A number of folks have been reaching out to suggest the need for convening people who see the need for rethinking how Democrats do politics in North Carolina. I agree completely that change is in order, and this post is intended to get the ball rolling. Before you do anything else, however, read this column from the New York Times. Here's a sampling of what's discussed, focused on the federal case.
Liberals need to adjust their political strategy and ideological ambitions to the country and political system we actually have, and make the most of it, rather than cursing that which they cannot change. There are certainly some profound democratic deficits built into our federal constitution. Even federal systems like Germany, Australia and Canada do not have the same degree of representative inequality that the Electoral College and Senate generate between a citizen living in California versus one living in Wyoming.
There is also next to nothing we can do about it. The same system that generates this pattern of representative inequality also means that — short of violent revolution — the beneficiaries of our federal system will not allow for it to be changed, except at the margins. If Democrats at some point get a chance to get full representation for Washington, D.C., they should take it. But beyond that, there are few if any pathways to changing either the Electoral College or the structure of the Senate. So any near-term strategy for Democrats must accept these structures as fixed.
The initial step in accepting our federal system is for Democrats to commit to organizing everywhere — even places where we are not currently competitive. Led by Stacey Abrams, Democrats have organized and hustled in Georgia over the last couple of years, and the results are hard to argue with. Joe Biden should beg Ms. Abrams (or another proven organizer like Ben Wikler, the head of the party in Wisconsin) to take over the Democratic National Committee, dust off Howard Dean’s planning memos for a “50 state strategy” from the mid-2000s and commit to building the formal apparatus of the Democratic Party everywhere.
Here in North Carolina, we have a situation that looks a lot like the federal picture. Instead of states, however, we have gerrymandering. The electoral deck is wholly stacked, and no amount of whining will change it.
While some may quibble, it's clear that Democrats got their asses kicked in 2020. Except for the strong candidacy of Roy Cooper, it was bad news all around. And if we keep on doing the same things with the same cast of characters, nothing's going to change.
What are your ideas for what we can do differently, if anything? Here are some of mine:
1. Recruit and PAY a ferocious Party leader. I don't have any idea who that should be, but I don't think it should be anyone I already know. The person needs to be willing to crack some eggs and make some omelets when the entrenched power structure may not approve. The person also needs to rethink candidate recruiting and resource allocation.
2. Embrace all sides of our base. I want to see our party refresh itself, perhaps even become the New Democrats or the New Democratic Party. Rethink, rebrand, reset, reenergize. Embrace freedom by tapping America's libertarian streak, all the while tempering it with a focus on fairness and fair play. I want us to enthusiastically support the right to bear arms, to keep churches out of government and keep government out of churches, to legalize marijuana. I'll be building on this list in the future, but suffice it to say, I want a party my daddy would have supported ... and one that would have supported him. Instead of shrinking our big tent, I want to expand it.
3. Right now, our opponents have convinced many people that they're better off supporting a bunch of rich, white guys instead of a bunch of hard working regular folk. That's because we've elevated ideological social issues so much that our core commitments get lost in translation.
This discussion is just beginning. We need you to be part of it.