Since Donald Trump became the Republican Nominee for President I have spent a good deal of time and effort analyzing and criticizing his ideas and his behavior. All things being equal he will be there for four years which means there will be many opportunities to discuss him. So for the moment, I’m going to turn my sights on another target. The Democrat Party.
First, let me say this, God bless Hillary, she tried her best but the forces against her and her own baggage were more than she could withstand. I think she would have been a good President, but that’s over now and with her passing out of the picture, most of the old Guard is gone. Clinton and Kerry and Gore and Clinton again, they are out of the picture. Now is the perfect time for the Democrat party to do some very deep soul-searching to determine exactly what the hell it is and then to make the appropriate changes.
I won’t say where or who, but some years back I was conducting a media coaching session for a Democratic party big wig in a recording studio. It was just the two of us in a room with a TV camera, a VCR and a microphone. We sat down to do a mock interview and I asked him this question. “What does the Democrat Party stand for?” He stuttered and stammered and stopped and started and then got out of the chair and pounded his fist on the table.
“I can’t believe I can’t answer that,” he said. “That question goes to the core of everything we do and I don’t have a good answer.” Well, the fact is they still don’t. If you reflect on the Hillary Clinton Campaign and everything she said, you’ll be hard pressed to come up with a 75-word answer to that question. If you are running for office, you must be able to answer that question in 30 seconds or less. Here’s the mistake the Democrats made. They approached the campaign with the idea of “Educating” the voters. Bad idea. You don’t educate in campaigns, you leave impressions or feelings.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, had essentially one core message, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Yes, he had a lot of issues, but his core message was jobs, jobs, jobs. Trump didn’t need 75 words. If you asked him what he stood for he’d say, “Jobs.” He could answer the question in one word.
That’s one lesson learned from 2016. The other lesson came from a Senior Citizen, Bernie Sanders. His message wasn’t as short as Trump’s but it was just as effective. “Clean house,” was Bernie’s message. Get Wall Street and Madison Avenue, and the Billionaires out of our politics. Had Bernie been nominated there would have been no Wikileaks, no James Comey from the FBI, No Russians digging up dirt (because there isn’t any), no foundation and no spouse with a history. There is no doubt in my mind that Bernie would have won hands down.
So why did the party select Hillary? Because that’s the way the party works. The cards were stacked against Bernie from the beginning. For years Hillary and Bill stumped for other candidates, raised money for them, lent their names and fame to their campaigns, helped them win office and introduced them to all the right people. Bernie had done none of that. He didn’t have a single chit to call in. No one owed him anything because up until the time he ran in the Presidential primaries, no one paid much attention to him. He was not even a Democrat although the Independent Socialist did caucus with the Democrats. I know of several prominent Democrats who worked on Hillary’s behalf who favored Bernie but felt ethically bound to Hillary. Like it or not, that’s the way the political game is played and frankly, Hillary might have won had it not been for the Russians and James Comey. Should it change? Absolutely. Will it change? Well, that’s up to you.
If you expect Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi to change it, forget it, they are part of the hated establishment. They seem to think you can run on overturning Citizens United, while at the same time taking advantage of the decision and forming huge PACs. That’s two-faced and phony and rank and file Democrats should not accept that kind of behavior. We are better than that.
Look at what Bernie did in the face of incredible odds; he fought money that he could only dream about and an organization that was second to none and — he almost won the nomination. That old man (he’s two years younger than I am) showed Democrats the way and if they are smart they will follow the beacon. The problem is they are not smart and they are not progressive. Today’s Democrat party is almost liberal, but not quite.
Bernie stood for a real and clear choice in both the primaries and in the General election. The choice in the primaries narrowed as he pushed Hillary to the left, but being pushed there and being born there are two different things. In the General election, Americans would have had a choice between a populist playboy or a populist Socialist. There’s a whole lot of daylight between those two.
The Democratic Party has to practice what it preaches. It cannot say we are opposed to the Citizens United Decision while forming Super PACs and collecting money from special interest groups. The mid-term elections in two years should be a dress rehearsal for the main event that comes in four.
The Party has time to fan out with grass-roots workers to begin to fill congressional, gubernatorial and senate race coffers with small contributions from regular working folks. First, though, the Democrat party has to answer the question, “What do you stand for?” Once you answer that question voters will ask, “How does that affect me?” If the answers to those questions satisfy and motivate the Democrats can win again. It won’t take long to know because once there’s a new party chair we ought to have a pretty good idea about direction. When the audience hears the answer to the “What do you stand for” question, they will ask, “How does that affect me?” Answer those two questions, in a manner that satisfies and motivates voters and Democrats are in the race again.
Democrats have to show that candidates can win without Super PACs. Bernie showed us how now it’s time for the Democrats to follow that lead. The opportunity is here and it is now. We must strike now, while the fury over Trump’s election is still growing. The people are hungry for an organized cause led by new charismatic candidates with no significant ties to past candidates or ideas. If Democrats want to win again they must strike while the fury about the recent election is still growing. If they don’t do that, then I for one will back any attempt to start a viable third party, based on the principles outlined by Bernie Sanders.
And…from where I sit, that’s the truth!