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How Obama cost Democrats their base

How Obama cost Democrats their base

Having spent my life in Republican politics, there is much about the Democratic Party that baffles me. I had a front-row seat for the fight over race and religious fundamentalism that transformed the GOP from the Party of Lincoln to a racist mob. What was happening across the aisle was of bare academic interest to me. How did the Democrats execute their transition from the party of the blue collar left to the party of college educated professionals? That’s a history I’m only learning now. And with no real interest in their party’s main agenda, I’m finding myself attached to the Democrats like a refugee from a tropical country trying to make a new life in Minnesota.

The Washington Post published a fantastic op-ed this morning that explains with outstanding clarity the forces beyond race that have alienated their party from its traditional base.

Many Democrats think that Trump supporters voted against their own economic interests. But voters don’t want concentrated financial power that deigns to redistribute some cash, along with weak consumer protection laws. They want jobs. They want to be free to govern themselves. Trump is not exactly pitching self-government. But he is offering a wall of sorts to protect voters against neo-liberals who consolidate financial power, ship jobs abroad and replace paychecks with food stamps. Democrats should have something better to offer working people. If they did, they could have won in November. In the wreckage of this last administration, they didn’t.

While a tremendous explanation of how Democrats lost their voice in the Obama years, it also outlines a crucial dilemma. For alienated Republicans and former Republicans who have allied themselves with Democrats, this is the agenda we fear we will enable – a flight from markets into a lunkheaded resistance to business innovation in the name of protecting the vulnerable. In other words, a return to life under Democrats and their allies in the western world in the 70’s.

The agenda Stoller describes is probably what it would take for Democrats to regain their working class swagger. It’s also what we fear most in policy terms from a Trump administration. It may be that we can’t “restore balance to the force” until people like me and the rest of the Democrats’ tentative new allies in the business world have either split off into our own organizations or rejoined a reformed GOP. For my Democratic friends, let me offer a strange piece of advice – if you find me trying to join your party, it isn’t a sign of success. It indicates either an aimless political party, a broken political system, or in this case, a lot of both.


  1. Here’s some interesting evidence that the aftereffects of the housing crisis had more effect on Rust Belt election results than manufacturing or agriculture (although the effects of education, race, and SSI income were larger still.)

    This evidence is consistent with what some economic critics like Michael Hudson and Steve Keen say about the growth of the financial industry and levels of private debt.

    The article concludes with some speculation that the Trump administration’s efforts in manufacturing policy might have less effect than housing policies it might pursue.

      1. Interesting that these small farmers hold only Obama responsible for the failure of the GIPSA rule….and the backlash that ensued politically in favor of Trump….Congress’ role is overlooked. As with so many issues, it’s not as simple as it looks. It is sad that so much effort was expended to develop regulations that would help these farmers only to have lobbyists defeat years of work. That doesn’t excuse Obama for lack of leadership, but he is not solely responsible for the outcome.

    1. Excellent analysis. One point the author did not incorporate that I think is inherently related to housing decline and loss of equity, is the impact this has upon what parents can provide for their children. We know about the massive trillion dollar college debt that exists….could part of the reason be related to the inability of parents to assist their children with tuition and related education costs as they hoped to be able to do? Kids end up living at home longer under mom and dad’s roof along with grandma and grandpa, adding to financial strain and feeding the sense of futility and anger of many heads of households. “It just wasn’t supposed to be this way. Not in America.”

      Another point that interested me is the observation that the GOP agenda will make affordable housing even less available as institutions and programs are eroded through political changes. Think of the impact this has upon transportation needs and strain on budgets – less ‘wiggle room’ for anything but the necessities in life with the real likelihood of increased debt levels. In addition, the author mentions SSI disability….with the announced intention to reduce entitlement funding, one can assume that SSI and all attendant programs – SNAP, etc – are going to be vulnerable.

      The ultimate irony is when money issues drove Trump’s support – either the desire by the uber-wealthy for more (tax cuts/favorable regulations/less re-distribution) or by those who feel (and actually have) have lost ground, the only sector that will truly benefit are those who always benefit….not the promise(s) that Trump led his working class base to expect. Those who will be hurt most by the changes Republicans are formulating – changes to health care access, welfare assistance, or wages are in for more disappointment. Instead, what they will see if even less opportunity for their situations while the privileged benefit.

