May 20, 2005


As Dems shore up base, GOP goes 'raiding' (Jill Lawrence, 5/19/05, USA TODAY)

National party chairmen Howard Dean and Ken Mehlman have the same job titles but different jobs. One is on a mission to rebuild, the other to expand.

Their itineraries tell the tale.

Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is courting black and Hispanic voters on a regular basis. Beyond the usual run of speeches, fundraisers and meetings with donors, he has visited Latino neighborhoods and historically black campuses. He has attended black-oriented receptions and ceremonies, spoken to minority chambers of commerce and raised money for Otto Banks of Harrisburg, Pa., a black city council candidate new to the GOP.

Dean, who reaches Day 100 as Democratic National Committee chairman Monday, is for the most part speaking to diehard Democrats who are the backbone of their party.

The Democrats' mission has to be to stop the bleeding at 40% or they risk a third party challenge.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 20, 2005 9:52 PM

I hate to say it -- even thinking it is dangerous -- but it is really easy to tell a story about how the Dems are more likely to crash and burn than recover.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 21, 2005 12:06 AM

David Cohen:

Who replaces them ?
The Greens, as many have suggested ?
Or do the Dems become the most powerful minor party, and the Greens and Libertarians gain power, but still don't overtake the Dems ?

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 21, 2005 6:32 AM

The Dems are not going to disappear; they're going to accept that they can't get anywhere without disavowing their fever swamp constituency. When they disavow them, they'll have more electoral success. They just need a long enough run of electoral pain to compel them to accept reality.

Posted by: Tom at May 21, 2005 7:33 AM


There's going to be a party of the true Left. If it isn't the Democrats it will be someone else.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 7:44 AM

No argument with that, OJ. I'm just saying the Dems have a large enough core that it includes some reasonably sane people who will track right. Hillary! being the most obvious example, with her recent "I love the military!" US Tour 05.

Posted by: Tom at May 21, 2005 8:38 AM


What's in that for the Left?

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 8:43 AM

Nothing; it's what's in it for Hillary and the relatively moderate Dems.

Posted by: Tom at May 21, 2005 8:46 AM

Right, so there'll be another party for the Left.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 8:56 AM

I think the most likely result to be a red/green party, along with part of labor. More or less, the people I saw marching down Main Street yesterday protesting against sweatshops and NAFTA, because that's a big problem in Northampton, MA.

The DLC/blacks/moderate blocs would then form a left of center party, and probably peel off some moderate Reps. Neither of the two rump Dem parties would accomplish much for a while, but they're not accomplishing much now.

Posted by: David Cohen at May 21, 2005 10:19 AM

OJ - Well, yes, in fact, there are already several, e.g., the Green Party, the Socialist Party, etc.

Posted by: Tom at May 21, 2005 1:16 PM

If the Dems split, it will be a real split, not the Left gravitating to the Greens or Socialists, or trying to take over an existing party label. That's because each faction will claim to be the "real" Democratic party, and the other the apostates. That's what's going to make it fun, because they will be spending most of their time and energy in the beginning fighting each other instead of making common cause against the true enemy, the GOP. (For an example, look north about ten years ago for how Reform and the Progressive Conservatives (oxymoron alert!) worked together to increase the Liberal's power.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 21, 2005 1:36 PM


Yes and it would seem thoroughly plausible that a Democratic Party that remained beholden mostly to Unions, blacks, etc. would lose its white middle/upper-middle class to a more ideological party, a Green Party that added a focus on being anti-war, morally permissive, and other such positions.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 2:55 PM

The two-party system is structurally derived from our constitution and will survive. What we should not forget is that the political realignment occasioned by the Democrat break-up will affect both parties, as the each of two parties emerging after a short period of Republican domination will be made up of parts of the old parties.

Posted by: Lou Gots at May 21, 2005 11:21 PM

No it isn't.

Posted by: oj at May 21, 2005 11:24 PM