As the dust settles on a range of elections across the US, Democrats are claiming that the public is rejecting the policies and even the presidency of Donald Trump. But how much of this is true, and is there a deeper motive behind the victory rhetoric?
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) summed up the general feeling of the DNC when he said, “I certainly didn’t see this ass-kicking coming; this is pretty stunning. Republicans have two problems: their president and their agenda. And I don’t think either of those liabilities are disappearing anytime soon.”
And while it is easy to ignore this as hyperbole, it points to a deeper problem within the Democratic Party. When Murphy says that the Republicans have problems with the “their president” and “their agenda” he fails to recognize the elections Democrats have lost since President Trump’s shocking victory a year ago. Was every election they lost also an “ass-kicking” that points to a problem with the DNC leadership and the DNC agenda?
It is difficult to see the logic behind what is essentially a 5-1 loss (since Trump) for the Democrats being a major positive. Both Virginia and New Jersey voted heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton in 2016, so there hardly seems to be a major shift in opinion. Clinton won the state with 49.9% over Trump’s 45%. Northam beat Gillespie for the governorship 53% to 45%; while there was a lower turnout across the board, it signifies that Trump’s (and the Republican’s base is holding fairly steady.
Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) had similar sentiments as Murphy when he decried the state of the nation. He said: “Americans — not just Democrats — are getting fed up with a mean-spirited, divisive, denigrating kind of politics — one that isn’t focused on a prosperity agenda but is actually, even more so, doubling down on the politics of the elite, the wealthiest in our country. This has been a very dark year. But the North Star is rising.”
Phil Murphy (formerly of Goldman Sachs) won the New Jersey governorship with 55% versus 42%, clearly a landslide. Yet in the 2016 race, the numbers were 55% for Clinton and 41.8% for Donald Trump…again, very little shift.
So is it just ignorance that is making the Democrats put forth easily disprovable and wrong-headed statements, or is there something else to it?
DNC chair Tom Perez has been in the unenviable position of trying to keep party donors on board. As the party’s finances dwindle, Perez has been uttering his not so silent prayer of “Just wait until Virginia” to nervous party donors for well over a month. If Virginia had fallen to the Republican candidate, there is little doubt that the DNC would be looking for a new head.
The reality is that all this talk of “a Trump revolt” is aimed squarely at skittish donors as a way of guiding them and their wallets back to the party’s waiting and eager arms. If they have any hope of actually taking seats in 2018, they will need to be well-funded.
And this is where the true danger comes in. The Justice Democrats who are being quietly sidelined at present represent a major split in the DNC. They are tied to the message of Bernie Sanders and are making a name for themselves beyond the narrow view of the party. While many voters may not agree with their platform, they do, at least have a platform to stand on that has little to do with denigrating “enemies” and opponents. Their message in a nutshell is:
- Create a universal, Medicare-for-all health care system
- Raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour and tie it to inflation
- Make public colleges and trade schools free
- Call for a constitutional amendment to get rid of money in politics once and for all
- Take no corporate PAC money or corporate lobbyist money
And this represents a threat to the party loyalists. The Justice Democrats may not have much chance of getting their preferred candidate the nomination, but donations given directly to this group will certainly take away from the party machine.
In an attempt to shore up the Californian Democrat base, the state recently voted to move their primary dates forward to March. Many see this as a cynical move to enable Californian candidates to take the lion’s share of donations available, all but ensuring the “anointed candidate” wins the primary.
By declaring that the “politics of Trump” is at an end, the DNC hopes to both reassure donors that they are still an electoral force, and at the same time, “decapitate” the growing Justice Democrat movement financially.
Right now, JD is only looking at getting “A Sanders’ Congress” in place, but if they have electoral success in 2018, it could lead to a serious reversal of fortunes and leave the DNC out in the cold come 2020.