Democrats’ timidity & lack of a bold agenda dims 2018 blue wave hopes
Democrats’ released their new slogan, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future” which is completely uninspiring and cookie cutter. It says nothing either Republicans or Democrats alike have implied is their goal.
Democrats’ continue to fail to see that the country is looking for bold Progressive leadership and policies. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders proved that. It’s not hard to postulate that the intersection of Trump and Sanders’ voters who did not vote for Hillary, rank and file Democrats, Independents, and Progressive Republicans represent a winning coalition that supports a bold Progressive agenda.
A few weeks I wrote an article about Democrats spending too much time on Trump colluding with Russia and not enough on issues that directly affect Americans and another article about Democrats not fighting the health care battle smartly.
But the Democratic problem runs deeper. Miles Kampf-Lassin must-read In These Times article titled “The Democrats’ New Agenda Is Everything That’s Wrong With the Party” lays it out very well.
The story of the Democratic Party in 2017 has been one of timidity and stubborn resistance to real change. In the immediate aftermath of the party’s preferred candidate facing a humiliating defeat in last year’s presidential election, questions swirled over what direction the party would take to respond to the new political reality. With Democrats at their weakest position in decades, having lost over 1,000 seats in states and Congress over the previous eight years, it appeared that a drastic shift in how the party operated was in store.
And the party was offered an early opportunity to embark on such a shift, with the campaign by Keith Ellison for Democratic National Committee chair. Ellison sported a resume as a bold progressive with popular support from rank-and-file Democrats and party activists alike. And he presented a clear break with the Democratic Party’s traditional establishment.
But rather than embrace the new direction presented by Ellison’s bid, party insiders conspired to instead elect Tom Perez, a candidate with much stronger connections to the party’s establishment wing. The result came as a dispiriting blow to many in the party’s base who hoped for a clear break in Democratic leadership.
In the ensuing months, the Democrats have turned to neoliberal architects such as Rahm Emanuel for advice, invested a historic amount of funding in centrist Jon Ossoff’s failed congressional campaign in Georgia and returned to the strategy of recruiting moderate “Blue Dogs” to run in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
And this week, the Democratic Party announced its new slogan and platform: “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future.” Besides its possible plagiarism from Papa John’s tagline, the plan includes a repackaging of a number of longtime Democratic ideas, with some potential progressive offerings sprinkled in. But much like a pizza from Papa John’s, “A Better Deal” mostly amounts to an uninspired, stale and cheesy agglomeration stuffed neatly into a box.
The article is not an attack on the Democratic establishment but an urging that the party boldly support issues that affect all Americans without fear. The author further writes the following.
There’s no shortage of ambitious programs waiting for the Democrats to embrace. The party could pledge to break up big banks, offer free public college, tax the wealthy and financial transactions, provide a universal basic income and fight for universal collective bargaining rights. Add these ideas to single-payer healthcare, a federal jobs guarantee and sweeping climate action and you have the makings of the kind of bold economic agenda that Schumer claims is key to the party reclaiming its mantel as an unabashed advocate for the working class.
Such an agenda would require the Democrats to shed their timidity and prove that they are not beholden to corporate interests. And it would certainly mean providing more than a shiny, poll-tested new messaging campaign.
If Democrats are worried about the efficacy of adopting a broad-left platform in 2017, all they need to do is peer across the pond. Labour was able to score stunning advances in Britain’s June election running on the most left-wing platform the party had put forward in more than three decades. The manifesto that leaked before the election called for nationalizing utilities such as water, rail and electricity, eliminating tuition fees, instituting free childcare, expanding public housing, taxing the wealthy and corporations and transitioning to 60 percent low-carbon fuels by 2030.
Rather than sabotaging the party’s chances, the manifesto was hugely popular and was credited in boosting Labour’s late rise in the polls, leading to the shock outcome with Jeremy Corbyn and the party making huge gains and threatening Theresa May’s Conservative government.
It is time for Democrats to deliver what the Democratic Party Platform articulates. I pointed that out in my article “The Democratic Party needs to up its game for the 21st Century” which will be on the front page of the DailyKos, the largest Progressive site in the country, shortly. I pointed out that Democrats needed to up their fast response game. They need to use new technologies in real time to get their message across. I then wrote the following.
The Democratic Party is currently more reactive than proactive. It is more on defensive than on offense. Even the new Democratic slogan lacks the urgency needed for a party unable to win even though most Americans support the values and policies within its Democratic Platform.
The current leadership of the Democratic Party did a great job in 2006. The Party, mostly led by then Senator Barack Obama, took it a step further in 2008. Unfortunately, the party did not continue to build on those successes. There are many reasons why, some cynical, some based on the lack of new blood entering leadership.
The Democratic Party still has time to right the ship. The Republicans are giving them ample opportunities to rebuild, their decimated state and federal benches. It is time for the Democratic Party to invest in new technologies and to learn how to use the new social media paradigm effectively. Grassroots Democrats are answering the call throughout the country. However, it is imperative that the old guard does not become a hindrance to moving forward. It is time for Democrats to reach beyond the base to form a coalition that can govern. The Democratic Party needs to up its game for the 21st Century.
Progressive Democrats need to take the reigns of their party and bring it into the 21st Century. It is time for them to take control to start winning again so they can effect policies to move poor, working-class, and middle-class America forward.
Originally published at EgbertoWillies.com.