      Socio-economic issues may have driven this election, but there is no rolling back globalization, robotization, AI-driven impacts on how work is done and who will benefit in the jobs arena. America will continue to become increasingly diverse – Blacks, Hispanics, and women will compete and win jobs from working class white males, and the wealth divide will create an even deeper problem before natural forces of survival coalesce into some type of uprising. The “genie” is out of the bottle and she ain’t going back in.

      1. Mary, your point about student debt is very relevant, including to the arguments about the rise of private debt. Student debt is one of the fastest-rising forms of private debt. And servicing student debt is a big reason why young people aren’t forming new households, which in turn holds back economic growth.

    2. Ran across this article in my Brookings brief and it looks at the issue of class and racial identify in the rust belt that transcends stereotype. Our situation today is so much more complicated than our ability to explain.

      Alia Hanna Habib: ” I want to read about outsiders among those supposed outsiders, about those who sit on the sidelines of the economic sidelines we now love to refer to. I want to hear from someone writing from the inside, but without the overlay of elegy or romanticism or nostalgia that almost always comes with it. Given my experiences, I don’t share those sentiments. It’s hard to be elegiac about a world that treated you with ambivalence at best.

      As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie put it, “When we reject a single story, when we realize there is never a single story about any place, we gain a kind of paradise.” And as someone who believes deeply in the power of writing to help us re-imagine our world, I still have hope that telling these stories could change how Rust Belt communities, and Americans, see themselves.”

  2. I have blue collar working men in my family who voted for Trump. When asked why they voted that way all pretty much said the same. Nether party is paying attention to my issues or concerns. So I wanted to shake things up for both main political parties making it uncomfortable for the establish interest. They figured they had noting to lose. I did clean up their language a bit.

    Some of the woman relatives voted Trump in the hopes he would swing the Supreme Court to kill abortion in our country. Looking at his history and Republican politicians history I do not think this will be a high priority. But a useful issue to get people with short memories to vote for them. Solve it and they would lose this useful tool. Which is why even when the GOP has had total control like now never abolishes abortion.

    The coalition that elected Trump and the GOP majority is fragile. If the economy goes sour or the health care system is made more chaotic and more people priced out of health care or Social Security and Medicare is successfully diminish I think it will fall apart. I expect with deficit spending, lower individual and corporate taxes and deregulation the stock market to get a goose in the short term. But this will encourage reckless risk taking and bring out the cheaters who now fear justice but would not then, destroying trust capitalism depends on. I worry about a market collapse eventually like we had in 2008 with the orange one and the GOP in control. Joe martini is stupid like Joe six pack. I fully expect the GOP to over reach . And I think Trump will be more interested in his well being over the country. The political situation is very unstable .

      1. There is irony for those GOP-led states that refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA. Republicans plan to block grant a smaller amount of medicaid funds to states which will not be adequate to meet demand. This has led 5 Republican governors who expanded medicaid under the ACA to appeal for caution regarding changes. They know ending this federal subsidy will present enormous fiscal challenges. Likewise, those Republican governors (Scott Walker, WI) is concerned that since his state didn’t expand medicaid, they could be hurt even more.

        All I can say is: poor baby.

        “It’s an ironic and unintended parting gift from President Barack Obama, whose namesake health care package triggered a rush to Medicaid that will leave some of the most conservative states in America spending more than expected to insure the poor after he leaves office than they did before he entered.”

        “The states that did not expand essentially saved nothing, collectively lost out, literally, on hundreds of billions of dollars in federal financing, left millions of people with no coverage and at the same time have experienced enrollment growth because of the streamlining in the Affordable Care Act. So they they ended up harming only their own populations and not helping themselves economically at all,” said Sara Rosenbaum, professor of health policy and management at George Washington University.

        Read more here:

      2. Hardly an unexpected turn of events, but some Republicans are leaning towards authorizing an additional 10 billion to help prop up subsidies for low-income people, despite House Republicans having sued in ’14 to stop that exact thing.

