Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Carville: Wake up Democrats; you could lose

By James Carville, CNN Contributor
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Wed May 9, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Carville: Democrats are expressing confidence they will beat Romney easily
  • He says the polls show the race is extremely close; incumbents losing around world
  • Touting accomplishments such as killing bin Laden, saving GM won't do the trick, he says
  • Carville: Democrats must connect with voters' worries about the economy

Editor's note: James Carville is a Democratic strategist who serves as a political contributor for CNN, appearing frequently on "The Situation Room" as well as other programs on all CNN networks.

(CNN) -- A long time ago a great three-time governor of Louisiana, Earl Long, said about Jimmie Davis, the two-time not very good governor of Louisiana, "You couldn't wake up Jimmie Davis with an earthquake."

As I go around the country and see various Democrats and talk to them on the phone, honestly I'm beginning to think that we have become the party of Jimmie Davis.

My message is simple: WTFU. Translated -- wake the you-know-what up, there is an earthquake.

James Carville
James Carville

You think that Democrats around the country are going to win -- as I hear time and time again from people on the street.

Democratic fundraisers, activists, supporters, and even politicians alike have somehow collectively lapsed into the sentiment that the president is going to be reelected and that we have a good shot to take the House back while holding the Senate.

I ask: What are you smoking? What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking?

Look around the world -- do you see any governments or incumbents winning any elections out there? Did it happen in small elections in Germany or Britain, big elections in France and Greece or how about huge elections in the United States in 2008 and 2010? Please folks -- wake up!

The polling? Not that encouraging. The latest Democracy Corps poll was 47-47. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has the president up a whopping three-tenths of a percentage point. And I am hearing the garbage that Democratic donors are telling Democratic fundraisers ..."Obama has it in the bag."

Newsflash: Nothing is in the bag. Nothing can be taken for granted. Everybody from the precinct door-knocker, to the Chicago high command, to the White House, to the halls of Congress, to the Senate and House committees, to congressional leadership, here is a simple message: If we don't get on the offense, reconnect with the American people, talk about how the middle class is in a struggle for its very existence, hold the Republicans accountable and fight like the dickens, we are going to lose.

You can shoot five Bin Ladens, you can save 10,000 banks and 20 car companies, even pass the most sweeping legislation in modern American history; if people don't think that you are connected to their lives and are fighting for their interests they will vote your tush out of office in a nano-second. For historical reference see Winston Churchill election of 1945 and President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

So, fellow Democrats -- we've got a fight on our hands. We've got to fight in the same way that the people we care most about have fought for quite some time. They have been crushed by high health care costs, soaring education costs, stagnant wages and financial bailouts for irresponsible firms.

Combine all of this with the fact that the Republicans are raising not millions, not tens of millions, but potentially hundreds of millions of dollars from the pollution industry as result of Citizens United v. FEC.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook/CNNOpinion

There is a full-fledged legislative agenda in many states to keep Democrats from even voting. We are literally being attacked from every side while simultaneously being lulled into some self-induced stupor thinking that this thing is somehow in the bag. It is not.

Oh I know what you are going to say, "Look at Mitt Romney, look how pathetic he is..." Actually pathetic is a kind word for Romney and this campaign. Mitt Romney is to presidential campaigns as the Delta House grade point average was to Faber College -- the worst in history. I mean, my God, when you hold a press conference to rebut charges that you have a Cold War mentality and then you have foreign policy "experts" talk about Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union in "contemporary" terms -- really?

I know that the Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts drive swing voters and independents over the edge. I've gotten all of the reports from focus group moderators as to how devastating this is to Romney.

Why a man who knows he is running for president (who claims to know something about the American economy) would for any reason keep money in offshore accounts, I have no idea. And I know that we are going to take him out to the cornfield (like at the end of the movie "Casino") on the Ryan budget.

However, I fear that all of this will not be enough unless we have a real change of attitude about the difficult campaign ahead of us. It has been said that, "Nothing so focuses a man's attention as the prospect of being hanged." Look around Democrats -- Come November let's make sure that it's Mitt and his bunch at the end of that figurative rope and not us.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Carville.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Mary Allen says because of new research and her own therapy, she no longer carries around the fear of her mother, which had turned into a generalized fear of everything
updated 3:59 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Gilbert Gottfried says the comedian was most at home on the comedy club stage, where he was generous to his fellow stand-up performers
updated 4:54 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Iris Baez, whose son was killed by an illegal police chokehold, says there must be zero tolerance for police who fatally shoot or otherwise kill unarmed people such as Michael Brown
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Maria Cardona says as he seeks a path to the presidency, the Kentucky Senator is running from his past stated positions. But voters are not stupid--and they know how to use the internet
updated 10:19 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Gene Seymour says the shock at the actor and comedian's death comes from its utter implausibility. For many of us over the last 40 years or so, Robin Williams was an irresistible force of nature that nothing could stop.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
Soledad O'Brien says the story of two veterans told in a documentary airing on CNN shows the challenges resulting from post-traumatic stress
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT