Friday night topic: What now for the Democrats?

— 4:28 PM on November 22, 2002

It's been a rough couple of weeks for Democrats. Since their stunning election defeat, they've absorbed massive amounts of political and strategic advice from the pundiocracy. Nearly everyone has his own ideas about how the Democratic Party should attempt to revive its political fortunes. The problem is an interesting one, because it's not clear how the Democrats can position themselves to achieve electoral success while maintaining the broad coalition of interests that makes up the party's base.

Common political sense would dictate that Democrats should tack rightward, so the party can capture a larger slice of the electorate. However, the election defeat seems to be viewed internally in the party as a repudiation for Democratic centrists like the Democratic Leadership Council. Centrists, the argument goes, failed to energize the party's liberal base, depressing voter turnout.

The anti-centrist view seems to be winning; the party has lurched leftward. Latte liberal Nancy Peolsi was elected as the new House Minority Leader. Al Gore reinvented himself as a big supporter of a single-payer health care system, a policy he criticized sharply when Bill Bradley advocated it in the 2000 primaries. And Tom Daschle had a near-meltdown, blaming Rush Limbaugh and conservative media for everything from Islamic terrorism to the election defeats—probably scuttling his own presidential prospects in the process.

The party seems to need an ideological renewal of some stripe. But is this move to the left playing into the hands of Karl Rove and the Bushies? What is the right set of ideas for the Democrats to embrace if they want to return to the majority? Discuss.

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