It almost goes without saying that one experiences a profound sense of bewilderment with each reading of the polls for the 2004 Presidential election. The statistical dead heat may have come as little surprise to some, but the unshakable anxiety that it invokes in those on the left is unquestionable, and the reasons are obvious. Here we have perhaps the most ruthlessly conservative and, indeed, most radically right wing administration of the 20th century. But even after the endless war against the environment and public assistance programs, the implementation of regressive tax cuts and a ballooning national debt, and finally the morass in Iraq with its endless errorswhether it be the invasion itself, Abu Ghraib, or its gradual descent into social chaos under the American occupationthe numbers have remained stubbornly fixed.I've said this before, when you lose sight of your base, you're in trouble. Democratic leadership doesn't get that they've lost "them", but they have. It's not just the rich and privileged that are voting Republican these days. It's the "street" - the union guys, the average Janes and Joes, the young - that are.
Why? Because they perceive that the Democrats stand for more taxes, more social programs. When you pass unfunded mandates, someone has to pick up the slack and states, counties and cities then raise taxes to do so. Who gets hurt? Everyone. The people that were supposed to be covered by the mandate get hurt because their needs aren't me and the people that have to pay ever higher taxes get hurt because, well, that's obvious.
Some believe that American is the land of opportunity, but that means "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" not "take the government for every handout you can". Republicans better embody the former for many voters.
I'm not saying either perception is true, but if the Democrats really want to regain the White House (and Congress) they need to stop repeating past mistakes and offer programs and candidates that speak to what the people want NOW, not what they wanted years ago.