Putting aside for a moment the state of ruin in the Trump White House, I’m seeing nothing but chaos coming from Democrats. Granted, it takes a while to recover from a disaster, and it is especially discouraging when the disaster is of your own making, like burning down the house because you left something unattended on the stove.
But no matter the circumstances, you pick yourself up and move on, maybe even make some improvements.
But here it is, months after the election, halfway through 2017 with 2018 breathing down their necks, and Democrats have yet to look in the mirror, which actually reflects the past, or to look beyond themselves to a constituency that looks nothing like it did in 2008.
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Where do we start with all the Democrats have gotten wrong?
First, they did not anticipate the backlash from the party’s greatest achievement. The election of the first African-American president was the straw that broke the back of conservatives and middle-income white Americans who were quickly becoming the minority and not happy about it at all.
Democrats failed to notice their party’s freefall, as evidenced by the loss of about 900 legislative seats from 2008 to 2016. While it’s not untypical that a two-term presidency starts to lose a little luster during its waning years, these numbers definitely signal a shift in mood among the American people – a shift not quite away from civil rights, but definitely more focused on the right to prosper as an individual, the equivalent of the Republicans’ siren song.
And not to diminish her exceptional public service over many decades, but Hillary Clinton was an entitlement candidate and an unimaginative one at that. And if age equals future, Republican leaders such as Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise average about 46 years of age. Contrast that with the average age of 73 for Democratic leaders such as Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.
Who would have thought that Democrats would end up being the Grand Old Party?
Health care? If Republicans can be blamed for failing for seven years to put together a decent alternative to the Affordable Care Act, surely Democrats can be blamed for knowing it needed an overhaul and not getting out in front of it before 2016. They had to have seen it coming.
And Tom Perez, now chair of the Democratic National Committee, states that the top priority is to defeat Trump if he runs for a second term.
Well, OK. But “How?” is the question.
And then there are the missteps. Maybe it made sense to throw support, mostly in the form of money, to Jon Ossoff, who competed in a special election against Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District. Ossoff did push the race into a run-off and Trump had narrowly defeated Clinton in that district, so Ossoff may have had a shot.
But Georgia has been red for 20 years. In the end, Democrats should have never presented the contest as do or die for the party, thus making the loss more significant than the win might have been. It was a costly experiment that showed Democrats, once again, playing from a position of weakness.
A major overhaul is past due for the Democrats. That means taking advantage of the implosion of the Trump administration as a time to finally get their house in order.
As my dad used to say if I dawdled over my homework: “You’re going nowhere until you finish, so buckle down.”
The same can be said of Democrats.