Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Gathering Storm

The Moose gets ahead of himself.

Although he is not predicting it, the Moose suggests that the Democrats could possibly win back control over the House of Representatives and maybe even the Senate. It is still a significant stretch for the donkey to score a knock-out in '06 and Democrats should certainly not be smitten with irrational exuberance.

But each day, as yesterday revealed, the Congressional Republicans more and more resemble the House Democrats of a decade ago - an entrenched crony establishment out of touch with the country and even their own principles. The popularity numbers of the Congressional GOP are in the tank. Democrats have a significant lead in most generic Congressional match-ups with the Republicans.

It could happen, but it is not inevitable. The Moose's mantra is that the Democrats must offer a reform agenda that appeals to both independents and even disaffected Republicans. The party must begin moving beyond Bush-hatred and forge a plan for governance that provides a glimpse of what Democratic leadership would look like. They have time to accomplish this task, but they should not dither.

In 1993 and 1994, Newt had the insight that the Republicans alone could not win back Congress. That is why he built alliances with the independent Perot forces. He embraced the balanced budget amendment, congressional reforms and term limits. He transcended narrow conservative ideology and embraced a broader agenda (although he did not govern that way).

Learn from Newt!

Now is the time of maximum Republican vulnerability. Democrats must exploit divisions within the GOP ranks. Seize the issue of fiscal responsibility.

Yes, the GOP is the party of corruption, cronyism and incompetence. But, the voters certainly do not yet see the Democrats as the Party of Reform and Competence.

Of course much could change in the next year. And even if the Democrats capture the House (and/or the Senate), there is a danger that they could become hostage to their interest groups and over-reach as the Republicans did in '95 and '96. The '94 Republican victory led paradoxically to the Democratic triumph in '96 - a powerful lesson.

By all means celebrate the Republican travails. But, get to work on offering an attractive alternative for progressive, reform governance.
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