At his state of the union address, President Donald Trump effectively articulated the policies he wants to implement. The most impressive part of his address was the bipartisanship. Not only did Trump appeal to Republicans, but he also highlighted several proposals that Democrats have called for. He called for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment and trade protectionism. It’s another example of how he isn’t a conservative or a liberal, which means he’s open to ideas on both sides.
Are Democrats going to work together with the new president on issues they agree with? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look that way, and that will cost them dearly.
The Democratic Party’s hard-left base is out for blood. Many of them demand no compromise with Trump. To get their message across, they’ve launched widespread protests across the country to show outrage over everything the new president does.
Wisconsin congressman joins nearly 70 Democrats protesting Trump’s inaugurationAs a new political session begins, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., laid out his priorities and explained his reasons for Read…
This led Democratic lawmakers to drag their feet on his Cabinet appointments. In overwhelmingly liberal California, politicians are planning to pass measures that will counter the Trump administration’s policies on topics like immigration.
Even though the party’s establishment succeeded in making Tom Perez the new Democratic National Committee chairman, he immediately hired the more radical Keith Ellison as his deputy. It’s all part of their new strategy to push the party farther to the left. They hope it will help them win in the 2018 midterms, which are historically advantageous to opposition parties.
The left-wing narrative of the 2016 presidential election is that Hillary Clinton lost because she was too moderate and an elitist. They believe U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, would have been a better presidential nominee because there was more enthusiasm for him at the grassroots level and in rural areas Trump flipped from blue to red.
I don’t think it’s clear whether or not Sanders would have won. He did perform better against Trump in one-on-one polls, but as we saw through this cycle, polling doesn’t stay constant or is all that accurate.
It is true he did have more support in flyover country compared to Clinton, but he didn’t have as much as Trump did. Looking back at the Wisconsin primary, more people voted for Republican candidates than for Democratic candidates in the rural areas. The same is true if we look at the Michigan primary.
It is accurate Clinton did not excite the Democratic youth, but Sanders had the same effect on African-Americans and Hispanics in the party. It is possible that those key demographic groups would have been less excited for the Vermont senator than for the former secretary of state.
Lastly, Trump’s campaign strategy would have been different. It would be too easy to attack Sanders for his socialist ideology, which has failed across the world. In a debate, Sanders could cherry-pick the Scandinavian countries to make his case, but Trump could easily counter with many other examples. Greece is bankrupt, people are starving in Venezuela, and France’s Francois Hollande (a member of the Socialist Party) did not run for a second term due to a 4 percent approval rating and an atrocious economic recovery.
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party decided to make Democratic socialist Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn their leader after a disappointing defeat in the 2015 general election. The next general election is supposed to happen in 2020, but so far Corbyn has been a disaster. If Prime Minister Theresa May, leader of the Conservative Party, called for an early general election this year, her party would defeat Labour by a landslide.
So far, the Democratic Party’s base has been counterproductive in getting their message across. They attacked Trump supporters during the campaign, rioted in the nation’s capital during the inauguration and blocked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from entering a school. These tactics shouldn’t be surprising, we’ve seen it before in Wisconsin during the recall. The most notorious example being when a bunch of people dressed as zombies held a protest at a Special Olympics event.
Meanwhile, Hollywood can make all the political statements it likes, but in the end they will only appeal to fellow elitists on the coasts, not middle America.
At some point, Democrats need to realize listening to their base is toxic. Although Wisconsin has historically been a swing state, Republicans weren’t winning at the presidential level until now. This is the result of Democrats withdrawing from rural counties where they were previously supported and merely focusing on cities like Milwaukee and Madison.
There are only two ways for the Democratic Party to win again. The first is sticking with the base and waiting for some catastrophe to occur. The second is to actually change the party’s identity to make it more inclusive for centrist voters in suburbs and the countryside. The former is wishful thinking that may never materialize, while the latter actually involves doing something.
If the Trump presidency proves to be a success, then the only question is if the Democrats will realize America doesn’t want leftism and that they have to change. If not, then they might as well just sputter into irrelevance.
John M. Graber ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in history and political science.