Republican members of Congress have been experiencing dissent and outrage from their constituents at town halls, which Democrats have been exploiting for political gain as though they are inoculated from similar public resentment.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is running ads based on the perceived one-sided backlash, continuing the Clinton campaign’s failed strategy of focusing on the defects of Republicans rather than courting progressives.
Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the…Congress,” failing to mention that she avoided engaging voters in favor of attending lavish fundraisers. She also repeatedly had protesters escorted out. If she ever makes an appearance outside of hiking trails and Broadway shows, she might experience the resentment that the GOP and Democrats are facing. The Democratic Party continues to employ her failed strategy of focusing on portraying the Republican Party as disliked, in disarray and divided, while failing to acknowledge the issues within their own ranks.
Republicans aren’t the only ones facing public outrage; Democrats are experiencing similar outrage in response to the dysfunctional government they helped create.
On February 14, the Washington Post reported that some Democratic leaders pleaded Sen. Bernie Sanders to encourage progressives to redirect their anger to the Republican Party. These Democrats would rather cower behind partisanship than face the demands of their constituents. For establishment Democrats, engaging with voters is a nuisance they would rather divert to Republicans.
Since President Donald Trump took office, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has faced several protests due to his pathetic leadership of the Democratic Party. Voters are outraged that he has voted in favor of several Trump nominees while ingratiating himself with Sanders without championing any progressive issues.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hosted a tone-deaf CNN town hall, during which she blamed the Yemen crisis entirely on Trump—it was instigated by the Obama administration—and condescendingly told a millennial that he needs to get used to capitalism. During a conference with the National Press Club on February 27, Pelosi claimed that Trump’s administration might be a message from God rather than an indicator the Democratic Party’s failure. Nancy Pelosi’s latest favorable ratings have polled less than 30 percent, with the entire Democratic Party maintaining favorability ratings under 40 percent, which is even lower than Trump’s rating of 42.3 percent.
Sen. Bill Nelson has faced activists urging him to oppose the Sabal Trail Pipeline in his home state of Florida. But like other establishment Democrats, Nelson only fights for the environment when its politically palatable for his donors.
In California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein skipped a town hall meeting organized by activists who were demanded access to their representative. Feinstein’s spokesperson told the activists that she might have time in April to hold a town hall.
Many Democrats have complained that they may face primary challengers in their upcoming bids for re-election. Sen. Joe Manchin dared progressives to find a primary opponent to face him, and Sen. Claire McCaskill claimed progressives were “purists” for wanting someone to challenge her.
Though a few Democrats have acknowledged that the Democratic Party needs to start representing working and middle class Americans again, the party is too ingrained with their wealthy and corporate donors to take action. Instead, the Democratic Party is hoping—like Hillary Clinton did during the presidential election—that the backlash against Trump will bring Democrats electoral wins. However, voters across the political spectrum strongly resent the political establishment that produced Trump. Every policy pushed by the Trump administration and the Republican dominated congress was facilitated by the gross ineptitude of the Democratic Party and them turning a blind eye to the bad policies and broken campaign promises of the Obama administration. The status quo has decimated America’s middle class, broadened income and wealth inequality to unprecedented levels, and sabotaged any push to meaningfully address the problems facing most Americans. The political establishment’s insistence on preserving the status quo only further incites calls to dismantle it.
Democrats are not immune to the discontent among the masses because Republicans are in control of the government. They must address their failed policies, weak opposition to the Republican Party, and continuous failure to acknowledge the terrible decision made in anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential nominee. Democrats have resisted voters’ calls to challenge the establishment apparatuses in power stronger than they have the resisted the Trump administration.