Lack of a Vision for America Is Hurting Democrats

Just Being Against Trump Won’t Win Elections

Tom Perez, more cowbell
What the Democrats need is more cowbell. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.
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Democrats and liberal pundits can’t seem to make up their minds whether their string of recent special election losses in conservative districts is a sign that they are doomed — or constitutes a bunch of moral victories. Here is a hint: Moral victors don’t get a vote in Congress.

It is true that the Democratic candidates, who were not exactly the crème of the crop, outperformed expectations in deep-red Kansas, Montana, Georgia and South Carolina. On the other hand, Jon Ossoff and allied groups spent more than $30 million on the most winnable of the four races and still lost.

The lesson that Democrats should learn from these painful defeats is that they can’t rely solely on President Donald Trump’s unpopularity if they want to win back the House in 2018. The special elections have shown that people aren’t just going to show up in droves to send yet another message to Washington.

For starters, that’s because people right now aren’t all that crazy about Democrats either – and they really don’t have much reason to be right now. In addition, being a historically unpopular candidate didn’t stop Trump from winning last November. Taking over the mantle as “The Party of No” from the GOP doesn’t suit the Democratic brand and it won’t get voters excited about them. And turnout will make all the difference in next year’s midterm elections.

By definition, conservatives like the status quo. In fact, Trump’s promise to turn back the clock to a time “when America was great” got them really excited and they showed up in large enough numbers to get a man elected whose unfavorable score was 61%.

But many of the people who didn’t like Trump didn’t vote because they weren’t thrilled with the alternative either. That’s why simply obstructing works much better for Republicans.

Progressives, on the other hand, by definition want to move forward. To get them engaged, Democrats have to tell them what they want to fight for. They need bold ideas, new faces and a vision of an America that addresses injustice and transforms the country into something the world can once again look up to.

These ideas and candidates can’t just appeal to one wing of the party. Bernie Sanders progressives won’t win elections on their own and neither will the moderate pragmatists in Washington.

If Democrats want to sweep back into power, they need a message that speaks to the entire country. But they also need a messenger.

Trump knows exactly how to speak to “his” people. Barack Obama did, too, when he first burst onto the political scene and won the White House in 2008.

If they want to succeed, Democrats have to find candidates who can connect with Americans in the same way, rallying their own supporters to show up while getting those of the other side to think, “Well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to give him/her a shot.”

If they manage to do that, they will win the House next year and the White House in 2020. But if they continue their infighting and simply count on people to get tired of Trump, they might learn that they have once again misjudged American voters.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Tom Perez caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), cowbell (US Air Force), drum stick (Andrewa / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0) and US Capitol (Martin Falbisoner / Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0).

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7 responses to “Lack of a Vision for America Is Hurting Democrats”

  1. HpO says:

    Surely they already know this, don’t you think, Klaus Marre and Donkeyhotey? That “if Democrats want to sweep back into power, they need a message that speaks to the entire country” and its “messenger … who can connect with Americans” – NOT who “simply count on people to get tired of Trump”? So what’s their problem, then, really? Because, consider this possible scenario: Come Election 2020, Trump may just pass on the presidential mantle to his ever so loyal VP Pence, who’ll, then, run a victorious race to the White House against whoever that “messenger” of the “message” of the “Democrats … to the entire country” is going to be. And that’s because by that time the Democrats will still lack both “a message that speaks to the entire country” as well as its “messenger … who can connect with Americans” – EVEN THOUGH by that time around, they’ll have given up on “count(ing) on people to get tired of Trump”! Pence, on the other hand, on account of being a dual Catholic and Evangelical devotee, will by then have expanded Trump’s original 81% electoral base among white conservative Christians, to include fellow Catholics. That old strategy of Steve Bannon’s will still be effective for Trump and Pence in the next election cycle. As for the Democrats, however, they’ll still have no strategy of winning over such people, and so – even with the help of the Religious Left (Liberals and Progressives) they’ll lose yet again.

  2. Mackenzie says:

    I have to ask yet again – does WWW have a political stance? I strongly get the feeling it is pro-Democrat and possibly endorses Hillary but, for whatever reason, it won’t say so.

    Also, some of the points made in this article seem downright bizarre:

    1) “By definition, conservatives like the status quo. In fact, Trump’s promise to turn back the clock to a time ‘when America was great’ got them really excited …”.

    If conservatives “like the status quo”, then wouldn’t they have voted Democrat to keep the status quo going? Also, how does wanting to turn back the clock to a different time count as “the status quo”? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call that “wanting change”? And the sarcastic quotes around “when America was great” sound like WWW takes for granted some of the freedoms we have (or, at least, once had!) I’m certainly not saying this country was ever (at ANY point in its history!) anything close to perfect. However, there was a time when America was the world’s economic power and its citizens had way more freedom than the rest of the world (and I’m a believer the former was a result of the latter!) Considering the disaster the US has been so far in the 21st century, is it really that terrible for someone to essentially say they want the prosperous times back again?

