Gov. Michael S. Dukakis (D) of Massachusetts says Republicans have been failing to win elections at the state level because voters want leaders who are ``activists, who see challenges and go at them.'' Governor Dukakis says Democrats ``tend to be people who are doers.''
Some Republicans realize this, he says, and a number of the most successful Republican governors ``take that same activist role.''
Dukakis, who was voted by his fellow governors as ``the most effective'' in the country in a Newsweek magazine survey in March, says the interesting challenge for Democrats is translating the popularity they have at the state level to the national level.
Highlights of a recent Monitor interview follow:
Why do Republicans do so poorly in governorship races?
Notwithstanding the current administration in Washington, I think the people of this country want political leaders who are activists, who see challenges and go at them, who are deeply involved in building economic opportunity, good schools, quality environment, affordable housing, all of those things that most of us as Democratic governors are deeply involved in.
Instinctively and philosophically, Democrats tend to be people who are doers, and believe that one of the reasons we are elected is to deal with problems, to deal with challenges, and do so effectively.
But doesn't Reagan's big 1984 mandate indicate that people want less government activism?
Democrats have been able to do this [activism] quite successfully, but don't seem able to translate that into victory for presidential office. One of the real challenges before the Democratic Party . . . is to see if we can't translate some of this effectiveness of governors and state Democratic parties into a national agenda as we look to 1988.
Perhaps people want active government, but they want it closer to home, and out of Washington.
Even before Reagan, with Jimmy Carter, there was a sense in the country that we were trying to do so much in Washington that we were getting tangled up in a lot of our own red tape and bureaucracy.
Do the newer, activist Republican governors, like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee [voted the most effective GOP governor], worry you, politically?
No, I like working with them. The best country you can have is one where you've got progressive and enlightened people in both parties. . . .