washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

R.I.P. ‘Contract with America’

Decembrist Mark Schmitt has a post scolding the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for its “monumentally stupid” unearthing of the long-dead ‘Contract with America.’ Schmitt says:

Eleven years is a long time. Yes, to Washington Dems the Contract with America is still a living, breathing monster. Many of us lost our jobs because of it. (I didn’t, but I would have been in line for a very cool job if Democrats had retained the Senate.) But does the Contract have any meaning for ordinary people after 11 years, three presidential elections, an impeachment, Sept. 11, a war, etc.? I’m open to hearing about poll numbers that indicate otherwise, but I suspect the answer is no.

Schmitt takes the DCCC to task for embracing a custom-tailored GOP “frame” and notes further:

The whole breach-of-contract argument is internal and process-oriented. It’s an insiders’ argument to insiders. What does it have to do with war, economic security, global challenges, hurricanes and floods, etc. Yes, reform is a key theme and Democrats must embrace it, but not in a bloodless good-government way. It’s got to be integrally connected to the things people care about in life, and in the non-political aspects of their life.

And then, the nut graph:

If Democrats expect to capitalize on the emerging scandals, indictments, chaos, and the President’s unpopularity to nationalize a congressional election for the first time since 1994, they have to find one or two clear points, substantive points, that are our own and that would matter: universal health care, preparedness for future crises, economic security, bring the war in Iraq to an end — something serious that people can grab onto. Talking about someone else’s 11-year-old Contract is no substitute.

The bottom line is that the Republicans are doing a wonderful job of destroying themselves, and we don’t have to go back more than a decade to highlight their failures. What’s missing is a projection of the Democratic Party as the credible alternative. The sooner the DCCC meets that challenge head on and full-strength, the better our chances in November ’06.