What's interesting about Mr. Pelz isn't that backed his governor.
No, it's that he went there, to that place many Democrats in the Midwest, Northeast and West need to start going.
Washington State Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz today filed a Public Records Request with the office of Attorney General Rob McKenna for "all documents relating in any way to your decision to join in bringing or threatening a lawsuit challenging some or all of the historic health-care legislation approved by the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010 ("Health Care Legislation")."The best way, long run, to discredit the Republican Party is to ally it with the most extreme elements of the South. That would, under ordinary circumstances, be immoral. But we are living under an extraordinary circumstance: the most extreme elements of the South have, indeed, taken over the Republican Party. The party has been all-white, with the usual telling exceptions, for going on half a century now. But few Americans realize the degree to which it's completely dominated by the most conservative element of the Confederacy. It's time to tell the truth.
"The public has a right to know whether McKenna generated this idea himself or whether he is acting on behalf of the National Republican Party or the Insurance Industry," said Pelz. "We need to know more about his communication with the Southern Attorneys General and the Florida-based Republican law firm that has been hired to spearhead this effort."
Democratic candidates don't have to make that that critique the center of their campaigns. But there's no reason not to slip it in as a line in every speech. There are large parts of the country that recoil at the excesses, both historical and current, of Southern conservatism. Republicans have tied Democrats and Speaker Pelosi to "San Francisco liberalism," which, presumably, means the tolerance and existence of homosexuality. It is high time for Democrats in about 20 states to talk about Alabama Republicans, whose racism, homophobia, sexism, hatefulness and violence are antithetical to the values of independent voters in most of the rest of the country (and, in fairness, 35-40% of their own states). The slow rebranding of these non-Southern states' Republican parties could yield great benefits in the long run.
Retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich of Ohio pointed the way himself in July:
The GOP’s biggest problem? “We got too many Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburns (R-Ok.). It’s the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re southerners. The party’s being taken over by southerners. What they hell they got to do with Ohio?’”He's right. Democrats need to recognize the truth and highlight it where it's strategically helpful to do so.
UPDATE: Here's a lovely dissent by Sally Jenkins, which was widely published in newspapers throughout the South, where Voinovich's criticisms hit a bit too close to home. Jenkins is right: many things, certainly, have gone right in the South, and there is a lot of hypocrisy regarding race elsewhere in the country. Still, and sadly, only 35-40% of the Southern electorate (and only 10-25% of the white Southern electorate)'s voting behavior reflects tolerance, which is emerging as a consensus value in much of the rest of the country.