You’re forgiven if you didn’t notice the attempt by Democratic leader in the US House and Senate to find a message beyond “Trump is a disaster.” The president’s constant, non-stop and superlative defying moves overshadow everything. But it’s not just the oxygen-sucking flow of Trump nonsense that caused the Dems’ “Better Deal” to fall flat. The message is more of the same and the messengers need to go.
Let’s start with this: Any new policy, position, movement or even slogan that is championed by Sen. Chuck Schumer and US Rep. Nancy Pelosi is doomed to either fail or be dismissed. I have respect for both but their day has come and gone.
To whom should Democrats hopeful for the future turn? There are many. Sens. Chris Murphy (Conn.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mark Warner (Virg.), Chris Van Hollen (Maryland); US Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Jim Himes (Conn.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Eric Swalwell (Calif.); former Gov. John Hickenlooper (Col.), Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Just as important is to dismiss the old guard who do not or should not lead the party into the future. They include Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) – too strident, Bernie Sanders (Vermont) – get over it, Schumer (New York); Reps. Steny Hoyer (Ill.), John Larson (Conn.), James Clyburn (South Carolina), etc. These folks are part of the failed recent past of the party and at the risk of being accused of sexism, they are too old.
The “Better Deal” slogan itself is lame. I assume the party paid some high-priced consultant to come up with the name. They could have found an intern to craft something better for free. The immediate question the slogan begs is, “better than what?” Better than Trump? That’s just a variation of “Trump is awful,” something we already know. Better than the Dems terrible 2016 election effort? Well, just about anything would qualify for that.
So what is the better deal? It includes a pledge to create 10 million well-paying jobs over five years, lowering prescription drug costs, cracking down on monopolies that hurt competition and basically saying, “Stay tuned.”
Writing in the New York Times, Schumer said, “Over the next several months, Democrats will lay out a series of policies that, if enacted, will make these three things a reality. We’ve already proposed creating jobs with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan; increasing workers’ incomes by lifting the minimum wage to $15; and lowering household costs by providing paid family and sick leave.”
That’s all well and good but the Democratic Party needs to stop treating consumer protection, health care for all, job creation, border security, homeland security business development and free trade as being issues that cannot co-exist.
I’m a fan of former Tennessee US Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. I think he gets it right.
A perfect example of where the Democratic Party needs to wake up is the response to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee US Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s (N,M.) announcement that he would not put an anti-abortion rights litmus test for Democratic candidates to receive funding.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” Luján told The Hill. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
The leftists in the party freaked out. Former party chairman Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, pledged to withhold support from the DCCC unless Lujan changed course. Good riddance, governor. You are the past.
People like Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Stephan Lynch (D-Mass.) are to some degree, past or present, self-describe as pro-life. Are they unworthy of support? I don’t think so.
The Democratic Party needs to wake up and realize it failed in 2016 because it has become elitist, urban-centric, close-minded and out of touch. It lost Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida because it’s tone deaf to average people.
There’s no reason the Democratic Party can’t regroup and return to being the party of the people but work needs to be done to achieve that. “Better Deal” won’t accomplish that.