2017: Whither Democrats?

The progressivist outlook on modernity mirrors the conservative one on climate change: the in-group finds it so perfectly obvious that we’re looking at the workings of an unalterable force of nature that the other side is maximally infuriated by the resultant shoulder-shrugging fatalism.

It’s tempting to look at yesterday and say, “Dems just need a respected white male with no hint of scandal, a populist economic message and an anti-fat cat. anti-establishment attitude, and they’d win places like WI, MI, PA easily!”

That won’t do it.

Take a look at Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Hugely respected, populist, squeaky clean, anti-fat cat and out of office, running against certified fat cat and incumbent Johnson.

Feingold still lost.

Sadly, what yesterday meant was not white people* saying, “We want economic policies that give us a fair shake at a good job.”

It was white people saying, loudly and explicitly, “We want to Make America Great Again and bring back the Good Old Days - which means we want a solid guarantee that we get to cut in front of Those People no matter what else happens.”

*And not just white men - white women voted for Trump 53 to 43 percent.

I agree a lot with this. I think Democrats need to have some serious introspection now with regard to their handling of these territories. It turns out that the “Hillbilly Elegy” was more of a hillbilly resurgence - at least temporarily. Telling people that their way of life is dying and to deal with it only works when you motivate enough people on your side to vote. In this case, it’s obvious Dems didn’t do that. They just trusted that Obama voters would support Hillary in the same way, and that was not true at all.

True enough; there are those that argue that globalization was more the product of a specific set of conjunctures rather than anything truly inevitable. While I’d agree with that, it seems that no one really has a convincing scenario where globalization doesn’t happen. You’d have to start at the very least by doing something about Smith and free trade, and from there on it gets harder and harder to shape a model that has a different outcome.

But unless one is totally into relativism, while there is a degree of mirror imaging going on, I think there is more truth to the idea that the current economic system can’t be shucked off easily nor could it have been easily avoided, than there is to the idea that we can somehow easily reverse it.

Need someone who appeals to the heartland, though: Taylor Swift 2020! Though, in a more serious sense, Elon Musk if he wanted the job would be positioned to offer a lot - climate change, business acumen, progressive ideals, smart de-regulation, etc.

And as you and other former GOP fans have indicated here, Trump isn’t really a Republican. If his coalition is the future of that party, it will not be the same party.

From a 2020 perspective, this could be the best thing ever for the Democrats. It depends on how Trump + the Republicans Govern.

If Hillary had won, it was going to be very dicey that she could win again in 2020, which would likely have meant another GOP state + federal landslide for a Census year (as happened in 2010 for the GOP). Now, if Trump + the Republicans govern along the Ryan plan, ala Sam Brownback in Kansas, and torch the economy (as he has in Kansas), the Democrats stand to pick up a lot of momentum in 2020 at all levels - which is one of the things the GOP did so well in 2010, allowing them to do a LOT of Voter ID/Voter Suppression/Gerrymandering to ensure a House majority. With 2020 being a Presidential election year, preferably with a Presidential Candidate who can explain how wrong the Trump + GOP wedding has been for America with enough gravitas to have long coat-tails (ala Obama in '08), the Dems could be very well positioned for the next decade (2020-2030).

Of course, having lost the Supreme Court for a generation and possibly suffered irreversible economic and moral damage in the intervening four years, people may not find much reason to be so thrilled about the ballgame possibilities in 2020.

Good point. But as I’ve said 90% of people vote straight ticket and that number is going up over time not down (maybe this year it will dip a bit we will see). So while Russ maybe squeaky clean, the person at the top of the ticket wasn’t.

The Democratic party has a brand problem and that needs to be fixed just as much as running good candidates.

Undoubtedly, but it does make the prospects for a 2020 Democratic landslide a lot more likely, IMHO.

“Martin O’Malley becomes the First President-Elect of Smouldering Irradiated Slag Heap in record-setting landslide, reports that he is ‘happy to serve the small pockets of huddled, fearful survivors’ to the best of his ability.”

NAFTA was a bit of a dagger through the heart for them too, and that came from the Democrats. One named Clinton.

And yet it wasn’t a real dagger. The manufacturing jobs didn’t go to Mexico/Canada - they went to China - that was the real dagger.

The problem is, no one knows what Trump is, and he may be content to rubberstamp whatever Pence and a Republican Congress put in front of him.

We just need to get a lot of progressives saying nice things about him on Twitter and politely suggesting progressive policies.

Hugely respected in the Democratic strongholds, yes, but always despised in the solid red Milwaukee collar counties. Yesterday’s turnout in Wisconsin was a 20-year low with only 69% of those eligible voting. Low turnout in Wisconsin = Republican victory, because the collar counties, relatively speaking, always turn out in a presidential year. That more than any issue or voter sentiment explains Feingold’s defeat.

