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Dem Seers Chart Course for New Year

The political year-ender articles are appearing in blogs and rags everywhere. Most of them are straight-forward wrap-ups, but a few have some interesting things to say about the Democrats' future.

Todd Gitlin's Mother Jones piece "Big Tent. Big Plans?" charts a course for the Democrats' future. As Gitlin suggests:

Democrats have to contain the tensions already evident under the big tent: netroots vs. apparatchiks, free traders vs. fair traders, red-staters vs. blue-staters, Hillaryites vs. anyone-buts...Don't bet that the cracks are fated to deepen into fault lines either. Political pros and amateurs alike know that a widening base requires more than "enough is enough." To build such an alliance, a majority that doesn't have to rely on winning by margins so skimpy they invite vote fraud, Democrats need to take care of both the immediate no-brainers—minimum wage up, drug prices and college costs down—and the common-good programs that will endure for more than one season.My own middle-term wish list is fourfold: a rapid exit from Iraq along with real Middle East diplomacy; universal health insurance; a return of progressive taxation; and real R&D on energy alternatives, a twofer that creates jobs while addressing global warming. All of these embody liberal principles and skirt what's left of the culture-war morass.

You know that stuff about Dems making nice and extending a spirit of bipartisan collegiality to the Repubs? Progressive populist Jim Hightower isn't having any of it. As he puts it in his Alternet year-ender, "Throw the Bums Out and Change Direction":

...there are still too many go-slow, don't-rock-theboat, weak-kneed, money-grubbing, corporatized Democrats who won't break their habits of bedding down with the lobbyists and even the Bushites. They will push hard from inside the Democratic Caucus (while the White House, the money interests and the establishment media pushes from outside) for the majority to "be nice," move to the corporate right, and agree from the start to surrender half of what they want (and then compromise down from there).

Now is the time for progressives to be more vigilant than ever -- focus on what the Democrats are doing and not doing, make loud and clear demands that they do more, and keep organizing at the grassroots level. Just a few months ago, George W. declared, "I'm the decider." No, he's not. Neither are the Democrats. You are.

Hightower makes another good point in his article -- Dems need to start paying more attention to winning Secretary of State posts in the states to prevent further election theft, the "key to getting a grip on our democracy."

And Salon's Joe Conason warns

...the opportunity to rebuild a governing majority of the center-left could evaporate without being realized...the new Democratic congressional leaders must quickly deliver real government accountability as well as substantial reorganization of their own institutions. While voters may understand that major changes in healthcare, education and environmental stewardship will be difficult to enact under this administration, they will not have much patience for any evasion on reform of Congress.

If there is a common thread in these three posts, it is that Dems don't have a lot of time to produce and need to get busy to get in optimum position for the '08 elections.