Tuesday, November 9, 2010

As For the Democrats...

Actually, I already did a post on advice for the Democrats, which is basically (1) don't panic, and (2) focus on candidate recruitment for 2012.  With that in mind, I recommend a helpful post by Laura Clawson about (mostly) newly unemployed but still talented Democratic pols.  Yes, it's over at Kos, but it doesn't seem to be ideologically purged (and yes, I know that Kos has a pragmatic side) -- for example, Clawson names both Baron Hill and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, neither of whom is much of a liberal.

On the whole, I think it's probably a somewhat unrealistically optimistic post, but that's exactly what Democrats need right now: a little confidence that you're the party which has won four of the last five presidential elections (if you're a Dem, you focus on the 2000 popular vote, not the Supreme Court shenanigans), even if you did get clobbered in the midst of a deep recession.

By the way, there's been some fun speculation about what someone who wants to spend $140M on politics could do instead of losing a big-state gubernatorial election.  (Except that Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein spelled out the amount to make it seem bigger).  My proposal?  For liberal rich folks, use it for a slush fund legal entity to keep some of that political talent -- not just the pols, but also the staff -- politically viable for the next round.  In Washington, that's what think tanks (and for high-level GOP pols, Fox News gigs) are for, but if you want to run again in South Dakota or Indiana, it's generally not a good idea to take up residence inside the beltway after a defeat.  And, speaking of Washington, I'm sure plenty of the class of '10 unemployed Dem politicians will wind up as lobbyists; the trick is to make something in the district a little more appealing and, if not as lucrative, at least plausible.  $140M could go a long ways towards setting up a virtual think tank, for example, connected by the internet instead of Washington offices.

It's worth mentioning that the reason this is an issue at all is because of the USA's oddball political system.  In nations with parliamentary systems, the best talent in each party is usually protected from electoral defeat by means of party lists.  Meanwhile, the Brits have first-past-the-post elections, which makes individual MPs vulnerable -- but without the American tradition of local Members representing the districts where they live, it's usually easy to slot the most highly regarded MPs into the safest constituencies.  It's not foolproof -- I recall Chris Patten losing his seat in 1992 -- but even then, they can return through a resignation and a safe-seat by-election.  In the US, however, the only option is usually to wait for the next election in the same district, or perhaps an overlapping or nearby seat (of course, one advantage for US pols is that there are lots and lots of things to run for). 

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