Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is now helming the Democratic National Committee. How is the party going be in the Trump era? What are they going to do to reclaim lost ground?
Last week, MSNBC’s Morning Joe had former Vermont governor and DNC chair Howard Dean to discuss the new direction for his party. Co-host Joe Scarborough said he had interviewed former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who reminded him of the old school southern Democrats who dominated the South and the border states. A dying breed of Democrats who didn’t veer too far left on abortion, Second Amendment rights, and other cultural issues. Scarborough noted Dean’s call for Democrats to launch an offensive into the rural areas, which yielded political dividends for the party during his tenure as DNC chair. Scarborough asked Dean if there was room in the Democratic Party for people to be progressive on economic issues, but conservative on social ones (i.e. abortion)?
Dean said no.
“No. Because the young generation isn’t that way. I think the old left/right is an anachronism. It exists in Washington. It exists in the media. Young people don’t think that way. They are not ideological. They are extremely interested in social justice, so we are never going back to maybe making compromises on abortion, and gay rights is another one,” he said.
Scarborough seemed shocked, noting that a large chunk of the country is pro-life. Moreover, Dean’s party has lost over 1,000 in congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislature seats since the Obama era. He asked Dean why he wants to throw those people away if the goal is to win again. Dean said that’s not what he said.
“Sounded like it,” Scarborough replied.
Dean seemed focused on explaining how the younger generation leans Left and is more likely to vote Democratic due to their devotion to social justice. Yet, young Americans lean to the pro-life side on the issue of abortion—with some advocacy coming from groups that describe themselves as secular and feminist. Also, the left/right divide does exist. Has Dean ever been to a college campus lately? You can’t believe in social justice without being ideological. Then again, when it comes to describing groups of people, maybe the Democrats should take Dean with a grain of salt. Does anyone remember when he said that the ISIS terrorists who attacked Paris were not…Muslim?
"I stopped calling these people Muslim terrorists. They're about as Muslim as I am," he said. "I mean, they have no respect for anybody else's life, that's not what the Koran says. And, you know Europe has an enormous radical problem. ... I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it's a cult."
The fact is that the demographic advantage Democrats thought they had was torpedoed by Trump. And if Democrats continue to remain cloistered in urban areas, coupled with a GOP hold on the white working class, it could leave the party in an electoral vote disadvantage in future elections, even with an increase in their share of the popular vote; a contest which does not matter though liberals seem to think otherwise.
Beshear also gave the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump’s joint address to Congress—and it didn’t go over well. Democrats like Beshear may be the folks Democrats need to win back to retake Congress and the White House, but the optics were awful. Beshear is out of office and Republican Matt Bevin replaced him. Moreover, the fact that Democrats couldn’t find (or maybe ignored) a solid rural Democrat who is in power highlights their Achilles’ heel at the moment. As for the southern Democrats Scarborough talked about, well—they became Republicans.