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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Should Focus More on Congressional Campaigns

WaPo‘s Colbert I. King has an article Dems need to think about, if we want to create a party that can actually play offense, instead of limp defense. King’s “Democrats Are on the Wrong Battlefield” (July 23 edition) brings a needed reminder that tunnel vision focused on Presidential campaigns has not served Dems well. King says Dems invest too much energy and resources in the race for the white house to the detriment of other important elections:

Self-designated as a government in exile, Democratic Party activists have spent recent election cycles working their fannies off for that glorious day in January when they, as victors, could show the door to a vanquished Republican administration. For members of Washington’s Democratic administration-in-waiting, winning the White House has been the only game in town. The presidency, in their view, is the instrument to make the way straight and easy for all who wage war against the heathen right.
So, lo these many years, they have been spending millions of dollars and consuming time and energy treading the primary roads that they hoped would take them to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Meanwhile, far beyond the presidential trails, Republicans have been picking off Democrats on the Hill one by one, making it possible for George W. Bush to fulfill his upfront pledge to govern America from the right, where tax cuts, changing the face of the federal judiciary and making liberals perfectly miserable every waking moment remain the order of the day.

King says neglect of important congressional races has made it easy for Republicans to dominate, not only legislative struggles, but judiciary confirmation battles, such as the filibuster “compromise.” And, if you doubt King’s point about presidential campaign tunnel vision, ask a Democratic friend to please name five key Senate races slated for next year. If King is right, re-routing more energy and resources into congressional, state and local campaigns, leadership development and training could prove to be a worthy investment in a Democratic future.