While miles apart philosophically from the Tea Party liberal Democrats can take a lesson from the Tea Party movement in promoting and successfully electing candidates who share their ideals. It is easy to dismiss the organizations most radical members as "out of touch", "extreme", or even "whacko". However, it is not so easy to dismiss the success the Tea Party organization enjoyed in capturing the electorates attention and elevating many of their chosen candidates to higher office.
In a recent Huffington Post editorial, Sam Stein discusses the vulnerability of Scott Brown from Massachusetts, Orin Hatch in Utah, and Olympia Snowe of Maine in the run up to the 2012 elections. Each of these senators, although conservative by any other standard, are targets of the Tea Party for being too willing to compromise. In other words, any Republican statesman/stateswoman who does not lean to the extreme right is considered a target from members of their own party.
It does not take an official poll to understand why incumbents, especially Democratic incumbents, were voted out of office this week. Simply talk to your friends, neighbors, and family members. Consistently, and ironically, the message if very similar from both conservative and liberal voters. Without fail my more liberal associates are both angered and disillusioned that both President Obama and Senate Democrats have been too willing to compromise during the 113th Congressional session. Many point to Senator Reid's failure to change procedural rules on the first day of the new congress in 2009 which would have required Republicans to follow traditional filibuster rules thereby exposing their opposition to accomplishing anything positive for the American public. My very conservative associates, likewise, feel Democrats lost the opportunity to bring about fundamental change to the American landscape, not necessarily caring about the "hows" and "whys"; simply caring that they expected to see an improvement in the economy and have not seen any notable progress in the past two years.
Democrats must find their "fight". We know our causes; we know our concerns and issues; it can also be said that we know how to get there. However, we have witnessed firsthand that compromising and playing nice does not achieve our goals. To the contrary, it makes us vulnerable. Democrats -- the more liberal Democrats -- need to organize throughout the country and begin identifying those candidates who will represent core Democratic beliefs and philosophies just as the Tea Party has done on the opposite end of the political and philosophical spectrums.
The defeat of one of our more liberal members, Russ Feingold, is less of a statement against liberalism as it is a statement of public sentiment over incumbent legislators. More Blue Dog Democrats found themselves replaced in this election cycle than did liberal Democrats. I am afraid, yet hopeful, that the Republican leadership will not see the true message delivered by the American electorate this past Tuesday. Already we have heard that Republican congressional leaders plan to issue what will undoubtedly be a record number of supboenas and have not denied potential impeachment hearings against President Obama. Again, they intend to waste taxpayer's time and money doing "the same old thing". None of my conservative associates want to see congress spending their time on such matters. All they care about is action taken by congressional leaders to improve the health of our economy; the same concerns as my liberal associates. That is THE lesson that every elected official needs to understand.
Where there is defeat, there is opportunity. I am hopeful our liberal leadership will understand the true lessons of this most recent election cycle while our conservative leadership continues to misunderstand and misread the American electorate. As such, it is up to the more liberal members of our society to organize a national grassroots effort to identify, promote, and help to elect true liberal Democrats in 2012.