Democrats aren't going to win back the House in 2018 by spending all their energy whining about Trump's over-the-cliff appointees– no matter how bizarre Steve Bannon is– and the growing influence of other far right fringe players, like Ted Cruz adviser, psychotic Islamophobe Frank Gaffney. Hillary hoped to win by emphasizing outreach to “moderate” Republicans. That didn't work out; the college educated suburban whites her campaign was based on reaching abandoned her and went “home” to Trump in the last week. Maybe if she had spent more time with a populist message that appealed to the Democratic base, she would have won Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania… and the presidency.
This morning, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party gave the Washington Post an OpEd about their vision of “fixing” the Democratic Party. Jon Cowan is the president of Third Way and Jim Kessler is their senior vice president for policy and the key word in their column was “but.” I'll get to that in a moment. But first let me dispel a perception that they were subtly pushing– “populists Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Zephyr Teachout (the Bernie Sanders of New York),” they wrote, “lost winnable races.” They did lose. But why they lost– at least in part– was because the Republican wing of the Democratic Party underfunded them. Let me explain that.
The DSCC and its allies spent $8.3 million backing Feingold. That wasn't nearly enough with the $17.5 million the NRSC put in against Feingold. And what really gets me angry is that the Democrats were far more even in races with conservative Democratic candidates– like Jason Kander in Missouri. The NRSC and its allies spent about $23.5 million defending Roy Blunt. The DSCC and its allies were close– $$20.6 million.
Today the Senate Democrats elected Little Chucky Schmucky to be their leader, sealing their fate. He included in his team Elizabeth Warren and balancing factor Mark Warner as vice co- chair of the conference and Bernie in a new position (meant to be a humiliating one), chair of outreach, balanced no doubt, by the announcement that there's also a new made-up job for the most reactionary Democrat in the Senate, Joe Manchin, now the Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
The committee ranking members will be:
• Agriculture: Senator Debbie Stabenow
• Armed Services: Senator Jack Reed
• Appropriations: Senator Patrick Leahy
• Banking: Senator Sherrod Brown
• Budget: Senator Bernie Sanders
• Commerce: Senator Bill Nelson
• Energy: Senator Maria Cantwell
• Environment: Senator Tom Carper
• Finance: Senator Ron Wyden
• Foreign Relations: Senator Ben Cardin
• Health Education, Labor and Pensions: Senator Patty Murray
• Homeland Security: Senator Claire McCaskill
It was basically the same story over on the House side. The NRCC and its allies spent $7.1 million attacking Zephyr Teachout. Pelosi's House Majority PAC didn't spend a nickel on Zephyr (ZERO) and the DCCC underspent. They and their allies put in a total of $3.4 million. When the DCCC wants dot support more “moderate” and pliant candidates, they get up with GOP spending. Their biggest race was for the open PA-08 race. The NRCC and its allies spent $8 million, The DCCC and its allies spent $7.3 million, close enough. Same thing in NV-03, another open seat (which the Democrats took)– where the NRCC and its allies spent $9.6 million to hold the seat and where the Democrats responded with a healthy $7.2 million.
It's important to keep in mind that the Republican wing of the party– the New Dems, the Blue Dogs, Third Way, the Beltway organizations dominated by K Street and Wall Street money– aren't interested in helping progressive reformers win. Some of the biggest progressive wins from last week– like Pramila Jayapal (WA), Nanette Barragán (CA), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), Jamie Raskin (MD)– were won with a grand total of zero dollars from the DCCC and the House Majority PAC.
Now… back to Cowan and Kessler' Third Way “but.” They wrote that “on social policy, Democrats have to practice what we preach: tolerance. Social policy, thankfully, is the place where all facets of the party are in harmony.” [That's most true, though not totally, because so many Blue Dogs and New Dems from that wing of the party have been defeated over the last decade. although the Democratic House conference still harbors, gun-nuts, homophobes, anti-Choicers, etc.] “The fight Democrats have led to fully include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and immigrants in our society, to protect a woman’s right to choose, and to stand for sane gun laws and holistic policing and criminal justice has been a unifying force for Democrats, not a source of division as it was in the 1990s. BUT we need to try to find a path to progress on these vital social issues that deploys less scorn upon those who do not see things completely our way. Sure, there is a fringe element larger than any of us would like who deserve our disapprobation. But there are far more who are just hesitant, weighing the matter, wondering if we’re moving too fast. A little empathy may help. That would make a stronger case, and embody the values we want from others. It only takes being called a racist, homophobe or misogynist once to permanently end a conversation with a potentially reasonable but reluctant voter.”
In other words, coddle Republican-lite Democrats and elevate them to leadership positions. That's always the song the New Dems, Third Way and the Blue Dogs sing– no matter how many times it's proven to be a catastrophic strategy.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis