Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean's presidential campaign, argues in the Wall Street Journal that the Democrats must move to the left, revitalize the labor movement, and tap the grassroots to formulate policy. He may be half right. Taking those measures might very well raise the spirits of the party, and it would probably enliven political debate across the country. That wouldn't be a bad thing.
But it's an improbable strategy if the Democrats' goal is to recapture the White House, let alone the House or the Senate. The 2004 election demonstrated the electorate's centrist impulses. Yet Trippi, a Harvard fellow, dismisses the country's vast political center with a sneer: "Very few good ideas come from the middle, and they tend to be mediocre," he says. (What does this mean? Is he suggesting that some good ideas can be mediocre? Or does he simply mean that centrist ideas tend to be mediocre?) And what are good ideas? Well, they tend to be "bold" and "challenge people to make sacrifices for the common good."
Trippi doesn't explain what these bold sacrifices might entail. But unless he's calling for the reinstatement of the draft, or some sort of federally mandated turn-off-your-television week, it's a good bet that these sacrifices will include a tax increase, perhaps one that is stunning in its boldness.
So there you have it: the Democrat's comeback plan. It's based on a liberal from Massachusetts leading the charge for higher taxes. That's a political non-starter.
And Trippi's apparent boredom with the political center is a shame. The boldest ideas are often the most poorly constructed, and doomed to fail. The French revolution, the Soviet revolution, the Chinese revolution were bolder than the moderate American revolution. But the more centrist American approach endured.