The Politics We Need


Across America candidates are lining up for the next round of House and Senate elections in 2006. Republicans are trying to maintain the momentum built up over years of civic action, but their party struggles with the costs of victory. There is no place to hide when you control all three branches of the federal government and much of the backdrop of lobbyists, experts, and media who shape public life. The country is, more or less, in Republican hands.

Democrats, the genuinely loyal opposition, would love to take advantage of Bush administration fumbles, but party leaders seem unsure about how hard they should hit the president, and even more uncertain about proposing detailed alternatives to his policies. So far, as Democrats gather with their own cadres of the very rich and the very smart, they hope the Republican coalition will unravel, and that they can help the process along by highlighting administration double talk and incompetence. But Democrats of influence-all of them as far as one can tell-do not even imagine that they could change the national agenda or reshape the political culture. Instead, they raise a lot of money, talk about the use of modern technology, and worry about the marketing problem-How can they find another Bill Clinton who can actually persuade people that the Democrats can do a better job achieving the shared goals of national prosperity and national security while making them forget...

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About the Author

David O'Brien is University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.