The Republicans should steal Howard Dean’s playbook
Over at The Daily Beast, Ana Marie Cox conducts an interview with John McCain’s Chief Strategist, Steve Schmidt. His comments seem to suggest that the Republican party would be better off trying to run a national operation and not concede the coasts.
The party in the Northeast is all but extinct; the party on the West Coast is all but extinct; the party has lost the mid south states—Virginia, North Carolina—and the party is in deep trouble in the Rocky Mountain West, and there has to be a message and a vision that is compelling to people in order for them to come back and to give consideration to the Republican Party again.
This is exactly what Howard Dean did when he took over the Democratic Party, despite being met with considerable resistance. It’s nice to see that, perhaps, for once Democrats ahead of Republicans on strategy, though who knows if the GOP will begin contesting traditional Democratic strongholds.
Update: Matt Bai has a piece that will appear in next weekend’s New York Times Magazine on this very subject. A quick excerpt:
And it was Dean who argued forcefully, as chairman, that Democrats in this new era could compete in the reddest of states and build a truly national party at a time when others in the party were belittling rural voters and agitating for a complete withdrawal from the South. Now the Republicans are the ones who find themselves reduced to regional influence, their shrinking Congressional delegations confined mostly to the South and West. (Remarkably, not a single New England Republican now remains in the House.) Dean didn’t create the conditions that made that reversal possible, but he always said that if you wanted to be in a position to take advantage of favorable circumstances, then you had to at least have basic party infrastructures in place. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” Dean told me, not for the first time. “You show up, you keep working and hopefully you catch a break.”