You should read Time’s latest cover story by Phil Elliott …and my email on the DNC’s terrible FEC #s they posted late last night.
How bad things have gotten: “Now, eight months into the Trump presidency, the party looks to face its toughest odds since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984. The Democrats are in their deepest congressional rut since the class of 1946 was elected, and hold the fewest governors’ mansions–15–since 1922. Of the 98 partisan legislatures in the U.S., Republicans control 67. During Barack Obama’s presidency, Democrats lost 970 seats in state legislatures, leaving the party’s bench almost bare. The median age of their congressional leadership is 67, and many of the obvious early presidential front runners will be in their 70s by the 2020 election. … 28% of House Democrats hail from states that don't touch the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, down from 37% in 2007.”
Video: Morning Joe Panel Asks,
What’s Wrong With The Democratic Party?
Divided Democratic Party Debates Its Future as 2020 Looms
September 21, 2017 - 7:06 AM
…On the surface, the Democratic Party has been united and energized by its shared disgust for Trump. But dig an inch deeper and it's clear that the party is divided, split on issues including free trade, health care, foreign affairs and Wall Street. They even disagree over the political wisdom of doing deals with Trump.
Every party cast out of power endures a period of soul-searching. But the Democrats' dilemma was unimaginable even a year ago, when Clinton seemed to be coasting toward the White House and demographic change fueled dreams of a permanent national majority. Now, eight months into the Trump presidency, the party looks to face its toughest odds since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984.
The Democrats are in their deepest congressional rut since the class of 1946 was elected, and hold the fewest governors' mansions--15--since 1922. Of the 98 partisan legislatures in the U.S., Republicans control 67. During Barack Obama's presidency, Democrats lost 970 seats in state legislatures, leaving the party's bench almost bare. The median age of their congressional leadership is 67, and many of the obvious early presidential front runners will be in their 70s by the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, there's still no sign the Democrats have learned the lessons of the last one. "I've tried to learn from my own mistakes. There are plenty," Clinton writes in her campaign memoir What Happened. The book, released on Sept. 12, casts blame on Russia, the FBI and the candidate herself, but never quite finds a satisfying answer to the titular question. Even if it did, these days the party seems to prize ideological purity over Clintonian pragmatism. "There is no confusion about what we Democrats are against. The only disagreement," says strategist Neil Sroka, "is what we're for."
Which leaves the party confronting a puzzle. The momentum may be on the left, but picking up the 24 seats required to retake the House, and the three states needed for control of the Senate, will mean luring back blue collar workers in places like Ryan's Mahoning Valley district, where the steel plants are shells of their former selves, small businesses are boarded up and payday lenders seem to be on every corner.
This used to be a Democratic stronghold, but Trump won three of the five counties in Ryan's district. If Democrats don't refine their pitch to alienated white voters, Trump could win re-election with ease. "The resistance can only be part of it," Ryan says. "We have to be on the offense too."
When Schumer dared to back a handful of Trump's Cabinet picks earlier this year, activists protested outside his Brooklyn apartment, hoisting signs with slogans like Grow a spine, Chuck. In her San Francisco district on Sept. 18, Pelosi was shouted down by activists who were angry that her proposed immigration deal with Trump did not cover more people.
A group of prominent liberal Democrats, including some 2020 hopefuls, are pushing a national single-payer health care plan--even though its strongest backers acknowledge that it has zero chance of becoming law in this Republican-controlled Congress. Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois threatened on Sept. 8 that Democrats may shut down the government in December if Congress doesn't provide a pathway for undocumented immigrants to become citizens.
"Running on progressive values," strategist Adam Green told a candidates' training session in Washington this summer, "is how Democrats will win."
History counters this, at least at the presidential level. The most progressive nominees in recent memory--Michael Dukakis in 1988, Walter Mondale in 1984 and George McGovern in 1972--all suffered landslide defeats. But this liberal vision is most popular among the younger ranks of Democrats. A survey in July of young voters likely to participate in primaries spells out where the Democrats are headed: 43% of 18-to-29-year-olds said they were more liberal than the party, while 20% described the party as "conservative."
Efforts to mend the rifts of the 2016 election have fallen flat. Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) launched a national tour with Sanders and newly minted party chairman Tom Perez, who was elected in February. Things didn't go well. When Sanders thanked Perez at rallies, his so-called Bernie bros heckled the new chairman. The attempt at unity was a footnote within a month.
"The current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure," declared Sanders, who plans to seek a third term in the Senate next year as an independent.
Activists aligned with Sanders are working to mount primary challenges against centrist Democrats. Our Revolution, a group that rose from the ashes of Sanders' presidential campaign, led a protest in August outside the DNC, demanding a more liberal platform. Party staffers tried handing out snacks and bottles of water, but the hospitality did little to defuse the tension.
"They tried to seduce us with doughnuts," said former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, a protest organizer.
No one waits on the horizon to broker a peace. The DNC has been hollowed out, first by Obama's neglect and then by a Clinton campaign that raided its talent. Now it is trying to play catch-up, sending $10,000 a month to each state party to help add bodies and channel activists' energy into permanent organizations.
But the party is still $3.5 million in the red, and Republicans are outraising it by a margin of roughly 2 to 1. Meanwhile, Perez is serving as a visiting fellow at Brown University, where he teaches a course called Governance and Leadership in Challenging Times.
… Today only 28% of House Democrats hail from states that don't touch the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, down from 37% in 2007. The survivors have tried to distance themselves from the party's leftward drift.
"When I'm back home, I'm not talking party issues," says Representative Ron Kind, an 11-term Democrat from La Crosse, Wis., whose Capitol Hill office features pictures of him hunting. "I'm not on the stump bashing Republicans."
Some say another problem is Pelosi. The first female House speaker and a legendary vote wrangler, she was widely, if wrongly, blamed for a series of special-election defeats in the spring, even though Democrats fared far better than usual in places like Kansas and Georgia. A special election in June became less about the candidates than about the specter of Pelosi, whom Republicans cast as a puppet mistress for the Democratic nominee.
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