        Compared with the full cost of repealing the ACA, that’s little more than a drop in the bucket and not much more than a stunt to buy some time. More importantly though, this is where the rubber really meets the road, where the GOP has to decide just what parts of Obamacare they’re going to decide to prop up and which are left to rot.

        Propping up low-income people, welcome though that relief is, isn’t going to stop a potential market collapse. Insurers don’t like uncertainty, and any assurances from Republicans that a replacement is on the way will likely be short-lived at best. If the ACA’s provisions to help Medicare and the Medicaid expansion are repealed, that’s going to hit hospitals and every single state in the country all at once.

      3. The ACA subsidy proposal you cite is also a very inexpensive “suck up” to Trump to make him “look” like he’s keeping his promises…….

        Watch the governors on this one. As I noted in a post yesterday, the pain in medicaid and ACA is going to be most acute at the state level and the governors know it. Even WI Gov Walker, scum that he is, is appealing for help because, like many red state governors who didn’t expand medicaid and thus didn’t have the infusion of federal revenue, now they have more people to serve and are in an ever deepening benefit hole. I don’t feel a bit sorry for the governors and state legislatures but I do feel for the people who will be hurt – who always are the ones who pay the price for political malfeasance.

      1. Had Obama had more courage (or better advice), he should have made the stimulus larger. This was the perfect time for a major infrastructure program. Of course, Repubs fought both but the stimulus should have been larger. I agree heads should have rolled on WS and in the banking industry.

      2. Having a common threat in Trump is creating some unusual alliances between the right and left and this is one area where I think it’ll be important to gauge just how much they’re willing to put their proverbial boot on the throats of those who commit such egregious acts against the American people.

        In the current Republican Party, such as it is, these guys could get away with anything short of saying Jesus sucks or spitting on Reagan’s grave (not so sure about that last one, tbh). Does a new conservative faction take up the mantle of equal treatment under the law or do they allow themselves to be subject to the same old bullshit that infuriates so many people?

        It’s not just on the right of course. Those on the left have to make amends, arguably even more so. Anyone who claims or aspires to be the party of the people simply cannot let those who trample them underfoot and get away scot-free. It’s a recipe for everlasting mistrust and skepticism.

  3. I have to disagree. As supporters of American labor, Democrats attempted to repeal the tax credit for corporations that outsource jobs to foreign countries.
    Naturally, congressional Republicans blocked the measure. But who do white blue collar workers support? Republicans.
    The reason that Democrats have lost is due to one simple factor: Propaganda.
    Republicans excel at propaganda, Democrats seem to find the concept distasteful.
    The sad fact is that American electoral politics has devolved into a TV propaganda war for the fleeting attention span of low-information voters.
    The Republicans understand this. The Democrats still don’t.

    1. Nothing but a convenient excuse that lets Democrats continue avoiding hard truths.

      Democrats attempted to repeal a bad tax credit for corporations and failed. What’s your point? 13 Democrats in the Senate just voted against a measure that would’ve allowed cheaper, identical versions of medication to be imported from others countries. By contrast, 12 Republicans voted for it, which normally would’ve been more than enough for it to pass if Dems had voted in unison.

      Does one vote suddenly make Republicans the champions of those who need medication and Democrats a bunch of corrupt assholes? You know it’s not that simple.

      That aside, and getting back to the point, tell me, specifically, what was in Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ platform in this past election that was supposed to speak to the working class in this country? Seriously. Beyond lambasting Trump, where was the plan to address the growing concerns of automation and technology that keeps putting people out of work? Where were the ideas for health care beyond just blandly repeating a few good provisions about the ACA?

      Democrats have no ideas. They’re intellectually exhausted and weak, always being left to play reactionary to the Republicans. That’s why you see Sanders’ “revolutionaries” like Michael Moore and others openly talking of talking over the party and little to no serious effort being made to stop them.

      1. Democrats have no ideas. Wooo, Ryan. Exhausted, yes. Look at what did pass over the total obstruction of Republicans – you know the list – if not, I’ll recap, but I do not accept a blanket statement that Dems have no ideas.

