Don't Get Cocky, Dems, the GOP Only Looks Dead

Democrats are busy basking in the glory of their electoral victory, but they must beware of becoming overly confident.

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It seems that after most contentious and controversial presidential elections the death knell is written for the losing political party. This year appears no different—it is the Republicans' turn.

Here is the argument: The Republicans are anti-Hispanic, antigay, antiwomen, anti-Black, anti-middle-class. They are destined for demographic disaster.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Republican Party.]

Hogwash. Parties change, candidates change, people in power certainly change.

Think back. In 1964, Republicans were dead, supposedly, thanks to Barry Goldwater. Richard Nixon came back in 1968 and by 1972, and after the drubbing George McGovern took, the Democrats were dead. Oops, after Watergate, the Republicans were dead again—at least until they were very much alive with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

You get the picture: Every time we give a political party the last rites they tend to come to life, even roaring back. This resurrection happens especially if the ruling party rests on its laurels or gets overly cocky. So, here sit the Democrats, proud of their president, impressed by their campaign, and looking forward to many years of basking in the limelight.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does Barack Obama Have a Mandate?]

Get real. Here are a number of things the Democrats need to do:

  1. Better communicate with white, working class, married families. We got creamed this time with white males but also lost white married women. The economy hit many of these families hard and they are looking for faster change in their economic condition.
  2. Voters who regularly attend church voted overwhelmingly against Obama. These voters should not be ignored; we can appeal to them with an inclusive, values agenda. They, too, respond to a party that will bring unity by emphasizing that we are all in this together.
  3. Make sure that the enthusiasm of young people is not taken for granted or wasted. We need a service-oriented culture that taps into the volunteerism, the commitment, the sacrifice that young people exhibit. I would love to see us move toward universal service for those between 18-25.
  4. Expanding education is a universal value. The Democrats must put this front and center in the coming four years. Focus on more kids going to college, post high school training, utilizing the incredible technology at our fingertips, and moving towards a year round school year.
  5. Bite the bullet and put forth real reform on entitlements that strengthen our economy and create a retirement system for the 21st century. This is doable if we have the political will. Just as we aren't in the 1950s anymore on social issues, we aren't there with Social Security and Medicare either.
  6. We have been right to stand up for diversity, for same sex marriage, for immigration reform, for women's rights, for workers. That is who we are as Democrats and who we should continue to be.
  7. [Read the U.S. News Debate: Do the Senate Race Outcomes Prove a GOP Problem With Women?]

    Of course, the devil is in the details, which I will leave to those a whole lot smarter than me.

    • Read Susan Milligan: It Wasn't 'Gifts'—Mitt Romney Lost Because He Insulted Voters
    • Read Leslis Marshall: Papa John's CEO Should Take a Pay Cut, Not Lay Off Workers
    • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.

    • Corrected on 11/19/12: An earlier version of this post misspelled rites.