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New Leaders Council

Memo to Democrats: Never Mind the GOP, Here's What *We* Need to Fix

The left is crowing over Republican disarray. But the progressive advantage isn't as entrenched as many of them seem to believe.


Younger voters are solidly in the Democratic camp. To capitalize on that advantage, the party needs to turn them into leaders. Leadership development groups, like the Truman National Security Project (full disclosure: I am a member), New Leaders Council, National Organizing Institute and the NewDEAL, do good work but have relatively small budgets.


Meanwhile, the DNC's Youth Council has been quiet. Progressives need to direct money to leadership development both within and outside party structures.


From: The Atlantic - If you're a Democrat and had never experienced true Schadenfreude before, chances are you did this week.

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee released its "Growth and Opportunity Project," a document that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus dubbed an "autopsy" of his party's 2012 failings. Any self-respecting Democrat surely derived at least a little pleasure from the GOP's pain in admitting that too many Americans found the Republican Party "scary" and full of "stuffy old men." I sure did.

And the fallout has been almost more delicious. Rush Limbaugh castigated the report and insisted Republicans remain as conservative as ever. Evangelical leaders worried that a modernizing GOP would alienate its Christian base. And conservative commentator David Frum -- correctly, in my view -- lamented the lack of new policy ideas in the document.

Hysterical, right, fellow Dems? After notching a victory last November against weak competition, it's tempting to be content with our advantages in organizing, data analysis, and candidate quality, and to kick back and enjoy the Republican civil war.

Not so fast. That attitude guarantees the next defeat will come much sooner than Republican disarray suggests. Now is the time for Democrats to engage in some serious introspection of our own.

The Republican self-examination punted on policy reform. As long as the GOP keeps its policy orthodoxy leaning right, Democrats can occupy ideological territory from the middle leftward. While much of the country wishes a pox on both parties these days, President Obama's major policy positions -- on handling the economy, budget negotiations, social issues, or national security -- are at least less toxic to voters than the GOP's.

But when it comes to the mechanics, Democrats can't remain complacent. The party doesn't need the GOP's overhaul, but fine-tuning today will keep Democrats ahead of the competition for years to come. Here are five issues Democrats must consider to ensure the 2012 victory isn't squandered.

First, progressives need to make serious investments in intellectual firepower. Democrats' advantage on policy is new and could prove temporary. Ever wonder why Republicans seem to beat Democrats off the blocks in defining the terms of so many public debates on issues from spending to healthcare?

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New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.


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