US Democrats Debate Future of Party



As President George Bush's second inauguration approaches on January 20, opposition Democrats are doing a lot of soul-searching about the future of their party in the wake of their defeat in November. National correspondent Jim Malone has more on the Democrat's dilemma from Washington.

Democrats have a lot of questions and concerns as they prepare to watch as the president is sworn in for a second four-year term.

In the last two presidential elections, Democratic candidates Al Gore and John Kerry failed to carry a single southern state, an area of the country that used to be a party stronghold.

Senator Kerry's strategy was to maximize Democratic turnout in regions of the country where the party is strongest, the northeast, upper Midwest and West Coast.

Donna Brazile ran Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000. She says the party needs to broaden its appeal to have any chance of recapturing the White House in 2008.

"We cannot be a regional party," she said. "We have to return to being a national party. We have to be a party that appeals to all segments of the electorate and not just certain slices, as I say, a cookie cutter approach [limited] to politics and campaigning."

Ms. Brazile was among several Democrats who discussed the future of their party at a forum in Washington sponsored by the Hotline political newsletter and the University of Virginia.

In order to be more competitive, Democratic activists say the party must also do a better job of reaching out to religious voters who have tended to vote Republican in recent years.

Former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer is one of several candidates for Democratic Party Chairman. He spoke on ABC's This Week program.

"When you talk to most of America, a lot of people do not feel that we are [able] to express our faith, to communicate values of faith, not just on issues such as abortion but on issues such as our concern for the poor," he said.

Another candidate for party chairman is former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who lost out to Senator Kerry in last year's Democratic presidential primaries.

He warns Democrats not to stray too far from their liberal roots in an attempt to reach out to moderate and conservative voters.

"It is important for us to talk about our [religious] faith," he said. "It is also important for us not to change our faith."

Many political analysts believe President Bush's most important advantage in last year's election was the public's perception that he was strong on national security in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Jim Jordan managed John Kerry's campaign for a time in 2003. He says Democrats must do a better job of convincing Americans that they can protect the country from terrorism.

"At the end of the day, the biggest structural problem for us is that we are a party on the federal [national] level, in Congress and with the presidential campaign, that the public simply does not trust us to keep them safe," he said. "When that is first and foremost in their mind, in a cold war environment or a neo-cold war environment like now, we have serious problems."

Republicans hope to exploit this period of Democratic introspection and plan to push a conservative agenda both in Congress and around the country.

David Frum is a former speechwriter for President Bush. He told the cable public affairs network C-SPAN that Republicans expect the president to fulfill his campaign pledges to reform the tax and pension systems without making major concessions to the Democrats.

"I do not think the president ought to say I am going to be compromising on the things I was elected to do," he said. "Elections are the way the American people or any democratic people decide things. He has as strong a mandate as any president ever, certainly as strong as any president I can remember, and he has a duty also to his supporters to make good on the things he committed himself to do."

As for the Democrats, the next major phase in their internal debate comes next month in Washington when the 447-member Democratic National Committee votes on a successor to current National Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs