There was a Democratic tsunami in Virginia; they retook Drumthwacket in New Jersey; and they just put a Democrat in the U.S. Senate from the state of Alabama—a first in nearly a quarter century. There seems to be a lot of winning going on and despite the first half of 2017 being one of Democrats still tripping over themselves, they’re beginning to score victories. The GOP better get its act together or 2018 and 2020 could be incredibly painful years. Yet, one thing they have going for them right now is that even with these wins under their belt, the party is still heavily divided on everything. The Washington Post reported that there was more heartburn when some Democrats broke ranks and sided with Republicans on rolling back some Dodd-Frank banking regulations, while others kept their distance from Doug Jones, the senator-elect from Alabama. To be honest, that race is an outlier since Jones was running against Republican Roy Moore, who was saddled with horrific allegations that he sexually molested multiple women when they were teenagers. For many, the decision was not a hard one. For the die-hard Republican, Moore’s antics and sexual misconduct allegations were just too much to stomach; they stayed home. The Democratic National Committee’s Unity Reform Commission convened Friday and Saturday of last week, where the airing of these grievances and a discussion on a way forward was the focus of discussion (via WaPo):
From immigration to banking reform to taxes to sexual harassment, many in the party say it does not have a unified message to spread around the country. Those concerns flared up at a party meeting over the weekend in Washington.
Democrats tumbled into the #MeToo moment by successfully urging Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign following accusations of sexual misconduct, and the party triumphed in Virginia in November, winning all three statewide offices on the ballot and more than a dozen legislative seats. Democrats now lead in polling ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Regardless of whether Democratic nominee Doug Jones wins a Senate seat in Alabama, the party expects voters to remember President Trump’s embrace of Republican nominee Roy Moore [UPDATE: Jones won that race].
But pulling those advantages into a coherent message remains elusive in Trump’s tweet-driven Washington. Instead, Democrats are continuing to argue among themselves over how to present themselves to voters.
The commission has also become a place for each faction of the party to vent about what was lost last year. Commission members from both camps warned that the party has not solved the problems with branding and organization that led to its 2016 losses.
All I will do is refer you to all those silly news stories in September of 2016 that said, ‘Oh, Hillary Clinton has 77 field offices in Pennsylvania and Donald Trump only has two,’?” said Elaine Karmack, a Clinton appointee to the commission. “Donald Trump didn’t need 77 because he had a fully fledged, very professional Republican Party that has been operating for decades now. We are constantly beat by these guys.”
Nomiki Konst, a New York-based Sanders supporter, warned that the party needs to quickly clean up, using the public meeting to accuse past DNC leaders of earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars for no-bid contracts with just a handful of political consultants.
“We don’t have time. We have .?.?. state legislatures controlled by Republicans and poor state party chairs” struggling to raise money with little support from national Democrats, she said.
Yet, there are some signs of life out there. In the Midwest, Democratic state party chairs noted that they’re not as depleted regarding candidates, with recruitment experiencing an uptick in recent months. Now, regarding vetting, that’s another story. Some might be interested in the candidate training and decide it’s not for them. Some might have problems fundraising that lead to them dropping out. Scandals, personal issues, and other factors could cut into these numbers. In Nebraska, that number is around 55 candidates for statewide offices, a major improvement. We’ll see how this plays out. The headless chicken antics of the Democratic Party was never going to last, though the ride was fun. Yes, they’re still divided on messaging, but little by little we’re seeing the pieces of a robust anti-Trump movement growing and once the Left gets a hold on messaging and knows when to stop overreaching, this will be a force to be reckoned with in upcoming elections. The question right now is how long Democrats want to keep fighting on these issues and therefore making themselves look worse than the GOP. So far, that has been the GOP’s saving grace; the Democrats are just that much worse. The string of retirements, sexual harassment allegations, the lack of legislative accomplishments—all of this is hamstringing the party. It’s from afar, yes—but a Democratic storm could be gathering. It’s time for the GOP to draft legislation, sell it, pass it, and please for the love of Pete—find candidates who have not been accused of acting predatory towards teenage girls. That latter part should be the easiest fix.