It is one of the biggest refrains of Democratic complains about Republicans during the era of Trump; obstruction works! Republicans tried to block everything he did, never brought ideas to the table and were rewarded at the ballot box. Twice! Why can’t we do the same?
Well, I can think of a few reasons why. Obama’s agenda was politically toxic, he pursued an agenda unrelated to the major issue of the time (the economy) and he ignored any ideas Republicans threw out. He also ignored the political makeup of his Congressional coalition as he sought to ram healthcare down Americans throats. The result has been a loss of over 1,000 legislative seats, dozens of Congressional seats and 12 Senate seats. The party’s bench in many states has been decimated to the point they are running political neophytes in the majority of swing states and districts held by Republican incumbents next year.
Democrats, with Trump now in the White House, believe they can harness the power of the “Resistance” and the “Rising American Electorate” by adopting the GOP strategy of the last eight years. One problem. While Trump might be personally unpopular and the GOP’s health care plan is not viewed favorably (though topline poll numbers do not tell the whole story), Trump’s agenda is not.
Just look at Trump’s travel ban. Last week, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found 60 percent of voters approved of Trump’s plan. A solid majority, 56 percent, of Independents, and even 41 percent of Democrats agreed with the plan.
Maybe this is because Democrats lack ideas on how to deal with the threat. For example, when we have witnessed terrorist attacks, whether here at home, or witnessed them abroad, the refrain from the Left is we cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized. Comforting. But hardly a solution. Likewise, Bernie Sanders blaming terrorism on global warming hardly offers s solution to Americans who do not want to be killed.
You could argue the ban was crafted sloppily. You’d be right. The original rollout was terrible. The revised ban even had notable flaws though its rollout was much, much smoother. Yet, compared to arguments global warming causes terrorism it at least seems realistic.
The same dynamic is playing out on immigration. Building a “big, beautiful wall,” is largely impractical. But, that said, at least it brings attention to a major problem for border states and towns.
Democrats, on the other hand, talk a lot about compassion and the need to be accepting and progressive. I can even agree with that sentiment. But, those are not ideas. They are feelings. They do nothing to address the fact states have to spend billions on healthcare to educate and provide healthcare for these individuals. Every nation on Earth defends its borders. Why can’t we?
Part of the problem is Democrats know that espousing such a view is an electoral death-knell. Democrats can’t say they don’t want to enforce immigration laws but they communicate it subtly through inaction. This wins them an election every now and again but made their grasp on the White House incredibly fragile as Trump showed.
On healthcare and trade Democrats spend an inordinate amount of time calling out Republicans for wanting people to “die” but refusing to make changes to the ACA. Democrats commonly lash out at big business and banks for having an unfair advantage but then solicit millions in donations and continue to give them favorable conditions through laws and trade agreements to the detriment of Joe and Jane.
It’s common for the party out of power to wander in the wilderness and try to find an appealing new message. But, the party is increasingly split between big government, populists and identity politick progressives that are pulling the party in different directions.
In this light it is easy to see why party elders (largely part of the identity politick cult) have made the party’s core message “We are not Trump.” That is fine and all but it does nothing to craft an appealing message, address the issues of the economy, terrorism, or health care, and puts the party at a disadvantage in understanding why the party is so locked out of power.
It’s interesting that when Democrats had a chance to recognize Trump’s appealing message last week they went in the opposite direction. Speaking in Poland last week, Trump defended Western values and liberals went nuts. The New York Times and Washington Post both put out articles calling it insensitive and tone-deaf. Not to be outdone, Vox called it racist.
The Democratic message of today is one of pure opposition. But the assumption the GOP ran on nothing in 2010 and 2014 is a farce. Republicans ran on policies of deregulation and lower taxes. They ran on limiting abortion and slowing destabilizing cultural change.
Democrats are not running on anything similar. They’re essentially coddling the “resistance” to stay angry at everything Trump does. This makes the party’s poll numbers look good but they also looked good in 2016. We know how that turned out.
Democrats need to do more than posturing and virtue signaling. They actually need to put out some policy ideas. Better yet, simply signaling they sympathize and understand the problems of Americans outside urban and suburban oases on the coasts would be a good start.
According to a Hill report, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled its latest proposed bumper stickers for the midterm. One that was widely mocked read, “Democrats 2018: I mean, have you seen the other guys?”
Yes, apparently voters have. They seem to like them considering how utterly irrelevant the party is in dozens of states across the country. In states dominated by Democrats, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois and Oregon, to name a few, legislators have so paid off political interests (read: public unions) they are facing daunting billion dollar pension crises. If Illinois and Oregon are any indication, Democrats don’t have the will or knowledge to address these issues. Funny, how in the state I live in (Idaho), dominated by Republicans, has one of the healthiest pension systems in the nation (PERSI).
Democrats seem to think outright opposition, laughing at Trump and stoking their base will be enough to win big next November. Maybe so. But, right now, even soft Republicans and reluctant Trump backers are sticking with him (see Kansas, Montana, South Carolina and Georgia’s special election results). Additionally, when Trump’s policies poll well because Democrats lack one voters might be saying, yet again, they are willing to support the party and the guy willing to confront the issues they face everyday.