Those states you just mentioned, including Ohio, are often called the “rust belt.” Essentially they were the heart of American manufacturing. Pittsburgh was the steel city, hence their football team named the “Steelers.” Detroit was the Motor city for the cars made there. All along the Great Lakes immigrants arrived till about the 1960’s to work industrial jobs. Those jobs were concentrated in the major cities, but most small towns had a few factories of their own. These groups leaned heavily Democrat, but were somewhat counterbalanced by the rural portions of the states. The Midwest (traditionally not including Pennsylvania, but really anything west of Philadelphia is culturally Midwest) is great farming country and those farmers leaned Republican. Lincoln, founder of the party, was a rural Midwesterner, after all. So, you have the creation of a series of swing states.

Then, foreign competition came for industrial goods. My home county is Ashland Ohio, population of 50,000. I can count three factories which have closed and gone to China after Bill Clinton became president. Youngstown Ohio, once a leading producer of steel, has lost 50 or 60% of its population over the last fifty years.

So, well, this is a grossly simplified picture, but you’ve got a lot of people not happy with globalization. And by not happy, I mean working minimum wage jobs without benefits, while their children live at home with them unable to find any employment.

Traditionally, the democratic party has appealed to the economically downtrodden. Its how they won the black vote over from the party of Lincoln… while being the party of Southern Segregation. Hence, Obama was still able to win over a lot of those “Rust Belt” states in 2008 and 2012. When Hillary Clinton ran, Obama had done to little, and Clinton to connected to “corrupt” institutions like Goldman Sachs.

I think mentioning social issues is kind of important as well. The democrats in the Midwest tend to be more socially conservative. So, when Obama’s last year or so in office was spent pursuing liberal social issues and a free trade agreement with Asia, well… the shift should have been seen coming. I know when ever I drove through rural Pennsylvania or Ohio, I could count dozen of Trump signs and cannot recall seeing a single Clinton sign.

I will say this: the very single dumbest thing that Democrats could do is something I’ve seen way too much evidence of today, and that’s living on the attitude of “Wait until they see how bad this will be,” for the white working class.

That’s completely the wrong attitude, and wrong ethos. “You’ll come running back” is a terrible way forward.

In fact–and I’ll say it–it’s the Clinton way forward. Just saying “Here are some numbers, you’ll figure out that we’re better for you” doesn’t do it. Yes, she had plenty of ideas and policies, but her campaign seemed predicated on waiting for Trump to do something to drive voters away from him.

And so I’m telling you now: when that wall doesn’t get built, it’ll be the fault of Democrats and Trump enemies. When there’s no replacement for the ACA, it’ll be because of Democrats and freeloaders. If the economy falters, it will be because of Democrats and other Trump enemies.

And unless the Democrats are willing to present a compelling alternative to all that, the folks who helped elect Trump are going to believe his excuses. And a big part of that is to stop laughing–hard as it is (believe me) at the pro-Trumpers who were once Democrats, but instead give them something better than he’s offering them.

Yep, this is populism 101 and certainly what’s going to happen. From Venezuela to Russia going through Greece and Italy, we’ve seen this kind of rhetoric being used successfully, and unless Trump’s modus operandi really changes when he takes office (I’m open to the possibility, but skeptical), he’s set up to be the same kind of leader (the US constitutional framework will not allow him to cling to power like, so probably we are looking at a Greece/Italy-like outcome).

Problem is: this shit works and I’m not sure presenting alternatives helps. That is, I’ve yet to see a modern populist government being pushed out of office in an election until things get really rough (anybody can offer an example? I would love to know if I’m wrong). If this election has proved anything is that the US is not that different from the rest of the world (it has fallen prey to the same fears and ideology than many other countries either have or are fighting strongly against in the West), so I’m unsure hoping for things to work differently will help. I’m skeptical the solution will come from the political class.

This seems like pretty sage advice. The Obamacare replacement is really an obvious one for the Democrats to help Trump out on. The primary beneficiaries are poor and working class voters who could easily be brought back into the Democrat fold.

More importantly, Trump’s instincts will be to promise a ton of stuff, the cost be damned,while poor Paul Ryan will be stuck playing bad cop. “No we can’t afford it.”. I could easily see a coalition of Trump, plus populist Republicans, and progressive Democrats working together to get ACA replacement. Then the Democrats using the fiscally conservative Republicans votes against portions of TrumpCare to paint them as hating poor people.

Good discussions.

But here’s something I’m curious about: who is now going to be the face of the Democratic party? Would it (could it, should it?) be the Obamas? I know Michele Obama has said repeatedly she’s not interested in running for office, and I believe her. And it would be pretty unprecedented for an ex-president to get involved in the down and dirty of politics once they leave office.

Given that, who’s the fresh new face we’re going to see to spearhead the Dems? There are a number of familiar faces that people might be considering, like Biden, or Warren, but in four years they’ll be way too old to run for President, and it seems like the new spokespeople need to be from a younger generation. Who do you think will step up?