Democrats Not Happy With the Party

Today, a poll reports that two-thirds of Americans think that the Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most people. The startling fact is that 44% of Democrats themselves agree with this statement!

I assert that this is further evidence that the Party needs to undergo a thorough re-branding. The mess that was the coronation-to-be of Hillary Clinton has left the Party muddled, lacking a coherent message that attracts the base voters. Republican voters are far happier with their own party.

See: Analysis: 2/3 of Americans Think Democratic Party Out of Touch

A lot of people got upset with Bernie Sanders for not endorsing Jon Ossoff the other day, he had to backtrack and claim that he was supporting him.

Same thing happened in The Nettherlands. Our PvdA used to be a workers party, and used to be the largest or almost largest party for decades.

It got to be a career platform for career politicians and lost touch with most of its base. It got slaughhetered in the last elections. Half its electorate went to our far right “stop the forriners”- party; one quarter to the “Yes, we still sell you that being easy on big Corporations will mean more good jobs”-party, and the remaining quarter went to the tow hardlining Green and Socialist parties.

The Democratic party does not need a “re-branding”; it needs to restructure and reorganize itself as being representative of the concerns of the constituents where it needs to win votes, including those in Rust Belt and coal/oil states where the desire for a progressive trade and energy policies are at odds with traditional employment in these regions. It has largely associated itself with progressive causes such as LGBTQ rights, minimum wage, female reproductive rights, et cetera but hasn’t given the largely conservative populations in these states a reason to feel included or that the Democratic party will represent their concerns. The Democrats have also largely aligned themselves with unscrupulous industries such as pharmaceuticals, personal liability law, and banking in order to get funding which prevents the party from taking action to curb in excesses and abuses, i.e. one of the big failures of the Affordable Care Act is that while it did increase medical insurance coverage and ensure that many pre-existing conditions could be covered, it did exactly fuck-all to deal with the problem of out-of-control medical costs and in fact may have made this problem worse. (Not that the Republican “plan” was going to address that, either; cross-state competition is not going to be of any practical benefit in a “market” which is driven by contingent need rather than planned expense, and in which no one can explain what the actual costs are or predict what the cost of treating a particular condition will be.)

The future of the Democratic party needs to be people like Elizabeth Warren, who raised money using grass roots campaigns and appealing to the need to curb corruption without destroying institutions and throwing Bernie Sanders-esque temper tantrums. But even Warren is going to struggle against opponents with superPACs backing them and public policy “institutes” executing elaborate smear campaigns. The comprehensive answer is true campaign finance reform: campaigns in which the candidates can spend only a set amount of money, in which superPACs and other unscrupulous “not approved by Candidate X” organizations are restricted in their actions and prosecuted for deliberate libel and slander, and once elected politicians are held publicly accountable for making the effort to live up to their promises or not, as the case may be.

As for the Republicans, I find it someone disingenuous that they’re “far happier with their own party” given that it was hijacked by a pussy-grabbing Internet troll who openly insulted and abused the candidates the party leadership promoted for the presidential candidate, and the fact that its internal factions are now infighting like Marxist and anarchist groups in the Spanish Civil War. Nobody is happy in a household that is in constant turmoil.


The problem lies not with the Democratic Party, but with the legions of Sandroids who fail to realize that in a pluralistic democracy, demanding everything all at once is a recipe for getting absolutely jack shit.

Hell, I’m a fucking communist and pacifist who wants to see the utter abolition of the United States military, and I know that it’s going to be a hell of a long time before we get there at all. So I’ll gladly take what I can get when I can get it–and that means a centrist-to-moderately left Democratic Party, so that the reactionaries (of whom there are a shitton in the US) don’t get too scared off.

Because the alternative to that is nothing at all, and when no progress at all is made millions of people suffer. I’m not interested in letting millions of people suffer just for the sake of my narcissistic vanity–the whole point of my worldview, after all, is to make peoples’ lives better, so if I’m not doing that when I have the chance then I’m already failing.

Elizabeth Warren isn’t going to do sh** for the Democrats, if the goal of the party is to make itself more likely to do well on a national stage. She’d be a total non-starter in the South; might as well just tot the southern states up in the Republican column before you start the campaign. This is why I say that Democrats have to re-brand themselves; if all they do is try to identify as “liberals”, they won’t change the dynamic at all. The Democracy was at its best in this country when it wasn’t a “liberal” party, but rather when it was a party for the people. Sometimes, that involves liberal economic and social themes, sometimes, not so much. I would assert that protectionist trade policies, once a Democratic go-to, are hardly “liberal”, and it’s in the abandoning of them that the Democrats eventually lost what I call the Trafficant voter (after the rust-belt Republican congressman who was a constant thorn in the side of the Republican establishment, because he was an ardent protectionist).

