Is the Democratic Party Establishment Irrelevant?

In spite of the continuing series of atrocities known as the “Trump Administration,” the Democrats are failing to capitalize on what ought to be a sure-fire fundraising strategy — defeat Trump. The DNC is lagging far behind in fundraising, as usual.

Over the first six months of 2017, the Republican National Committee pulled in $75 million—nearly twice as much money as the Democratic National Committee, which raised $38 million. The predicament isn’t simply that there is a funding gap between the parties; it’s what kind of money they attract. Republicans have quietly taken a decisive edge over Democrats when it comes to small-dollar fundraising.

During that same six-month time span, the RNC raised $33 million in small contributions—money from people who donate $200 or less over an election cycle—while that same class of donors gave the DNC just $21 million.

See also Grassroots Democrats are more energized than ever — but DNC fundraising is a massive fail and The Democratic National Committee’s abysmal fundraising.

However, this seems primarily to be a DNC problem. People are giving lots of money to Democratic candidates.

At the state level, anti-Trump enthusiasm has certainly been made manifest. In a study released last month by the Brookings Institution, researchers found record numbers of Democratic candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives. No cycle has had anywhere near the number of aspiring candidates from one party in recent history. …

… Among party committees established to raise money for candidates, Democrats are ahead of their GOP rivals as well, although not by such a lopsided margin. According to Federal Election Commission data, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s fundraising apparatus for House candidates, has brought in slightly more money so far than its Republican equivalent. Ditto for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. ActBlue, a third-party fundraising site, raised $27.6 million in July, compared to $13.7 million in the same month in 2015, and $5.9 million in 2013. Jon Ossoff, the losing Democratic nominee in a recent Georgia special election, brought in a record-breaking $30 million all by himself.

Of course, Ossoff lost, and a lot of people grumbled that there were other special elections the Dems might have won if the DCCC had lavished half the resources and attention they gave to the safe, centist Ossoff. So that’s not necessarily a reassuring example.

But note that it says ActBlue raised $27.6 million in July. Compare and contrast:

The DNC raised just $3.8 million in July, compared to the $10.2 million raised by the RNC in the same month. While the GOP has no debt, the DNC added slightly to its debt in July, which now sits at $3.4 million.

ActBlue, of course, is a website that makes it easy for people to give money to particular candidates. So people really do care about Democratic candidates; they just don’t care about the DNC.

It doesn’t help that the DNC does stupid fundraising, such as sending out a mailer that looks like a bill, stamped “final notice.”

The DNC, taking a page from the dark mirror universe version of How To Do Politics, is sending out mail that looks nothing like student debt collectors shaking down graduates for their spare change. Surely, this will win the hearts of millennials.

At the same time, the DNC was emailing people complaining about Trump’s “empty promise” to build the wall. Um, DNC — we don’t want the wall.

I’ve long tuned out the DNC’s incessant promises to “fight” for me, since they don’t. I get multiple emails every week from them about how awful Trump is and how we have to elect Democrats to “fight back.” But sending money to the DNC seems about as stupid as burying it in the backyard with a bag of Miracle-Gro.

The real energy right now is with grassroots activists working outside the Democratic Party.

The Indivisible movement – which now counts more than 6,000 chapters nationwide – is the centerpiece of a robust new grassroots machinery that has arisen to confront the crisis of the Trump presidency. Rivaling anything accomplished by the Tea Party, the passionate activism of hundreds of thousands of progressives has already achieved the impossible in Washington, D.C. – overwhelming Republican control of Congress and the presidency to stymie the repeal of Obamacare.


Looking ahead, Democratic Party leaders are determined to ride this political uprising to victory in the House in 2018. But neither the DNC nor the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have shown the technological savvy or comfort with grassroots engagement to create a platform for this activism within the party itself. Indeed, for many of the activists on the ground, the current Democratic Party appears less a vehicle for change than an obstacle to it.

The Dems’ fundraising problem is being blamed on the rift between the establishment-Clinton wing of the party and the Sanders-activist voter base, and people are being called on to “unify.” But the establishment is still in charge of the Democratic Party itself, and they’ve demonstrated time and time again they don’t want to unify. They want the activists to shut up and be docile little ATM machines from which the DNC can extract money but otherwise ignore. Even so, the activists are working to elect Democrats, and some might be willing to work with the party establishment if the party establishment could be worked with. But it isn’t.

One would think their fundraising problem would be a flashing warning sign to the Dem establishment that, just maybe, they need to change. But I’m not holding my breath.

10 thoughts on “Is the Democratic Party Establishment Irrelevant?

  1. They phone me all the time from the DCCC, and I tell them when I start seeing them face down the Republican lies in public, I will start sending money. No money for DINOS. I have not made a dent in my stamp supply yet.

  2. When the DNC argued in court that they don’t owe anyone a fair primary process, they cut their throats with contributors. I think that includes a lot of people who supported HRC – but expected that she would uphold basic principles.

  3. “Democrats are failing to capitalize on what ought to be a sure-fire fundraising strategy — defeat Trump.”

    Democrats failing to capitalize on what ought to be a sure-fire thing. Isn’t that what they do?

    I don’t want to be too harsh because I am not a Democrat. I’m an Anti-Republican. Ever since Katrina. Katrina was a national projective test, which the Republicans failed. Bigly.

