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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Big Picture

Back in 1980, when Reagan announced “It’s morning in America,” the day after he won the presidential election in a landslide, I remember feeling a chill of revulsion about what was going to happen. And sure enough, Reagan delivered the largest ever transfer of wealth from working people to the already wealthy, plus a tripling of the federal deficit, along with fomenting a general meanness of spirit toward liberals and even moderates that swept the land.
But now, 28 years later, it’s really morning in America, in a much more inclusive sense — for all who believe in the possibility of brotherhood. Even if Obama had lost, his campaign would be credited with moving America forward to the fulfillment of MLK’s dream. (Digby leads with it today).
Obama’s victory is a wonderful thing for African Americans, and the pride and joy in his example has already been an empowering force in Black communities. But it’s a big win for Americans of all races because it shows the world our best side for a change. And it provides an instructive example for Democrats, and yes even Republicans, who want to learn how to run an intelligent, efficient campaign. Political scientists, as well as candidates, will be studying the Obama campaign for many decades to come. And if David Axelrod writes a strategy playbook/memoir, he will get filthy rich, and deservedly so.
Future candidates should also study President-elect Obama’s spirit, the way he responds to criticism, not by bristling or returning personal insults, but instead calmly addressing the core issue with directness and eloquence. His emotional maturity and coolness under fire is indeeed reminiscent of MLK. Last night in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. and Mrs. King’s daughter, Rev. Bernice King told a rally about how her mother, Coretta Scott King reacted when she saw Obama address the 2004 Democratic convention. “Bernice, come here,” she said. “I think we got somebody.”
One of the big challenges facing Dems and president-elect Obama in the short run is the meme that ‘America is a center-right nation” and he should proceed accordingly. David Sirota has a couple of interesting posts at Open Left today addressing this fear-based notion (here and here).

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