Have you ever watched a dog try to retrieve a ball that’s rolled under a large, fixed object? It’s equal parts fascinating and infuriating — the dog will lie down next to the object, then continually shove its paw towards the last known location of the ball. The dog won’t look; in fact, it can’t look. In order to maximize its reach, the dog has to tilt its head back and thrust blindly forward, hoping against hope that with a little luck, it will make contact with the ball.
This goes on for as long as is necessary for the ball to roll back out or, as is the case in my house, for someone to get tired of the sound of a paw insistently scratching at nothing and retrieve the ball on the dog’s behalf.
My dog’s frequent battles with the combined forces of heavy furniture and inertia are frustrating, sure, but they’re also predictable — he’s a dog. That’s his excuse.
The same, however, cannot be said for the fundraising masterminds at the DNC.
The DNC’s latest fundraising effort is underway, and thus far, the campaign — such as it is — consists of a mailer that looks like a collection notice (way to capitalize on that economic anxiety, guys) and two emails. How bad are the emails? So bad that I’m going to forego talking about the collection notice mailer. That bad.
The theme of the email campaign appears to be “Trump’s Empty Promises,” indicating the DNC still hasn’t given up on its quixotic search for the blue-collar Rust Belt dweller who maybe, just maybe, might be persuaded to vote for the Democrats in the next election. As I’ve said before, this particular white whale makes up a statistically insignificant portion of voters who could be persuaded to vote for the Democratic candidate; on top of that, that voting bloc hasn’t reliably voted blue in 40 years.
There’s clearly no dissuading the DNC from continuing to pander to the same group of people. But, frustrating though that is, one would assume they must be pretty good at it by now, right? No. Of course not. The subject lines of the two emails were “Trump’s Empty Promises On Proof of Obama’s Kenyan Citizenship” and “Trump’s Empty Promises On Border Wall.”
We are 7 months into what is shaping up to be the most surreal and disastrous presidency in American history; even worse, as long as the GOP holds control of the House and Senate, there is literally nothing standing in the way of the worst impulses of President Trump and the American people. (Theoretically, the GOP could suddenly decide to put party over country, but… come on.)
Yet somehow, armed with a veritable smorgasbord of examples of Trump’s impotent leadership, the DNC came to the conclusion that the best way to energize voters on the fence was to imply in one email that the matter of President Obama’s birthplace is, in fact, up for debate, and indicate in the other that Democrats actually do want a border wall.
Honestly, who are these emails for? What registered Democrat is sitting around with their friends saying, “You know, I really wanted Trump to be proven right on his racist and insulting theory that our first black President couldn’t possibly be from America, since blacks are only from Africa. JUST ANOTHER EMPTY PROMISE FROM DONALD TRUMP, SMDH?” Are they trying to capture the “liberal but secretly ethno-nationalist” vote? What the hell are they doing?
I know a lot of people find leftists to be overly idealistic, and until recently, I have to admit, I was one of them. I believed that incremental progress (i.e., Hillary Clinton) was better than an exaggerated step backward (i.e., Donald Trump). I trusted that the Democratic Party had some kind of plan. But at this point, I think it’s safe to say that the DNC is spiraling.
They’re not even trying to outline specific policy proposals anymore — they’re just spouting hashtaggable slogans that mean absolutely nothing like some kind of malfunctioning robot, apparently operating under the assumption that if they don’t take any stance on any issue, voters can fill in the blanks with whatever they want and assume that that’s what the Democratic Party wants, too.
At some point, the DNC is going to have to face up to the reality that the “big tent” theory — where you address the bare minimum of issues for the maximum number of voting blocs — is dead. Bipartisanship is dead. Bridge-building is dead. Sending out emails that are apparently intended to trick everyone’s Facebook-loving, unfunny-meme-sharing drunk uncle into not supporting Trump anymore is not a viable path forward; it is a stairway in an M.C. Escher painting.
In the meantime, it looks like the DNC is content to keep futilely jamming its paws under the sofa.