To win back Congress and the White House, Democrats must adopt radical changes in their thinking and how the party does business.
In my next life, I'd like to come back as Democratic strategist. I can't think of any other profession where you be wrong so many times and still earn a decent living.
Democratic candidates, advised by Democratic strategists, have rolled up impressive losing streaks over the past few decades. Democrats have lost 7 of the last 10 presidential elections. Democrats have lost every Congressional election since 1994. Republicans are the majority party in most governors' mansions and state legislatures.
Failure has not deterred candidates from pouring money into the bank accounts of Democratic strategists. And every night on the cable news shows, you see Democratic strategists complaining about their lot in life.
Two of the most famous Democratic strategists are James Carville and Paul Begala, who just so happen to have a new book out called "Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future." Carville and Begala know that before Democrats can recapture political power, they must regain control of their own party.
Today's Democratic Party — led by Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — is not the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman or John Kennedy. It's not even the party of Bill Clinton.
Party leadership has been hijacked by far left radicals, Hollywood elitists and shadowy billionaires. When you have Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and Al Franken drafting the party's agenda and most of its money comes from socialist George Soros, you're not in Kansas anymore.
When Al Gore goes to Saudi Arabia to condemn the United States, your party has a problem. When Jimmy Carter embraces brutal dictators like Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and blames the U.S. for human rights violations, your party has a problem.
When the best the party can do for a presidential nominee is a flip-flopping Massachusetts liberal (John F. Kerry) or the insufferable Hillary Clinton (polls show 40 percent of Americans would never vote for Hillary for president), your party has a problem.
Carville and Begala pull no punches in pinpointing the biggest problem facing the Democrats — the lack backbone. Democrats don't stand for anything other than hating George Bush, the authors argue. Democratic leadership is under the impression that if you don't stand for anything, you won't offend voters. That's simply not true. While Democrats commission polls to see where 51 percent of the people stand on the issues, Republicans make decisions.
Much of the book is the typical liberal song-and-dance: Republicans are corrupt; Republicans are the party of the rich; Republicans are responsible for our failing health care system; Republicans have diminished our standing in the world.
Reality check for Carville and Bagala: The Democratic Party invented corruption. The Democrats abandoned working Americans decades ago. Socialized medicine is not the answer to our health care woes. And the U.S. military has been weakened every time Democrats (see Carter and Clinton) were in the White House, forcing Republicans (Reagan, Bush I and Bush II) to rebuild the nation's defense.
If you skip the first 300 pages (liberal silliness on policy issues and way too much fawning over Bill Clinton), you get to the heart of the book's premise — forcing the Democratic Party to adopt the concept of "Progressive Patriotism."
The authors write: "To us, the central value of being an American — and a Progressive Patriot — is to be part of a cause that is larger than yourself. It is our sense of unity and community that makes us Americans, and in the absence of common racial or religious or ethnic bonds, that sense of unity is more important here than anywhere else on earth."
Well stated, but when was the last time you heard Madame Clinton (the likely 2008 Democratic presidential nominee) talk about unifying the nation? In two recent speeches, she compared being a member of Congress to living on a "plantation" and likened the U.S. to a "police state." Carville and Begala should send a complimentary copy of the book to Madame Clinton before she leads the party down another Election Day ravine.
To their credit, Carville and Begala have raised the bar for the Democratic Party. They offer a blueprint for a return to power. But to win back Congress and the White House, Democrats must adopt radical changes in their thinking and how the party does business.
Looking at the political landscape today, it doesn't appear that the Democratic Party has the right people in leadership positions. The party may have to suffer a few more defeats before it realizes where Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton want to lead the party is not where most Americans want to go.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas