the election 2016 hangover: where do democrats go now?

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Yes, the Democrats got a rude awakening last Tuesday and probably spent the rest of the week searching for answers at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Sure, party leadership is probably coming off a bit of a bender right now. I can dig it. Losing to Donald Trump last week is a bitter pill to swallow, so get it all out of your system, Democrats, The Hangover (the movie) style.

Once you get your head back on straight, come to terms with this reality: Trump’s victory/your loss was a symptom of a larger problem festering within the Democratic Party at every level: lack of strategy, lack of message, lack of listening, lack of grassroots network. And it bit you in the ass. Again. The real question isn’t, “Why did we lose?” It’s, “When will you learn?!”

Rust Belt Red
If watching the entire Rust Belt go red on Election Night shocked DNC and state party leadership, they all should be fired. They’ve taken for granted the blue collar, middle class in these states for so long without actually competing for their interests that it results in more than just losing the presidency. Democrats have lost the Midwest at every level. As it stands, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature in:

  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin

On top of that Republican governors sit atop the state government in all those states, but Pennsylvania (watch your six, Tom Wolf).

President Barack Obama’s popularity in the Midwest overshadowed the reality that Democrats have been steadily losing ground in the Midwest for years. No longer can they blame anyone but themselves.

The issues that plagued the Clinton campaign magnified the deepening divide among liberals and progressives who believe the party has gotten too cozy with Wall Street, with corporate donors and with centrist policy at the expense of core liberal values that once defined the Democratic Party.

True, unions may endorse Democratic candidates, but many of their members voted for Trump. We can say all day they were duped (they were), but who can blame them? National Democrats stopped paying attention to them. Voters went with the only candidate who showed interest. While Michigan Democrats were pleading with the Clinton camp to take the threat seriously, the DNC waved at them from afar.

When people feel they only have one side empathizing with them, guess who they support?

“You’re Fired!”
My only hope coming out of this election cycle is the DNC cleans house. Same goes for state party leadership throughout the Midwest; particularly in Indiana. Why Indiana? Because I lived there for 25 years and have watched the Indiana Democratic Party become a farce. All that’s missing from their efforts is Yakety Sax playing the background. In fact, I’d probably trust Boots Randolph more than any of the current state party leaders at this point.

With that in mind, Indiana Democratic Party, you are dead to me. DEAD. I may live on the other side of the country now, but I still get the occasional call from INDems for donations or support. At this point, kindly stop calling me. You will never get another dime out of me until you get serious and quit ceding three-quarters of the state to Republicans.

Who’s the Boss?
As for the DNC, a lot of talk about who will lead the party into a brave, new chapter is abound. We’ve heard names like Howard Dean (the past), Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison (the present) and South Carolina State Party Chair Jaime Harrison (the future). Honestly, all three are solid choices, but I have a better person in mind.

f8cd0ecae63b47e68fc87ababad92e2f.jpgTheo Epstein.

You think I’m joking? I’m being absolutely serious here. I have no idea about Epstein’s passion for politics (he donated to the Clinton campaign), but there’s no questioning his passion for winning. And there’s especially no questioning his bona fides. He took two “cursed” baseball franchises and turned them into world championship powerhouses after decades of futility, close calls and heartbreak.

Whatever Epstein knows about baseball, I bet he could apply that to politics and win.

Given my doubts he would leave Major League Baseball for the soul-crushing nature of national politics, I suppose Democrats can at least hope party leadership looks back at 2016 and listens to the message of the people, and it’s a pretty simple one:

Move to the left.

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