NYT: Senate Democrats Look To Align With Trump To Lead Them Out Of Political Wilderness

Posted: Nov 17, 2016 1:30 PM

The Democratic Party is in trouble. They’re now deep in the political wilderness, as the GOP won back the White House, retained control of Congress, and increased their majorities in state legislatures. In all, 69/99 state legislatures are in GOP hands; Republicans control 33 governorships as well. The Republican Party, once considered a regional one, dying out—has become the dominant political force in the country. As expected, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is slated to be Senate Democrats’ next leader after cantankerous Harry Reid leaves in January. So, what will Schumer do? Trump and Mr. Schumer have longstanding ties. Well, it seems they’re hedging on supporting Trump whenever they can, forcing Senate Republicans to either choose to go along with soon-to-be President Donald J. Trump, or push back to honor their small government principles. On trade, childcare, and infrastructure, the president-elect is more aligned with Democrats. At the same time, conservatives need to understand that Trump was elected on a populist wave, not a conservative one—and paid maternity leave/child care is one of the working class’ main concerns (via NYT):

Democrats, who lost the White House and made only nominal gains in the House and Senate, face a profound decision after last week’s stunning defeat: Make common cause where they can with Mr. Trump to try to win back the white, working-class voters he took from them, or resist at every turn, trying to rally their disparate coalition in hopes that discontent with an ineffectual new president will benefit them in 2018.

Mr. Trump campaigned on some issues that Democrats have long championed and Republicans resisted: spending more on roads, bridges and rail, punishing American companies that move jobs overseas, ending a lucrative tax break for hedge fund and private equity titans, and making paid maternity leave mandatory.

Some Democrats are even co-opting Mr. Trump’s language from the campaign. “Every single person in our caucus agrees the system is rigged,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan.

Still, there will be areas of bright-line disagreement. Democrats are speaking out against Mr. Trump’s appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist, and will oppose his promised tax cuts for the wealthy and his vow to deport millions of illegal immigrants.

Even some of Trump’s staunchest opponents on the 2016 trail from the Left noted where they could work with Trump:

In a speech this week to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Executive Council, Ms. Warren, who sparred in viciously personal terms with Mr. Trump during the campaign, noted the many ways she agreed with the president-elect.

“He spoke of the need to reform our trade deals so they aren’t raw deals for the American people,” she said. “He said he will not cut Social Security benefits. He talked about the need to address the rising cost of college and about helping working parents struggling with the high cost of child care. He spoke of the urgency of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and putting people back to work. He spoke to the very real sense of millions of Americans that their government and their economy has abandoned them. And he promised to rebuild our economy for working people.”

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, long a critic of trade deals, said in an interview that he had spoken extensively with Mr. Trump’s trade adviser and would work with him on issues concerning steel workers. “We can work with him on things we agree on,” Mr. Brown said. “On Bannon, no.”

The Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer who wrote the piece noted that this is part of a play to get the working class voters who made a mass exodus from the Democrats in the 2016 elections. Then again, Steinhauer noted that a) Trump could defer to congressional Republicans to craft the agenda; and b) there isn’t a unified party on the Left yet. The contest for DNC chair could devolve into civil war as the Sanders and Clinton factions seemed destined to duke it out. In the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has overseen two massive losses to Republicans, has postponed leadership elections until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Steinhauer noted that more than a few Democrats want to see the party’s leadership become a little more blue collar next Congress. Winning over white working class voters or expanding the Obama coalition and finding someone who can reenergize them to shift to the Left are monumental tasks. Yes, working class vote in the rural regions is decreasing, but Democrats cannot allow the GOP to run up the score the way they did with Clinton. And Democrats who think that urban bastions are enough to win should understand that the electorate changes, with generations, even Millennials, expected to become more conservative as they age, especially when they get jobs and starting making money. I can see how both sides can make their arguments, which is why I think some of these Democratic leadership fights could get messy.

For both sides of the Democratic Party, it should be a lesson that maybe your entire turnout operation shouldn’t be centered on a single term-limited candidate. On the other hand, if you get GOP candidates who are savvy, like Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who did find ways to unearth tens of thousands of supporters through mass mobilization of volunteers, specifically high school students, who canvassed neighborhoods and gauged how messaging was going, the 2018 midterms should be another good year for the GOP. Moreover, the Republican Party has permanent ground staff, which is updating their voter databases that can quickly shift resources to account for the changes on the ground. Again, a lot of speculation going on prior to the swearing in of the 115th Congress, but at least some folks on the Hill are taking Trump’s win as any adult would after an election loss, unlike the legions of progressives who throwing an epic temper tantrum in the most liberal parts of the country.