Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Democrats, don't get too cocky

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 7:47 AM EST, Wed November 14, 2012
Supporters cheer after President Obama's projected win is announced during an election night event in Wisconsin.
Supporters cheer after President Obama's projected win is announced during an election night event in Wisconsin.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson says Democrats can't rest on election laurels for 2014 midterm wins
  • Republicans won't say inanities about rape or ignore minorities forever, he says
  • Granderson: Democrats need a bold budget plan that relies more on spending cuts
  • Loss in 2014 of six Democratic senators in red states could cost them the Senate, he says

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

(CNN) -- While there is still a lot of talk about how the Republican Party needs to reinvent itself, Democrats should keep in mind they could use a touch-up themselves.

With 20 Senate seats to defend in the midterm election -- compared with just 13 Republican ones -- the truth is Sen. Harry Reid and the gang do not have a lot of time to gloat. The economy may be improving, but it is still limping; millions are looking for work, and the deficit continues to grow. So whatever momentum President Obama and the Democrats received from last week's victories will all be gone come 2016 if they can't agree on a detailed budget plan by 2014.

And let's be clear: Taxing the rich and closing some loopholes is not a detailed plan. Granted, Democrats are proposing spending cuts -- but they have to be more bullish about their proposed cuts than they are about taxing the rich. The latter got them elected but the economy is in more need of the former.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for those who make $1 million a year or more, as championed by some, is estimated to generate only $500 billion to $600 billion over 10 years. That dwarfs the number cutting off Big Bird would bring but it does little to solve the debt problem.

Opinion: Conservatives, don't despair

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



So any plan that does not include significant spending cuts is no plan at all. If Democrats want to build on last week, they have to be bold, because they can't depend on Republicans to say stupid things about rape or ignore minorities forever.

In fact, confetti was still falling in Chicago when George P. Bush -- the Spanish speaking, half-Mexican nephew of you know who -- filed his papers with the Texas Ethics Commission to run for an as-yet unspecified office. The 36-year-old is the co-founder of the political action committee, Hispanic Republicans of Texas. That alone won't solve all of the party's image problems with Latinos, but as long as he's not on the crazy, inflammatory side of his party, he's got the looks, charisma and name to be the kind of political star they need -- the kind who can draw big crowds and maybe sway Latino voters two years from now, if not for himself, then certainly for another GOP candidate.

Face it Democrats -- the celebration is over and it's time to get to work.

Congress approaches fiscal cliff
Senator-elect Angus King on his role
Why Democrats have electoral advantage

At least six of the Senate seats the party has to defend are in red states. Lose those, and President Obama could be spending his final two years butting heads with a Republican Congress.

So what do the Democrats need to do?

Opinion: Election a call for purple politics

Well for starters, identify candidates to go after Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins' seat, because Obama won Maine.

Second, be a party white people want to vote for. Lost in all of the hoopla about Republicans needing to adapt to the country's new demographic, is the fact Romney captured the largest percentage of white votes since Ronald Reagan.

True, some of that can be attributed to racist backlash to Obama -- but most of it has to do with the message of the Democratic platform. Romney characterized 47% of the country as a bunch of moochers (and coincidentally came away with 47.8% of the popular vote). That means a lot of voters: the numbers suggest 88% of the people who voted for Romney were white. That's a problem. If Democrats don't figure out a way to make their message attractive to white people, they could possibly lose the Senate.

And third, and probably most important, they have to be a party worth voting for.

One can certainly say Republicans, from the top of the ticket on down, shot themselves in the foot this election, making it easier for Democrats to paint them as a party to vote against. But for the 2014 midterm, Democrats must present a budget plan people want to vote for. In two years voters are going to be asking "What else you got?" and if Democrats don't have an answer, they risk getting shellacked in 2014, the same way they got their butts handed to them in 2010.

Back then, Republicans took back the House.

Politics: 2014 battle for the Senate starts now

Another GOP landslide could create a path to the White House.

I hate to be the Ohio at your Karl Rove party, but it is what it is.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT