Democrats, Don’t Get Ahead of Yourselves

If you’re following the news at all, it seems like everybody has an explanation or excuse for why Democrats failed to secure the Presidency in November. Not enough people challenged Clinton; Sanders campaigned against Clinton for too long; Trump tapped into the silent majority; Clinton was unelectable; Trump had limitless media exposure. You’ve heard them all?

The most prevalent narrative has been that Democrats simply weren’t excited about Hillary, evidenced by a historically low voter turnout. Less than a month after E-Day, a CNN Politics producer named Gregory Wallace wrote a piece titled “Voter Turnout at 20-year Low in 2016,” see the article here. A far more recent report covered by The Hill, “New report finds that voter turnout in 2016 topped 2012” states the contrary, with some revealing findings which related to some important lessons that Democrats would be wise to take home. Here are the 4 things Democrats need to know for 2018.

DON’T expect midterms to be a Reverse of the Red Wave of 2014

Political operatives have for too long given too much weight to “standard” models of elections, dismissing everything else as an anomaly. If this continues, Democrats are going to walk out of 2018 with a boot print on their butts. As we learned in the DNC leaks, the party threw their support behind Clinton from the beginning. This is understandable, considering that she is arguably the first presidential candidate to ever be over-qualified for the job, and had laid out a blueprint for pragmatism. However, Sanders mobilized a very different block of voters: a plurality of progressive voters who were moved by a sincere appeal to ideals.

Obama courted the latter expertly in 2008, when Clinton was once again the establishment candidate preaching pragmatism. Obama meanwhile played the role of the upstart professing a sincere appeal to ideals in his message…What I’m saying is that Hillary supporters weren’t going anywhere but to the polls had she lost the nomination, but many Sanders voters stayed home and even more pulled their support from the Democratic Party and voted for Trump or third party candidates. I’ve heard Clinton loyalists argue that they shouldn’t be used as a mainstay of support to back up whichever charismatic upstart throws their hat in the ring, but to be frank…the alternative is President Donald J. Trump. You decide.

Be the party of inclusion

Can we drop the damn labels already? Democrats should not be the party of LGBT, Latinos, African Americans & women. That coalition on paper can be a dominant one, but in practice it means mincing their message beyond recognition every time they enter a room. People might be ignorant, but intuition is at the forefront of most decision-making processes, and people can sense when they are being manipulated. Democrats should be the party of everyone that is not a Republican. As we know from the results of November’s election, that is a large majority of Americans. Defining your party in the negative doesn’t scare away those people in the majority of the American electorate, or those donors who could otherwise be willing to max out for their candidate.

Trump voters haven’t gone anywhere

Can we ignore, for a moment the fact that tensions between the Department of Homeland Security & the National Association of Secretaries of State mean that the midterm elections will likely remain just as vulnerable to interference as they were in the 2016 presidential elections? The 49% — and it is 49% — of Americans that voted in November are still here. Many of them are not upset with Trump at all. Of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs, 23 belong to Democrats, and 10 of those are in states that Trump won. That’s a lot of defense to be played when the politician with the megaphone is President Trump.

Political operatives are speculating about the chances of a 60-seat Senate GOP supermajority that would be filibuster-proof. This scenario would allow for appointments, including Supreme Court justice nominees, to fly through the Chamber. Dear Democrats, don’t think for a second that you can count on scooping up remorseful Trump supporters. They’re largely non-existent.

Prepare for any and every scenario

Finally, the good news for Democrats: between marches, rallies, community organizing, testifying before lawmakers, blowing up the phones and inboxes of elected officials, circulating petitions, campaigning, and voting is that you’ve been quite the rowdy bunch of activists. Alas, there is hope for the wayward Democrat. They can reasonably hope to pick up 11 seats in the House of Representatives without overextending themselves. Unfortunately for Democrats, it’ll take a bigger win than that to gain a majority, but with how chaotic Congress has been and with the president actively attacking GOP Congressmen, an opening may present itself. Even with a big win, it is critical to be ready with a legislative agenda. Avoid the fate of the Republicans who stumbled out of the gate with a dumpster fire of a healthcare plan for which that they had 7 years to plan.