Does the Democratic Party Have a Future?

When Republicans lose an election, the response from the press is immediate and overwhelming: Republicans need to move to the left and be more like Democrats. But somehow, when the Democrats’ power slips away over a series of election cycles, the message is quite different. The Associated Press takes note of the Democrats’ current woes:

As Democratic senators gather in Baltimore to talk strategy and lick election wounds, their party faces diminished powers in Congress, GOP dominance in many states and a shrinking pool of potential candidates for future elections.

In the November elections, Democrats lost their eight-year Senate majority, and saw their House numbers fall to the lowest level in seven decades.

In the states, Republicans will hold 31 governorships, and more state legislative seats than they’ve had since 1928.

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So therefore, Democrats should moderate their left-wing views and become more like Republicans? Heh. Just kidding.

The big gap between Democratic success at the presidential level and elsewhere “is a real dilemma, I think, for democracy really, not just the Democratic Party,” said Rep. David Price of North Carolina, a 14-term congressman and former Duke University political scientist. He said Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia display the “most egregious” examples of gerrymandered districts for congressional and state legislative races.

So how is it that the GOP gets to gerrymander all of the states? No mention here of the many states where the Democrats have been in charge of redrawing district lines. In any event, gerrymandering isn’t the Democrats’ real problem at the Congressional level; rather, the fact that the Voting Rights Act forces a concentration of the most loyal Democratic voters into a relatively small number of districts. But whose fault is that?

[I]n a sign of local Democrats’ struggles to change voters’ minds, Price said the best prospect for reversing the trend — in the South, at least — is in lawsuits that allege racial bias in the way Republicans drew district boundaries.

Pathetic. To hear the Democrats tell it, you would think there are only 10 or 11 Republican voters in the whole country, but somehow they manage to win majorities in both houses of Congress, 31 governorships, and an overwhelming majority of legislative seats. This sort of delusional thinking is not the sign of a healthy party.

Many Democrats say the party needs to sharpen its messaging.

When a party is in a steep, long-term decline, some would say that it needs to change its entire message. The “war on women” and race-baiting just aren’t getting the job done. But it would take an intervention on a cosmic scale to force leaders of the Democratic Party into any realistic self-evaluation.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California on Tuesday announced a new messaging team led by Steve Israel, D-N.Y. “We need a message,” Israel said. “An effective message doesn’t tell voters what to think. It builds on what they feel.”

Feelings, not logic! Somehow I don’t think that approach will be a radical departure for the Dems.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said Democrats must do a better job of highlighting economic improvements and a dramatic increase in energy production under Obama’s watch.

Energy production that the Obama administration opposed and did its best to stop. Remember when Steven Chu John Holdren, Obama’s first Secretary of Energy, said that he wanted American gas prices to match those in Europe–i.e., $6 a gallon? Good times, good times! Until recently, Obama’s mantra was that we can’t drill ourselves out of high energy costs. (“America uses 25% of the world’s energy, but has only 3% of the petroleum reserves.”) When that turned out to be a lie, he made a virtue out of necessity and claimed credit for what he couldn’t prevent. Drill, baby, drill!

Some Democrats note that their congressional leaders have been around for decades, and don’t personify fresh ideas. The House’s top three Democratic leaders — Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn — are in their mid-70s. So is Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

And so Hillary Clinton will be, before long. The Democrats are a geriatric party. Nevertheless, they think Hillary is their best hope:

Presidential politics remain the Democrats’ brightest spot. They’ve won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential races, and they have high hopes for a 2016 field that could feature Hillary Rodham Clinton.

My prediction? Hillary will be almost as irresistible a candidate in 2016 as she was eight years earlier, and eight years younger, in 2008.

Still, some Democrats worry that Clinton might come across as a stale, too-familiar politician.

I would say stale, over the hill, out of touch and annoying, but yeah.

If Republicans nominate Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney, however, that issue might be negated.

Finally, a ray of hope!

So, does the Democratic Party have a future? Of course it does. That is the beauty of the two-party system. When voters get tired of the party in power, they turn to the other guys. They have nowhere else to go. For the Democrats to reverse their long-term decline, however, they will need to turn away from the far left and move closer to the center.

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