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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Raid the Red Zone

by Will Marshall
After stewing in impotent rage for six long years, Democrats at last see their chance to stage a comeback. President Bush’s public approval is in free fall, the GOP-controlled Congress is begrimed by corruption scandals and special interest pig-outs, and conservatives are falling out over basic questions of war, government spending, immigration and environmental health.
Let’s enjoy the moment. But let’s also resist the temptation to see the GOP’s swoon as evidence of an irreversible slide, or of a chastened public finally willing to admit Democrats were right all along. The same voters who are disillusioned with the Bush Republicans consistently tell pollsters they have yet to hear a persuasive case for change from the other side.
Still, the oh-so-slender GOP majority is in trouble because independents and moderates seem ready to defect in droves. If Democrats can make inroads among these voters this year, then pick a 2008 nominee whose themes resonate in red states as well as blue, we could fashion a new progressive majority.
How to seize the opportunity? There are basically two choices. One, favored by many liberals and lefty bloggers, sees partisan belligerence as the key to mobilizing a Democratic majority. The idea is that by intensifying attacks on our opponents, we can galvanize the party faithful while also projecting the strength of conviction that swing voters have supposedly found lacking among Democrats.
But this approach is based more on wishful thinking than rigorous electoral analysis. The party’s core problem is not a pandemic of cowardice among its leaders, it is that there are not enough Democratic voters. Since the late 1990s, Democrats have been stuck at about 48 percent of the vote in national elections. Moreover, polarizing the electorate along ideological lines plays into Karl Rove’s hands because conservatives outnumber liberals three to two. Democrats need to win moderates by large margins, but moderates by definition resist strident partisanship and ideological litmus tests. The politics of polarization repels them.
To successfully raid the political red zone—the South, Mountain West, Great Plains and lower Midwest—Democrats instead need a politics of persuasion. It starts by acknowledging that moderates and independents have substantive reasons for swinging Republican in recent elections, including persistent doubts about Democrats on security, taxes and the role of government, as well as moral questions. Progressives need to meet these doubts head on, marshaling facts, arguments and new ideas to change the way persuadable voters think about Democrats.
For this, the party needs themes and ideas that limit its liabilities with persuadable voters and exploit growing fissures in the GOP coalition, as well as building on traditional Democratic strengths. Party strategists should pay close attention to Democrats who have won and governed effectively in red states. Tim Kaine’s victory in Virginia last year was especially encouraging as he did well in the fast-growing suburbs Bush overwhelming won in 2004. No less than three red-state Democrats, Bill Richardson, Tom Vilsack and Mark Warner, are hoping to parlay their local success into a race for the White House.
Their knowledge of tricky cultural terrain is essential, because building a durable majority requires that Democrats be competitive in every part of the country. We cannot continue to spot the GOP thirty states in national elections and have any chance of recapturing Congress or the White House. But cartography need not be destiny—not if Democrats finally get serious about rolling back the GOP’s red tide in America’s heartland.
To do that, Democrats must craft a creative governing agenda that is credible on national security, consonant with middle-class moral sentiments and economic aspirations, and committed to the radical reform of politics-as-usual in Washington.
Put Security First
Americans should not be complacent about the fact that we have not been hit by another terrorist attack since 9/11. The front in the struggle against Islamist extremism has simply shifted elsewhere: to Europe, Iraq, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia. In fact, the jihadist contagion is spreading, not contracting, as the Bush administration has somehow managed to lose ground in the ideological war against a fanatical creed that exults in barbaric violence against civilians.
This means security will continue to dominate national politics for the foreseeable future. It is axiomatic that the American people are not likely to give power to a party they do not trust to defend their values and keep them safe.
Democrats therefore must close the national security confidence gap that has dogged them since the era of Vietnam protests. This requires reclaiming, not abandoning, the party’s venerable tradition of muscular liberalism—the Truman-Kennedy legacy that helped America win the Cold War. Updated for new threats, it offers the best answer to the challenge of Islamist extremism today.
Specifically, Democrats need to do three things. First, we must put security first—and mean it. No more trying to change the subject to domestic policy, where we feel more comfortable. After World War II, the party’s platforms routinely led with national security, and its leaders consciously linked America’s defense of democratic values abroad to the pursuit of liberal goals at home. It is time for Democrats to be a full-spectrum party again, once more integrating our international and domestic policies in a seamless vision for advancing progressive ideals.
Second, Democrats must convince the public that we are ready to take over the fight against Islamist extremism. We must offer a comprehensive, long-range strategy that employs all our nation’s might, not just the blunt instrument of military power, to delegitimate the jihadist ideology and patiently nurture the spread of liberal ideas and democratic institutions throughout the greater Middle East.
Third, Democrats must recognize that since 9/11, patriotism has become the most potent values issue in US politics. More than anything else, we need to show the country a party unified behind a progressive patriotism that is determined to defend liberal values against Salafist totalitarians, succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq, close a yawning cultural gap between Democrats and the military, and summon a new spirit of national service and shared sacrifice to counter today’s politics of polarization.
Close the Cultural Gap
It is not enough to convince working families that Democrats will make them safer and take America’s side in international conflicts. A winning heartland strategy must also assure them that Democrats share their values.
The perceived erosion of “moral values” has played a key role in GOP successes in this decade, especially with rural voters and women. Although married women voted for Clinton in the 1990s, they preferred George Bush over Al Gore by 15 points in 2000. By 2004, the “marriage gap” had widened to 19 points.
What is it about getting married and having children that inclines parents toward the GOP? Barbara Whitehead calls it “lifestage conservativism,” noting that the transition to parenthood produces a new outlook on culture:

