In Desperate Need of a New Playbook. Voters have delivered plenty of clues and hints to the Democratic Party that they weren’t happy. In 2010, Democrats lost 63 seats in the U.S. House — the worst loss for a party since 1938. In 2014, voters sent another message with the lowest turnout in 72 years. Now voters have sent another message: Donald Trump.
On wonders: How many clues do voters have to send before Democrats change their leadership in a major way? Democrats have lost to the Tea Party. They’ve lost to those they poll consistently better against yet Democrats are losing. Democrats in the House have had the same leaders for over ten years. More importantly than age is lack of results: Who singularly choses the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)? Nancy Pelosi. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), 76, after leading a anti-Koch Brothers strategy that didn’t work, strategized the Democrats out of the Senate majority. He’s retiring.
Three points to remember:
- Barack Obama is a singular generational phenomenon but he is not the Democratic Party. A singular person should never take more importance over the party as a whole. Obama could care less about the party which was demonstrated by Obama for America draining Democratic National Committee. His plea to voters was “vote for Hillary to protect my legacy — once again it was all about him.
- Progressive candidate Bernie Sanders raised over $200 million by May 2016 and
an average of $17 million per month. That should tell the old guard and “new Dem” members of the party that there’s something to the Keith Ellison wing of the Democratic party. The “new Dem” strategy has been a failure at the ballot box.
- At some point you have to understand the mood the country. Donald Trump beat Democrats with their core constituencies: union households in Michigan and white working class voters in Western PA. Come on Democrats, that should be impossible.
Some say certain leaders should be held on to because they can raise money. But the numbers are clear: The party has raised hundreds of millions of dollars over this losing period of eight years with almost nothing to show for it. Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC raised a record amount of money: $175 million. And more than $18 million was raised during the first 19 days of October.
DCCC also raised record amounts — over $400 million — over the last two cycles. What do the same losing consultants, staff and strategists have to show for it other than a pile of loses?
The Democratic Party also has to figure out what policy it stands for. Does it stand for TPP or not? Does the party stand with banks or students on loan rates? Does it stand with consumers or business on consumer issues? Does it stand with big labor or the chamber of commerce? Who is going to tell people we’re moved from an industrial age into a technology age and certain jobs are gone forever? And yes, some of these questions are zero sum and either/or. The party needs to make up it’s mind whether it will reach for populism or be confused with moderate Republicans.
The next generation of Democrats on the federal level is behind the 70-something baby boomers who have presided over the worst dip in party numbers across the board in seven decades. If this was a company or NFL team or a bakery all the managers would have been dismissed in 2010. Whether it’s Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO) or anyone else one has to ask: what group of Democrats in the current caucus could preside over a worse outcome over ten years?