Give Democrats some credit, it was almost a week after the election before the recriminations started…
But they’ve started….The New Republic is recriminations central right now, with an editorial, a piece by Marty Peretz, an insider look by Ryan Lizza, and a call for still more recriminations by TNR editor Peter Beinart.
Also, in The Wall Street Journal former Lieberman aide Dan Gerstein says it was less Kerry than larger problems for the party.
Both Peretz and Gerstein cite teachers’ unions as one cause of the problems Democrats have making a case for progressive change on education policy. In the large sense that’s certainly true enough and TNR has been pointing it out for some time. Yet it’s not fair to lay that at Kerry’s feet. He did challenge teacher union orthodoxy (most notably their quasi-Marxist fealty to pay schemes that do not reward teachers for challenging assignments, special skills, or exceptional performance) and he didn’t mindlessly carry their water in his policy proposals.
But, this election was not about education. Other than as a framing issue, Kerry would have gained little by relentlessly hammering on education policy issues. In fact, it would have distracted from the issues of security and leadership that he did need to emphasize. And, Kerry’s support for No Child but concern about how the Bush Administration has handled implementation is one of those positions that’s at once defensible but hard to explain to voters in a 30-second soundbite and easy for an opponent to twist.
Going forward, however, an obvious challenge for Democrats is to put forward a crisper, more progressive, and reform oriented vision on education, as well as other issues, because the tired old dogs just don’t hunt anymore.
See this essay by Andrei Cherney in TNR for more ideas.