Parents have a beef with the popular culture. As they see it, the culture is getting ever more violent, materialistic, and misogynistic, and they are losing their ability to protect their kids from morally corrosive images and messages. To be credible, Democrats must acknowledge the legitimacy of parents’ beef and make it unmistakably clear that they are on parents’ side.

Whitehead advises Democrats to begin simply by honoring the vital work parents do in teaching their kids right from wrong. We should also equip parents with better tools to shield their kids from the onslaught of the consumer culture and aggressive corporate marketing campaigns. And there is no good reason for progressives to exempt the entertainment industry from the same kind of accountability we demand from corporations in general.
Along with a progressive, pro-family policy, Democrats need to reach out to religious voters. As Bill Galston has written, religious observance is now the most important cultural fault line in U.S. politics. On religion as on other culturally fraught issues, Democrats need to define themselves, lest voters default to GOP caricatures of a militantly secular party that has launched a “war on Christians.”
Democrats should start by affirming the formative role that faith has always played in shaping America’s civic culture. They should engage skeptical religious voters, not to pander to them but to challenge them to look at issues other than abortion and gay rights through the prism of their faith. All major faiths enjoin their adherents to care for the sick and the poor, to work for justice, not just material gain, and to preserve the natural world. Indeed, U.S. evangelical leaders increasingly speak of “creation care”—a religious duty to be responsible stewards of nature—and some have split openly with the Bush administration, which has done nothing to curtail global warming. This opens fascinating possibilities for progressives to forge alliances with evangelicals around a “green gospel” agenda to stop doing irreversible damage to the earth’s climate.
Of course it also helps to pick candidates who can relate genuinely to religious voters. A turning point in the Virginia governor’s race, for instance, came when Kaine’s Republican opponent attacked him for opposing the death penalty. Kaine assured voters he would enforce the state’s capital punishment laws, even though his Catholic faith led him to oppose the death penalty. By affirming the role that religion plays in shaping his moral outlook, Kaine won respect from socially conservative voters without changing his stance on the death penalty.
Champion Middle-Class Aspiration
It is an article of faith among liberals that cultural politics is preventing voters from recognizing that their economic interests lie with Democrats. There are two problems with this thesis: first, in post-industrial America, economic or material concerns don’t play as large a role in shaping voters’ choices as they previously did. Today’s voters do not neatly compartmentalize their pocketbook worries and their moral concerns. Second, as labor economist Stephen Rose shows in a forthcoming Progressive Policy Institute study, middle-class voters do not really see Democrats as champions of their economic interests. Instead, they identify Democrats most with means-tested social programs aimed at poor and working poor families.
In fact, the white working middle class (voters making between $30,000 and $75,000 a year) – once the heart of the New Deal coalition — is now the mainstay of the Republican majority. According to a study by Third Way, Bush beat John Kerry by a whopping 22 points among white middle-class voters.
The fast-growing suburbs and exurbs are these voters’ natural habitat. Bush won them overwhelmingly. A year later, however, Kaine ran strongly in key Virginia suburbs by avoiding highly partisan attacks, affirming his religious beliefs, and addressing voters’ concerns about growth, congestion and traffic.
Likewise, Democrats need a positive economic message that speaks to these voters’ aspirations, not their fears. Above all, they want to hear ideas that can help them get ahead and realize their ambitions, not alarmist rhetoric about how globalization is crushing their hopes. .
Push More Radical Reforms
For Democrats, there is one and only one benefit of being out of power: the chance to hang the corrupt status quo in Washington around GOP necks for a change and recast themselves as the insurgent party of radical reform. Yet we have flubbed the job so far, because we have been unwilling to embrace political and policy reforms big enough to match the problems before us. Faced with corruption, cronyism and misgovernment on a scale not seen since the “Great Barbecue” of the Grant years, Democrats have shown an unerring instinct for the capillaries rather than the political jugular.
Where are the big ideas that can protect our political system against the machinations of future Delays, Cunninghams and Abramoffs? Gift and travel bans and new disclosure requirements for lobbyists fall risibly short of the systemic changes we need to break up the incumbency self-protection racket, allow non-rich citizens to run for Congress and reduce the power of private money in our democracy.