      2. Actually there was quite a bit on her issues pages, as usual. On her labor page were commitments to invest in creating new job (there was a specific plan for huge numbers of wind power jobs in Appalachia), restoring collective bargaining rights, raising the minimum wage, strengthening overtime rules, creating an apprenticeship system (modeled on Germany’s), and stopping wage theft. In addition on her economy page were proposals to cut back on outsourcing and increase profit-sharing with employees. All this stuff was backed up with thick, serious white papers.

        Hillary’s campaign had more serious ideas and plans than any from either party since at least the ’60s. It’s a testimony to the power of propaganda that even political aware people don’t know about it.

      3. @Fair Economist: Those proposals are all well and good, Economist, but the overwhelming majority of them are just rehashed ideas from Bill Clinton’s time as president. Does that mean they should be rejected out of hand? Of course not, but it does showcase a disturbing lack of vision for a new world. Raising the minimum wage and improving overtime rules is fine, but that’s not an economic plan.

        @mime: With all respect, mime, having better health care ideas than what Republicans are currently proposing is a pretty low bar.

        That aside, admittedly I could’ve been more specific when I said Dems have no ideas. What I meant was is that they have no broad economic plan and/or ideas. They don’t know how to cope with a transforming world and so they’re left with scattered proposals here and there that’re fine on their own, but they don’t translate into an economy that offers something for everybody. That was one of Hillary Clinton’s many problems.

        Obviously the Republicans are no better and in many cases much, much worse. It is what it is.

  4. WOW. This ought to shake things up! Feeling better about having DJT as CIC?

    C-SPAN ‘investigating’ why congressional livestream switched to Russia Today

    By Peter Sterne 01/12/2017 04:32 PM EDT

    On Thursday afternoon, C-SPAN’s online live video coverage of Congress abruptly abruptly switched to a live feed of the Kremlin-backed news channel Russia Today. The livestream continued to show RT for about 10 minutes, before switching back to C-SPAN.
    The sudden cut to RT, an English-language network funded by the Russian government, happened at about 2:30 p.m., while Rep. Maxine Waters was speaking about SEC regulation.
    Deadspin editor Tim Burke, who was watching the C-SPAN livestream at the time, recorded a video of the sudden switch.
    “This afternoon the online feed of C-SPAN was briefly interrupted by RT programming,” the network confirmed in a statement. “We are currently investigating and troubleshooting this occurrence. As RT is one of the networks we regularly monitor, we are operating under the assumption that it was an internal routing issue.”

  5. LOL, don’t worry, Democrats don’t view anything that puts Trump in the White House as a “victory”.

    The Democrats are still the party of the blue collar left, such as it is. Their policy agenda is pretty in line with what unions are pushing for – improved organization rights, substantive minimum wage increases. The long term view, I think, is pretty much in line with yours – a recognition that we are on our way to a robot servitor world and the long terms solution is thing like a Universal Basic Income.

    The problem is that a large section of the blue collar community has rejected that – in particular Obamacare, which was a big benefit which was targeted pretty specifically at them (workers with below-average incomes). They are demanding a world in which they earn their keep via high-paying jobs only, and this is a problem because it’s no longer possible. Automation is too far along for them to get high wages from market pressure, and corporations are far too concentrated for them to get high wages from organization and bargaining power.

    I’m not seeing any solutions right now, but that’s the problem.

    1. There are plenty of solutions out there, but ideology prevents people from acknowledging them. The traditional alternatives have been legislation redistributing wealth, and revolution distributing poverty. I’d suggest that if faced with torches and pitchforks, maybe our leaders could come up with something.

    1. I kept looking, assume this is the WaPo opinion piece you’re referencing:

      There is a lot to think about in this piece. I want to read the comments (500+) because the first few I read offer a compelling rebuttal to the narrative that the Dems problems are as self-induced or Obama-driven as Stoller asserts….I can see from a conservative perspective you would agree with this, and there are parts of it I think are on the money. But there were a lot of forces at work during this 8 years and in my first quick read, I am unsettled by assigning blame as Stoller has done.

