Me, I'm still stuck on the problem of bridging the gap between... well, people who voted for Bush and everyone else. "Honorary harbinger" R.U. Sirius says:
Just as believing the Bushies did 9/11 means you don’t have to contemplate what to do – or even what to think – about Al Qaeda as a presumably independent force; believing that the Bushies stole the election means you don’t have to think about what to do – or what to think – about the American people re-electing Bush.
Even if Diebold stole 10% of the popular vote, that's still 41% of America voting for Bush.
Kos has a post about Montana's "miracle", with a reference to a similar Democratic governor victory in Wyoming in 2002:
We won the Wyoming governorship on such "environmental" issues (coal bed methane interests versus ranchers) as well.
Sirota is right -- most of these persuadable voters in the west would hang themselves rather than be labeled "environmentalists" -- a large failing in the part of the environmental movement's ability to properly frame itself. But hunters, fishermen, ranchers and other such outdoorsmen in the west and across the country are natural allies of the environmental movement.
(He also linked to this article about the "blue-ing" of Colorado a while back).
I think this relates to Jason Louv's "We Are the Moral Majority" meme. I don't think we, and I mean all progressives - not just those of us aligned with the Democratic party - need to change our approach, but not change our goals. The Democratic Party might be taking a big step to the right (if the choice of Harry Reid as senate minority leader is any indication, they definently are), but that's no reason for the rest of us to give up.
When it really comes down to it, a candidate's job is not so much to change the public's mind about the issues. It's to assure them that they will make the right decision about the issues. It's our job, as citizens and activists, to change people's minds about the issues. To spread love and enlightenment. And treating conservatives and people from Red States or rural areas like dumb hicks isn't going to help.
Here's a letter on Andrew Sullivan's site:
It's never easy to be a liberal in Alabama. The Democratic Party here is in tatters, and it's certainly a tough adjustment from my previous life in San Francisco. And yet, the most difficult thing for me is having to listen to the endless procession of whiney, pouting urban liberals, who have filled the Internet this week with this idea that the South is filled with nothing but hillbilly, cousin-loving yahoos.
I can tell you one reason John Kerry lost the South. He and the Democrats have written it off the past two presidential elections. Al Gore would be President today if he had won his own damn state, and he could have done that if he had spent a bit more time talking to his constituents than sipping cappuccino with yet another group of Wisconsin voters.
Yes, Bush would have won Alabama no matter what the Kerry/Edwards camp did this year. But the Democrats entire national campaign in Alabama consisted of one four-hour trip from Edwards. He literally got stepped off a plane, had a quick dinner, grabbed $500,000 in checks and hit the road. Screw the Alabama Democratic Party and anyone else in the state.
Why would anyone in Alabama give a damn about the Democratic Party? Despite the fact that Kerry won 11 counties statewide, and despite the fact that the current Republican governor is a prime target to be beaten in 2006, Democrats just walked away from the state.
It took the conservatives 20 years to build a strong national base, and they did it one precinct at a time. From what I've seen this week, we liberals don’t have the stomach for it. When we hit a tough patch, we whine and walk away from the battle. I'm just disgusted by my fellow liberals.
Also via Sullivan, this Dan Savage quote basically sums up what's wrong with the attitude of most "progressives":
Certain distressed liberals and progressives are talking about fleeing to Canada or, better yet, seceding from the Union. We can't literally secede and, let's admit it, we don't really want to live in Canada. It's too cold up there and in our heart-of-hearts, we hate hockey. We can secede emotionally, however, by turning our backs on the heartland. We can focus on our issues, our urban issues, and promote our shared urban values. The Republicans have the federal government--for now. But we've got Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City (Bloomberg is a Republican in name only), and every college town in the country. We're everywhere any sane person wants to be. Let them have the shitholes, the Oklahomas, Wyomings, and Alabamas. We'll take Manhattan.
I'm from, and live in, rural Wyoming. We're not stupid out here. Thirty two percent of us voted for Kerry. Another one percent voted for Nader. And the people who voted for Bush weren't dumb. But unless progressives start reaching out to them and speaking their language, they're gonna keep voting Republican. They don't want some big city guy who's never been to our state making decisions that effect them. They want someone that will take the effort to address their concerns. We can do that, but the big city snobbery's got to go. Looking down on people for being Christian has got to go. We're right, and we know it. We may well have won the election, too. But we can't do anything about it until people start agreeing with us.