Image Credits: The Hill 8/25/18
By: Sally Meseret, Contributor
November 6th, 2018 – The midterm elections are bearing fast upon us. It was merely one year ago that our nation was coming to grips with the election of the new president.
What is left for Democrats?
After losing the country, but winning the popular vote by 3 million people, what is left for Democrats?
Nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
That being said, the only way political gain is going to come to fruition is if Democrats stop ripping Trump.
That’s right… Dems you want the Senate, Congress, a few more colleagues to work on election reform, a few more people to support free college tuition, someone to continue advocating to protect the environment… great, then don’t trash the president.
Where they went wrong
In Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, “90% of all negative ads she ran attacked Trump personally, as opposed to on his policy.” They highlighted his perceived moral flaws without considering the fact that the American people knew full well who Trump was. His lack of humility, decorum, or progressive ideals was not going to be a liability at the ballot boxes.
What Dems need to do is redirect their message to what they can offer the country.
- Increasing the minimum wage
- Expanding social insurance
- Creating more affordable housing and investing in infrastructure
- Criminal justice reform
These are the topics that need to be at the forefront of the democratic conversation.
Believe it or not, the Democrats’ constant demonization of President Trump and his supporters as the infamous “basket of deplorables” comment suggests, actually does Democrats a disservice. While they are criticizing his relationships and tweets, Trump is rallying voters, and promising an America first agenda.
Can Democrats still succeed?
If we take a look at the most successful Democrats of 2016 and 2018, we can see a clear theme in their campaign strategies: they were focused on people (and not ones from the other side of the aisle).
Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez won a major campaign upset against a 10-term Democrat in line for party leadership. Bernie Sanders galvanized a generation of young voters with his progressive, liberal, agenda. These leaders took to grassroots organizing and the retail politics of selling their platform to the people electing them.
Attack ads can be useful and effective, but they are also a lazy alternative to the hard work of convincing voters of the merits of each candidate. Democrats must stray from their attack only disposition, and forge a brand of their own creation.
The Obama coalition of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people cannot simply be expected, it must be earned. Complacency was the death of Democrats.
Democrats made up 52.9% of voters in 2008, which dropped to 47.8% in 2016. A drop of nearly 5% voter turnout where Trump won states such as Pennsylvania by 0.7% is death by a thousand cuts, ultimately costing Democrats the presidency.
Moving forward, election focus must be on the hard fight of winning hearts and minds – from both sides of the aisle. The strategy must re-focus on visiting states, campaigning at rallies, knocking on doors, handing out flyers, giving community speeches and town halls, the types of activities that form the backbone of American politics.
What is the Democratic platform?
The Democratic platform cannot be the denouncement of President Trump. Take for example, the popular campaign slogan “Love Trump’s hate.” Yes, many believe he is a spiteful demagogue, but regardless of how out of line Trump is with the many ideals that shaped America, he does not deserve a place front and center in the platform of the Democratic Party.
Democrats cannot continue to be characterized as anti–Trump activists; they must rebrand themselves as future builders and change makers. A repeal campaign of Trump is not a winning Democratic campaign strategy.
Many critiqued the 2016 election as a vote for the lesser of two evils between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Democrats must come together as one and stand for the ideals that unite them as a party, or lo and behold, they will crumble.
As the saying goes, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” We cannot let 2018 midterm elections be a repeat of 2016.
So on to the ballot boxes Democrats!