She could play up being from Oklahoma.

The “brand management” approach to political identity is likely to be as effective as changing your company’s name to deflect from the fact that your product unexpectedly blows up frequently in normal usage. The majority of voters in this election didn’t vote for Trump or Republican candidate over ideology or “brand”; they voted in the hope that their candidate would act to ameliorate their fears, even if the fear was completely manufactured (e.g. terrorist immigrants) and the proposed solution was patently ridiculous (e.g. build a wall). The Democrats need to listen to the constituents in the districts and states they need to win, and respond with workable solutions. They also need to realize that fact and policy, while great for a certain subset of voters, is insufficient to appeal to the masses. One of the biggest liabilities of Hillary Clinton is that she seemed insincere even when she was actually fully in favor of the cause she was advancing, just as to many voters Trump seemed sincere even when he was speaking unadulterated gibberish.

I think that Warren would be a stronger candidate than you give her credit for, and her progressivism is grounded in pragmatism; dealing with out of control banks not by tearing them down or nationalizing them, but by strengthening consumer protections. She’d certainly come under fire by the far right but that will be true for any opposing candidate; those fuckers would excoriate Reagan if he were alive and running today. Your example of “protectionist” trade policies is an appropriate one; policies designed to restrict trade and artificially balance trade deficits almost inherently result in more harm than good, and the notion of bringing back assembly line factor jobs at livable wages by enforcing trade restrictions is so risible it deserves its own HBO comedy special. A better policy is one that encourages foreign investment–bringing US dollars back into the nation–while building our own next generation of infrastructure and encouraging the brightest minds to immigrate here so that the US remains in primacy of technology development, a role we are quickly relinquishing with an increasingly scientifically illiterate employment and lack of political support for investment in thr sciences.


That’s a similar number to the percentage of the Party that identifies as liberal in political ideology surveys (moderate and conservative identifying Democrats combine to form the majority.) It’s also a similar number to the percentage of the vote that Sanders got in the primaries.

The primary fight was along the fault line between the center-left and the left that are part of the coalition we call the Democratic Party. It saw a lot of tough messaging and rhetoric directed not just at Clinton but at the Party itself. To make matters worse they lost. The lost not just to a run of the mill GOP candidate. They lost to Donald freaking Trump. They did even worse in Congressional elections despite GOP candidates frequently trying to distance themselves from their nominee. That includes getting less total votes nationwide in House races than the GOP. They are the minority party everywhere at the federal level. That’s the kind of time when party divisions come to the front as they try to right the ship.

That number makes a lot of sense to me. I’d frankly be more surprised if it was lower at this point.

This looks to be the sort of result I would expect from a mild media-based poll, following such a disastrous election cycle.

The members of the party that lost, especially in the way that they did, would be expected to say that their leadership was out of touch. That, or that they would follow the “it’s all a vile plot by the evil media” route, that some people choose instead.

My own opinion is that they are probably right, though not in any of the ways that each party’s opponents wish that they were. There is no indication that the people who support either Democrats or Republicans, think that the OTHER party is MORE in touch with the people than their own party is. And that fits with the election of a person who both party leaderships reviled, as the President.

What I have seen for a long time now, is that lots of people are unhappy, and both parties have tried to tap into that, but what they each came up with to resolve that unhappiness, has been either ineffective, entirely off target, or directly and abominably destructive. Hence these results.

The health care mess is probably the easiest issue to look at for illumination. To begin with, both party’s seem to have forgotten that the health care issue started out as a secondary indicator of problems in the US, rather than being directly a problem. The cost of living went up dramatically, and employers dealt with competition and profit pressure by cutting benefits and raising employee share of the burden. Neither party attempted to do anything directly about that, and the Republicans declared that nothing at all should be done about health care. (They STILL think nothing should be done, as is evidenced by the fact that they did nothing at all to prepare what to replace the ACA with for the 8 years they spent venting against it). The Democrats decision to GO with the ACA, which again did little to reduce health costs, and nothing to address falling wages and retreating employer benefits, and even made sure that anyone who couldn’t afford insurance would be punished for being underpaid, showed how out of touch with reality THEY were.

Ironically, the Great Wall of Trump may prove to be the ACA of the GOP. It will cost Americans a great deal of money, and although it is popular with some anxious people, it is ALSO designed to address something which is really only an indirect problem for most Americans. We aren’t underpaid and overworked with no benefits , because illegals are taking our jobs. And our cost of living isn’t higher than it should be, because there’s a relative tiny number of people sneaking across the desert. But the Republicans, and Trump especially, have turned the idea of the wall into a symbol for Americans to start demanding that their needs be attended to. When the thing is built, and the bills for it start to roll in, and Americans start to realize that it was never going to address ANY of the real problems they face, there will be the same shift of anger that we have seen with the Democrats objecting to the relatively ineffective ACA.

