It has been almost a year since the 2016 election of Donald Trump, an election where Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to a reality star buffoon and one of the most unpopular major political candidates in modern American history.
The Democrats (who ran on a platform that largely defended the status quo) were annihilated, with Republicans controlling the Presidency, the House and the Senate, along with a vast majority of state legislatures and governorships. Vox reporter Matthew Yglesias put it best: “The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble.”
So, have the Democrats learned anything from their devastating loss? Apparently not. Time and time again the Democratic Party shows us that they have no idea what they are doing and lack any good, clear strategy for winning in 2018 let alone 2020. Take this recent statement from the Democrats’ twitter account: “Democrats are guided by our values. / We’re committed to doing what’s right for the American people.”
What does this even mean? What specific policies are right for the American people? Why aren’t Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer pushing for a strong message Americans can rally around (Medicare for All, Tuition-Free college, etc.)?
Hint, hint: It’s because they don’t want to upset their donors. If corporate establishment Democrats continue to dominate the Democratic Party with their lukewarm ideas, they will be poised to lose another election to Trump.
Democrats continue to show us that they are completely out of touch with what is happening to ordinary Americans and are divided on their strategy for winning upcoming elections. Clinton had made the mistake of building her campaign on fake politically correct outrage, airing ads about why Trump was “bad” because he used “naughty” language and running on the terribly self-centered slogan of “I’m with Her,” which allowed Trump to easily counter by saying, “I’m with you, the American people”.
Recently some Democrats embraced this same strategy of complaining about Trump and then they hope they’ll miraculously win, without laying out any appealing progressive policies. At the same time, other Democrats have the brilliant new idea of being in favor of “jobs.” But again, what does that mean? It is just a standard political buzzword which won’t get anyone excited to vote for you.
It is the combination of being subservient to donors, as well as their detachment from reality in the Washington bubble that drags the party further in a right-wing direction and leads to a lack of constituent representation.
Democrats need to appeal to their constituents by supporting specific popular policies (which polls show a majority of Americans support) such as Medicare for All, tuition-free college, getting money out of politics, legalizing marijuana and ending the War on Drugs, etc.
This then begs the question, is there any hope of change from within the Democratic Party that could propel them to victory in the future?
One glimmer of hope is the Medicare for All Bill proposed by Bernie Sanders, who found zero supporters back in 2014 for the same bill, but is now is supported by 15 other Senate Democrats (and curiously not supported by Democratic leadership like Pelosi). This is an idea which Hillary Clinton had enthusiastically said “will never come to pass.”
Perhaps this is a sign that people are finally starting to listen to progressives. Although the Trump-obsessed media is largely ignoring it, a new progressive wave is sweeping the country, with progressives backed by Our Revolution and Justice Democrats already claiming victories in contests at the mayoral, city council and even statewide level, while also showing good prospects of winning in the 2018 midterms and beyond.
The philosophies of neoliberalism and Clintonite establishment Democrats lost the Democrats the election and destroyed the Democratic Party at virtually every level of government. Some may say that adoption of progressive policies will push the party “too far to the left,” but again just look at the polls which show the enormous popularity of these progressive policies among all Americans, let alone Democrats.
Also, policies such as universal healthcare or raising the minimum wage are not radical among Americans or for the rest of the world. If the rest of the developed world has universal healthcare, why can’t America have it as well? A party in bed with Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, big Pharma and health profiteers, will never be able to muster robust popular support to win elections.
If Democrats want to win in future elections, they must abandon the establishment and corporate interests, ideas which lost in 2016 and will continue to lose, and make the Democratic Party a party for the people and working class by uniting behind specific bold progressive ideals.
Jordan Jain is a freshmen majoring in International Studies and political science. He is from Worchester, United Kingdom.