Nothing will ensure that the Democratic Party fails to recoup its losses under the Obama administration more than allowing Hillary Clinton to hijack and lead the resistance against Donald Trump. The Hill reported on June 4 that several Democratic leaders who supported Clinton during the election are encouraging her to lay low for awhile.
“When Al Gore lost the election, he went to Europe, gained weight and grew a beard. He walked away. And there’s something to that,” Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons told The Hill. He added that if Hillary Clinton feels obligated to hash out her failed 2016 presidential bid, “It would be nice to hear a little more about the things she did wrong, which I believe mattered more than what she has discussed.”
Brad Bannon, another Democratic strategist, told The Hill, “Complaining about an outcome and blaming everyone else is not a good political strategy.” Several other Democrats, including former Obama aides, echoed similar sentiments in saying that her widely publicized interviews, in which she discusses little beyond excuses for why she lost, are undermining the Democratic Party’s to recoup its losses.
Clinton lost to Trump because her campaign failed to convey a message that resonated with voters. Her post-election rhetoric resembles this failed strategy. She is focusing on her political opposition rather than on improving her own message and connecting with voters by developing policies and talking points that address their issues. However, Hillary Clinton and her blindly loyal supporters are too out of touch to figure this out.
Most voters don’t like Hillary Clinton, so her presence at the forefront of the Democratic Party reinforces the worst images of Democrats. Her candidacy was a bad idea from the start. She insisted on running for president and freezing out other opponents while under an FBI investigation, giving ample amounts of political ammunition to Republicans to use against her. In 2016, voters were desperate for something different than the status quo, but Hillary Clinton embodied preserving it. Since her election loss, Clinton has directed her efforts at rehabilitating her public image, but her public relations campaign only further divides the Democratic Party and allows Republicans to brand their political opposition as the party of Hillary Clinton.
Progressives staunchly believe that Sen. Bernie Sanders would have been able to pull off a general election win, given the unpopularity of Donald Trump. They argue that the path to victory for the Democratic Party is embracing progressive values and Sanders’ political revolution. Clinton and her loyal supporters have adamantly ignored discussing policy in favor of relying on anti-Trump sentiments to move the Democratic Party forward, and they undermine and subvert progressives at every turn. Whenever Clinton absorbs the public spotlight, her supporters argue that Sanders lost to Clinton and is too old to be the future of the Democratic Party. Both arguments reveal that they fail to comprehend why Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States while Hillary Clinton remains as unpopular as when she ran for president.
The Washington Post reported in June 2016 that more young people voted for Sanders than Trump and Clinton combined. Democrats desperately need these young voters if the party stands any chance for recovery. In 2018 and 2020, this demographic of young progressive voters will grow even larger, and Sanders’ grassroots strategies have proven to be the most effective tool the Democratic Party has to turn out young voters and inspire enthusiasm among their support base. The only voters Hillary Clinton managed to inspire enthusiasm from were wealthy donors. The Democratic Party needs to decide whether they will continue to be a party that focuses on wealthy donors, corporate lobbyists and Super PACs, or if they will be overcome by the radical transformation of the Democratic Party that Bernie Sanders and his growing support base demand. The failure of the latter to occur within will likely result in the emergence of a viable progressive third party, just as it did in Sanders’ home state of Vermont. Voters are becoming increasingly fed up with the lack of representation they are receiving from the current two party system.