AUSTIN, Texas --- Here's my two cents worth on "What Is to Be Done?" First of all, let me rush to join the Bill-Clinton-for-Party-Chair bandwagon (which I believe started with a Los Angles Times editorial). Granted, that means Hillary couldn't run in 2008, which is fine by me since I think she is: (A) too divisive, and (B) I worry about her safety.

So put the Big Dog in at DNC. Let him raise money, recruit candidates and plot strategy. He knows and loves politics: who better? If he doesn't want that deal, he could at least travel about to various states to help strategize.

Second, count me in the Hidden Blessing camp on the defeat of Tom Daschle. Nice man, lovely man, not enough of a fighter. I know R's like to consider Daschle guilty of colossal obstructionism and terrible, extreme partisanship hiding behind his mild-mannered demeanor. If only. That's just the R's usual game of claiming to be victims.

The big problem with Daschle is that he comes from such a red state he always faced a tough re-election fight. You can't exactly be real Out There when you're from South Dakota -- and besides, he put such a milquetoast face on the party.

So let's get a battler from a safe blue state who doesn't have to worry about re-election all the time. I like Harry Reid, but Nevada is not blue and he's a little charismatically challenged. How about Chris Dodd from Connecticut? I'd like to see someone from the West -- if D's want to emphasize responsible cooperation with the administration, Dianne Feinstein would be an excellent choice, since she knows how to legislate and can fight when necessary. Of course, that would leave the D's with the Nancy-Pelosi-is-also-a-woman-from-California problem.

In my opinion, in the usual slugfest between the Democratic Leadership Council (pro-unrestricted free trade and pro-big corporations) and the liberals (unions and social issues folks), the populists should win. I still think politics is about who's getting screwed and who's doing the screwing. How pitiful that people thought they were voting against "the liberal elite" when all George Bush has ever done to the liberal elite is to give it huge tax cuts. And holy cow, are the D's ever about to get a gift from the R's. R's are apparently planning to scrap the progressive tax system entirely and make it all regressive. Good grief -- that's not only unbelievable, it's immoral.

I'm in favor of all the election reforms being advocated by the goo-goos (short for good government groups), plus I am indebted to a blogger on for the brilliant notion that George Soros should buy Diebold Co. The country's leading manufacturer of electronic voting machines is currently headed by a Bush Pioneer, which is enough to give anyone the creeps.

Other liberal billionaires could buy the other voting-machine companies, and then they should be put into a public trust whose workings are open to everyone. Plus, all the usual stuff, like abolish the Electoral College (this should be favored by all the non-swing states that are tired of not being part of presidential elections).

The money front was grim, but we knew McCain-Feingold was just a first step. The 527 loophole has to go, and goo-goos need to unite on public campaign financing. The special interest groups spent almost $1 billion on this campaign, close to $10 million a day. You think that won't buy you a few politicans, a few favorable decisions from regulatory agencies, a few tax advantages and loopholes?

The usual stunning failure of democracy in the House (95 percent of incumbents kept their seats -- didn't the Politburo have a higher turnover?) leads us to think we should really start pushing non-partisan redistricting, a.k.a. the Iowa system. You want to cut down on nasty partisanship and start electing people who know how to legislate, that's almost as critical as fixing the money. The pleasant thing about working to make elections fairer is that it benefits everyone, because in politics, what goes around, comes around.

On the friendly old finger-pointing field, I can think of only one egregious blunder (the rest can be argued), and that was the Kerry campaign's failure to not just respond to but to the blast the living hell out of the Swift Boat Liars. Inexcusable conduct on both sides on that one. Granted, the attack was so awful and so distorted anyone would be tempted to dismiss it as beneath contempt, but since Rove specializes in attacking the opponent's strong point, it could almost have been expected. So much for finger-pointing.

Back to the To Do list: D's were caught off-guard on the R's GOTV (get out the vote) effort and again shouldn't have been, because Rove said in 2000 that that's what he wanted to do. D's were out there working passionately, but only in the last few months -- the R's effort was steady over four years.

All in all, lots to do. Get up off your depression, and get to work.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.