NYT: Democrats Cave To Progressive Base--Will Declare 'Total War' Against Trump (But Some Know They Can't)

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 27, 2017 2:00 PM

In a blow to the progressive left, Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is now the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, edging out Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MI), who was quickly made deputy chair. The party has a long road ahead of itself. The Bernie Sanders sect is declaring the Democratic Party to be a dead vessel after Perez’s win, though they probably agree that Trump needs to be stopped. And that is where the Democrats face their latest obstacle: their base. Trump is a right-leaning populist, but there are areas where Democrats can find common ground, especially on trade, infrastructure spending, and possibly tax reform (i.e. middle class tax cuts). Yet, their base is clamoring for war—even before the DNC vote. We saw this over Trump’s cabinet nominations, some of whom still remain to be confirmed by the Senate.

It’s a three front war. Democrats have to battle Trump, congressional Republicans, and their own base—with limited resources. The party is in a disastrous state. Eight years of the Obama presidency has been good for only one person: President Obama. The Democrats have lost over 1,000 congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislature spots, possibly wiping out a whole generation of new Democratic talent from rising through the ranks. After two disastrous midterm elections, coupled with Trumps’ 2016 win and the GOP retaining Congress—the Democratic Party is now a coastal and urban-based party. Some Democrats, like Tom Carper (D-DE) also acknowledge that they may be ill quipped to do something akin to Sherman’s March to the Sea on the Trump White House, while the faces of the progressive wing—Warren and Sanders—also noted that they would offer zero help to their more cantankerous members in efforts to primary red state Democrats. In all, while the Left may want total war, they must first accept defeat, which is something that they have been incapable of doing since November (via NYT):

Reduced to their weakest state in a generation, Democratic Party leaders will gather in two cities this weekend to plot strategy and select a new national chairman with the daunting task of rebuilding the party’s depleted organization. But senior Democratic officials concede that the blueprint has already been chosen for them — by an incensed army of liberals demanding no less than total war against President Trump.

[…]

Yet Democrats acknowledge there is a wide gulf between the party’s desire to fight Mr. Trump and its power to thwart him, quietly worrying that the expectations of the party’s activist base may outpace what Democratic lawmakers can achieve.

[…]

Democrats, in other words, have few instruments at the moment to wound Mr. Trump’s administration in the manner their core voters are demanding.

[…]

“We have to fight like hell to stop him and hopefully save our country,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, echoing the near-apocalyptic stakes liberal voters are giving voice to at crowded town hall meetings.

Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, a middle-of-the-road Democrat up for re-election in 2018, cautioned that loathing Mr. Trump, on its own, was not a governing strategy. He said he still hoped for compromise with Republicans on infrastructure funding and perhaps on a plan to improve or “repair” the Affordable Care Act.

“There is this vitriol and dislike for our new president,” Mr. Carper said. “The challenge for us is to harness it in a productive way and a constructive way, and I think we will.”

[…]

So far, the most prominent leaders of the Democratic Party’s activist wing, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, have not encouraged challenges to sitting Democratic lawmakers who have accommodated Mr. Trump. Mr. Merkley, an ally of Mr. Sanders, suggested liberals seeking scalps would get no help from progressive senators if they try to unseat Democratic senators from conservative Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia, calling those lawmakers “perfectly suited to those states.”

It’s true that there’s not much room for Democrats to grow in their current state, which is why there needs to be a focus on retaking the rural areas they’ve lost. Yet, that means ditching the hyper-left agenda of political correctness, transgender bathrooms, and anti-free speech antics and focusing on a rather controversial subject with liberals: the economy. To successfully do this, it means reaching out to the rural, predominantly white working class slice of America. It’s something that the urban-based elites will not want to accommodate since they’re confident their diverse coalition negates the need to welcome white voters back into the party. That could be a catastrophic miscalculation, as the GOP’s hold on white working class voters could give Republicans an Electoral vote advantage for future elections, even with an increase of nonwhite voters. Remember these folks already live in areas that are heavily Democratic (i.e. we all know that Democrats will win California). But with an electorate that’s 65-70 percent majority white, it just shows how slight differences can win an election. Real Clear Politics’ Sean Trende mentioned this back in 2013. If Romney had won just three percent more of the white vote, he would have been elected president. 

In Trump’s case, just winning over a little more than 107,000 votes total from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan was enough to break the Democrats’ Blue Wall. It just shows you how critical this voting bloc really is in a national election. And Obama, while he didn’t win white working class voters, did well enough to avoid what happened to Hillary last year. It also didn’t help that millions of Obama voters flipped for Trump. Yet, if Democrats cut out the nonsensical drivel of progressivism that’s incubated on college campuses and returns to job creation, pension protections, and the economy, these voters could swing back. They’re populist voters akin to Ross Perot’s coalition in the 1990s. They’re not married to either party, just the one that promises to hear their grievances and has an agenda to help with their economic situation. Trump spoke to them; Clinton did not. We shall see if the Democrats learn anything from 2016, or if they continue to complain and whine about Russia, fake news, or other nefarious plots that seem more in line with the fantasy of the Manchurian Candidate rather than reality. I think the latter is most likely going to occur to which 2018 and possibly 2020 could turn out to be very good years for Republicans.