From The New York Times:
By Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin | Emily Cochrane contributed reporting. | June 21, 2017
Democrats scrambled to regroup on Wednesday after a disappointing special election defeat in Georgia, with lawmakers, activists and labor leaders speaking out in public and private to demand a more forceful economic message heading into the 2018 elections.
Among Democrats in Washington, the setback in Georgia revived or deepened a host of existing grievances about the party, accentuating tensions between moderate lawmakers and liberal activists and prompting some Democrats to question the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.
But the overarching theme among Democrats was a sense of sharp urgency about crafting a positive agenda around kitchen-table issues. Congressional Democrats have already been meeting in private to shape a core list of economic policies, but their work did not reach any conclusive point during a long season of special elections.
“The Democratic caucus is united in our view that our message, heading into 2018, should be aggressively focused on job creation and economic growth,” Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership team, said on Wednesday morning.
Well, that’s just it: “aggressively focus(ing) on job creation and economic growth” is President Trump’s, specifically, and the Republican Party’s in general, bailiwick. The Democrats have been trying to say that they are the party of the working class, but, in reality, they have transformed themselves into the party of the non-working class, the party of food stamps and welfare. The policies of the Democratic Party are for more government spending and higher taxes, and everybody knows it. The Democrats want more involvement of the government in the economy and in people’s personal lives, and that is not what the voters like.
The final numbers are still out, but the special election in the sixth congressional district in Georgia was the most expensive House of Representatives race in history, and Jon Ossoff outspent Karen Handel, supposedly by a considerable amount. It didn’t do the Democrats any good, and I’d note here that Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump by a roughly two-to-one margin, and she’s still trying to find other people to blame for her loss.
Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who tried to unseat Ms. Pelosi as House minority leader late last fall, said she remained a political millstone for Democrats. But Mr. Ryan said the Democratic brand had also become “toxic” in much of the country because voters saw Democrats as “not being able to connect with the issues they care about.”
“Our brand is worse than Trump,” he said.
That’s because they just don’t get it! To the Democrats, President Trump is practically the Devil Incarnate, and they really don’t understand why he got so much support, and why they received so little. Remember when Mrs Clinton was surprised that she wasn’t fifty points ahead?
In some respects, the sniping over the Democrats’ campaign message mirrors a larger divide in the Democratic Party, dating back to the 2016 presidential primaries and earlier. Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters have pressed Democrats to embrace a more bluntly populist message, assailing wealthy special interests and endorsing the expansion of social-welfare programs, while more moderate Democrats in the party leadership have favored an approach closer to Mr. Ossoff’s.
But in four contested special elections in Republican districts — including two, in Kansas and Montana, featuring Sanders-style insurgents — neither method provided the party with a breakthrough victory.
Remember that: neither approach has worked for the Democrats!
Part of the problem in the ‘left-versus-center’ debate among the Democrats is that they cannot go much further left on many issues. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez stated that abortion was a litmus test, that no Democratic candidate, ever, could be pro-life. The Democrats have embraced same-sex ‘marriage,’ homosexual rights, and gone to bat for people claiming to be a different sex than what they were born, over the privacy rights of the vast majority of Americans. Those things aren’t winning positions in most districts, and the Democrats can’t get much further to the left on those issues than they are right now.1
In economics and job creation, their policies have not helped, and the strong support of the Democrats for illegal immigrants is support for the very group holding down the wages of lower-skilled American workers. The Democrats and the left will not admit that, but the working class voters of America have accepted that as true, and they voted in support of that belief.
A big part of the problem is that the Democrats are a heavily urbanized party: they have structured their appeal to groups heavily concentrated in too-few districts, in too small geographical areas. The Democrats will scream gerrymandering, but The New York Times reported that in 91 of the city’s 5,286 precincts, in 2012, President Obama won 100 percent of the vote. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Mitt Romney didn’t receive even a single vote in 59 city precincts. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that in nine precincts, Mr Romney received no votes at all. That Democrats do best in urban areas is common knowledge, but in a nation which bases representation on geographical districts, there’s no realistic way to account for precincts which give 100% of their votes to one party’s candidate.
The Democrats can dump Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as House Minority Leader, as some want to do, but that’s simply dumping a face; they need to change their policies to have a chance to regain the House of Representatives. Democrats have to come up with policies which will appeal to just those people they have abandoned, if they hope to start picking up seats in red-suburban and rural districts.
However, the policies of today’s Democratic Party are simply those of obstruction, of voting against President Trump. They want to have investigations ad infinitum against the President, but being in the minority in both Houses of Congress, that actually accomplishes nothing. Even if they could unseat President Trump, then Vice President Mike Pence steps up. There is no way that they can somehow undo the 2016 election and make Mrs Clinton President.
If the Democrats want to regain control of the House, dumping Mrs Pelosi would be a good place to start, but that would still be only symbolic; they need to dump the policies Mrs Pelosi, and Tom Perez, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders represent. Their guess that they could corner the market onm the fringe voting demographics has paid off, but what they didn’t count on was losing so much of the rest of America.
- It didn’t help that Mr Ossoff was shacked up with a woman who had been his girlfriend for twelve years, and finally proposed to her only after it became a political problem. I’ve got to wonder: is his proposal null and void, now that he lost the election? ↩