Republican Lite and lighter
by Tom Sullivan
Long before the craft brewing craze started in the U.S., a German student told me that in America they only made two kinds of beer: light and lighter. How times have changed.
Times have changed politically as well. In the wake of centrist Democrats' recent trouncings, a resurgent liberal movement has emerged. "Liberal" is no longer a dirty word.
Yet in spite of the fact that Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders drew 11,000 at rally last week in Arizona, red-state Democrats do not seem to have gotten the memo. They have taken the wrong message from their trouncing in the 2014 elections. Politico quotes centrist Democrats fretting over the party's blue shift:
“The national Democratic Party’s brand makes it challenging for Democrats in red states oftentimes and I hope that going forward, the leaders at the national level will be mindful of that and they will understand that they can’t govern the country without Democrats being able to win races in red states,” said Paul Davis, who narrowly failed to unseat Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last year.
"Davis and his ilk" (Politico's words) failed to win in 2014 because their party went too far left rather than that centrist Democrats went too far milquetoast:
“It’s important that the Democratic party be ‘big-tent,’” said Vincent Sheheen, who lost last year to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. “So if the result of that kind of rhetoric is an antagonism toward or a hostility toward the moderate elements of the Democratic Party then yeah, it’s big trouble and big problems.”
“We’ll never take back Congress unless we can win in the South. We’ll never take back governorships unless we can win in the South,” he added.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell tells Politico, "I think what we need to do is we need to have a message that is compelling to Democrats, to independents, and even to some Republicans.”
I couldn't agree more. Republican Lite ain't it.
In North Carolina, former Sen. Kay Hagan snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2014 running for reelection on her Republican Lite record, dodging questions early in her campaign on her support for the president and Obamacare. Lightweight Thom Tillis was opposed by many in his Republican party, yet prevailed. In Georgia, Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), "prevaricated, kvetched, and weaved" regarding her support for Obamacare. I could go on.
“Where the hell is the Democratic party?" an exasperated Howard Dean asked in the aftermath. "You got to stand for something if you want to win."
Centrist Democrats have reason to be nervous. The public isn't buying what they're selling. Given a choice between Republican and Republican Lite, they will choose the real thing. At least they know what they are getting.