Following the defeat to Barack Obama in 2012, Republicans were in a tough spot. Democrats beat Republicans on social media, just about every key battleground state, and they connected significantly better with women, young voters, and Hispanics, the latter of whom voted 71% Democrat. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus led a coalition of Republicans in charge of writing a plan to better connect with voters, collect analytical data, build a more effective social media presence and establish a better ground operation in key swing states.
Although many Republicans including President-elect Donald Trump did not heed the advice of the initiative, the party established ground game proved highly effective in close battleground states like Pennsylvania and Florida. In addition, the plan helped Republicans maintain a majority of State Legislatures, and Governor Seats, and helped Republicans preserve majorities in both the House and Senate.
Following last Tuesday’s election, the Democratic Party is likely in a worse position than the Republicans were four years ago. Not only did an overly confident Hillary Clinton lose a very winnable election, but she managed to lose traditionally blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan in the process. Adding on, the Democrats failed to retake the senate. The party’s wounds go way beyond Tuesday’s election. Since President Obama took office, the Republicans have not only dominated the Senate, but also the House of Representatives, Governorships, and State Legislatures.
How did we get here? Where did Democrats go wrong? As shown by Election Day ballot initiatives, liberal issues are relatively popular. Recreational Marijuana passed in just about every state that had it on the ballot, Colorado, Maine and others voted to increase the minimum wage, Nevada voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding firearm background checks, Californians voted in favor of introducing a measure to review the Citizens United Supreme Court case, and Arkansas became the first bible-belt state to approve medical marijuana.
For the Democrats, the problem is not the issues, it’s their candidates. Hillary Clinton dramatically failed to excite both the Democratic base and independent voters. Democrats can blame whomever they want to, but Middle America’s distaste for Secretary Clinton does not stem from Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson, Jim Comey, alternative media, or anyone other than Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party establishment. If Democrats want to move on, they need to recognize how and why they lost.
Hillary Clinton failed. She failed to get voters excited, she came across as arrogant and entitled, and voters simply did not trust her. Democrats looked at polls, listened to the media, and assumed they had the election already won. They failed to listen to who truly mattered; the people. Democrats failed to run a grassroots election. Millions of Americans are unhappy, economically insecure, worried about terrorism, worried about trade, and do not feel like typical politicians really care about them. You can argue whether their fears are rational or not, but that is not the point. Hillary failed to address people’s fear. After the Orlando Night Club shooting Secretary Clinton blamed guns, not terrorism for the attack. While a conversation about guns is not something we should discourage, many people feel Democrats are afraid to have a serious conversation about radical Islam. According to gallup polls from last year, Americans have not been this worried about terrorism since 2001. The problem is that establishment Democrats are not on the same page with common people.
Democrats need to know why Hillary Clinton lost so they can fix their mistakes. They need to stop blaming others, stop making excuses, and start owning up to their shortfalls. The days of public and private stance politicians are over. The days of scripted, calculated politicians are over. If Bernie Sanders proved anything it is that Democrats can successfully run a “by the people, for the people campaign.” Democrats can win an election without race baiting, without empty platitudes, and most importantly, Democrats can run a grassroots campaign. Hillary Clinton took money from just about anybody willing to give it to her. That did not sit well with young voters. If Democrats want to appeal to the next generation of voters, they need to start dramatically limiting who they take money from. It may not be the easiest way to run a campaign, but it certainly is the most popular way.
On March 1st the DNC will elect a new chairperson. If Democrats seriously want to content, they need a true progressive. Someone who will stand up for minorities, as well as the white working class. Someone who will stick up for unions, push for campaign finance reform and promote unity. If Democrats get the right candidate, stress the issues people care about, and stick up for the downtrodden, there is no question they will attract voters in 2018 and 2020.
I welcome any and all feedback. If you disagree with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts.