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.

The Democrats’ Real Problem

May 09, 2017 By: El Jefe Category: 2016 Election, 2020 Election

“A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy — twice the percentage that said the same about Trump.”

Greg Sargent, writing in the Washington Post, revealed results of polls and focus groups taken by Democratic pollsters since the election, and the above quote is the over-arching theme; many people who voted for Obama in 2012 switched to Trump in 2016 because they either believed Trump better represented their interests, or opposed Hillary as a candidate.  The studies found that over and over, it was clear that the Democrats have lost serious ground with working class whites.  I believe there are several reasons for this: First, working class wage growth has been stagnated since the Reagan years, virtually destroying the American dream of a home, a car, and higher education.  Second, the Republican noise machine has successfully targeted this group since the early 90’s, blaming Democrats and liberal policies for the working class’s woes.

What’s happened?  Well, for one, starting with Bill Clinton, the Democrats have allowed themselves to be dragged farther and farther to the right.  As staunch liberals died off, the new generation of Democrats, lead by Clinton, adopted more conservative policies including limiting welfare, don’t ask don’t tell, and DOMA.  He took one stab at healthcare reform with Hillary leading that effort which ended in failure.  For the rest of his White House days, he was embroiled in scandals, some manufactured but some stupidly self-inflicted.

During those years, the Democrats, rather than being staunch supporters of workers and US industry, tried to walk the fine lines between liberal-moderate-conservative to avoid being labeled by opponents, and stopped defending labor and the Working Joe as Republican policies to push industry and money offshore seriously damaged US workers.

The inexorable slide was slowed a little by the rise of Barack Obama and his populist/social justice agenda.  He spoke clearly to the working class, and they came to him by the millions. However, after he was elected, he was effectively stymied in many of his initiatives because of Great Recession as well as the weakness of the Dems and pervasive stonewalling by Repubs.  The only significant legislative legacy for Obama was the ACA, which is now threatened with repeal after the Dems were swept out of office in 2016.  Now they are thrashing around trying to make sense of the shocking loss in November.

The Democrats ignore these findings at their own peril.  The opportunity to make huge gains in 2018 and 2020 are there; all the Dems need do is grasp the message and policies that propelled the party to dominance for the 40 years begun by FDR.  They need to reclaim their legacy of being the party of the middle and working class.  Until they do that, they will continue to flounder.

It’s time to stop licking wounds.  It’s time to acknowledge the mistakes and poor leadership in recent years and get to work.