November 18, 2016

What Democrats think they've learned from Trump

Whenever a party loses an election, or a series of elections, introspection is often required.  Democrats find themselves in need of that right now, whether they realize it or not.  I say realize it because a lot of progressives on the left seem to be stuck in the same vile rhetoric that they were resorting to using prior to the the election.  Compound that with violence and lingering denial of the results of the election, and you do not have a recipe for the Democrats to move forward.  Not all on the left are mired in that classist group-think and a number of them have started talking about understanding the implications of the elections since 2010, wherein Democrats have lost group in the Senate, Congress, governorships and in state legislatures.

For me to diagnose the problem as an outsider has both its pros and cons.  I'm not at all interested in helping a party that seems set on dismantling the very ethos of America - that which has made it great for over two centuries, from incubation through to world superpower and bastion of liberty.  That is unless of course it helps them change their ways to become a more center-right party.  But let's face it, that isn't going to happen.  In typical liberal knee-jerk reaction, liberals have decided they haven't moved far enough left, that Hillary Clinton was just too cozy with Wall Street.  So their answer in the immediate aftermath of a surprise presidential election this year, is more Howard Dean, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison.  In other words, socialism.  Their answer is more name calling and alarmist rhetoric - America is fraught with racism, sexist, and homophobia.

Good luck with more of the same.
For over a decade Democrats have relied on a basically two-pronged approach to the future (1) indoctrinate youth through liberal education and owning the media culture and (2) the erroneous notion that demographics is destiny.  Democrats have labored under the belief growing Hispanic and African American population proportions have made it impossible for Republicans to ever win the presidency again. It was not only this election that has proved that wrong, as I've already noted. What Democrats have failed to realize so far, is simple;
What Democrats should realize, because everyone else does, is that voters rejected both their policies (which have undermined middle- and low-income families) and their governance (which has fueled rage at a power-hungry federal government). Hillary Clinton proposed more of the same. Coal workers said no. Blue-collar union workers said no. Suburban moms said no. Small businessmen, drowning under Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare, said no.
As I noted, Democrats have taken the wrong lesson from the drubbing;
Instead Democrats think last week was an accident. Mrs. Clinton tells donors that she only lost because of FBI Director Jim Comey.Barack Obama faults Hillary’s tactics—she didn’t spend enough time in the right states. Michael Dukakis says Democrats only lost because of the Electoral College. Rachel Maddow blames third-party candidates.

All this denial has cleared the field for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the leading voice now calling on the party to recognize it has erred and needs change. She is telling the masses, however, that Democrats lost because they didn’t go big enough. They didn’t spend enough. Didn’t regulate enough. Didn’t socialize health care enough. Her prescription: Double down.
Demographics does not dictate party affiliation.  Deliverables do.  In other words, what matters is what voters see as working and what they see as being in their best interest.  If Donald Trump for example is able to normalize or commoditize education across all communities, and thereby level the playing field for jobs and success in general, African Americans will no longer be a lock for Democrats. 

Interestingly, more socialism is not necessarily, right now, a bad prescription politically - arguing that Democrats care about the middle class and their welfare, their health care etc. is not by definition a losing message. If delivered properly there is no reason it can't happen again. But it's not a winning formula for two or four years from now. If president-elect Trump has any level of success on jobs over the next two years, the peripherals like healthcare will matter far less to a larger swath of the population. 

I suspect the conservative model for success will work, but it's too early to be certain. Things happen. But just as I can't predict how the economy will precisely look in 2 years, neither can Democrats. So formulating a double down strategy now, potentially puts them on an irreversible path that bodes well for Republicans in 2018 and 2020.
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