Just eight short years ago, the Democratic Party reached heights not seen since the early Sixties. Barack Obama was elected President and being treated as a messiah. They controlled both houses of Congress and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Now the party has plummeted to levels not seen since the 1920s. They have lost the White House and control of both houses. The picture is even worse when looking at state and local races. Two-thirds of the governors and legislative chambers are held by Republicans. Democrats control the governorship and legislature in only five states.
So what happened? In my opinion, it was a self-inflicted wound. Republicans did their best to help them by adopting polices that appealed to a narrow base and nominating Donald Trump. Here is where they went wrong:
It’s the economy, stupid – That is the phrase Bill Clinton used in 1992 to make sure everyone was focused on the economy. Even though he was elected during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Obama seemed to care little about it. He let Nancy Pelosi spend nearly a trillion dollars on liberal pet projects and turned his attention elsewhere. Millions of families are struggling and Democrats have done little to show they care.
Obamacare – Even though polls showed people were against it by a two to one margin, Democrats crammed it down their throats. It is one of the main reasons they lost Congress.
No coattails – Most presidents work very hard to elect senators and representatives of their party. Obama did very little to help. In fact, many Democrats in Congress had very little contact with him.
No bench – The Clintons and Obama have sucked up all the oxygen for the last quarter century. Try to name a rising young Democrat. About the only name that comes to mind is Elizabeth Warren and she is sixty-seven years old.
Hillary Clinton – This was a change election but the Democrats nominated the ultimate insider who is disliked by most and has a mountain of scandals following her.
Bernie Sanders – His candidacy created a breach in the party that led many to stay home last week and some to vote for Trump.
Targets – Democrats are only targeting two groups; liberals and groups that they try to convince are being oppressed. Their pitch to minorities, women, etc. is that they need Democrats to protect them from evil Republicans. That’s very patronizing. People can vote on many issues. A woman struggling to get along has bigger worries that whether or not she has to pay for birth control.
Non-targets – Since the days of FDR, blue collar workers have been the core of the Democratic Party. Not only have they been ignored, they have often been insulted.
Elitism – The party is controlled by a self-appointed elite. They only listen to each other and have little idea what the rest of us are really like.
I would enjoy writing about where they go from here but that’s like guessing what the Trump administration will be like. My hunch is that they will double down on the same strategies that got them into this mess.