While "we're not George Bush" may make a lot of hay next year, it is not a sustainable message. The message to the Ds from Tuesday's election in VA is that we must understand that our candidates running in traditionally more conservative areas may not share all our views and we will need 'to get over it' if we are going to build a lasting coalition to take back this country.
Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) said there is an important lesson for Democrats in the Virginia results, arguing that Kaine turned the campaign in his direction by persuasively linking his opposition to the death penalty to his religious faith.The swing voters who decide elections are not ideologues for the Right or Left. They are voters who care about basic bread and butter issues: security, jobs, education, affordable healthcare, fairness in taxes, clean air and water etc. They aren't interested in late term abortions, gay marriage, prayer in schools or all the other polarizing issues that the Right and Left bicker about.
"If you have the luxury of running in New York or California, you might run a different campaign," he said. "But if you run in most of the swing states, for every progressive voter there are probably two swing voters. You've got to appeal to the moderate voters. Swing voters do not respond well to partisanship and to negative campaigning. What they're really looking for are people with integrity and people trying to solve their problems."
The Ds are on the right side of all these issues, but we have to talk about them relentlessly and in ways that they understand. This means we can't allow the GOP to do what they do best, which is divide the voters with wedge issues.
This doesn't mean the Ds must abandon their values. Quite the opposite. But the Ds have to be the ones who define the issues and those issues have to be the ones people care about. Issues that effect all of our daily lives and our standard of living.
Bill Clinton was a genius at this. Who will be out next genius?