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As Long as We Remember...

November 10, 2005

Dems Missed Opportunity

Edward Lulie III

The election for Frederick City mayor is over and the Republican, Jeff Holtzinger, won. Maryland Democrats have just lost control of the fourth largest city in the state. How could a Democrat lose when Republicans are supposed to be trembling on the edge of complete political disaster?

Ron Young in his defeat of Jennifer Dougherty earned the ire of the Leftists that followed her. Mayor Dougherty couldn't even lose gracefully and she led her followers bitterly away from the Young candidacy.

Given the light voter turn out, I believe the number of Dougherty supporter that stayed home (mostly Howard Dean Democrats) cost Ron Young the election. The national and state Democratic Party leadership failed miserably to help Mr. Young win.

Obviously it was important for Democrats to go all out to keep the Frederick mayor's chair in their ranks. Why didn't they? Because Ron Young is precisely what the Howard Dean/Sue Hecht/Jennifer Dougherty crowd hates (almost as much as they hate Republicans); Ron is a moderate.

Former Mayor Young didn't spend his time blasting President Bush, "evil" Republicans or his opponent; he ran a clean campaign based on reality. Under Howard Dean's leadership you can only use the tactics of scorched earth partisanship.

This isn't about civility or process; it's all about a socialist revolution lightly veiled as the Democrat leadership. It is, luckily for Republicans, a disaster in the making. Democrats under former Governor Dean have failed to master the first rule for getting out of a hole - stop digging it deeper.

In Frederick Ron Young, failing to pass the test of leftwing orthodoxy, loses by just 300 votes. The Democratic Party, which had used the Frederick mayor's office as a political soapbox for Leftist Democrats (Kathleen Kennedy Townsend to name just one) loses another power base. Republicans gain the office just in time for the incoming Republican mayor to help out in the next governor's race and also provide support to Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's campaign to capture the Senate seat long held by liberal Democrat Paul Sarbanes.

In these days of media frenzy over Karl Rove and Libbygate, the topic of the weakness of the Democratic Party seems to be a taboo subject in the traditional media. How can Democrats be faltering if the Republicans are really falling to pieces and on the run?

It doesn't take a political genius to realize that the Democratic Party, still on a downward trend of losing elections, needs to expand its base. They need ideas, a willingness to reach out to others and to demonstrate competence in working to solve real world problems.

Republicans as a party may be stumbling, but to the majority of voters they are still the only rational choice out there. The average American doesn't want a socialist revolution to bring us closer to a progressive paradise like France.

Not supporting a veteran moderate such as Ron Young, who could have won, was just plain stupid. Dougherty supporters may be happy at Young's defeat but they will be on the outside looking in for years to come. Worse for them is that they made being a Republican in Frederick County even more attractive. They deserve thanks for that.

Ron Young showed his class in the way he conceded. Jeff Holtzinger, the newly elected mayor, showed political wisdom by reaching out to Mr. Young and for considering him for a position on the transition team. That's a wise move. It shows that our new mayor realizes that good government demands civility and that successful governance is an exercise in the art of accommodation.

By "accommodation" I mean demonstrating the ability to adapt to the real world, and the willingness to reach out to the opposite party to find common ground and ways to work together.

The Left sees "accommodation" when Republicans apologize for winning and surrender their own political capital in a futile attempt to gain the friendship of the Left. Reaching out to the Left under Howard Dean is an open invitation to get one's hand bitten off.

Republicans are finally learning that civility and politeness won't work when they other side are led by revolutionaries. If you are not part of the revolution you do not deserve a modicum of respect or fair treatment. The means are justified by the ends (glorious progressivism!).

Moderate Democrats are now learning the same sad lesson. In the Democratic Party of Howard Dean and Jennifer Dougherty, it's their way or the highway. If you aren't ready to storm the barricades and fight for the socialist revolution, you aren't wanted in Dean's new Democratic Party.

Democrats under Howard Dean are no longer connected to reality. They can not comprehend that the revolution is already over; it was a Republican revolution and the Left lost.

Rebuilding the party requires that Democrats recognize reality and stop driving away the very moderates they need to win. If Ron Young changes the "D" beside his name to an "R" (as his son Blaine already has) it would be just another sign that the Democratic Party is not on the verge of success but is still sliding down the slopes of failure.

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