Last Friday, Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to pretty much reiterate what his Michigan colleague, Debbie Dingell, has been saying for months, which is that the Democratic Party has to listen to voters again. The wounds of the 2016 campaign are being re-opened thanks to Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, in which the former first lady offers her account of the election. She also takes swipes at Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, the media, Barack Obama, James Comey, and sexism for torpedoing her presidential hopes. It’s something the Democrats don't need right now, but alas—it happened. The divisions between the establishment and progressive wings of the party have been rehashed.
During the show, Moulton said that he feels the Democratic Party hasn’t learned anything from 2016, and that a true self-evaluation is still absent. He knows the game: The GOP controls the White House, Congress, two-thirds of the governorships, and 69/99 state legislatures. The party is in its worst shape since the 1920s. It’s not a national party. It’s not in a position to become a governing party. Moreover, he said that his party didn't just 2016, but several elections before that.
“If we don’t realize that we are partly to blame for that; that we’ve lost touch with a lot of American voters; we’ve lost touch with a lot of voters who used to be on our side—then, we’re not going to be able to move forward, “ he said.
Rep. Dingell has also said that to a certain degree, especially when it comes to the white working class bloc that killed Clinton in the general election. Dingell said that Michigan was in play—her party thought she was nuts. Trump would go on to win the state. She knows these workers, and she saw how Trump resonated with them. They’re concerned about jobs, not Russia. She also lamented how identity politics has hijacked her party, which has widened the gap between the Democratic Party and everyone else. She also said she gets mad when people say that Trump supporters are racist. She knows better; they’re not.
Moulton and Dingell may have the right ideas on how to get their party back on track. The issue is whether the rest of the Democratic Party wants to follow because this involves reaching out to Trump voters and other slices of the white working class demographic. The people who feel left behind. The people who voted for Obama twice and then flipped for Trump. There’s the insufferable urban-based professional wing of the Democratic Party that hates these people, doesn’t care about them, and thinks they’re relics of an older world, and yes—racist. In reality, they’re just hard-working Americans looking for ways to provide for their families.
My guess is that the vast majority of liberals don’t think they’re out of touch; it’s just that the rest of us are wrong. That’s fine. They’ll keep losing. There’s also an empathy gap with Democrats. And yes, until they recognize it—and much else–they’ll remain constrained to their urban strongholds, which isn’t enough to win national elections.