At a minimum, Democrats ought to insist on replacing Congress’ toothless ethics committees with an independent body that can bring criminal charges against errant lawmakers. They should also back state efforts to create nonpartisan redistricting bodies charged with increasing the number of districts that are truly competitive. That would both undermine the structural underpinnings of today’s polarized politics and boost voter interest in elections. Most important, we should call for some form of public financing for Congressional elections. Nothing short of public funding will truly break the nexus between private cash, legislation and campaigns, or restore public confidence in the basic integrity of our national political system. Although pundits view it as quixotic, public financing may also be the only hope for passing progressive reforms across the spectrum of national needs, since the current system makes it very easy for special interests to block change even if they cannot always order up specific legislative outcomes.
Finally, Democrats need a broader agenda for policy reform, not just political reform. Historians likely will look back on the two Bush terms as the years the locusts ate. Our most pressing national problems—fiscal profligacy, over-consumption and regressive taxation, economic insecurity and inequality, runaway health costs and the vulnerability of uninsured millions, climate change and a debilitating petroleum addiction—have either been aggravated or ignored. Americans are tumbling to the reality that conservatives’ animus toward government makes them lousy at governing.
This should be a boon to Democrats, the natural party of public remedy. But crafting new ways to modernize underperforming public sector systems will bring the party’s unresolved tensions to the surface. Many Democrats, for example, cling to the illusion that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid can be preserved in their 1935 and 1965 incarnations. They reject later retirement as well as progressive indexing or means testing of benefits—both necessary to create a modern retirement system for a rapidly aging society. Some imagine latent public support for a government-dominated health program like Britain’s or Canada’s. Others continue to defend an archaic public education monopoly that is chronically failing poor and minority kids.
It is time for Democrats to abandon their “just say no” stance toward Social Security reform and instead offer a progressive plan for modernizing the system. We should dramatically expand public school choice, by making it possible for every public school to become an independent, self-managed charter school freed from the stifling grip of centralized bureaucracies. We should insist on a national “cap and trade” system for carbon and other greenhouse gases, a step that would also hasten the development of plug-in hybrid cars and other clean energy technologies and fuels. We should offer a tough plan to reimpose fiscal discipline, reduce the Bush budget deficits and make America’s tax code fair and progressive again. Following the example of Massachusetts, we should propose a decentralized path to universal health care, using a mix of public subsidies, access to purchasing pools similar to the one Members of Congress use and individual mandates to make sure that young and healthy people do not get a “free ride” on the system. And more.
Democrats face a big strategic choice. We can continue to be the default party, defining ourselves chiefly by partisan combativeness. Or we can become the reform party, offering compelling ideas for solving national problems. In theory we could do both but in practice it is a lot easier to unite the party around antipathy to conservatives than a new vision for governing. That is the well-worn path of least resistance, but Democrats today should play for higher stakes.

12 comments on “Raid the Red Zone

  1. jasmine on

    1. Only 50% vote. The issue is how to make more people vote–by economic populism –if you make them realize how the Republican agenda is destroying their future, harming the country, and things they care about, how the wealthy is becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer, etc (Republicans do it through issues of gay marriage, abortion, immigration)
    2. Tell me a democrat who does not want to fight Islamic extremism. You talk as if that is the problem of Democrats. The problem with Iraq War which you supported is that it increases Islamic extremism first by making Iran more powerful and by radicalizing muslims.
    3. The problem with people advicing Democrats is that they dont do it. “Democrats should talk about….” You are a Democrat why dont you talk about it.
    I admire Al Gore because in talking about environment he represents Democrats concern on the envt.
    Edwards visibility in talking about poverty is a good witness to the Democratic brand.
    Stop advicing and just do it like Al Gore, and Sen Edwards.

