Four months after Trump’s election victory, the Democratic Party is still unequivocally stuck behind the eight ball — with no clear leader. Since her stunning election defeat, Hillary Clinton has been conspicuously yet understandably absent, leaving a cavernous void in which many Democrats have felt abandoned to the Trumpian wolves.
Party stalwart Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Dem-MA) has stepped up on several issues. Her courageous actions continue to challenge a seemingly spineless bunch of Republicans with no real will to oppose what appears to be a fascist take-over of America by Russian operatives in the White House. Notably, Warren vigorously opposed the appointment of Jeff Sessions — a known racist — as attorney general, inadvertently converting into a new battlecry for Democratic women what was meant to be a harsh rebuke to her by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “...Nevertheless, she persisted.” There’s no indication, however, that Democrats can depend upon Warren to become a viable presidential contender — yet.
Former Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also rebounded expeditiously after Clinton’s defeat in his inimitable, adrenaline-fueled style. While still not an official Democrat, Sanders discerned the shock and horror of the party-leadership with respect to the election loss and initiated immediate resuscitative measures that valiantly put Trump on notice that his intentions to dismantle signature Obama policies such as the Affordable Care Act, and to appoint oligarchs to the wealthiest Cabinet in U.S. history — largely from the “swamp” of Wall Street that he had promised “to drain” — would be vigorously challenged.
Since Barack Obama took office in 2009, Democrats have lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats to Republican control.
Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) struggled to revive after being caught in the hairy crossfire of Russian involvement in our elections to swing the vote in favor of Trump. For the most part, the DNC is still in post-mortem mode, still in disarray, still not ready with a post-election counter-strategy that even remotely resembles a visionary game plan to stymie the bloodletting that has enabled Trump and the Republican Party to capture critical congressional real estate.
In the 2016 election, Democrats lost control not just of the White House; they also failed to win majorities in either house of Congress. That devastating defeat of the party is really only highlighted by the fact that, since Barack Obama took office in 2009, Democrats have lost nearly 1,000 legislative seats to Republican control.
On Saturday, after a contentious race, the DNC finally elected former Labor Secretary Tom Perez as its chair. Viewed as the “Establishment candidate” undergirded by Obama administration and Hillary Clinton activists, Perez moved judiciously in a conciliatory move to appoint as deputy chair the only other serious contender for the post, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN). Viewed as the more “progressive” candidate, Ellison had the endorsement of Sanders, labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, and liberals like Michael Moore, one of the few — like Ellison — who had accurately predicted Trump’s election victory.
One can only hope, especially after Trump’s first Congressional address last night, that the DNC hasn’t missed the memo: The future of American democracy is now decidedly in their hands. Moreover, hope is not action.
Doing things the same way with the same thinking will get the same result. To expect otherwise, says Einstein, is the very definition of insanity. The only way Trump will relinquish power now is on a stretcher, in handcuffs, or by impeachment. Consequently, the business of the DNC can no longer be about partisanship — or party lines of loyalty — but patriotism.
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was ousted as chair of the DNC after a trove of leaked emails appeared to show her and other party officials in a conspiracy to sabotage Sanders’ campaign in favor of Clinton’s. Therefore, any appearance again that the Establishment is “in charge” — after losing the election, partially because their heir apparent couldn’t shake public perception of being “one of two evils” — is not a progressive look for the DNC. We are already saddled with a donkey for a mascot!
Furthermore, we need to rid ourselves of this notion that, because we disagree on certain principles or paths, we are not united. Or that to speak the truth is denigratory. The truth is what it is. The left wing and right wing of the Democratic Party are attached to the very same bird. And once that bird takes flight, we are all strapped on for the ride. Until that time, however, the process of debate within the party is not only healthy and appropriate, it should continue.
What the Democratic Party needs now is leadership that can restore the dominance of the party and foil with countervailing strategies the impending tyranny of fascism by an administration likely compromised by Russia.
Do Perez and Ellison grasp the real forces of power and money behind the Trump campaign that manipulate the public? Are they fluent in the “4-D” propaganda strategies being deployed upon a largely unsuspecting public by Trump’s cabal of neo-Nazis? Apparently not. Because Perez already took the bait the very day of his appointment by getting into a Twitter war with Trump. “Fake news” and “alternative facts” and “Twitter wars” are just tactics that desensitize people to lies, jam (clog) the channels that do tell the truth and, ultimately, convert audiences into repeaters of propaganda.
Trump’s end game is for lies to become “truth.” And his soldiers possess a guerrilla mindset that, unchallenged, would have us believing that they are empowered beyond the dictates of our Constitution.
Indeed, it is time to “reset” the DNC. We’re not talking about a cosmetic makeover, but structural re-engineering from the bottom-up, rather than the top-down — grassroots strategies that energize the party’s base and demonstrably give rise to phenomena like Trump and, yes, Bernie Sanders; strategies that are inclusive of the “forgotten man” who went looking for salvation elsewhere; strategies that understand that campaign money from big corporations thrown at bad candidates and bad policies will not fix what ails the Party; strategies that counteract voter apathy and reverse the trend of low-information voters. We cannot win elections with a base whose civic knowledge precludes recognition of our vice president, but not the full details of Kim Kardashian’s life.
The 2018 midterm elections, slated for Nov. 6, 2018 — if we have not been wiped off the planet by Trump’s antics — will see contested all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, as well as 39 state and territorial governorships.
This date looms ominously because Democrats notoriously do not show up to vote in midterm elections. It is older white Republicans who do.
In the 2014 midterm election, 75 percent of registered Republican voters questioned in a CBS News poll said they were very or somewhat excited about voting that November election, compared to 58 percent of Democrats. Moreover, 81 percent of registered Republicans said they would definitely vote, compared to 68 percent of registered Democrats.
“Democrats have a congenital defect when it comes to our politics,” Barack Obama said at a DNC fundraiser in 2014. “And that is, we like voting during presidential years, and during the midterms we don’t vote. And so you already have lower voting totals during the midterms, and it’s our folks that stay home.”
The 2014 midterm election also became the most expensive in history. Total spending reached $3.7 billion, yet produced the lowest turnout since 1942. Therefore, the issue is not about campaign contributions. Neither is it the time for business-as-usual tactics.
For context, while Democrats struggle to regroup, a greater percentage of Republicans now support Trump than backed Ronald Reagan after his first month in office. In case you missed it, previous skeptics who lamented Trump’s tempestuous style are no longer bemoaning the draconian policies that have created unprecedented upheaval in the first month of his presidency. Many are now collusive accomplices in Congress, refusing to subpoena his tax returns or champion continued investigations of his business ties to Russia. The thunderous Republican support given to Trump at last night’s Congressional address should provide Democrats with a resounding wake-up call.
Trump may have a new speechwriter. But he is the same naked “Emperor of Chaos.” And it is reckless — and gullible — for a Democratic strategist such as Van Jones to posit that ”He became president of the United States” last night. No. Trump is the same tyrant who lies pathologically and has demonstrable capacity to chalk anything up, including a free press, to political collateral. Why not a Navy SEAL’s wife?
Truly, may God bless — and save — these United States from, and in spite of, herself.
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