Finally Approaching a Crossroads?

June 24, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: Here's the Deal

Interesting posts on my Facebook feed this morning.  There are articles one after the other about how BOTH major political parties are on the ropes.  I give you the headlines:

‘Trump is What Happens When a Political Party Abandons Ideas’ – Politico

and right after it –

Sen. Bernie Sanders – “Democratic Brand is Pretty Bad” – CNN

In recent days, talkers from both sides have been bemoaning the condition of their own parties.  Some are going after their party leaders; some are blaming everyone from the Russians to their political rivals.  For the first time in over a decade, Nancy Pelosi’s job is in jeopardy.  After the Dems were skunked in the recent special elections, younger Dems are publicly talking about new party leadership in the House. Republican senators are openly refusing to support Mitch McConnell’s plan to destroy the US healthcare system.  The only oddity that continues is that the Republicans remain terrified of Trump and his Twitter fingers.

Are we finally reaching a crossroads in political party life?  Deep inside, the Repubs certainly recognize the smoldering ruin of their party after Trumpzilla rampaged through in 2016.  But it’s worse than that – to cling to power, the GOP has abandoned common decency and common sense, appealing to the worst instincts of the ignorant base.  That’s their problem.

The problem on the Dem side is more subtle.  Party leadership is fossilized.  It’s not adapted to the new normal.  Although the vast majority of creative thinkers and visualizers are Democrats, the party has remarkably failed to engage them in dragging the party out of the 1990’s.  The Dems don’t stand for anything – not to say they don’t have the interests of workers, families, and the disadvantaged – they can’t articulate it.  That was Hillary’s well documented problem…she couldn’t connect on that level.  Senate and House leadership now has the same problem.  While the GOP is in smoldering ruins, instead of taking advantage of that weakness, the Dems are arranging furniture and counting noses – no one is leading.

Maybe the voices of the younger generation will get loud enough for the geriatric leadership of both parties to get the message and get out of the way.  Can you imagine what America would be if we had youthful enthusiasm involved?  Can you imagine if political leadership was 50/50 men to women, inclusive of all faiths and ethnicities?

We’re a long way from that, but I can still dream.

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17 Comments to “Finally Approaching a Crossroads?”

  1. Trump cleaned much of the State Dept. ridding it of tons of institutional experience. We haven’t seen all of the predicted catastrophe yet, but it’s only been 5 months. I worry that the dems may take the same course.

    I think the dems need the most help at the lower levels, like school boards, mayors, etc. We can take that lesson from the repubs.

    Good ideas can rise to the top.

  2. Jane & PKM says:

    El Jefe, it does seems like the leadership of both parties are competing for the “No Shit Shylock Award.” Slap all of them upside their heads with D’oh stickers. What part of change do none of them understand? When a young relatively unknown Barack Obama defeated Hilz the first time, that was grab a clue moment. Yet the Dems persisted in running Hilz again. While the snacilbupeR primary was a comedy of errors with 17 or 18 morons being defeated by America’s biggest moron. We’re so far into lose-lose propositions that win-win seems like a distant bad joke.

    “Can you imagine if political leadership was 50/50 men to women, inclusive of all faiths and ethnicities?” As a frequent, maybe too frequent commentator, here at the WMDBS there has been one consistent grain in my train of thought. Lazy privileged old white boys since Reagan, maybe before, have attempted to destroy and have partially succeeded at destroying any progress we have made as a nation since FDR. Now some of those privileged old white boys like Lyin’ Ryan and McTurdle are aiming to take us back prior to the Lincoln days.

    Change. What would or should that look like? Probably the obvious. If crazy old privileged white guys have driven us into this latest ditch yet again, it is past time to try democracy again led by women, persons of color, and even young white guys who are not wearing corporate sponsored team jackets.

    War. Repeated war. Endless wars. How is that working out for us? D’OH. As with “Trickle Down” economics, the “War on Drugs” and other failed policies, thinking America is tired of the “rinse and repeat” insanity.

