Before Unveiling New Economic Agenda, Schumer Says Democrats, Not Russia, Are to Blame for 2016 Loss

Posted: Jul 23, 2017 12:00 PM

On Monday, the new and improved economic agenda for the Democratic Party will be revealed. The Washington Post reported that it’s going to focus on curbing prescription drug costs, smarter trade deals, job retraining, increased Internet access into rural America, and will also include the coveted $15 minimum wage to round out the grocery list. It’s the start of something for a party that has struggled to find a message (and a leader) seven months into the Trump presidency. Democrats have suffered endless special election defeats, with a segment fixated on whom to blame for their 2016 loss. Two-time presidential loser Hillary Clinton has blamed almost everyone, but herself for the defeat. She blamed the FBI, Russia, former FBI Director James Comey, the media (for their attention to her email fiasco), and the Democratic National Committee. That was the final salvo, which occurred inside the ship for Democrats; Clinton said the DNC gave her nothing, whereas the Democratic data experts said that was patently false. The former first lady had the Obama data operation; she just didn’t use it correctly. And around and around we go within the Democratic blame game orbit. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has been saying that it’s time to refocus and start taking responsibility for the 2016 loss, despite other members’ continued whine fest over the defeat, said again that Russia was not to blame for the party’s defeat. All of that rests at the feet of the Democratic Party.   

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. “So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed, explaining in a separate interview that the new focus “is not a course correction, but it’s a presentation correction.”

But outside of Washington, some progressives worry that a focus on messaging has convinced Democrats that their policies were in no need of a rethink, while voters were crying out for more.

Many Democrats have watched with frustration for years as Republicans in Congress neatly packaged their policy proposals with catchy slogans and sleekly produced online videos fronted by younger, telegenic lawmakers crisply delivering campaign promises.

The Post added that this plan would be unveiled in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, which is represented by Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, a 2018 target for the Democrats. I don’t know how this is going to go. For starters, the new slogan is abysmal, even former Obama communications staffers were appalled by the pizza chain quality of the messaging revamp. Also, and I will keep repeating this, the 24-seat target Democrats have to retake the House is still a reach. They need to flip districts that are Republican. Second, they had a bellwether test for this in Georgia’s sixth congressional district and failed. Democrat Jon Ossoff was unable to seal the deal, losing to Republican Karen Handel in most expensive House race in history. Part of the problem was the race was nationalized and Nancy Pelosi is one of the faces of the Democratic Party. Like Clinton, Pelosi animates the GOP base. Even left-leaning think tanks have been less than optimistic on the whole notion of a Democratic takeover of the House. Also, Democrats should know that there are a dozen Democratic seats that are in areas that Trump won in 2016 as well. We’ll get more into the details on Monday.