  2. Dan Dickson on

    The very fact that this article attracts neo-cons and people like Sharon Kass to post their thoughts is systemic of our party’s largest strategic flaw: keep the liberals quiet so we can attract the moderates. As a result, we talk about moral values as though Republicans were right to define moral values in terms of abortion and gay-marriage. We talk about an American’s right to drive their SUV as if Republicans were right in thinking that if Americans actually had a viable choice, they would choose to continue to use expensive and ecologically damaging gasoline, oil, and coal. We talk about security as if the Bush doctrine actually were keeping us safe at home because ‘we’re fighting them over there.’
    If that’s the way our party is going to play it again this year, I think we’ll probably lose. I think swing voters are on the fence because they see the need for change but are nervous about making one; it’s human nature to pick conservatively when people aren’t sure about what has to be done and the only adverse effect of American policy to their lives is that they’re paying more alot more for a gallon of gas. And frankly, instead of squabbling over GOP leaning voters in an election cycle, why don’t we do something really different, like support a party platform that actually gets all those people out there who could vote but don’t to do so? Is it so impossible to motivate these people? I’d rather take my chances at grabbing new voters with some innovative ideas than to be insulted with the likes of Sharon Kass’ posting above and to be told that that’s America (only to lose again).
    By the way, I’m a gay man who’s been in a long term relationship with my HUSBAND for longer than most straight marriages last statistically, and I find Sharon Kass’ posting to not only violate your own posting policy, but is offensive to MY moral values. If this party continues to want my vote, it better learn to celebrate people like me; if it doesn’t, good luck with the likes of Sharon!

  3. Mike M. on

    I think that Sharon Kass forgets that what she calls a psychopathology is what other people call a way of life that makes them quite happy and that is really only to be judged by an individual, in reference to themselves. I fear that the Democrats, following Mr. Marshall’s advice, could someday regret chickening out on a major and important civil rights issue.

  4. Sharon Kass on

    Marshall is mistaken in his idea that one can or should lure the attention of the religious away from gay rights issues. A great weakness of the Democratic Party is its unrealistic stances on gender and the family (and, to some degree, work). It is an uncontrovertible fact that homosexual attraction and transgender feelings are psychopathological, preventable, and treatable, developing in early childhood due to a failure of the same-sex parent (figure) to affirm the natural gender identity of the child. See http://www.narth.com, http://www.gaytostraight.org, http://www.peoplecanchange.com, http://www.pfox.org, and a Jewish web site, http://www.jonahweb.org. You disregard this at the Party’s, and society’s, peril.

  5. Dennis Bedard on

    Dear Will. Very insightful and right on the money. But dream on. The Democrats stuck on 48% of the vote since the late 90’s? That number is actually a ceiling that they have not gone above since 1976. And the reason is as simple as the problem is intractable. The ethos of Vietnam/social permissiveness and outright hostility to mainstream cultural values is so ingrained in the activist base of the Democratic Party that nothing short of an economic calamity will bring the Dems back to power. Most all activist Democrats consider the Vietnam War to be the defining moment of their political lives: the so called “lessons” of this war are now a template for every American foreign policy initiative. And the net result of this self absorption has been electoral disaster. Does anyone seriously doubt that one of the main reasons Democrats lost the 1980, 84, and 88, presidential election was a perceived weakness on national security? And now that Vietnam and the “lessons” that we have learned from it pass into memory for most Americans, what do the Democrats serve up on a daily basis? More of the same. I am mystified at the Democrats’ pathological inability to think outside the prism of Vietnam. They remind me of someone who had a bad romantic relationship at a young age and has allowed that experience to color every new love interest to the point where it prevents a new meaningful relationship from developing. The second problem Democrats need to get over is abortion. It has become the equivalent of a sacrament. Democrats believe that their views on abortion mirror that of the American public. They are wrong to the point that this smugness is costing them dearly. Every four years Democratic candidates do the Republican party a huge favor: they appear before the NARAL and genuflect before that group’s extremist philosophy and pledge their fealty to it. How dumb! Most Americans are ambivalent about abortion but they are offended by the notion that it is the moral equivalent of having a tooth pulled. I would say that the average American’s view on abortion is akin to pornography. They don’t like it but prohibiting it would not be wise; therefore it should be limited and government/society should at least adopt rhetoric and persuasion to prevent its acceptance into mainstream culture. Can you imagine if a group of candidates appeared before the ACLU and vigorously defended each citizens’ right to possess pornographic material? The problem for the Democrats is that they are perceived as not a party that defends the right to abortion but that they believe abortion is good. And people associate their position on abortion with a host of other positions on social issues like gay marriage. Whether this is fair or not is irrelevant. The problem is once you stake out a pro abortion position, you have basically handed the Republicans 200 electoral votes before the election even starts. But to ask the Democrats to change their atitude on these two issues is almost laughable. They will continue to self implode and the Republicans will continue to win elections.