    2) “Progressives, on the other hand, by definition want to move forward.”

    Just because the word “progressive” means “moving forward”, would the society that progressives advocate for actually move the country forward? The way I see it, progressives essentially believe in socialism. That is not what I would consider “progress”. Let’s not forget Bernie praised Venezuela (prior to it becoming a disaster).

    3) “Trump knows exactly how to speak to ‘his’ people.”

    I don’t think Trump’s victory was as much related to him speaking to “his people” as much as it was to the public believing Hillary Clinton was untrustworthy. I believe that most people voted “against Hillary” rather than “for Trump”. Btw, that theory makes sense based on Trump’s low popularity ratings.

  3. Mark in Boston says:

    Did it really take WWW this long to figure this out? (Just Being Against Trump Won’t Win Elections)

    As far back as August 2015, Bernie Sanders told Democrats at the DNC Summer Meeting in Minneapolis, “Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, or the U.S. House, will not be successful in dozens of governors’ races all across this country unless we generate excitement and momentum and produce a huge voter turnout. That turnout, that enthusiasm will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old, will not work.”

    One of the biggest reasons we have Donald Trump as president is because media pundits took too long to figure this out. Most of MSM was bought off by corporate (Democrats) interests not to propagate this message. Not sure what WWW’s reasons are. Where were you guys when it mattered?

  4. Ralph Crown says:

    There are two general types of Democrat these days. One, the pragmatists, cling to the party apparatus because they feel there’s no other way to regain power, unaware that the party sold out years ago. The other, the idealists, believe in the party’s traditional message and want a third party to replace the sold-out apparatus. These two types argue bitterly, blaming each other for the abysmal track record of Democrats.

    They’re both wrong because there are two reasons Democrats can’t win. One, the oligarchs control the media. Most Americans, when you phrase the questions neutrally, support Democratic positions, because the alternatives favor the rich. Constant propaganda convinces them (not all, but enough) that they should vote Republican. Likewise, the media smears Democrats, especially the effective ones, so even if they’re elected they accomplish little. The Republicans won’t compromise on anything, and the propaganda backs them up.

    Two, elections are rigged. For whatever reason, the Democrats don’t want to discuss voter suppression, voter intimidation, election fraud, and all the other dirty tricks. Until that changes, Democrats won’t and can’t win. The oligarchy has effectively overthrown the legitimate government of this country, the government the people would have chosen.

  5. 0040 says:

    The democratic party lost its way under the Clintons in the 90s and is now in complete disarray. It no longer has a base, and is simply a haven for disgruntled Repubs. Moving forward is “demspeak” these days meaning simply more looting of the treasury to fund perpetual war and enslave the populace at home. As Max Keiser points out, 70 cents out of every tax dollar now finds its way into America’s military and security state budgets. Neither party can or would change that. The myth being forced down America’s throat that Trump won the election is a huge unspoken problem. Clinton won the general by 3 million votes in a democracy – that’s enough. Electoral College or SCOTUS shenanigans/overrides ruin the the illusion of a US democracy, and makes people go crazy. Gerrymandering and careful candidate selection through primaries was always the preferred fraud in the US election process , until money became free speech.

    • Fatcatbanksters says:

      Agree with most of your post. The 3 million votes thing is nonsense. Running up a huge vote tally in California and New York is not how you win a national election. Don’t believe me, just ask President Gore.

      Furthermore, I am not sold on popular vote determining elections. Sounds like mob rule to me. Remember, the mob (John Q. Citizen) was against civil rights legislation in the 60s. True, the electoral college needs an overhaul. Start with ending gerrymandered districts.

      But gerrymandering does not elect senators. As you correctly point out, what used to be the democratic party is in disarray. It sold its soul to Fraud St. for a few brief years of economic gain for the rank and file democratic voter.

      Here is where we are now. This is one of the better articles I have read as to what the democratic party must do. Will they listen? I have hopes…and doubts.

    • 0040 says:

      Democracy is fragile either you support it or you do not. One man One vote is idealistic and accepts as factual, that education, moderation, and equality exist within the electorate, it doesn’t. All political systems are in motion and tend towards tyranny as Jefferson clearly knew. Maintaining multi-generational elites as the tired old US is attempting to do comes at a high price. As Jefferson advocated, “foggy bottom’ should be purged every generation and accumulated wealth seized and put into infrastructure.