A glance at the past / a hard look at the future
Why so many Democratic losses?
During President Obama’s two terms Democrats suffered a net loss of 1,042 state and federal seats. That included congressional, state legislative, governorships, and the presidency. The following, in my view, are the top three reasons for those losses, with the last bullet being most applicable to the ’16 General Election.
- We failed to prepare: The DNC leadership failed to focus on State and Local races allowing GOP gains to be exacerbated by aggressive gerrymandering. They failed to create and develop a bench of talent, allowing the Party Leadership to shrink in number and grow in age.
- We lost the debate: We usually controlled the agenda but often failed to control the narrative. Even President Obama acknowledged that he was much better at passing legislation than selling it to the American People. While we were busy keeping the Bush economy afloat, we failed to acknowledge and help those hurt the most. Without the restraints of truth and ethics the GOP seized on the resulting anger and beat us like drum. The biggest failure of all was the failure to educate the public on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Instead we surrendered to, (and unsuccessfully mocked), the GOP’s effective narrative of “Repeal and Replace.”
- We failed to unite: Bernie Sanders energized many with his socialist view, surprising the establishment and polarizing the Party. Hillary Clinton was forced to move so far left to earn the nomination she lost credibility with Centrist Democrats and Liberal Leaning Independents. Super Delegates made Hillary’s ultimate nomination appear “rigged” by many in both Parties. While polls indicated that Sanders’ voters were rallying around Clinton just before the General Election, hard feelings and expectations of an easy victory over Trump stifled turnout. The rest, regrettably, is history.
How does Russia factor in all of this?
Do I believe Russia impacted the race for the White House? Yes, absolutely. Was that impact the deciding factor? We may never know. Does Russia’s involvement mean we shouldn’t learn from our mistakes? I sure hope not, or we are destined to repeat them!
How does the Democratic Party achieve lasting success in the future?
- Lead with Integrity: Partisan extremes aside, the vast majority of Americans are starving for truth, honesty, and ethics. Our Party should set very specific policies and expectations for Democrats elected to office and then communicate and enforce those standards aggressively. When mistakes are made, admit them openly. When those mistakes should result in disciplinary actions, appropriate and timely actions must be taken. In order to earn the trust of the American People we must be worthy of it.
- Effective Organization: We must establish a seamless organization that moves effectively between being in and out of control of the White House. DNC leadership positions should be prominent and used as training and development for the Presidency. Until we see Senators and Representatives leaving their seats to run against former Governors and other hopefuls to fill the role of DNC Chair and Vice-Chair, we still have work to do.
- Focus on the Basics: Prioritize and focus on the issues creating the most worry among the majority of Americans. It sounds simple because it is.
Most Americans worry about:
- Freedoms and Civil Liberties – Equally for all without exception
- Safety and Security – A safe place to live and raise a family without fear or hazard
- Good Health – Access to good healthcare at an affordable price
- Jobs – The opportunity to work and provide for themselves and their families
- Education – Access to good schools regardless of who they are or where they live
- A Safety Net – Protection against unforeseen events or conditions that precludes any of the prior described Basics, with logical and realistic restrictions and limitations
When the Basics are not being provided effectively, we must react responsibly and aggressively. Examples: When a city like Chicago Illinois is being besieged by violence, we must call on all levels of government to address the problem immediately. We should establish best practices with the help of successful police organizations and restore lasting peace. When a city like Flint Michigan has unsafe drinking water we must set politics aside and treat it like the health emergency that it is. Anytime we allow the debate to focus on issues unrelated to these life Basics, we will lose the trust of the American people, especially those hurting the most.
- Communicate effectively: To win the debate we must have a message easy to understand that keeps connecting back to the Basics described above. A message we reiterate over and over to avoid confusion and distortion. In order to do this we must designate a Democratic Party Press Secretary and have routine, (at least weekly), Press Conferences to respond to current events and update the nation on our Party’s priorities. Being the Resistance Party is not sufficient. We must offer viable solutions and plans that address the concerns of our constituents. We must aggressively correct the record when others inaccurately portray our positions. Communications must remain responsive to events and offer more frequent press availability as needed. This organization should function as support for the President’s Press Secretary when Democrats occupy the White House and provide continuity of message when we do not. If Americans are unaware of the good work we are doing on their behalf, they will not appreciate it, support it, or vote to protect it.
We will not defeat them by being like them.
The best way to defeat the GOP and their growing fascism is to differentiate ourselves from them. We will never defeat hate with hate or lies with lies. The more we act like them the more advantages we give them. Their most loyal followers care nothing about truth, honesty, or ethics. That isn’t true of Liberals, Progressives and most other sane Americans. For most Americans truth, honesty, and integrity remains powerful. Let’s use that power to our advantage!
That does not mean set quietly by as others spew lies, false narratives, and misleading rhetoric. It just means we organize and plan better, attacking them from the high ground by speak the truth. We must resist and protest as often as is prudent. But, our protests must remain peaceful at all times. When protests turn into riots they win and we lose.
America has steadily progressed throughout our nation’s history. However, for our Party to become the consistent choice of the American People, we must become and remain the BEST CHOICE for the right reasons. We must also be organized and disciplined enough to survive the impending decline and implosion of the GOP. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Their hate based agenda will die alongside their old, white, male leadership. It would be easy to allow our Party to decline in the face of waning competition, so we must anticipate, plan, and prepare.
Let’s prepare now and remain strong – The American People deserve no less.