In the time since Hillary Clinton’s election loss, the Democratic Party has been desperately trying to convey a sense of unity and has cited various outside forces as the reason why Donald Trump won. Though Democrats lost the presidency and suffered drastic losses nationwide during Obama’s administration, Democrats have yet to realize how badly the party has been run into the ground.
Since 2008, Democrats went from 58 seats in the Senate to 48 seats, 257 seats in the House to 194 seats, 29 governors to 16 governors, and 4,082 state legislative seats to 3,129. At the state level, Democrats are at their weakest point since 1920. Across the board, Democrats are at their weakest electoral position since the Civil War.
However, instead of addressing these realities, assuming accountability, and enacting meaningful reforms, the party’s establishment has strong-armed its opposition within the party to maintain power. Likely, a continuation of the status quo will further the Democrats‘ losing streak.
The Democratic Party’s delusional optimism, failure to adopt good policies, reliance on admonishing President Donald Trump, and confluence with wealthy and corporate donors prevents the enactment of the radical changes that Democrats need to rebuild their support. Though the party’s establishment has relied on identity politics as a public relations tool, it hasn’t attracted more diverse voters—even the ones Democrats arrogantly believed would overwhelmingly support their candidates.
“The first major party female candidate for president, running against a notorious misogynist, captured the Democrats’ lowest share of female voters since 2004,” wrote Musa Al-Gharbi in Alternet. “Contrary to the emerging Democratic majority thesis, there does not seem to be any demographic category with which Democrats are progressively improving. However, there are lots of them on the Republican side.” Al-Gharbi cited that, based on the New York Times‘ exit poll data, Democrats have lost support with virtually every voter demographic since 2008: Hispanics, blacks, millennials, low-income voters, and Independents. All of these groups have decreased their support for Democrats by several percentage points, despite the fact that nearly every state in the country is becoming more diverse.
While some have opted to support Republicans or third parties, others have been driven to apathy by a Democratic Party that is out of touch and has consistently failed to deliver.
“I don’t feel bad,” said Cedric Fleming, a black barber in Milwaukee, Wis., in an interview with The New York Times shortly after the election. “Milwaukee is tired. Both of them were terrible. They never do anything for us anyway.” The Times noted that roughly half of eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2016 election—a 20-year low for voter turnout. Democrats lose when voter turnout is low, and they have no one left within their party—except Sen. Bernie Sanders— who can produce the enthusiasm necessary to bring voters across the country to the polls.
Though Democrats depended on Barack Obama’s presidency to attest that the party was in touch with diverse communities, New York Daily News‘ Shaun King authored an article describing the broad lack of diversity among Democratic staffers, with only one black Democrat Senator, Cory Booker, and the only black chief of staff is in the office of Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican. “This is inexcusable and it has a devastating impact on the positions and priorities taken by senators themselves,” King wrote. He also cited an anonymous staffer saying that their superior refused to issue statements on important issues for the black community, like the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
This refusal to sincerely represent the voter demographics that Democrats market themselves to be the champions of sheds light on why Democrats are losing voters across the country. For eight years, Democrats were too busy praising Obama to hold him accountable for failing to deliver his campaign promises of hope and change. Instead, corporate and wealthy donors gained more power in Washington as Obama’s administration provided them with impunity, bailouts and greater political access.
The Democratic Party further embraced this neoliberal partnership with corporations and wealthy elites by coronating Hillary Clinton as the party’s 2016 presidential nominee. Her candidacy sent a message to the party’s voters that it was choosing an oligarchic model that benefited the top 1 percent while abandoning issues that would benefit voters who need help the most. Rather than backing off of this self-destructive message after Clinton lost, the Democratic Party is repackaging it with the same failed marketing strategies dependent on Trump fear mongering, insincere identity politics and neo-McCarthyism.