You know the old sayings: a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut and even a broken clock is right twice a day. It’s very applicable in politics, and for The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank—who is not a conservative—he penned a rather doom and gloom op-ed for the Democratic Party as the 2018 midterm season is about to begin. Right now, the Democratic Party is an absolute mess. They have no leader, no agenda, no message, and pathetic fundraising totals. The establishment and progressive wings are still going at it post-2016, where the latter is convinced that if the Democrats had lurched to the Left—they would have won. The debate is ongoing in this camp.
While the Left may celebrate the plummeting Trump approval numbers (spoiler, folks: they’re going to go up again), Milbank lists four ways how the Democrats could totally blow their chances. For starters, he listed a rather irresponsible impeach Trump pledge, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ill-timed single-payer health care push, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s bashing of the outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)’s call for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House Democratic leadership to tender their resignations (via WaPo):
Rich guy Tom Steyer gets October’s Rogers Prize for turning one of the Democrats’ most unifying themes (the singular disaster that is Trump) into a source of discord. He launched a petition drive, backed by advertising, pressuring Democratic candidates to go on record supporting the impeachment of Trump and committing to “remove him from office at once.” Pretty much no Democrat thinks Trump should be in the White House, but even perfect unanimity among Democrats for impeachment won’t remove Trump. And the Steyer “pledge” just might prevent Democrats from winning in Trump-friendly districts they need to retake the House.
First runner-up for the Rogers Prize for Democratic Entropy is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who nearly salvaged Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare with his ill-timed “Medicare for All” rollout. The attempt to get Democrats to commit to single-payer health care, and particularly the attempt by some Sanders advisers to make it a litmus test for Democrats, provided a welcome diversion for Republicans at a time when they were feeling intense heat for their votes to take insurance from millions.
Second runner-up for the Democratic Chaos Prize is Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-Calif.), the fifth-ranking House Democrat, who just called for House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, Steny H. Hoyer and James E. Clyburn to step down after next year’s election. “There comes a time when you need to pass that torch, and I think it’s time,” she said on C-SPAN. It’s not a crazy idea to say Democrats need younger leaders (I argued the same a year ago), but Sánchez’s call to make these ducks lame halfway through the current Congress causes more disunity and distraction.
And honorable mention goes to Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman. When Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) delivered his passionate denunciation of Trump on the Senate floor last week, he validated the Democrats’ case against Trump. Yet Perez chose to attack . . . Flake. “His retirement is symbol of a Republican Party whose leaders allow Donald Trump’s divisive politics to flourish as long as it serves their political interests, and who fail to criticize this dangerous president until it’s too late,” Perez said of the early and outspoken critic of Trump. The malpractice baffled John Weaver, the anti-Trump Republican who advised John Kasich during his 2016 presidential run. “They can have the left and the center, but for some reason the leadership of the DNC doesn’t want that,” Weaver told me.
Milbank spoke with various Democratic and Republican strategists, noting the former really didn’t want to be named in his column. The Democratic operatives noted that the situation between the establishment and progressive wings will lend itself to situations where both sides will beat each other bloody in the primaries, despite being on the same page, while the rest of the party will overreach on the whole Russian collusion story.
There’s talk about the candidate pool the Democrats might have for the 2018 cycle, but is it good? The party did have one in 2006, which cultivated a party that could win the rural areas, coupled with how badly the Bush administration was managing the Iraq War, a blue wave crashed into D.C. That farm system has atrophied, as Barack Obama, while winning both his elections, oversaw a massive gutting of the Democratic Party down-ticket, with 1,000 fewer Democrats in office than there were back in 2009. There’s not vetting of these people. Yes, Democrats might have candidates, but as Milbank noted, without vetting from lower echelons of the Democratic Party, we could get one that “turn out to have played guitar in nudist colonies.”
The single payer push is evolving into a litmus test for support among the hard left cohorts of the party, with support for abortion among them. Both of these issues are poison outside of the urban areas of America. The Democratic Party’s position is hardly a surprise with their far left turn, especially on cultural issues. They’re curtailed to their city strongholds and the coasts, exactly where abortion on demand, gun confiscation, and speech codes, white privilege nonsense, and cultural appropriation lectures are popular. Democratic operatives already see the end of the movie. It ends with Democrats shattered once more as the GOP holds onto the House and makes gains in the Senate. They know approval ratings aren’t enough. They see the cliff. So far, every attack they’ve lobbed against Trump has failed. And with a party with no direction, no money, and few solid candidates—the makings of a wave are rather overblown.
As for Milbank’s point on health care, well—Obamacare is on a death spiral. It’s become a cancerous tumor on the health care markets, premiums are spiking, and it’s now anything but affordable for America’s middle class. Sanders knows his plan is insanely expensive, even The Washington Post editorial board noted this, which is why he dodges questions on the price tag. Also, support drops like rock when you tell voters that their employer-based plans—all 150 million of them—would be cannibalized for a system that will increase taxes, reduce access to specialized care, and lead to long patient wait times.
For more on how left wing health care economics falls flat, I’ll direct you to Guy; he’s written extensively on Obamacare’s serial failure. In the meantime, yes—Democrats have an opportunity to retake the House. For now, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.