In the aftermath of the Democrats losing a Presidential election that shouldn’t have been lost (though there were a variety of reasons including Russia’s and the FBI’s manipulation of our democracy, a complicated and flawed candidate and the desire by some to vote blindly for “change”), the takeaway for a majority of Democratic politicians is, “Let’s try it all again!”
As the cliche goes, the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s also been the practice of Democratic Party establishment, on and off for many years.
Under the stewardship of the corporate-friendly, moderate-to-conservative Democratic Party leadership in the last eight years, Democrats have lost control of many state legislatures and governorships, The House, The Senate and now The Presidency.
Tim Kaine was head of the DNC when Republicans took many statehouses away from the Democrats as well as taking over The House of Representatives and his punishment for that failure was to be nominated as Vice President this year. As the subsequent DNC Chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz oversaw the loss of more statehouses, more seats in The House, the loss of The Senate and the loss of the Presidency. The price she paid was receiving absolute support and praise in her continued leadership even as she unfairly skewed the primary to favor Hillary Clinton (only having to step down after Wikileaks exposed emails showing DNC favoritism for Hillary).
Since the election, the Democratic Establishment has been echoing the sentiment that they realize they might have been a little out of touch with American workers in this election and their solution is to keep all the emperors in place and promise that they’ll definitely wear new clothes. Or that their old clothes may come back in fashion so just trust them to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
President Obama was an anomaly in Democratic Party leadership. In 2008, most of the Democratic Establishment was uniformly aligned behind Hillary Clinton winning their primary and using super delegates and insider advantages, they tried to take the uncertainty out of that proposition. Despite enormous odds and against the Democratic Party Establishment’s wishes and efforts, Barack Obama barely beat out the Democratic Party establishment’s pre-chosen nominee, winning the primary and the presidency for two terms.
Barack Obama is a uniquely gifted and brilliant man. Politically, one might describe him as a Progressive/Centrist, Progressive on most social issues and centrist in foreign affairs and economic issues. He did stand out from the Democratic Establishment, he isn’t a conservative or one of them but he wasn’t an adversary either. His success in elections seemed to be despite the Democratic Establishment instead of because of it.
Last week, the House Democrats elected the new minority leader…which is the old minority leader, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi has accomplished a great deal in The House as a leader, especially during Obama’s first term. There was meaningful support for her challenger for Minority Leader, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, but in the end, the message to the electorate is that a majority of Democrat politicians simply don’t want change…even when the current status quo is losing.
Longtime New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Wall Street/Corporate Dem has replaced the outgoing Nevada Senator Harry Reid as Senate Minority leader…which is no surprise because he had already been anointed to take that role since Reid announced his retirement last year.
Democratic Presidential candidate from 2004 and ex-Chairman of the DNC, Howard Dean, is being talked up by the Dem Estab to return as Chairman of the DNC while the Dem Estab has been on a whisper and stealth campaign to undermine Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison’s attempt to fill that position.
Floating around in the media this week is “excited” speculation that Vice President Joe Biden may run for the Presidency in 2020. I like Biden but he would be 78 in 2020 and the prospect of two terms would have him in his last year as President at 86.
Again, here’s the leadership of the Democratic Party as executed and envisioned by the establishment in a party whose favored politicians and leaders just lost another critical election:
- Nancy Pelosi (76 years old)
- Chuck Schumer (66 years old)
- Howard Dean (68 years old)
- Joe Biden (74 years old)
President Obama (only 55 years old) won the Presidency based on “Hope and Change”. Trump may have won the election primarily on voters’ desire for change. And yet the Democratic Party’s leadership has affirmed that it is opposed to change. How is that a recipe for future victory? Don’t we need to elevate up and coming Dems to leadership positions, who could energize voters, to keep the party strong?
Re-nominating and re-electing the established Democratic politicians for leadership who have been around for a very long time, been in leadership while the Dems keep losing power and are seen by many voters as being part of the old system that is failing them is indeed doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
While it may not be fair to blame these Dem Estab leaders for the failures of the system (since Republican stonewalling has much more to do with it), perceptions matter. By responding to a rejection of the Dem Estab in this year’s election with a doubling down on it, the Dem Estab not only risks losing support and/or enthusiasm from independents but from within the party as well.
What’s so absurd is that the party of Progressives is the one that has an old, cemented-in leadership while the party of Conservatives has some younger leaders and (way) outside the establishment politicians.
There are major battles ahead with Trump and the GOP on a wide range of crucial issues. Dems need to be energized and rallied to fight against the intended oppression of minorities, the working class, women and our democracy itself. Despite the best of intentions, it is hard to imagine this same Dem Estab leadership, that failed to enthuse a sufficient amount of Americans to support their winning The Senate or Presidency this year, as the ideal ones to lead Democrats to new successes in the battles ahead.
It does seem to be time to pass the torch to new Democratic leadership and for the entrenched Dem Estab to recognize that the longer they delay it, the more damage they are allowing to be done to their own party, their legacies and the country as a whole.