Over at Greater Democracy, Michael Cudahy posted a very thought-provoking essay about how the Democratic primary race may be losing its focus. More specifically, I think, he’s arguing that the focus — on Democratic partisans to the exclusion of Republicans and Independents — is broken and will inevitably lead to a Democratic defeat in November.
I’ve been swapping e-mails with Jock Gill (also of Greater Democracy), Josh Koenig, and Michael over the past day and Jock (quite rightly) chided us for not having this conversation in the open. So here goes…
I’m not sure I understand the thrust of Michael’s message. On the one hand, he seems to be implicitly rejecting Dean’s message of “taking our country back”, while at the same time indicating that the Republican party has manipulated the system into a shadow of the republic it was meant to represent. If we’re not “taking it back” from them, then what, exactly, is Michael asking for?
On the other hand, he is saying that as a disenfranchised Republican he feels that he doesn’t have a home because the Democratic candidates aren’t eagerly pursuing his vote. This seems a short-sighted complaint: the primary season is about the party choosing its candidate; the general election season is about the country choosing its president. Many states are closed primaries and don’t let disenfranchised Republicans vote for a Democrat (unless they change parties, which is unlikely to be an attractive option), so what value in the primary season do disenfranchised Republicans represent to a Democrat?
I come back to Michael’s essay. He concludes with an assumption I’m not sure I buy: that the current crop of Democrats is only interested in listening to the echo chamber, that the innovations in technology are being abandoned as the primaries approach and that the conversations are increasingly deaf to bi-partisanship. I’d like to see evidence of this before I challenge his conclusion… as this doesn’t really match my experience (I’ve personally spoken with a number of Republicans who are attracted to Dean’s fiscal conservatism, and I met last night with my county’s Clark campaign coordinator, who reported that 1/3 of their attendees at MeetUps are Republican and Independents).
Bottom line? I may be reading too much into this, but it reads like Michael wanted to come out and say he was no longer supporting Dean (Cudahy published a well-circulated essay, To Dare Mighty Things, in which he expressed support for Dean), and instead chose to write a more general piece that framed the issues in terms of a worrisome trend among all candidates.