      BTW, on, there are hot links to his articles in many journals.

  6. DS

    I agree that the response to the financial crisis was politically tone deaf and deeply unfair to just about everyone without a three letter acronym following their name, but this article and articles like it are far too strident. To say the Democrats ‘can’t win’ without policy x, or reaching group y is unhelpful nonsense.

    I get that the ‘demographics is destiny’ crowd have a bit of egg on our collective faces, but the reality is that we weren’t wrong, just early. Assume for a minute that Trump’s presidency is completely neutral, and he manages to get through four years without alienating any of his support, or pissing off swing voters (you can continue reading when you’re done snickering…). Demographics alone suggest the Democrats have a significant built-in advantage in 2020. Nominate a candidate with a pulse, and they’ll probably win.

    I don’t mean to suggest that Democrats shouldn’t make changes; they clearly should. That said, the house is not on fire. There’s no reason to run for the exits, or jump off the ship. I don’t agree with everything Democrats stand for, but the party is not fundamentally broken in the way that doomsaying articles like this one suggest.

    Also, the author’s assertion that turnout was at a 20 year low is incorrect. The cited CNN article contains data that is out of date. Turnout was not especially low in this election, and that kinda skewers this guy’s theory of how the election was lost.

    1. Hillary had an excellent pulse, it’s what she had as well that doomed her.

      25 years of baggage, and I’m not saying that as a personal criticism. Anyone with 25 years of national exposure has baggage. Also, what Stoller said, although the 25 years was probably enough by itself.

      Politics has often been compared to war, but there’s one big difference. In war, defense is the stronger position. In politics, if you’re playing defense, you’re losing. After 25 years, you’ve just got too much to defend.

      1. DS

        Didn’t intend for the pulse comment to refer to Hillary. Meant to imply that the Democrats don’t need to do much more than select a minimally qualified candidate for 2020.

        I don’t disagree that she had baggage, but at the end of the day, she won the popular vote. Her electoral college loss rested on extremely thin margins that are likely to be washed away in the continuing tide of demographic change.

      2. Boy, I disagree that “Dems don’t need more than a minimally qualified candidate for 2020”. I’m with Chris all the way here. Dems need to do a number of things.

        First – The DNC needs to become an effective, diverse organization in order to lead the party and inspire rank and file members while attracting and energizing lots of new participants. Shake things up. Age-wise, race-wise, issue-wise, longevity-wise. There are few effective organizations that don’t need purging from time to time. For the DNC, the time is now.

        Second – Messaging. The Democratic Party does represent the blue collar worker’s needs but hey do a crap job of communicating that. Look at who controls the airwaves, from radio to TV. Dems flat out aren’t selling the party agenda or values. That has to change. Invest $$ and time in this area and hire some new, smart, young and experienced hands to put this train back on the rails.

        Third – Dems have neglected organizational structure. This, in my view, is probably the most important weakness in the party. You have to build from the bottom up. You have to educate, inspire, involve, and train generations of constituents. It’s not enough to tell them what you are doing for them, you have to show them what you’re doing and make them a part of the process.

        Fourth – Recruitment of new candidates and identification of outstanding people within current ranks. IOW, build your organization from within and without so that you are able to field candidates for every office who are qualified, attractive, informed, trained in campaigning, and financed.

        Fifth – Stand up for what you believe. No apologies. Believe in women’s right to make choices for her own body? Speak out.

        Sixth – Educate yourself. Learn the issues. Know who represents you and communicate with them on critical issues. Get involved in whatever way you are most comfortable. The Party and the nation need you!

        Seventh – VOTE and register other people to vote and help them get to the polls.

        And that, my friend, is what a strong political party does minimally. If they don’t, they will be defeated and they deserve to be.

      3. DS


        Those are all ‘nice to haves,’ and worthy activities in their own right, but the reality is that the Trump Administration, much like the Trump Campaign, is going to continue to alienate constituencies that matter to his electoral prospects. Given the substantially more liberal voting patterns of Millennials, Democrats are going to win by default, regardless of whether or not they engage in the reforms you’ve mentioned.

