Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Democrats, don't get too cocky

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
November 14, 2012 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
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
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT