Democrats barely eked out a win in an election pitting their presidential candidate against the most damaged, despised and thoroughly disreputable sitting president in American history.
And damned near lost
Indeed they did, in what should have been a landslide.
That’s not Joe Biden’s fault. He was the horse that ran as a camel, after being run through a primary campaign that could only have produced a camel. Savor with me a short description of the Democratic Party variations that filtered out every possible winning combination to give us Joe, their best shot to represent what Dems collectively sorta, kinda, maybe think they stand for.
So many wings they fly like barnyard chickens
There’s the Moderate wing, created by the Democratic Leadership Council In 1985, shaking in terror after the landslide victory of Ronald Reagan. And the Conservative wing, an unofficial coalition in Congress combining a conservative majority of Republicans Party and the mostly Southern wing of the Democrats on a sort of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em philosophy.
But wait, there’s also a Libertarian wing for those who can’t quite stomach the actual Libertarian Party, but need to get their civil rights rocks off. Not to be forgotten (merely ignored) is the Liberal wing, which is what Democrats used to be way back when they had the welfare of the needy in mind. Remember Franklin Roosevelt?
The Progressive wing covers liberals, but are sometimes considered to be more left-leaning. Not to be left out in the cold (or abandoned by the side of the road), we have the Social Democratic and Democratic Socialist wings. I’m not sure of the difference there, but the dreaded word socialist is in there, so it’s probably a non-starter in this language-crippled country.
We now have seven wings on our Democratic chicken and a better understanding of how they failed to take off to what should have been a landslide victory. Try getting off the ground when you flap seven wings.
Cowboy humorist Will Rogers said it best a hundred years ago…
… “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”
Meanwhile, over in diminishing Republican-voter country
Republicans always punch far above their weight, dominating legislation whether or not they hold a majority. They’re unified and vote as a bloc, because to step out of line is to see funding dry up and an alternative (well-funded) candidate supported in the next election. Take as an example that all Republicans have honored a “no new taxes” pledge since 1991. That’s 29 years ago, folks and that’s what we call discipline.
And it works. They dominated the Obama presidency when he had all three levers of power (White House, House of Reps and Senate), as well as when he lost his majority.
Democrats better bloody well figure out who they are
They understood that back in the day. They were the working man’s party, supporting labor unions and standing tall for the little guy. America is still a working man’s country, even though we’ve pissed all over that majority since Ronald Reagan. And that’s when Democrats got super nervous and lost their nerve.
In a mad dash to the center, however that shifting ground is defined, they shed the strong pair of wings that supported FDR, Truman and John Kennedy for five more crippled philosophies.
Trump voters are abandoned Democrats
Take a quick (or a long and concentrated) look at the red states on a national electoral map. They’re predominantly poorer than the north and east, have lost more jobs and industries and have far less economic mobility. They’re mostly stuck and terrified of the future that lies before them, as well they should be.
Trump promised them jobs, a return of the industries they lost, a chance at economic survival and a major draining of the swamp that Washington had become. Granted, he lied to them and failed on all fronts, but they damn near gave him a second shot at it.
What did Biden promise?
Joe promised to not be Donald Trump. The abandoned half of America didn’t want to hear that and he’s very lucky he won on that basis. The abandoned half of America wants jobs and hungers for those who represent them In Washington to not be in the pocket of Big Money.
They want what Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want, for many personal and philosophical reasons, but mostly because that’s what the Democratic Party once was. They’re the new blood, the logical replacements for Pelosi and Schumer and you, Joe.
For god’s sake, you’ve been there for 47 years and we love you, but the time is past for the old white majority—and I say that as an old, white majority.
The party and the nation is thirsting for Green New Deals and gun control and better schools and a place at the table when dinner is served…give it to them, Joe. Bring in a young and progressive Cabinet and dare the Republicans to not confirm them. There are over 250 legislative actions you can do without Senate approval. Do them. Find the most articulate and passionate young members of your party and give them a constant platform from which to speak.
Don’t ever let up. Play the quiet old sage who rarely takes the stage and, in the words of MLK, understands that “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
Photo: Patrick Semansky | Credit: AP