        The only way they can screw it up is to put out an equally incompetent or unacceptable candidate. That’s extremely difficult to pull off.

      4. Again, I disagree. Trump will alienate but Republicans would vote for Hitler if he ran. Democrats cannot depend upon winning elections because the other “guy/gal” is awful. We have to WIN them with the right candidate, agenda, and a 50 state plan.

        I’ve been at this for over 50 years, DS. I’ve seen a lot of politics go down and if Democrats fail to take steps such as those I’ve listed, I don’t care who they run, we won’t win. Even more important are down ticket races. Isn’t it obvious that holding the presidency is not enough when you lose majorities in the House and Senate, not to mention SCOTUS and the 133 judicial positions that await Trump’s nomination.

        This is serious and complacency simply is foolish. Democrats have to grow up and grow out and execute much better than they have. Republicans are steam-rolling them in organization. This matters. If you don’t think so, watch. I believe in the Democratic Party. Unlike Chris, I support their values, I support a strong central government (and strong, independent state governments). But I am offering a seasoned analysis of the weaknesses that exist within the party structure that have to be fixed or it will lose not only the presidency but more state legislatures, governorships, and will not retake Congress.

        I am not trying to be negative I am being realistic about what needs to happen. What MUST happen. The Democratic Party needs to decide what their goals are – what they stand for and then articulate it and organize around it. That’s how strong parties are built. We cannot depend on the other guy being weaker. That didn’t work out very well for us this election, did it?

      5. 1. In response to Mary’s comments, I think your ideas 1-7 are very good. I also think they won’t make a difference.

        I know someone who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 because she liked his mother. I know someone who knew voting for Trump was wrong but refused to vote for Clinton because as an upper middle class individual, she was very upset that Clinton was pushing for more financial aid for the poor and lower middle class to go to college and was outraged that her family was not receiving a dime for college.

        There is no organization, message, enthusiasm or plan that can get people who think like that to vote for the Democrats. And, unfortunately, a significant number of Americans do.

        2. In response to Chris’ article, too much doom and gloom. Politics is cyclical. After Obama won in 2008, everyone wrote that the GOP was dead. Look how it roared back. The same is true for the Democrats. November 8, 2016 will be the worst day for the Democratic Party over the next 4 years, particularly with Trump in office.

      6. The items (1-7) need to be done because they are needed. I disagree with your assessment on a broad basis. Sure you’ll have people who vote for or against for stupid, ridiculous reasons. You’ll never reach those people. But there are millions of people who can be reached with the right organization (which a party MUST have) and the right message. Look at Bernie’s success in mobilizing Millennials. That had never been done before. If you don’t think these items work in mobilizing a voter base, just look at Republicans.

        Again, you do things 1-7 because they are necessary. The good that accrues will bring about change. I would suggest that those who thing organization, structure, education, involvement from grassroots up don’t make a difference have never been involved in a campaign or within party politics. Even if you don’t accept my opinion, what are your ideas? Mine have been proven but neglected by the party I call my own. It’s time they take care of business.

      7. BTW, you know how and why the GOP roared back? By not only following steps 1-7 but going much further. Dems have great ideas and the right values and priorities and a poor organizational structure; Repubs have bad ideas, the wrong values and priorities and a great organizational structure. Look who is in the majority across America and learn from their success, don’t diss it.

      8. DS


        I think there’s been a real tendency to conflate the relatively modest problems of the Democratic Party with dumpster fire that is the 2016 election results. They are not the same. Yes, the consequences of the election results are likely to be disastrous, but it does not follow that the Democratic party needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

        For clarity’s sake, let me repeat: the Democrats lost the presidential election by an astonishingly narrow margin in a few states. They lost the congressional elections by a somewhat wider, but still narrow margin; this loss was magnified by our electoral system, in which Republicans have a built in geographic advantage.

        With respect to the presidential election, Republicans have peaked. Millennials are beginning to reach the age where political participation becomes the norm, and they are generally disenchanted with the Republican way. Trump represents virtually everything millennials don’t appreciate. He will not persuade the bulk of them to vote for him. His supportive demographic groups are experiencing declining life expectancy, which will further sap his support. There’s also the fact that his campaign promises are either impossible, or actively harmful to his supporters.

