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Jewish World Review Jan. 26, 2000 / 3 Shevat, 5761

Roger Simon

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Democrats are sitting around dividing up the blame -- TO THE VICTOR belong the spoils, and to the vanquished belongs the bickering.

George W. Bush is in the White House, dividing up the jobs, while the Democrats are sitting around dividing up the blame.

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) is a centrist group that was founded out of the belief that the Democratic Party would never win the White House as long as it gave the appearance of being a captive of minorities and labor unions.

Bill Clinton was a founding member of the DLC and made sure when he ran for president and served as president that he stuck to a center line: He revamped welfare, which many minority members opposed, and he passed NAFTA, which many union members opposed.

Al Gore was also a founding member of the DLC, but when he ran for president, he gave a speech to the Democratic Convention that the DLC found unforgivable.

Gore portrayed himself as a man who was on the side of "working families" and against the wealthy and the "special interests -- whether it was the drug companies, the insurance companies, the HMOs or big oil.

The DLC did not like that. It believes such "populism" turns off swing voters, who tend to be more affluent.

Tuesday, the DLC released a big report attacking Gore.

"Given the fundamentals, the good economy, the fact that crime and welfare were down, the vice president should have won by a comfortable margin," said Al From, founder and chief executive of the DLC. "The reason he didn't had to do with the strategies he chose."

From believes that Gore's message of "class warfare" was a big loser.

"Democrats need to have a broad coalition to win," From said. "We need to expand beyond our Democratic base. We need to continue to do well among ethnic minorities, do better among white voters, and we have to do better in the suburbs."

The Democratic coalition "must expand beyond our Democratic base ... and must include men as well as women, whites as well as African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites as well as city dwellers, moderates and even some conservatives as well as liberals," From said.

"In the 2000 election Gore chose a populist rather than a New Democrat message," From went on. "As a result, voters viewed him as too liberal and identified him as an advocate of big government."

From says the Democratic Party has to start addressing more affluent voters, because that's where the future is.

The new electorate is affluent, educated, diverse, suburban, 'wired' and moderate," From says.

"The new electorate of the Information Age is increasingly dominated by middle- and upper-middle-class voters who live in the suburbs, work in the New Economy, are culturally tolerant,and have moderate political views."

Gore lost every income category of voters earning more than $50,000, " From says.

From said: "Most significantly, Gore lost key groups of swing voters associated with the New Economy. He lost voters who regularly use the Internet by two points; Clinton won them by nine.

He lost wired workers and voters who invest in the stock market. ... There's a clear reason why: His anti-corporate populism and pro-government message resulted in his being viewed as a liberal advocate of big government."

From goes on and on -- I have read his entire report -- but he never explains one small point: Gore won more votes than Bush.

More voters embraced his message than his Republican opponent's.

Gore won by more than a half-million votes.

True, he lost Florida by a few hundred votes out of 6 million cast (at least he lost the counting of those votes), but that hardly makes an argument that Gore should have adopted a different message.

From argues that if Gore had adopted the DLC message, he would have gotten many more votes. But if those votes had not come in Florida or had not been counted in Florida, the result would have been exactly the same.

There is an old sports adage that goes: Always change a losing game, never change a winning game.

The trouble for the Democrats is they can't figure out who won, who lost and why.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate