donkey with an important opportunity. The President's vision of an "ownership society" has not grabbed the nation's imagination. But, in the past two Presidential election cycles, Democrats have not offered a alternative vision. In fact, there hasn't been one offered by the donkey since Clinton's New Covenant of the '90s.
This observation from Stan Greenberg in the Christian Science Monitor concerning a Democracy Corps survey should be disquieting to Democrats, (thanks to Charging Rino for the tip)
"Some 43 percent of voters said they had warm feelings about the Republican Party, while only 38 percent had positive feelings about Democrats. "Republicans weakened in this poll ... but it shows Democrats weakening more," Greenberg said. He attributes the decline to voters' perceptions that Democrats have "no core set of convictions or point of view."
The task of Democrats is to devise a compelling narrative for the country's future. This will require for the donkey to shift from Bush bashing to offering a policy agenda that demonstrates that the party can truly govern in a manner that protects the country, promotes economic growth and advances American values.
All of this seems self-evident, but it will require a major attitudinal shift for the party. Beyond the development of ideas, Democrats must actually be optimistic again. That might be the hardest task after two terms of W. But again, the donkey must wean itself from its Bush obsession.
The good news is that some of the likely '08 candidates are working on the post-Bush era vision - for instance Edwards on poverty and Hillary on values. This week the Moose heard an insightful presentation by President Clinton linking a environmentally-friendly energy policy with national security and economic growth. Unfortunately, the twenty-second amendment precludes this Clinton from running, but he is certainly a valuable adviser for a candidate.
Republicans, too, have a challenge to figure out if there is life beyond the fading domestic agenda of privatization and tax cuts. Nine-eleven alone will not suffice for the elephant.
But what if the two parties don't get their acts together? Again, the Monitor article,
"Greenberg concurred. A Supreme Court fight "reinforces a sense that Washington is out of touch ," he said. "You've got a lot of economic discontent out there that neither party is championing." Ominously for both parties, they believe economic conditions could trigger a third party bid in 2008. Greenberg said it could be helped by a "rural revolt against Washington" rooted in concerns about healthcare costs."
The Moose is intrigued... --