So it didn’t exactly play out as expected for the Democratic Party with a Republican President elect ready to take the White House. Democrats were hoping to win the House and the Senate. Instead, out of the 435 House members, we now have 188 Democrats (247 Republicans), with 44 Democrats (54 Republicans) in the Senate. Not done yet! We will also see further impacts to the Supreme Court bench and the gerrymandering will continue.
So the headline of election 2016 - The Democrats just got a whipping!
Now, what can the Democratic National Committee (DNC) do to get their political machinery back on the saddle? How does the DNC pick up the pieces, rise and thrive? What would they see if they peered into the inner recesses of the party soul?
#1 DNC’S IMAGE IS TARNISHED: Perception is everything in a politics. How about the DNC disassociate with everything that is dishonest, act swiftly at the first sign and send a strong message to the electorate. Is the party exhibiting ethical values, and fostering a culture that will reward those with such values? Is this going to be a party that is willing to change and respond to the needs of the people or will it be responsive to corporate America funding the campaigns? The branding is a very important component of success – and there is a change needed, staying authentic and real for the electorate.
#2 NEW LEADERSHIP: It is time for the DNC to place leaders in the front that will reflect those values and walk the talk. Was DNC doing enough to encourage new leadership or was everyone just saying AYE to the establishment? Disband the old party machinery! Bold ideological shifts via bold leadership! Promote strong independent voices, reward expression of new ideas and vision. Who are the party role models that can help craft a new image? Is it Elizabeth Warren? Is it Bernie Sanders? Is it Martin O’Malley? Is it Keith Ellison? The party needs the leadership to resonate once again with the electorate that has increasingly grown disillusioned with the policies and politics.
#3 THINK AMERICA OF TODAY AND ITS VALUES: What are the core American values that DNC should focus upon? Are the party core values based upon the needs of America and the electorate? Listen hard and fine tune the values, based upon the people it serves. Is this is the party of a “rigged economy”, “in bed with wall street?” The party may need a serious shift in the policy positions and grassroots efforts towards winning back the electorate that went with Trump. Is everything perfect in America that we continue business as usual? Or is the electorate disillusioned with DNC’s policies and politics and the party needs to focus upon real change?
#4 BOLD COMMUNICATION: If the DNC does not question what is wrong, plays favorite, supports each other in an echo chamber, there is a price to pay. Some Democrats think that they lost the general election in June, and as they screamed, they were targeted, ignored, insulted and even attempted to brainwash, to favor the establishment story - unbelievable, as it may have been. How do we deal with people who are calling attention to the issues? When California’s Bernie Delegates were protesting at the Democratic National Convention, folks were expressing dissatisfaction with them, their voice suppressed. But, when there is peaceful expression, it should be allowed to express and learnt from.
#5 ADDRESS THE ECONOMIC NEEDS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS: Bernie Sanders called it recently. “I come from the white working class, and I am deeply humiliated that the Democratic Party cannot talk to the people where I came from”. Is this the party that will question the system, seek to make it better or ignore dwindling opportunities for the masses and a decaying infrastructure? Connect with the population of the rust belt, see what their issues are and address it? There are so many unemployed Caucasian white men in Middle America. Jobs have disappeared for those that do not have college degrees. The burgeoning population, immigrant issue, a changing world is a real problem affecting them. Trump was just speaking to that at packed auditoriums. Is the party going to eschew corporatism against economic-justice? How can the DNC make choices ignoring the screaming lobbyists, via the strength of mind not dictated by choices viewed through the lens of an election win or funds for an election campaign?
#6 AN ELITIST PARTY: Obama has recently argued against the idea that Democrats can afford to write off any group or region of voters, saying, “We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that's been a running thread in my career.” No group can be ignored! Yes the party appeals with urban America, but it needs to go beyond. Is this the party that will flaunt expensive Armani jackets or one that which will speak from the heart and zealously find solution to real American problems? Is DNC going to target their base, hoping for miracle wins, or rub shoulders with the white blue collar worker, and meet their needs? That needs to happen district by district, at the grass roots and ultimately deliver a resounding impact all across America.
#7 OBSESSION WITH CULTURE: Is this the party that will flaunt “progressive values” as achievement, or will economic prosperity be the barometer? Are the Democrats obsessed with cultural and social issues like abortion, equal pay for women, wealth and income distribution, climate change? Yes these issues are VERY important, but is this progressive ‘stuff’ hampering the party message? How far will this branding carry you with the electorate who has jobs, food, housing and a new age economic vitality on top of their mind? Here is proof: Whites without a college degree, made up a third of the 2016 electorate; Trump won them by 39 percentage points. Half of these voters said the economy was the most important issue, 14 percent said immigration, majority opined that international trade reduces American jobs. Trump’s campaign had a tagline “Make America Great Again” and he filled up stadiums discussing these issues. Hillary’s campaign was “I’m with her” and “Stronger Together”. Stay focused on the needs of the electorate, listen, acknowledge, assimilate and act decisively, diligently to make it a better America.
#8 EDUCATION FOR THE MASSES: A focus on education can single handedly create a rich vibrant happy economy. How about a massive funding for college education that includes trade school, tiers beyond the community college programs? Can we replicate the success from other parts of the world?
#9 INTEGRITY AND DEMOCRACY; KILL THE SUPER DELEGATES: The electorate want integrity and true democracy. Can the DNC once and for all kill the Super Delegates, kill the Primary Caucuses? Can the DNC simplify the primary election that currently varies drastically from state to state and prevents majority from having their say?
#10 INTROSPECT ON WORKING-CLASS RESENTMENT OF THE POOR: That is not classified as racism. The DNC needs to understand the context. The dole outs are not positioning the party well. Is this money thrown into a well? Classic case of a Chicago high-tech worker, developing a huge resentment about the dole outs that were being handed out to folks living in his luxury high-rise in the guise of “affordable housing” and laughing at him working so hard to make a living, while they poached off the state and federal. That can get you livid!
In conclusion, part of so many social media feeds is the “Should’ve Would’ve”, with everyone chiming in, baring heart broken souls, seeking answers. We hear all sides, “let us stay united”, “let us continue the revolution”, “let us change the electoral college”, “Berniecrats are to blame”, “the ones who stayed at home are to blame”, yada, yada. But, this is the moment for the Democratic party to introspect and learn. The media bemoaned that the Republican party was in shambles before the elections, but, as it turns out it is the DNC that needs to resurrect. Is Trump’s win treated a fluke or a tactical shortcoming from the DNC – the attitudes will decide whether this party gets re-built or will it remain decimated? Indeed, George Santayana’s words cannot ring truer for the state of the DNC today—“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.