BY: Andrew Stiles
After getting blown out in this year’s midterm elections, the Democratic Party appears to be in genuine disarray.Read More
After getting blown out in this year’s midterm elections, the Democratic Party appears to be in genuine disarray.
Having spent the last several months campaigning furiously against the Koch brothers and “money in politics,” Democratic Senators on Tuesday sided with environmentalist billionaire/benefactor Tom Steyer over their flailing colleague Mary Landrieu by rejecting legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Landrieu is all but assured to lose her runoff against Republican Bill Cassidy in December, but Democrats aren’t even trying to save her.
On the House side, the “party of the future” reelected Nancy Pelosi as minority leader. In one of her first acts since returning to Congress, the 74-year-old Pelosi refused to let Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) vote in leadership elections. Duckworth, a disabled veteran, was unable to travel to Washington because of her pregnancy, and had been planning to vote against Pelosi’s preferred choice for ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Pelosi said she didn’t understand what all the “fuss” was about. But millennial patron saint Jon Stewart did, and proceeded to destroy her.
President Obama, meanwhile, responded to his second midterm shellacking by taking his ball and going home, and muttering sullenly about how he won the previous game. “I’m the guy who’s elected by everybody, not just from a particular state or a particular district,” he said in press conference following the election. Two-thirds of eligible voters didn’t vote in the midterms, Obama explained, which proves that most Americans have lost faith in “Washington” (i.e., Republicans), but still secretly support him.
According to liberal columnist E.J. Dionne, the president is “paying close attention to the feelings” of this “other electorate,” and intends to show them that “political engagement is worth the effort.” As for the people who actually voted, well, too bad.
These are all minor issues, however, compared to the much larger, structural problem plaguing the party, and that is: Democrats have become so goddamn boring.
Maybe this was inevitable. As you can see from the following chart, Democratic coolness peaked in 2008-09, and has declined steadily ever since, apart from a brief spike in 2012.
President Obama, once hailed as the greatest orator of his generation, no longer draws huge crowds. His speeches are monotonous and sleep inducing. He’s mentally and emotionally exhausted, and it shows. His greatest strength is his ability to beat Republicans in national elections, and he’s legally barred from doing that again.
Democratic leadership in Congress, meanwhile, is very, very old and uninspiring. So are Democratic policy proposals. Raising the minimum wage may be popular, but it clearly doesn’t inspire people to vote for Democrats who support it. They have taken the “War on Women” to hysterical heights, accusing Republicans of trying to ban condoms. Senator Mark Udall (D., Colo.), who ran almost exclusively on “War on Women” issues and still lost, was even heckled by one of his own fed-up donors.
There are no rank-and-file Democrats willing to shake things up in the way that Republicans such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have done for the GOP. Even Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), who is definitely not running for president in 2016, has done more to make a name for himself and challenge the status quo in Washington—whether or not you like the results—than any Democrat that comes to mind. Bernie Sanders did a filibuster too, right? Yeah, but he’s not even a real Democrat; he’s an avowed socialist. Also, he’s really old.
Remember Elizabeth Warren? She’s a Senator now, in case you had forgotten. For someone who gained notoriety for her fiery soak-the-rich tirades, Warren has been surprisingly subdued since taking office. One wonders if she still rails against “money in politics” while giving speeches to secretive groups of liberal billionaires. How subversive.
Looking ahead to 2016, the Republican field is broad, young, and full of compelling personalities. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, appears poised to nominate Hillary Clinton essentially without a fight. The 67-year-old Clinton has been part of the Washington establishment for decades, and has been running for president since pretty much the moment her husband left the White House in 2001.
Hers would be the most ruthlessly calculated, stage-managed, poll-tested campaign in history. Maybe the allure of the “first woman president” will excite voters enough to put her into office. At the end of the day, that and “not Republican” could be the extent of the Democratic message in 2016, just as “Hope and Change” and “not Bush” helped usher in the Obama era. But if voters are simply too bored to turn out for another Democrat, could you really blame them?Read Less