  6. Kaj Leers on

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you for your informative article.
    On large parts of the white middle-class voting Republican, i.e. the economics, I would advise Democrats to read last week’s “The Economist” magazine, which speaks mainly about the ‘squeeze’ of the American middle-class.
    The inequality and the squeeze of that middle-class started in 1980, went on until 1994, then vanished, then reappeared in 2000 and has grown worse ever since.
    And yes: in those periods, Republicans determined social-economic policies in the nation.
    Go on, ask white middle-class workers whether they think they’re better off now than six years ago.
    Ask them whether they believe that, under Republican anarchism, prospects of a better life for their children have grown better or worse.
    Ask them.
    A Dutch writer and poet, on the question of how resistance began against the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II, once wrote:
    “Resistance starts by asking yourself a question, and then by asking others that question.”

  7. Bill Crawford on

    As a Republican Conservative who has generally voted Republican, but for the past four years have been looking or a party who is willing to look not just at social issues. Social issues are important, but are they as important as the following: How do we deal with the war in Iraq, how do we deal with illegal immigration and protecting our borders, how do we deal with the budget and trade deficits that equal $1 trillion/year, an energy crisis that neither party wants to deal with, a social security program that is almost broke, the need for a clean environment, etc. What politicians need to understand is that there are voters who are looking for leaders who will help come up with solutions to many of our countries’ problems. We don’t need politicians who attempt to use social issues to divide us instead of uniting us to deal with serious issues.

  8. Dennis Lees, Ph.D. on

    Mr. Marshall’s article raises important issues of ideas that need to be addressed (e.g., issues of security, Islamic extremism, morality, etc.) In addressing these we should not just frame them as Republicans do (the “war” on terror or allowing “moral” to be defined legally and socially by groups more politically well-connected than the rest of us).
    To re-frame the “moral” issues we should be considering, for instance, not just how to fight Islamic extremists but, of equal importance, how can we show we care about the vast number of “good and decent” people in the Islamic community? Many Muslims, like us, are decent, responsible people, good citizens and true to their faith. Some claim the Muslim world hates America when in fact many Muslims don’t hate America and we don’t hate them. However, this may be hard to believe when we appear intent on a “war” seemingly focused on their people and part of world. We should put much more energy into creating good relations and promoting positive images of America with the many in the Islamic world who, like us, are “good” people.
    Top focus on larger definitions of “moral” we should identify issues such as budget deficits, in large part created by spending money we don’t have, to benefit our generation, then handing the bill to our children and grandchildren. Does that pass the Moral test? Then there is the “morality” of sending other people’s children off to sacrifice in a brutal war when no one at home is sacrificing anything, certainnly not life and limb. In times of war or peace we continue to favor those with the power and money to create that outcome, solidifying an ever greater chasm between the rich and all others. Is this desirable for anyone, including those who benefit most? Do our policies, priorities and behavior on whatever issue really pass the “moral” test (not as defined by politics but by deep principles?). That should be the question. Do we have the depth of thought and political courage to give better answers than we have in the past?
    Thank you Mr. Marshall for asking us to think on these things.
    Dennis Lees, Ph.D.

  9. Mike M. on

    On the notion of moral issues: I must say that I find this talk troubling. I know it’s meant to be strategic but I feel that there are a lot of frankly moral ideas being left out.
    For example, the issues of same sex marriage and abortion are meant to be put aside, almost, in this discussion. Mr. Marshall argues that we shouldn’t focus on them and should, instead, look other issues that can be addressed through religious ideas and language. Fine. But this forgets that same sex marriage and abortion are, themselves, fundamental moral and civil rights issues. I worry that we’re leaving same sex couples behind in pursuit of, frankly, changing the subject. What about doing the right thing?
    As for regulating entertainment companies — this is another moral and civil rights issue. For one thing, I take issue with the notion that other industries are more heavily regulated than the entertainment industry. The sins of Paramount seem minor in comparison to Halliburton’s war-profiteering.
    Beyond that, there’s a free speech issue involved in all of this that I don’t think can automatically take a back seat to “protecting the children.”

