by Bernie Quigley – for WesPAC 10/13/06
Mark Warner’s decision not to run for President left a large hole in Democratic politics. Warner, born in
He may also have transformed contemporary Democratic politics. In Warner's tenure as Governor, Virginia can be seen as a Petri dish. Warner proved beyond any doubt that the South and all of the red states can be brought back home to the Democratic Party by a genuine, enthusiastic and sincere politician with excellent management abilities, who respected his fellow Southern citizens as he found them.
As Governor of Virginia and as a Presidential candidate, he abandoned the politics of confrontation and established a new model, reaching across the isle to create working relationships with Republicans and ignoring ideology and issues-oriented strategies which often alienated mainstream voters and filled Republican ranks.
It’s a management thing. The Democrats need to understand. There is the essence of the new paradigm in Democratic politics, and although Warner has dropped out for the time being, the same management-based political model has been adopted here in
It is often said up here that
Warner and Lynch bring good news for the Democrats. But the list of remaining Democratic Presidential candidates cited in an AP story about Warner’s decision not to run could bring the country to a crisis in 2008. Most are senators. None have serious management experience. Some are eccentric and inexperienced. Others have been mentioned recently simply because of their ethnic status or because they look good on a horse.
Of the three frontrunners suggested, only John Edwards does not entirely alienate the South,
Warner had hired political strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders to help manage his Virginia Governor campaign and Saunders is partly responsible for beginning to return Southern people to their Democratic Party roots in Virginia. Shortly before Warner announced that he would not run for President, Saunders went to work for John Edwards.
Perhaps a new group should form today to rebuild the Democratic Party on the new paradigm which Warner, Saunders and Edwards are bringing to the Democratic Party: A new politics which would bring Southern, Texan and Midwestern politicians into the mainstream, and which would encourage and draft candidates like Easley and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius; moderates and conservatives who have abandoned contention and culture wars in favor of cooperation, and who bring with them management abilities and expertise.
It would be a party with Southern features, and it would set as its goal the recovery of red states lost to Republicans.
I’d be the first to nominate my Governor for such a task force or committee to investigate.
And Clark is a paragon of Southern experience and character. He is a manager first and foremost, and he has been traversing the heartland tirelessly since the election, lending support to Democrats in the Ozarks,
Southern people go to church. Southern people respect veterans. Southern people are unpretentious and unassuming. Southern people care about family and friends. And so do my neighbors up here in
But such simplicity doesn’t seem to be pulling the press. The mainstream press is pretty well fixed, Hedgehog like, on the Hillary and the anti-Hillary thing; Warner being the anti-Hillary. They can think of little else.
The Democrats and the press which follows in their wake appear to suffer from visions and ideas whose historical time and purpose have passed, but whose aura still lingers on in the valleys.
Part of the problem lies in history and geography. We are at a major historical turning come about by the shift in major economy from North to South. It hasn’t fully matured and manifested yet in the South, and the North, against all odds, refuses to let go.
The problem also resides in the very idea of liberalism. It has lost its true path and purpose over recent decades as a moral initiative and duty and become instead a posturing of public piety and a social style of identification and status (as one would identify with Starbucks or suburban soccer moms); one does not oppose global warming so much to protect the environment as to feel swell about protecting the environment and to identify with that position as "our kind" in polarization of those the swarty Others who are not "our kind" (NASCAR moms and Big Top Southern church goers).
I was raised and educated in New England and worked the most part of my grown up life in
This is something the new people who come to the Northeast (like the
There is no
Red state is destiny. The life force that was the Northeast dissipated before the end of World War II. As population moved South people moved South. Economy is moving Southwest now and population is still dropping in the northern
And as economy went to the South, so did political empowerment. A new cultural relevance emerged. The rise of the Christian Right, the roar of the NASCAR track, the sweet
The South has risen. It is strong. This cultural arc is exactly equivalent to the economic boom of the 1800s, which brought with it the rise of Irish popular culture which enriched New York, Boston and America in the late 1800s – John L. Sullivan, the popular operatic John Mccormick, and the great run of blarney in music, literature, the dance and Vaudeville hall and later, the big Hollywood movie screen.
The Northeast Democrats and liberal culture seem to be in denial of this.
What continually curses them is the illusion that although economy may have moved away,
The Democratic Leadership Council came into being after Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory in 1984. The idea was to try to make the Democrats more like Republicans – Republicans with more fanciful hair, said one wag. It was a false and imitative effort and ended up alienating the large swath of
What the Democrats should have done back then was ask themselves why the South,
Nevertheless, the discussion should start and it should start in
Only the South can fix this party to make it work again as the South made it work for the Republicans in the 1980s.
If you all fix it we will follow you. We have no place else to go.