The American political landscape is a mess, in large part because one of our two major political parties is not only in chaos, but has absolutely no sense of its identity.
This party is in complete disarray, lacking leadership, vision and focus. Indeed, it is accurate to say the condition of the Democratic Party is in a state of utter disorder, and as with all disorders, the affected are usually the last to know they have a problem, let alone how to “cure what ails them.”
I want a strong, vigorous political system in our country. It is essential that intellectual, disciplined, robust debate be a part of a healthy political system in our country, or any country. However, the tiresome weekly protests are not only a distraction to what Democrats should be focused on, but are nothing more than the comical resurrection of the discredited primal scream therapy. If the best you’ve got is singing “Na, Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Goodbye…” on the House floor after the vote to “Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” you are not only singing out of tune, but you are tone deaf to what Americans are concerned about.
In no small part, the Democratic Party has only itself to blame for its most recent presidential election loss. The party has abandoned Middle America, and seems to be content with being a political party that only represents the “Coastal Elites.” New York, California, and a few other elitist pockets scattered about the rest of the country present only a single voice, a single perspective, in a vast country rich with many views. The party not only seems to ignore Middle America, the so called “flyover States,” but at times, often with the encouragement of a “Coastal Elite” mentality, mock and belittle those who live in the “Heartland.”
You don’t win hearts and minds by turning inwards, listening to like-minded voices and stifling potential allies who may differ with you on some issues. The Democrats are lost in the woods because they walked away from the words of Bobby Kennedy (1968) – “…I’ve seen proud men in the hills of Appalachia who wish only to work in dignity, but they cannot, for the mines have closed and their jobs are gone, and no one – neither industry, labor nor government – has cared enough to help…”
Bobby Kennedy talked to the people of Appalachia, but the “new” Democratic Party is the lecture party. Today’s Democratic Party is disconnected, caring more about redefining gender, while most Americans are watching lone-wolf terrorist attacks on our shores. The party lectured and pointed fingers at those who held opposing views, and falsely labeled them as bigots, misogynists and racists. While many Americans worried about keeping their jobs, how to put food on their tables, dealing with the devastating effects of addiction, and whether they could make their mortgage payment, Democrats lectured Americans about identity politics and which bathroom we should use.
I know you’re thinking, “but Jeff, have you not been watching what the Republicans have been doing?” Yes, I have. The GOP has problems, but nothing like the clown show the Democratic Party has turned into. Trust me when I tell you the Republican Party has issues, and neither major political party is in great standing with the American public. Politics ebbs and flows, and I could just as easily be writing a similar article soon about the Republicans. But at least the Republicans are still made up of people with many different views. Sure, there is tension amongst Republicans, but try being a Democrat who is pro-life and a supporter of the Second Amendment and see what happens. Potty-mouth Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez made it clear to members of the Democratic Party that they must support abortion or else, even though at best estimates at least 30 percent of self-described Democrats claim to be pro-life. However, abortion is just one issue that either pushes Democrats out of the party tent, or discourages entry in the first place.
The 2016 election should have been a wake-up call for the Democratic Party, but in its defeat the party looks and acts more like the Donner Party than the party of Kennedy and Clinton. However, the biggest issue is the “deli number” approach the Democratic Party has reverted to, ignoring the success of Obama.
Where is the Democratic bench? Biden will be 74 in 2020, Elizabeth Warren will be 71, and forget Bernie Sanders’ age, it is just comical that “the last, best, hope” of the Democratic Party isn’t even a Democrat! The Democratic Party has some potentially strong leaders who should be elevated to the public face of the party: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Amy Klobuch and Sen. Chris Murphy. However, the bench is not as deep as it should be because it has only been focused on the White House.
The presidency and capturing elitist strongholds are not the only battles to be won. The Republican Party controls the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature in 24 states, having gained four more states with the 2016 election. The Democratic Party only managed to do that in six states. There are 33 Republican governors. The Democratic Party only controls 16. Republicans also control 32 state legislative benches. Why does this matter? Because this is where your “party bench” comes from. Obama may have emerged from the U.S. Senate, but he cut his teeth at the local level. Yet the Democratic Party would rather say “it is not your turn,” or “you do not walk in lock-step with the party,” instead of bringing forth candidates who represent not just the elitist view of the party, but the view everyday Americans hold dear.
Keep marching, keep singing, keeping looking to New York and Hollywood, and oh by the way, keep losing.