    Some democrats think Cory Booker is cute. He’s not essentially a bad guy, but until he drops his Big Pharma team jacket he has baggage.

    Not looking for ‘perfect’ candidates, but to win in 2018 the DNC at least needs to support and run some candidates that have a ‘trust ability quotient.’

  3. Adam Eran says:

    Sorry, El Jefe, the D’s sold out long ago. I’ve recommended Thomas Franks’ account (“Whatever Happened to the Party of the People”) previously.

    So when you say D’s have “the interests of workers, families, and the disadvantaged”…sorry, no sale.

    Jimmy Carter’s deregulation of trucking and airlines not only showed Reagan how to do it, it threw the unions under the bus. Teamsters endorsed Reagan in the next election.

    It took Bill Clinton to collude with Newt and a Republican congress to turn AFDC, which reached 78% of those needing public assistance, into TANF, a block grant that gives states a positive incentive to deny assistance to the needy. After that change to TANF, only 26% of those who needed the assistance got it. It threw a half million adults off of food stamps.

    For generations, literally, Democrats have been kicking the traditional FDR coalition of workers and the poor to the curb. Heck, even Edmund Muskie–a possible opponent of our last liberal president, Richard Nixon–endorsed austerity.

    Worst of all, however, was the most corrupt president in history: Barack Obama. Not only did he not prosecute the Bush / Cheney war crimes, he promoted the torturers. He overcame his reluctance to prosecute when it came to whistleblowers, though.

    …and of course he did nothing but protect the bankers whose sub-prime/derivatives frauds were arguably the biggest theft in the history of the human race.

    Take a look at who benefitted from the “Obama Recovery”:×0/filters:no_upscale()/

    …his was the worst ever for the bottom 90% of incomes.

    So when that embarrassment, Donald Trump, called the Democrats crooks, he was telling the truth. The idea that better marketing, or peace is in their interest has to take at least second place to getting rid of the corruption.

  4. “Maybe the voices of the younger generation will get loud enough for the geriatric leadership of both parties to get the message and get out of the way.”

    That’s what we said in the sixties. It got us George McGovern.

  5. lumpkin says:

    I respect both Pelosi and the Clintons but it’s time to pass the torch on to a new generation. Pelosi could work in the background, helping the newbie with parliamentary machinations, fund raising and caucus management. She never has been a good public speaker, although she does occasionally generate a quotable bon mot. For the most part, though she seems halting and wishy-washy. Far as I know, she rarely to never appears on “the shows”.

    As for the Clintons, their time in the spotlight has passed. If they still have fund raising mojo, then great, but they are no longer the face of the Democratic party and should cede the attention to those who more accurately represent it now. To many people, including this old gray haired commenter they seem mired in the irrelevant past.

  6. AlanInAustin ... says:

    My opinion (sustained only by the facts I choose to accept) and offered in no particular order:

    Dems talk to much about creating and protecting “rights” and not enough about things which appeal to the overwhelming majority of the population. My checklist for speechwriters:

    1) Does this speech appeal to the person who is either just getting by in life or who feels stuck for lack of a better opportunity? [Think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and focus on the very bottom of the pyramid.]

    2) Is the speech written in language *understandable* by someone who has *some* high school education?

    3) Does your speech mention countries the typical audience member can’t find on the map? [If it does, you’ve messed up and will lose the crowd once you get into “I’m going to do xxx with Yemen, while in Syria I’m going to do yyyy.” KISS: “We’ll be working with our friends in the Middle East to….”]

    4) Does the speech have a “take away” — something the bite-sized the audience will remember and discuss over the drive home? [This could be something said, something like, “Does it strike any of you strange that Republicans had over SEVEN YEARS to come up with a replacement healthcare plan but even after all that time couldn’t even come up with one that they THEMSELVES WOULD USE? Do you ask yourself why it’s good enough for you but not THEM?”. It could also be an action like you going into to the crowd to put your arm on the shoulder of a senior citizen who’s just told you and everyone that he’s now struggling to keep his home — and that his two youngest kids have moved back with him because they can’t find work.]