    Only once in my life have I seen the election of an American President celebrated, and celebrated enthusiastically, around the world. And the Democrats failed to capitalize on that. And now Trump is acting like the Chinese Emperor Wanli:

    Wanli’s “personal qualities made [his reign] an irreversibly disastrous one. . . .

    “Wanli would never appoint strong and capable men to high positions again. In fact as his reign progressed, he let many positions unfilled when their incumbents died or retired, crippling the government.

    “Wanli became more unpredictable and self-absorbed with time. . . .

    “He refused to read government reports and official memorials, leaving the state in chaos and upright officials in despair. He was moreover extravagant, spending lavishly on his palaces, clothes, entertainment. . . .”

    Sound familiar? 😉 It is a great gift to the Democrats, but will they accept it? Will they run with the opportunity?

  4. “So people really do care about Democratic candidates; they just don’t care about the DNC.” That describes me perfectly. Democratic fundraisers call me all the time. I used to give them money. Since the last election, I simply say I can’t talk to them now.

  5. Billikin,
    Nice catch!
    Thanks for the info.
    While getting angrier and stupider by the day – if not hour/minute/second – t-RUMPLE-THIN-sKKKin’s paper thin skin appears to be looking less and less vividly orange by the day – hour/minute/second – over the past 7 months.
    One might say he’s growing “Wanlier” as time goes on.
    (Ok, this “one” might say that, while your “one’s” MVV, and say something far pithier… I feel about as pithy ath I have ever felt in my whole life!).

  6. While thinking and voting like a Democrat, and ( occasionally) supporting the party through donations, I never went to meetings or got involved in the local, state, or national political machinery.
    The party seemed to stand for all of the same things I did, so I supported it – all while foolishly assuming that the party was pretty organized. I didn’t realize the timeless quality that Will Rogers’ joke/observation about “not being a member of any organized political party…” had to it.
    My personal involvement was limited to issues I felt passionately about – I’d list them, but you could probably figure that out from the 10+ trail of word-turds I’ve deposited here.
    I started off going to meetings, and then often got asked to help organize events/protests.

    Well, that all changed after Dumbaya and Dick (Of Death) were designated by the SCOTUS as the “adults” to be “back in charge” of the room – our once great and beloved USA, forever soiled by the close encounter with the CT frat boy/cheerleader with a down-home Texas drawl, and his “wet-work” loving keeper.
    I began to go to meetings of a local branch of the NC Democratic Party.
    I didn’t realize how much infighting went on, and how many petty political power plays there were behing the scenes.
    And then, after I suggested very early on that I thought the whole national party should seriously consider the new US Senator from IL – and not just Hillary Clinton – to be our Democratic Party nominee for POTUS, and got a lot of push-back and derision for suggesting that she might be anything but the most perfect candidate in like…. well… EVAH!, I decided to wait and see if Obama ran, and then if he opened a local HQ, where I could “double-dip” and help him, while still working with the state party.

    All it took was a few seconds in that HQ to notice the differences.
    Yes: O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E-D!!!
    And then, only a short time later, realizing that every volunteer had a task, and the directions for that task – both verbal and written – were simple and on-point.
    What a difference!
    I never went back to party meetings.
    Instead, I devoted my free time to helping the young folks running the Obama campaign to win Cumberland County, NC and the state, for him over Hillary.
    And then, “rinse-and-repeat” – only, harder and longer, to defeat John McSame and “The Whore of Babbin’-on” Palin.
    And we won!
    And Obama won Cumberland County, NC, AND the national election! A rare trio for the post CRA/VRA Democratic Party.
    Made even MORE delicious, since Obama was not an old white Democrat!

    The national Democratic Party never seemed to copy, or even adapt, what worked for Obams, and made him POTUS.
    Particularly since after becoming POTUS, he ran it.

    The dude was probably too busy trying to save what was left of America from the damage done to it by every single Republican since Ike.

  7. Ray Huang’s 1587, A Year of No Significance The Ming Dynasty in Decline is a great read for anyone wanting to understand more about how the Wanli Emperor and the Ming dynasty ended up where they did. Oddly enough, 1587 was the Year of the Pig, which fits our current circumstances quite well.

    As for the DNC, they’ve got no product to sell, but they keep telling us that we can’t do without them. Maybe Amazon can buy them and Jeff Bezos can find the courtiers and eunuchs work filling boxes with stuff people actually do want.

  8. Trump is the best weapon the democrats have, but they are so cowardly and stupid, besides a House race here or there, I don’t see them taking advantage to significantly win anything in 2018. And whoever the republicans run in 2020, whether its Trump, which I doubt, or any other republican, dems will lose. They’ll probably dust off Hillary again.

    Their “better deal” is absolutely ridiculous, and the leaders should be sued for malpractice if it were possible. Its the same old warmed over BS — heavy on deniability to donors or white voters, but transparent enough that its seen through as nothing that will address any problem significantly. And that’s by design. Their leaders are typically nonexistent, and when they do speak up they’re so bland and boring they couldn’t excite a child if their lives depended on it.

    The democratic party is becoming irrelevant because they fail at effectively communicating a stand on anything. Silence in the hope of not being noticed is a strategy they still think will allow them to win, even though it actually works as intended — they don’t get noticed. And its the same strategy they’ve used over the last eight years that’s been a loser. The only time they get any visibility is when Trump criticizes or blames them. They don’t have any leaders with the stature or heft that anyone pays any attention to.

  9. Pingback: How Both Major Parties Lost Control | The Mahablog

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