The Democrats’ State Problem

The GOP controls 30 of 50 Governors’ mansions and have veto-proof margins in many legislatures.  Let’s not forget that they district the electorates and count the votes.  Let’s also not forget the Tea Party push to rescind the 17th Amendment, which would result in Senators being appointed un-democratically by the State.

The good news is that the GOP at the state level should be chastened by the last election with regards to public union busting and social crusading.  It also may turn out that blame for the lack of action on state exchanges for healthcare may hang around the GOP governors’ necks.  Christie will be leading the GOP Governors Association - his turn towards ‘teddy bear’ post-Sandy plus his desire for a second term as NJ executive and later national ambitions will probably result in a public show of moderation while the dirty deals occur in the GOP-held legislatures.
There’s a way forward for Democrats but it needs to be bottom-up (local, county, and state legislatures), not top-down (Governors mansion).  We need to be party building not waiting for Washington or state parties.  It remains to be seen as to what role Obama’s campaign infrastructure takes post 2012, but it could play a role in party building so long as it isn’t abandoned or left in the hands of the existing Democratic National party.  Think more 3,140-County Strategy than 50-State Strategy, and a thorough re-writing of the Powell Memo.

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