  10. Steve Booth-Butterfield on

    Hello, Will Marshall:
    I’m a neocon (and former liberal Democratic) and I find many of your ideas to sound like a draft from a young Republican. I can’t imagine that a progressive Democrat is going to respond positively to your ideas. You must experience some fairly uncomfortable moments at activist meetings. Why don’t you realize that you’re closer to being a neoconservative and come on over to the party that thinks more like you and would actually listen to your ideas with seriousness?
    My best wishes to you.

  11. Michael Tropp on

    Your article sounds like the “Bill Clinton Way” of winning. He mixed a little bit of Southern plain speak and folksy culture, an understanding of agrarian/ranching and manufacturing middle class America, morality and religion (saying he was “born again” and promoting the use of V-chips), with a willingness to show American backbone when she needed to defend herself or others in need. And it worked – twice. It’s not that there are less Democratic voters, it’s that there are less voters who realize that they are Democrats. Democrats need to fight back against the accusations that we’re weak on Security and we’re non-religious. The truth is that Democrats are not afraid to fight – if it’s for a just cause. (Wilson, FDR, BC) And religion and spirituality plays a part in many of our lives. But religion is meant to be a welcoming and embracing experience, not an exclusionary force. These are the true colors of the Democratic Party. It’s a party that loves and defends America and Americans of all types. Bill Clinton was able to capture and express that sentiment, let’s just hope that there’s someone else out there who can capture those ideas and express them almost as well as he did. (Because no one can do it quite like Bill!)

  12. Stephen Cusulos on

    You state: But this approach is based more on wishful thinking than rigorous electoral analysis. The party’s core problem is not a pandemic of cowardice among its leaders, it is that there are not enough Democratic voters. Since the late 1990s, Democrats have been stuck at about 48 percent of the vote in national elections. Moreover, polarizing the electorate along ideological lines plays into Karl Rove’s hands because conservatives outnumber liberals three to two. Democrats need to win moderates by large margins, but moderates by definition resist strident partisanship and ideological litmus tests. The politics of polarization repels them.
    I am not sure I understand your point. Certainly, Jessie Ventura won the “independant voters” in Minnesota. Correct. He was certainly “aggressive” and he spoke his mind. He was not “wishy-washy”. Do you think that “indepedant voters” = “moderate”?
    Also, you state: To successfully raid the political red zone—the South, Mountain West, Great Plains and lower Midwest—Democrats instead need a politics of persuasion.
    The question I have is this: since the McGovern years, haven’t the Democrats done very well (at the congressional level) in two “red zone” states: North Dakota and South Dakota?
    In fact, three of the DEMOCRATIC Senators with the hightest approval rating come from these two RED states. Generally speaking, the congressional delgations from these two takes have been within the “progessive camp”. I should also mention that Hubert Humphrey was born and raised in South Dakota and his father was an active Democrat.
    So if you want Democratic victories, why turn to the Dakota’s for some insights.
    I would suggest that the reason this may not work is that the Dakota’s (along with Minnesota) share a common ethno/religious/political tradition that is different from other regions. (I would argue that the politics of this region (the political culture) has been defined by relgion of the region which is has its rooted historical in social justice. In fact I would go further and suggest that the progressive tradition of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota and outgrowth of its ethno/religious cultural.
    Google JRLC (Joint Religious Legislative Coalition) to get some understanding of the role of religion in Minnesota politcs. The problem with political pundants: too many Hedge Hogs; to few Foxes. For a good Fox, see Daniel J. Elazar (The Cities of the Praire, pages 323 to 337 “Political Culture and the Political Isolationism of Minnesota”.)
    PS: Eugene McCarthy first ran for office at the urging to two nuns. Liberals of the Upper-Midwest have, since the days of Archbisoph John Ireland, alway wanted a seperation between “church” and “state” but never between “faith” and “politics”. Keep in mind that one of the most effective lobbies in Minnesota politics is the JRLC. (Sorry for any typos or other errors.)


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