As Democrats line up to debate, the GOP is regressing

OPINION — It was pretty startling, actually, viewing the lineup for the first debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in April 2007 on a stage in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Among them were the usual suspects — Sens. Chris Dodd, John Edwards and Joe Biden. And then, there were surprises — Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is different, I thought. Whatever happens next, this looks like America, an America I had rarely experienced except in the aspirational promises of its founding documents, with the few exceptions of pioneers such as Shirley Chisholm or Jesse Jackson, when it came to choosing presidents.

When I covered the second Republican debate in May of that year, in Columbia, South Carolina, distinguishing between the candidates was a little tougher at first glance.

Is This What Political Diversity Looks Like?

n the 2008 presidential contest, a glance at the Democratic and Republican debate lineup was all it took to tell the story. On the Republican stage, there were recognizable faces – Mitt Romney, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani – mixed in with Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, etc.

But it still came down to a row of white guys in dark suits, white shirts and red or blue ties. You needed a visual crib sheet to stay organized.


Is a diverse presidential ticket necessary for a GOP recovery?

After a resounding Electoral College loss in the 2012 presidential election, many have offered reasons and advice for Republicans hoping to turn it around in 2016. There’s been no shortage of blame heaped on Mitt Romney for a personality and message that never came into focus, except when the candidate was caught on tape complaining about the 47 percent of non-Romney voters or suggesting that Obama voters were bought with gifts of government services.

But the loudest chorus has been repeating the chant “demography is destiny,” noting the failure of the GOP to woo and win African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and the young, especially young female voters. Casting a clear eye on America in the future and the Democratic ticket that prevailed in the past two elections, will either party – particularly Republicans trying to reach out – ever again field a ticket that looks like Romney/Ryan and most every other in the history of the United States?

4 years after Obama’s breakthrough, few black pols on the ballot for major offices

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was a hit at the Democratic National Convention in September with a spirited speech that defended the party’s principles. In a recent trip back to Charlotte to campaign for the president, he continued his attack on Mitt Romney as someone who, while a “very, very skilled campaigner,” cut funding for education and “stymied innovation” when he held Patrick’s job.

A future presidential prospect? The rapt volunteers at an Obama campaign office thought so, as they happily imagined Patrick on the 2016 ticket. With his place in the pipeline that leads to national office, the only sitting black governor in the country is a standout. But he also stands alone. Four years after Barack Obama’s historic election as the nation’s first black president, there are fewer African-Americans in the U.S. Senate and governor’s offices across the country than at the time of his 2009 inauguration…