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Democratic 'Contract with America'

Wednesday, 12 April 2006 12:00 AM

It smells like 1994 - in reverse, of course. That was the year Republicans nationalized the midterm elections and turned the president's unpopularity into a sweeping victory in the House of Representatives.

They made a Contract With America, which became the symbol of that national election. In doing so, they overcame the usual loyalty Americans feel for their local representative and handed the then-president and his party a decisive defeat. And there wasn't even an unpopular war going on.

There is absolutely nothing stopping the Democrats from doing the same thing this time around. They just need to do it.

All the ingredients are there.

The president could not be any less popular. To say the country has soured on George W. Bush barely begins to describe the situation.

His approval ratings have remained at dangerously low levels for months now. When you remember that even the least popular Republican candidate for president generally wins 43 percent of the vote, it becomes clear that Bush, with a 38 percent approval rating according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll, is below the base Republican vote, and more than 10 points behind his own vote in the last election. It's not just Democrats and independents who have turned on him, but core Republican voters, as well. And the dissatisfaction has now become a stable element of the political scene. Talk of further military action in Iran can only exacerbate the situation. The president simply lacks the political capital to go on the offensive abroad.

The Republican Congress is faring even worse. According to the same poll, only 35 percent of the voters approve of the way the Republican-controlled Congress is doing its job, while a healthy majority -- 55 percent -- say they plan to vote for the Democrat for Congress. And on every issue but terrorism, where the parties are evenly split, Democrats are preferred over Republicans.

Even on Iraq, Democrats enjoy a 7 point advantage, which swells to 28 points on prescription drugs for the elderly (who vote in higher numbers than any other demographic group), to 32 points on health care and 25 points on corruption in Washington.

It's true that most Americans still like their own congressperson, even if they hate the rest of the crowd. But even those numbers are down to 1994 levels, below 60 percent, another worrisome development for the Republicans. In other words, all signs point to change.

All the Democrats need to do now is nationalize the election, raise the money and make their own "compact for a better America."

What would be the elements of that compact? Here are a few suggestions, worthy of some testing:

That's just a start. Get the pollsters and wordsmiths to work. That's what the Republicans did. They tested the concepts, down to the words. Democrats can do the same thing. Forget about abortion and gay rights for the time being, and run on what everyone agrees on.

Maybe it's a "compact." Maybe it's a "deal." Maybe it's "better." Maybe it's "new." The numbers are there. The subjects are clear. The money will be there. All Democrats need now are the words.

COPYRIGHT 2006 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

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It smells like 1994 - in reverse, of course. That was the year Republicans nationalized the midterm elections and turned the president's unpopularity into a sweeping victory in the House of Representatives. They made a Contract With America, which became the symbol...
Democratic,'Contract,with,America'
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2006-00-12
Wednesday, 12 April 2006 12:00 AM
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