Lean Left, but Don’t Tip

Image via Pete Buttigieg official Twitter account
“Sometimes the task of the government is to make incremental improvements or try to steer the Ocean liner two degrees North or South so that 10 years from now, we’re in a very different place than we were. But, at the moment people may feel like we need a 50-degree turn. We don’t need a two degree turn. You say ‘well, if I turn 50 degrees, the whole ship turns. And you can’t turn 50 degrees.” — Barack Obama

After putting together the only performance in 2016 less inspiring than Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle, the Democratic Party is in dire need of a reality check.

The election for DNC Chair is Saturday, which gives 447 party faithful their first tangible opportunity to kick the party’s ass into greener pastures. Before the vote, though, they need to consider what they actually plan on doing if given the chance to take back Congress and eventually the White House.

First and foremost, does the party plan on making a real attempt at governing given the opportunity, or is the goal as simple as reincarnating the overtly obstructionist Tea Party movement with a new leftward tilt? Tilt probably isn’t even strong enough of a word for either movement. The degree to which both have pulled their parties in their respective directions arguably warrants a description more along the lines of perversion.

Calls for free college and an immediate doubling of the federal minimum wage are theoretical knockouts, but you can put it on paper now — the Democratic Party will not win back the White House in 2020. Such a strategy is destined to end with yet another embarrassing loss to the only man that handles public relations worse than James Dolan, and there’s no coming back from that.

It’s a predicament that’s been brewing within the Democratic Party since losing Congress in 2010, but it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal quite literally split the party, prompting the liberal offshoot Progressive Party in 1948.

Now little is comparable in American culture between 2017 and 1948 (tell Donald Trump and company), but one thing has remained consistent. Middle America still hates anything and everything that even remotely resembles a commie. If it talks like a commie, they’ll hate it. If it moves like commie, they’ll hate it. If it looks like a commie, they might laugh first, but they’ll hate it all the same. The God honest truth is you’re not going to make headway into gerrymandered Republican strongholds by running democratic socialists in every county across corn country. It’s just not going to happen — probably ever.

The influx of popular protests from the left in recent months has led many to suggest the DNC should mold the party into a figure fit for the collectors vaults of Bernie Bros everywhere. It’s a tempting proposition for a Democratic establishment reeling from a primary controversy and general election flop. Energy is energy after all, and what better way to harness it than by giving it power.

I don’t mean to detract from the movements sweeping the nation since the Women’s March (as I see them as inexpressibly important), but that doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party has to keel over and accept the mutiny with open arms.

The inclusion of the voices that have gained prominence and invigorated the base on the left recently is imperative to the party’s success over the long-term, but allowing the fringes of the party to run the entire establishment puts the party and subsequently the country in a perpetual tug-of-war — as we’re seeing with ACA. And like any tug-of-war, somebody invariably ends up in the mud pit. It just so happens that half the country ends up in the mud pit in this particular situation, and that’s not good for anyone (I’m not talking about some New Age exfoliate, rinse, repeat mud bath bullshit, here).

We all remember what happened to the MLB’s popularity through the mid-’90s after it experienced 4 strikes in just over a single decade. Democrats need a definitive identity based off an agenda with some level of bipartisan support to sell to Americans, so as to prevent such an outcome.

To be clear, you should still show up at every airport protest, town hall, and march possible. Because let’s face it, it’s not realistic for the party to tell Paul Ryan, for instance, to get his cowardice mug out of the back pocket of the President and into a town hall in his home state, but you sure as hell can make a craigslist post to that effect.

It seems abundantly clear, then. If there were ever a time to revert back to a fifty-state strategy, it’s now. That doesn’t mean the party wins fifty states in 2020. But it means that the party embarks on a clearly needed battle for hearts and minds, one which isn’t perceived as just another vote-seeking fishing trip.

Luckily enough for Democrats, there is a perfectly capable candidate for DNC chair in the backyard of the party’s problem area and would put the party back on the necessary path. Pete Buttigieg is the 35-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and he is the underdog the Democratic Party needs.

A gay man in the land of Pence, Buttigieg is a Harvard grad and Rhodes Scholar. He has taken a city that could have come straight out of one of Trump’s dystopian diatribes and brought it back to life, undertaking ambitious infrastructure projects and new industries along the way.

If it seems at all odd for a DNC chairman to come out of Indiana, keep in mind that South Bend is basically in Michigan.

Speaking to CBS News about Democrats’ shortfalls in the general election Buttigieg said, “Never mind the show. Never mind the characters. Never mind the noise. I want to know what’s happening around the kitchen table…We were talking about the politicians themselves. And that’s where we run the risk of losing touch.”

If the man still isn’t striking the right tone for you, just know he was the only candidate for the position that made an appearance at any of the Women’s March’s across the nation, and he served as an officer in the Navy. I’m not sure you could ask for a more perfect liberal. A young Josiah Bartlett would even have trouble measuring up.

Buttigieg currently has the support of major names like former Vermont Governor Howard Dean and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

The two mainstream candidates are former Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. But if this past election taught us anything, it’s that mainstream isn’t winning.

More importantly, Buttigieg would provide an inspiring face and an inclusionary ideology for the Democratic Party to build from as it looks forward to the next midterm season and beyond.