    5) If anger is a part of the speech, is it used well and in a way the crowd can relate to? [“I refuse – REFUSE – to adopt the other side’s use of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. I know many people – and I bet many of you here do – that are just one car accident or one cancer diagnosis away from disaster. The people who go through that aren’t LOSERS – they are unfortunate.”]

    6) Do you shy away from talking about your faith or ethics? [If so, you shouldn’t. Tell people how and why your morals influence what you do.]

    7) Did you just needlessly put your credibility at risk? [Don’t say “Not a single one of….” when instead you can say: “I saw in today’s newspaper that not a single….”.

    8) Did you use examples the audience can relate to? [If you want the recent TX laws on adoption repealed, don’t talk about its affects on gay couples but focus instead on how that law could allow a Catholic adoption agency to deny adoption to a Baptist or Methodist couple. Talk about how unfair that would be and use that as arguing for its repeal. It’s a better, safer, and more popular road towards gaining support.]

  7. lumpkin says:

    I should add that I don’t think Sanders should be in the progressive leadership either. He appeals to a certain group of leftists but if the larger public ever got to know him well he would have limited appeal and would be a huge drag on the Democratic party if he joined for other than the opportunistic reason he previously did and became a part of the party leadership.

    This may be viewed as trolling on my part but I think it’s laughable to believe that a socialist atheist old guy could possibly have won the election. His support was a mile wide and an inch deep. He would have been shredded in the general election.

  8. El Jefe and PKM: While I agree with most of what both of you said, I think there’s something that we all know and take for granted, to our detriment. The fossilization is merely thinking that the core beliefs of liberals have been proven by unimportant things like facts, figures and, you know, history and stuff. The fact that government programs that help the less fortunate and curb the power of corporations and the rich, is not just morally right, but actually benefit everyone (including the rich and corporations) has been well established for decades. And it’s easy to forget that a lot of folks’ belief is that selfishness is the American way. And they’re teaching their kids just as fast we’re teaching ours. The new normal? The new normal is that we’ve got to keep winning the same battles of ideas over and over again against opponents that have invested decades and fortunes into how to convince people that everyone not us is them.

  9. Chinton says:

    You mean younger like Bernie Sanders?

  10. Jane & PKM says:

    P.P all of what you said. And, since this is your lucky day I won’t rant on in agreement, but simply leave this graphic:

  11. maryelle says:

    The Democratic party stands for civil rights, inclusion, and help for our citizens who need it. We support strong public education, the right to excellent healthcare for all and opportunity for everyone to reach their full potential. Yes, we support factual decisions and taxes which are fair, especially to the lower and middle class.
    We are protective of our environment and the ability of humans to change the damage we have done to our climate. We are the good guys, so let’s celebrate that fact. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is leading the charge against the Republicans. We need to proclaim to the world that America needs to stand up for Democratic values: We are America.
    Our bottom line isn’t profit, it’s progress!

  12. RepubAnon says:

    As others have observed, the real problem is the campaign strategies pushed by the DNCC. It’s run by people who think that because “triangulation” worked in the 1990s that it’ll work today. (Sort of like French generals thought about the Maginot Line.)

    In the 1990s, people had forgotten about how the New Deal made their lives better – and were tired of paying taxes. Ronald Reagan rode in on his white horse and talked about how wonderful things would be if we cut taxes and increased military spending. A nation hypnotized by the Iran Hostage Crisis and resurgent Wall Street profits believed that that rising tide would lift their boats, too – and voted Republican.

    It’s a different world today – more and more people feel that their lives, and their childrens’ lives, are getting nastier, brutish, and shorter. Democrats need to take advantage of this with a clear message: Republican policies are destroying the middle class.

