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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP ‘Keystone Kops’ Candidates May Save Dem Majorities

Mike Lux has been one of the more unsparing critics of what he terms “the culture of caution” among Democratic Party leadership and the way it dims Dems’ electoral prospects. But in his Open Left post, “Thank You Republicans,” Lux nonetheless sees hope for Dems in 2010.

The good news, however, is that Republicans seem hell bent on saving us from electoral defeat by a dumbness that just seems built into their DNA: continually showing the American people how extremely right-wing they are. This will still be a hellishly tough election for Democrats to do well in, but the Republicans are at least keeping us in the game.
Their incumbent Governor of Texas is thinking about seceding. Their Senate candidates for highly targeted races like Nevada and Kentucky don’t like Social Security, Medicare, or Civil rights laws. The guy who would become the chair of the energy committee in the House, backed up by the Republican study group and many other Republican leaders, apologizes to BP. The man who would be the Republican Speaker of the House wants to raise the retirement age for Social Security to 70 years old, and considers the financial meltdown of 2008 and the resulting loss of several million jobs to be as trivial as an ant. The anti-immigrant nativists in Arizona are stirring up Hispanic voters. In successive Supreme Court nominations, Republicans in the course of playing to their base, insult first Latinos and now blacks by attacking civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall. Every one of these things, when voters are reminded that Republicans are saying them, will be repulsive to both swing and Democratic base voters.

A lot of high-profile Republican candidates of 2010 have some ‘splainin’ to do for their imprudent pronouncements. Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Joe Barton, Meg Whitman are just a few names that come to mind. And, despite the historical precedent of the party that holds the white house losing seats in their first midterm elections, Dems have a crop of exceptionally-solid candidates in high profile contests. In this context, a series of Dem campaign ads depicting the more clownish GOP statements, followed by a “Sober policies and serious leaders are needed for tough times” message might get some traction.
GOP follies notwithstanding, Dems could still lose control of both houses, if we fail to seize the opportunity. As Lux says:

It remains imperative for Democrats to embrace taking on the deep and persuasive corporate corruption of Washington. It is not enough to remind people how kooky the Republicans have become, Democrats have to become fierce advocates for change and reform, for a government that isn’t in thrall to the banks and BP and the insurance companies. When they do that, the contrast with the ever more extremist pro-corporate all the time Republicans becomes ever clearer.

As Lux concludes, “…Now the Democrats need to be bold enough and tough enough to take advantage of the gifts they have been given.”

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