Why the Democrats Will Not Take Back Congress Next Year

As badly as Republicans are screwing up, expect them to maintain control of Congress next year. Because the Democrats can’t lead an opposition out of a wet paper bag.

Ed O’Keefe and Dave Weigel write in WaPo:

Completely sapped of power in Washington, top leaders of the Democratic Party now believe that the best way to fight a president who penned “The Art of the Deal” is with an economic agenda that they plan to call “A Better Deal.” …

…Democratic leaders shared few details to preserve suspense around the plan, which is scheduled to be unveiled Monday at an event in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, where the party hopes to defeat incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R). But some lawmakers, aides and outside advocates consulted on the new agenda said that it is expected to focus on new proposals to fund job-training programs, renegotiate trade deals and address soaring prescription-drug costs, as well as other issues. It is also expected to endorse long-held Democratic principles, including “a living wage” of $15 per hour and already unveiled spending plans for infrastructure that would expand broadband Internet access into rural counties.

In other words, instead of a vision for the future, Dems are once against trotting out a laundry list of programs that most voters will never hear about anyway. It’s not bad, but it’s not enough; more blah blah blah. And note no mention of health care.

How did they come up with this tepid gruel? Dana Milbank provides a clue:

As important as what’s in it is what’s not. Democrats jettisoned social and foreign policy issues for this exercise, eschewing the identity politics and box-checking that has plagued Democratic campaigns in the past, most recently Hillary Clinton’s. This will be purely an economic message.

They also resisted invitations to steer the party toward the center (as pollster Mark Penn advised) or in a more progressive agenda. This is meant to be a populist manifesto that doesn’t conform to the left/right debate but instead aims to align Democrats with ordinary, middle-class Americans fighting powerful special interests.

I think they forgot the “manifesto” part. The Democratic Party is like your unhip parents trying to be cool, and failing.

And then there’s this:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also told the newspaper that Democrats are not looking for a “course correction,” but rather a “presentation correction.”

Sweetums, you need the course correction. Trust me.

Benjamin Hart writes at New York Magazine:

To quote Jeb Bush: please clap.

If this rather anodyne phrasing sounds familiar, it’s because it recalls two successful slogans of presidents past: Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal,” back in 1910, and, of course, FDR’s “New Deal,” which he rolled out to great effect in 1932. (You’d think there might have been advances in political branding technology in the intervening 85 years. You’d be wrong.) It also may work as a foil to the supposed “dealmaker in chief” who currently occupies the White House.

Both of the Roosevelts focused with laser-like precision on economic security for Americans, and today’s Democrats are attempting to follow suit.

I wrote yesterday in despair of Democrats’ seizing the opportunity on health care that the GOP has handed them. Yep; they’re going to blow it.

10 thoughts on “Why the Democrats Will Not Take Back Congress Next Year

  1. If they cannot face the fact that negative campiagning is highly effective and beat Trump and the Republicans with facts that show the negatives of the current mess, they are just plain damn hopeless. The failure to make some appearances calling out the corrution and failures is inexplicable to me. That Carrier air conditioning plant that Trump “saved” but is now closing should be the background for some red meat lambasting succinct speechifying. There needs to be a Democrat focusing on a few lies exclusively. There needs to be some effective sound bite communication. It works. It is not deep policy discussion, but who read HRC’s website with all the deep explanations? And forget converting Republicans. There are swing voters, but the Dem base itself is not excited.
    Now I gotta go check to make sure I have had my blood pressure pill.

  2. Joining an org like Represent.us seems the only way. Until then, establishment Dems will only listen to the money.

  3. Bill – with all respect, what you suggested the democrats do (go negative with the failures of the GOP) is exactly what the democrats will do. And it’s exactly how the democrats will fail. The democrats need a vision for the people. They can’t do that while they are in service to Wall Street, big pharma, and the medical industry giants.

    Going negative is what HRC did – her success at raising big money was her downfall, because everyone could see the strings attached to that support. Trump claimed to be so effin’ rich he didn’t need to practice politics for the rich – and he’s been more in service to big money than HRC would have been.

    Going negative isn’t the answer. The faults of the GOP will not deliver seats. The democrats have to quit their addiction to money – they have to do it cold turkey – and they have to do it now. And they won’t.

  4. The biggest problem Democrats face – no matter how good the ideas, or the messsging – is that they continue to find it difficult to get through to people, because of the conservatives very effective propaganda Wurlitzer:
    -(DUMB)FUX “news”
    -Reich-wing talk radio (yes, ratings are down, and advertisers continue to pull out – but like the monster in a horror movie, Rush, Sean, etc., refuse to scream “UNCLE,” and continue to broadcast)
    -“Think tanks”

    They have belittling and mocking Democrats/liberals/progressives, down to a fine art.

    Until we can find away to either beat them at their own game, or somehow minimize the decibal level, people don’t ever get unfiltered info on their ideas and progams.

    Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if the messaging were shorter, quicker, and more memorable!

    Start with telling people that the “Death Panels” the Republicans were screaming about as PPACA was being shaped and passed, is what tRumpDon’tCare is all about!
    Use their own words against them.

  5. I’ve been waiting for someone to say death panel, because this time it really is a decision to screw the recipients of Medicaid, the most economically and medically vulnerable as it is the insurer of last and only resort. Attack but judiciously
    Indivisible groups , represent us , the y need to get out of Washington and get with the dissenters at ground level.

  6. We know how to stop the right wing Wurlitzer. Put the Fairness Doctrine back in place. It worked in the past. It would still work.

  7. They also resisted invitations to steer the party toward the center (as pollster Mark Penn advised) or in a more progressive agenda.

    I don’t know what this sentence (or the rest of the paragraph) means. I mean, it looks tantalizingly like English, but it doesn’t really make sense. “[I]n a more progressive agenda”??? Anyway, the center is well to the left of where the Clinton wing is now, which was the conscious intention of the DLC when it was formed in 1985. I think a big reason Bernie lost the primary is because he started too late. Probably he had no choice, but the result was that when he started he had almost no name recognition and his campaign workers didn’t understand the mechanics of getting on the ballot and how the nominating process worked in all the states. They were learning fast, and Bernie was doing better in each state until it got right down to where there weren’t enough delegates available from primaries to overcome the “superdelegates.” Anyway, the fact that Bernie is not the most popular politician in America while Hillary’s approval rating is lower than Trump’s should suggest that a more progressive agenda is more likely to win. I rather expect them to lose even more seats in 2018, despite the historical experience that the President’s party loses seats in the midterms.

  8. Dems message for 2018 should be about fixing health care and infrastructure jobs. Fixing health care — restore the promise of the ACA of affordable health care and go from there and fix the gaps. Create an infrastructure plan that will bring “good paying jobs” generally but specifically as a solution to all those lost coal jobs.

    That’s the big message they should run on, but by no means should they abdicate criticism of the GOP. Tie Trump around their necks, not as a bug but as a feature of what the GOP stands for.

    Also, other than the Clintons, I can’t think of any worse faces they could have to kick this off than Pelosi and Schumer. There are a lot of “fresh faces” in the party who represent well that are never heard from. Now’s the time to put them out front.

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