Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Fifty State Strategy

I don't know how you feel about it (Super-Smart guy Chris Bowers lays out the case for it here), but Atrios nails a good point. Democrats, liberals, progressives, even socialists, are constantly being told that they need to reach out to 'red state America.' Okay, maybe not the socialists. But we are constantly reminded 0f how we live in coastal enclaves of moral degeneracy and high standards of living. Or something.

And so the current chair of the Democratic Party decides to reach out to Jesusland, (see below) and the National Democrats like Rahm Emmanuel and Chuck Shumer flip out. Resources are scarce, don't you know.

Well, at some point, if the Democrats are going to ever become a force in areas other than the above-mentioned United States of Canada, then they're going to need to pursue ground-level organizing in enemy territory. And I say that as a native of Jesusland, North Carolina Province.

There appears to be some dispute whether it would be a wiser to take advantage of widespread dissatisfaction with Republican rule by using cash exclusively in certain races, or whether it makes more sense to use the resources for long-term organizing, with less of a focus on the '06 races.

There's never a good time to use resources for long-term work that may have little immediate impact. It will never happen. There will always be a reason not to. The problem with that thinking is that it places a terminal cap on your electoral prospects. You are by definition limited to success in a narrower slice of the nation.

It has often been said that the difference between Republican and Democratic Presidential efforts is this: Republican presidential campaigns are only the top of a very solid pyramid. All of the local activists, state and county parties, think tanks, money men and the rest of it support that person at the top, but largely that person is interchangeable from election cycle to election cycle. There may be differences, but they're not earth-shattering.

Democratic Presidential campaigns are heavily reliant on personality-driven concerns. They are like the pyramid inversed. Take out the invidual candidate, and it can all fall appart quite easily. See Clinton, Bill and Dukakis, Michael.

I think it's easy to see which electoral dynamic works out for better long-term prospects. There is never a time when organizing is not the answer. It might be the harder response. It might be the long-term answer. It is never not the answer.

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