    Blaming Nancy Pelosi isn’t the answer – instead, let’s get rid of the DNCC’s campaign consultants with losing records. Anyone can lose one or two races – but the strategies pushed by the DNCC have produced a string of losses, and no wins. (I’ve always thought that the reason Obama beat Hillary for the nomination was that Hillary got all the top-flight Democratic campaign consultants.) I’d say let’s donate them to the Republican candidates.

    Plus, let’s have the DNCC pledge to split, say 75% of all donations equally among all the Democratic campaigns for House and Senate seats… and stay out of the primaries altogether.

  13. The Democrats need to make more use of Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan governor. Go to YouTube and search for her 2012 convention speech, then last year’s. She can really rouse the rabble, create enthusiasm. Gov. Granholm was born in Canada, unfortunately, but I think she could be very effective for the DNC.

  14. Sorry, sorry everyone to keep beating the same horse, but the best way I know to illustrate the concept I was talking about earlier is a conversation I had with my brother-in-law awhile back. Keep in mind that he’s a world class intellect with a seriously liberal upbringing. When I asked him what he thought about the movie “Crash” he said he wasn’t impressed because it didn’t say anything about racism that hadn’t been said before. I didn’t know how to respond at the time. Had to give a lot of thought as to why that bothered me so much. Finally I realized that it was such an important movie because so many people haven’t seen “Mississippi Burning” or so many other movies about racism. This is a constant battle being fought for the soul of our country. And the opposition is snickering at all the individual victories we get. Because they realize that they drown out our victories with the avalanche of bullsh*t they pump into our national narrative.

  15. “…the interests of workers, families, and the disadvantaged – they can’t articulate it. That was Hillary’s well documented problem…she couldn’t connect on that level.”

    Apparently you never read her website.

  16. Lunargent says:

    Okay, this is a really basic question, but it’s been bothering me lately. Why should Nancy Pelosi, or any other legislative leader, also need to be considered a party leader? I get that when the party’s in the majority, the Speaker of the House needs to shape legislation, marshal votes, etc. And as minority leader, she has do do the same thing, except of course she doesn’t get to craft legislation.

    But why should it also be her job to be the defining face of the party? To be somehow responsible for the overall message, platform, and all that grassroots outreach that everybody keeps saying that we lack? We have lots of other congresscritters that show up on the talk shows, and have lots more face and name recognition.The DNC, with all that money that they’re supposed to be using to rebuild and recruit. All those pricy consultants that we’re always kvetching about. Shouldn’t their performances come in for some criticism?

    I think that Pelosi has done an excellent job maintaining discipline and keeping the House members focused. Of course she’s a target; imagining that anyone else in the job would be any less of a target is naive. It would be nice if members of her own party would resist the urge to blame her for every failing we have as a body.

  17. Jane & PKM says:

    Lunargent, excellent question and the quick answer would be that Speaker Pelosi need not be the face of the party. What we are seeing here currently is evidence of a power vacuum at the top of the Democratic Party. The party has a substantial bench, but no leader has emerged to date.

    Debbo, Jennifer Granholm is magnificent. She can move to NV and become our governor any day. Our old Constitution does present a problem running Gov Granholm for certain offices like President or Senate. She’s been an American (former Canadian) since she was 3 and her record as a loyal citizen and public servant is impeccable. However, should she care to accept, she would perfect to run the 2018 elections for the Democratic Party. She’s good. She speaks extemporaneously with perfection.

    Keith Ellison is ok. But he can do more for us in the House than state to state campaigning. As for old what’s his name? Oh yeah, Tom Perez. Highly likely he’s a great guy too. Can’t state specifically what it is about Tom, but seriously he seems sort of ‘forgettable.’ Maybe it’s just me; I think I would like the guy, but I really cannot remember his name. So, FWIW, he’s not exactly what strikes me as leadership going into 2018, when he seems to have a little name recognition issue.