Right now, the Republicans aree seen to be more in touch by THEIR followers, because they are angry and venting, and so are the people who elected them. But that is likely to change, as their followers SLOWLY catch on to the fact that the solutions that the GOP are going to enact, wont actually solve anything either.

If the Democrats are ready with a real alternative by then (no sign yet that they are even thinking about it), then they could clean up. Otherwise, we’re likely to see more of the same all-tumult, no-fixes stuff that we have for the last three decades, for the next one as well.

Warren would make an excellent candidate-- for president of the SDMB, where she is wildly popular. Generally speaking, though, this MB is not representative of the US as a whole. Plus, she’s a one term Senator from Massachusetts with little to no foreign policy experience. The Democrats can’t do better than that?

Can they? Cory Booker seems disinclined and too compromised by corporate connections, Gillibrand is basically the next Clinton Number Two (“By hook or by crook we will!”), and nobody outside Colorado knows who Hickenlooper is.

Your description of Warren, on the other hand, reads exactly like a prior two term Democratic president. She does not have the same charisma as Obama, of course, but she has a considerable record of consumer advocacy and a strong history of opposing corporate predation, both which will likely be significant popular issues as this administration goes on. She also knows how to work some spin on her opponents, and while it is pretty easy to make Mitch McConnell look like a fool (he does it every day and I’d be surprised if he can tie his own shoes) she understands how to boil down complex issues to comprehensible fundamentals. She is pretty much what progressive voters liked about Hillary Clinton sans the baggage, and the challenge is broadening her appeal to more center-conservative voters disillusioned with the GOP’s radical slide towarf Tea Party factionalism.


Elizabeth Warren is too old to be a viable candidate. She is 67 now and will be 71 next time around.

Don’t worry about it, the Clintons have it covered. Chelsea is being positioned. She will be ready for a congressional seat in 2018 and immediately start her campaign for president. On this board she will be proclaimed the most qualified candidate ever.

Democrats do have a bit of a problem. They have lost a lot of the more basic offices through which potential candidates can become known. There are only 16 Democratic state governors now. State legislatures have gone increasingly Republican. They are a minority of the Senate, and a huge chunk of the Democratic senators are too old to really figure in a campaign for President (according to conventional wisdom). The result is that 2020 is going to be wide open. This can be both good and bad. It can be good, in that competition can lead to the cream rising to the top. It can be bad, in that the fight can drag down everyone as a whole, leaving the winner wounded for the fall.

I knew Barack Obama. Barack Obama was a friend of mine. Senator Warren is no Barack Obama. Obama was a young, charismatic, fresh face on the scene with a broad interest in every political topic. Warren just doesn’t get people outside the hard-core base excited.

Don’t forget Mom, who is starting to pop up at public events. The next step is highly visible stumping for Democratic candidates in 2018. Then, on to the Presidential campaign.

Well, it worked for Nixon. :slight_smile:

The party doesn’t need to “re-brand” itself. It has to listen to its constituency and come up with policies that address its needs, instead of generating new slogans and running tired old corrupt warhorses.

Hell, I know people in Georgia who think Jon Ossoff is too liberal. It’s a tough nut to crack. Hillary did better down here than others in recent history, but that’s because the more traditional upper class Republican sort were horrified by Trump and thought Hillary was ok.

Jesus, don’t even joke about it or it may really happen. It’s like the Democrats just can’t help themselves but fawn over the Clinton name in hopes of bringing back the Camelot of Arkansas. I honestly never saw what most found so great about Bill Clinton to begin with (and called his getting blown in the Oval Office by five years prior, though I did say “secretary” and not “intern”), but Chelsea Clinton has about as much political appeal as soggy cornflakes.

shrug What you say may well be true, but I don’t see anyone else stepping up to the plate who doesn’t bring along large exploitable negatives. And to be clear, the pre-Presidential Barack Obama had little to say about foreign policy despite being on the Committee on Foreign Relations and chairing the Subcommittee on European Affairs for a session. No candidate is going to be strong everywhere, and I have to believe after four years of unrestrained Trumpism people are going to be highly focused on corruption and corporate influence in government, consumer exploitation, and the mismanagement of economic affairs, all issues that Warren is competent to address.


I tend to think that large top-down strategies tend to be too unwieldy to make a lot of difference. Circumstances in various states and districts are too different for the same approach to be viable everywhere. The presidential election is unpredictable because it turns so much on who’s running, who’s been in power, and unexpected issues catching fire.

Remember that the Republican party did a large-scale “autopsy” in 2012 of its failures in the most recent presidential elections, with lots of suggestions for rebranding, and then all of that was forgotten as Trump emerged, seized control of the party, and somewhat shockingly won.