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Well paint me blue, and cut me a welfare check – the Dems are back!
The political pendulum is swinging back toward the Democrats, but they only have two years to make good use of the nation’s newly tinted blue hue. The Donkeys met the lofty expectations of many analysts in reclaiming a congressional majority in Washington (even if they did fall short of the hopes of a few pipe-dreamers). But that’s hardly a victory in light of all that lies ahead.
The voters spoke candidly with a succinct voice, and they said one thing: We’re tired of the Bush administration. And there is admittedly much to be tired of – out-of-control federal spending, overreaching security and education programs (Every Child Left Behind, anyone?), and the stench of corruption wafting through the White House doors – just to name a few.
But the blue-staters will soon find the “oppose anything and everything the Bush administration does without an alternative” plan battle cry will only get them as far as an election-day victory. Now that they can’t claim minority impotence, they’ll have to get to work.
They’ll first have the task of coming up with an agenda that will actually fix the problems of the Bush White House. They’ve already exhausted the observation that Bush and his cronies have successfully eroded years of successful fiscal and social policy; they now are entrusted with curbing that erosion. Preserving social security, improving health care options in America, and winning a costly and seemingly endless war all top the list for the average voter – not funding for embryonic stem cell research.
They also face the task of uniting party centrists and left-wingers around those solutions – and let’s not forget their Republican counterparts. The only way the Democrats will maintain their current majority beyond 2008 is by creating a platform that’s just too good for people to pass up, whether they’re extremists or moderates. Toeing the party line isn’t an option. It didn’t work for the Republicans, and it won’t work for the Dems.
Seems simple, right? Well, not really. Populist Democrats like Ken Salazar and other rural folks from the Old West don’t have much in common with the extreme-left elitism of rich boys like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. Having ultra-liberal wack-job Nancy Pelosi as the new speaker of the U.S. House only compounds this problem.
Within Colorado, Gov.-elect Bill Ritter has the challenge of keeping his promise as a moderate deal maker who can rally everyone and blur the divide between blue and red. With such vehement debate over issues like taxation, funding for K-12 and higher education, water rights, immigration and gay marriage, can Ritter really turn us into one big, purple state? If he can’t, Ritter will soon find out what shoe leather tastes like.
Democrats have constantly said they could undo mounds of ruin if only given the chance. But undoing ruin will require more than anti-Bush rhetoric. It will require moderate politicking and thoughtful policy – two things recent Republicans noticeably lacked.
But if the party finds itself polarized between moderates and ultra-liberals with no unified vision for change, voters will quickly swing the pendulum back to the right in 2008.