It’s been more than a week since Donald Trump’s most unlikely upset over the Democratic Party’s anointed candidate. It was a historic win that defied nearly all of the so-called experts. Democrats lost not just the White House for the next four years but also lost several key Congressional races as the Trump tide carried many down ticket candidates. Yet even after getting whipped at the ballot box, Washington Democrats continued to show that they still haven’t learned the most important lesson of election 2016.
As pundits across the political spectrum have correctly observed, Trump won largely based on his ability to garner overwhelming support among working class Americans. It wasn’t the religious right or Constitutional conservatives who put him over the top. It was the dying American middle class, especially in the Midwest and the “rust belt,” that preferred Trump’s populist rhetoric over Hillary Clinton’s watered down liberal agenda.
That said, there WAS an opportunity for Washington Democrats to show the tens of millions of Americans who didn’t vote for Hillary that they were heard loud and clear, with the selection of new party leadership earlier this week.
What did the Dems do?
They doubled-down on their out-of-touch, establishment standard bearers with the selection of Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) as the Senate minority leader. Few Dems in Washington are more connected to the very Beltway politics voters just overwhelming rejected than Schumer. He’s been in Congress since 1981 serving first in the House from ‘81 to ‘99. Since then he’s been the outspoken liberal lightning rod in the Senate. Over the years, Schumer has become a loyal lap dog for the interests of Wall Street and a notorious glory hound who never met a TV camera he couldn’t find a way to get in front of.
And while she has yet to be named officially, Politico reports that smart money is still on Rep. Nancy Pelosi (CA) to once again be confirmed by her peers as the House minority leader. Pelosi still believes America is California or maybe California is America. Either way, she has shown time and time again that her views are so far left, and outside of the views held by the majority of Americans, that columnist Charles Krauthammer once quipped that she was “on another planet.”
These are not the new faces of the Democratic Party. These retreads represent more of the same old, same old with a tired message that the American electorate just threw out with a resounding thud.
Where’s the New Left?
Where’s the next generation leaders of the Progressive movement?
Even Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), whose meteoric rise to national celebrity status over the past eighteen months captured the hearts and imaginations of young voters everywhere, recently conceded that Schumer and Pelosi are the firmly entrenched leaders of the Democratic Party. Sure, Schumer was kind enough to add Sanders, along with Patty Murray (WA), to join him and fellow Senate veteran Dick Durbin (IL) on the “new” Democratic Senate leadership team. However, moving Sanders to the inside of the Democratic leadership is a ploy so transparent, it’s hard to believe the die-hard Bernie backers are going to fall for it.
The Democratic Party doesn’t want Sanders- they just want his legions of supporters.
Even legally blind skeptics will have to admit this fact as the Dems begin to roll out their legislative agenda in 2017.
Expecting to see free college for all on that agenda? Not a chance.
Expansion of Obamacare to millions more in need of coverage? Doubt it.
Real reform for the corrupt billionaire tycoons of Wall Street? Not with their friend Chuck in the driver’s seat.
Sanders is merely window dressing for a group of out of touch elitists who want to make middle-class Americans think that they’ve changed. But the middle class just demonstrated earlier this month that they are not going to take it. They are tired of being taken for granted.
Just ask Hillary.
Although she lacks the national name recognition of a Clinton, Sanders, Schumer, or Pelosi, Patty Murray might be the one bright spot in the recent moves by Senate Democrats. She’s been in the Senate since 1992 and proven her worth in the past by reaching across the aisle to gain bipartisan support for needed legislation (see the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 where she worked with non-other-than Paul Ryan).
Murray could be useful in negotiating with the Trump Administration. She has a favorable track record on two issues that were staples of Trump’s presidential campaign: opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and a willingness to get tough on immigration. She supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 that passed out of the Senate with a cadre of Republicans and Democrats supporting it.
It’s too early to know just how much of a role Murray will get to play in the upcoming Senate. Insiders believe she was ready to challenge Durbin for the coveted Whip position before Schumer intervened and found a place for her on the leadership team. It may have been a compromise Schumer made begrudgingly, but Murray is clearly more the type of new Democrat the party needs if it ever hopes to take back the working class vote.
Somewhere in the marbled halls of an exclusive D.C. club, the Democratic elite has surely found their own rationale for the Hillary Clinton loss. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
What Democrats still don’t seem to understand is that Trump appealed to working class Americans who aren’t looking for the big government to fix all their problems- they just want the government to stop creating new ones.