The result in Georgia’s special election last night gave Democrats another election hangover and leaves them waking up on the lawn wondering how they got there and what’s become of their party.
The only thing Democrats won recently was the congressional baseball game, while the only way Democrat voters can seem to get Republicans out of Congress is by shooting them. And they can’t even do that right.
Jon Ossoff’s loss-off, and the three prior to it, has left the party messaging fractured and split along two primary lines of thinking; abandon the moderate center (which Ossoff attempted to cater to), by going further left (the Bernie/Warren activist wing), or moderate the message by attempting to peel away disenfranchised Trump voters, along with independents who have come to believe the White House reality show is a failure.
Two glaring examples of these fault lines have emerged on Twitter.
“Maybe instead of trying to convince hateful white people, Dems should convince our base—ppl of color, women to turn out. Cater to them,” Tweeted noted far-left feminist and author Jill Filipovic. Filipovic went on to rail against bigoted voters in proceeding tweets. “At what point is this not a failure of Democrats but toxic, vindictive voters willing to elected hateful bigots.”
Herein lies the Democrats’ problem, just as it was a problem when Hillary Clinton bellowed about a basket full of deplorables during the 2016 campaign. The Democrats and their base (Hollywood) think the key to winning elections is to insult voters. “They don’t vote for us because they are bigots” is not a strategy I would employ as a campaign manager but they are welcome to keep trying this, and they are welcome to keep losing.
Another problem with Filipovic’s theory: Trump won educated white women over the first major party female nominee in history. ”
The otherization and dehumanization of large swaths of the voting public is a primary reason operatives like Filipovic have been reduced to tweeting from the havens of their Upper West and East Coast cities. These urban islands are where the party is forced to mine for talent to send into strange flyover districts. As Heat Street reported, Ossoff had nine times as many donors in California, as his home state of Georgia.
The key to winning, according to Filipovic, is to act contemptibly toward voters and put up candidates in districts where they don’t live, while simultaneously marching through their streets and blocking highways. Bold strategy.
On the other end of the spectrum, is former Obama administration advisor Dan Pfieffer, who between CNN gigs basically wanders around acting like he had nothing to do with the past eight years or the rise of Donald Trump.
In a series of tweets, Pfieffer argued that the key to Democrats’ getting back on their feet is to go after swing voters, specifically those voters that flipped from Barack Obama to Trump in the 2016 election. Those voters handed Trump narrow victories in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and that other weird state that starts with a W that Team Hillary seems to have completely wiped off the electoral map.
“To take back the House, we need lean GOP voters who disapprove of Trump to vote for a Dem. This is hard, but very doable over 18 months.” Pfeiffer believes that Democrats should highlight the unpopular Obamacare replacement and hammer nothing else until 2018.
Pfieffer’s peel away strategy has immediately met with resistance from Mike Casca, a former communications director for both Rep. Keith Ellison and Sen. Bernie Sanders. “What if we proposed things our voters like? that seems easier and more honest,” Casca tweeted in response to Pfeiffer, and then ended his night with “i think a simple thing democrats could do to help in the midterms is to be more openly hostile to capitalism.”
The far left wing of the party has a problem however because Pfeiffer is for the most part correct. If Democrats can’t win back the white working class vote that Clinton ignored in 2016, and to whom Filipovic is openly hostile, they aren’t going to win another election for the next 30 years, until that demographic dies off. Long time to wait.
The problem with Pfieffer’s direction are two-fold. While there are Republican voters disenchanted with Trump, they may not be disenchanted enough to close their eyes and pull the lever for Democrats. That’s an awfully big gamble for a party that just threw $30 million down the toilet.
The second, as evidenced by Casca, is the far-left base, still enamored with Obama’s cultural justice campaigns and falling head over heels for Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have no intention of modifying or moderating their message.
This is the rudderless, sinking ship the Democrats are faced with as they attempt to find their identity after Obama.
Democrats either want to be a party that offers a more sane and measured alternative to Trump’s chaotic, unpredictable craziness, or they want to keep putting together symbolic marches while attempting to explain why some of their more extreme supporters are staging campus riots, talking about blowing up the White House and stabbing people on trains or shooting up baseball fields. Maybe they’ll figure it out post 2018, or a couple of years into Trump’s second term.