Naked City

Dems: picking up the pieces

On Nov. 6, the day after a generally disappointing election for state and national Democrats, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett sent an e-mail to supporters warning against a "natural" tendency to "feelings of both cynicism and helplessness" and "the need to find someone or something to blame." "We do not get to choose our time in history," the congressman continued, "but we can continue to make our own small contribution toward changing it. ... The hard work on the issues we care about just got harder. Dogged determination is needed now more than ever. We can never, never cede the field."

By phone en route to D.C., Doggett said that despite a few local bright spots for Democrats, the election results confirmed that Texas remains a very Republican state, at least for the next several years. He was not exactly looking forward to his return to a more Republican Congress, where "two more years of gloating will frankly be a little difficult to take." He says the Democrats will have to do some honest re-evaluation -- "not recriminations" -- over party strategy, and he is encouraged by the pending selection of California Rep. Nancy Pelosi to replace Dick Gephardt as majority leader. "I was the first Texan to endorse [Pelosi] for majority whip, and it's great to have a progressive woman as majority leader, and potentially the first woman speaker of the House."

As for the widespread commentary that Pelosi represents the "extreme left-wing" of the party, Doggett said, "The mainstream media have fallen for that nonsense without a word -- what they're reporting could have been written by [GOP Rep.] Tom DeLay." Arch-conservative DeLay, of Sugar Land, is poised to become House majority leader.

Doggett described the debate over moving the Democrats "to the left or to the right" as a misleading sound-bite controversy, adding that the Democrats cannot be revived by becoming "more like Republicans." Rather, he said, it's a question of "picking our fights very carefully, and making it clear that we stand for something."

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