        Parties in the United States have been extremely weak since the implementation of primaries. To read the election results as a strategic masterstroke of the RNC is, I think, a significant misattribution. When margins are as small as they were in this election, it doesn’t pay to give that much credit to any one factor. There were a large number of odd events this cycle, and the bulk of the misfortune from them seems to have accrued to Mrs. Clinton. Drawing broader conclusions than that risks the sort of overreaction that really can lose elections. Let demographics and the Trump administration’s own folly work their magic.

        There’s a Star Wars cartoon series that begins each episode with a bit of text referred to as a ‘fortune cookie.’ My personal favorite:

        “The first step to correcting a mistake is patience”

      9. I am not panicking, I am resolute in my belief that the Democratic Party needs to re-boot. Republicans control Congress, will soon control SCOTUS, hold 33 gubernatorial seats and have majority control of 32 state legislatures. (numbers need to be updated for 2016 election…Repubs gained). Democrats used to be competitive. What happened? Denying slippage doesn’t change things, work does and it’s best done from the bottom up. Dems have paid too much attention to the presidency, with Congress second and states last. All are important but states have been almost ignored.

        We may simply have to disagree on this one, DS. I love the Dem values. It is my party, but loving it doesn’t blind me to its weaknesses.

      10. I’m not pessimistic about Democratic chances either. Many Democratic positions poll well, and now Republicans have to deliver. Also, if Democrats have their act together, they should easily be able to put the Republicans on the defensive.

    2. Per 538, it’s complicated – more voters eligible due to population increase, but fewer turned out proportionally, thus 2016 voting percentage less than 2012:

      “Early voting surged. Election Day voting plummeted. The net result: A smaller share of eligible voters cast ballots in 2016 than in either of the previous two presidential elections.

      The raw number of votes rose: About 1.4 million more Americans voted in this year’s election than in 2012, a total which itself was down from 2008. But the electorate was growing in the meantime: About 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots this year, down from 58.6 percent in 2012 and 61.6 percent in 2008, which was the highest mark in 40 years. Turnout still remained well above levels for most presidential election years from 1972 to 2000.”

  7. Let’s start with this: “neo-liberals who consolidate financial power, ship jobs abroad and replace paychecks with food stamps.” Who are “neo-liberals”? What does this term mean? Are you calling Democrats neo-liberals?

    I am not sure I understand what you mean by your statement that neo-liberals consolidate financial power, but it doesn’t sound like a compliment. Are you referring to Dems belief in a strong central government that has an obligation to meet basic societal needs, or, something else? Absent a commitment by business to pay living wages with benefits and their utter disdain for the importance of a strong safety net, what are working people to do? Instead, conservatives are working full throttle to strip away as many benefits as they can for young and old alike.

    I am in full agreement that one should commit to get the best education and/or work skills possible for which there are jobs. Society, aka “government” can help with re-training programs and welfare (unemployment, food stamps, etc), however, there are limits to what government can and should do. Democrats have fought for the working class but have done a terrible job of communicating their efforts. Conservatives have done all they can to make it harder for working people to achieve independence while criticizing them for failing to do so. Please explain what I am missing here.

    As for shipping jobs abroad…liberals are NOT the party doing this. A changing workplace will impact those with the fewest skills and minimal educations first – That’s where food stamps and other assistance can be a real help. To resent being on food stamps is placing blame in the wrong place.

    We are about to see a real time example of what conservatives believe is the proper role of government. I believe that the priority of the GOP is to fashion government to serve business first, everyone else, second or not at all. If the only alternative is the Democratic Party, then do so with a whole heart. Work within it to improve it. One thing is for certain, there will be greater receptiveness to make changes within the Democratic Party than there will ever be within the Republican Party.

    1. re ‘terrible job of communicating’…

      I was at the Harris County Dem office yesterday for training to become a volunteer voter registrar. The training is word-for-word required by the state of Texas.

      Anyhow, the room was overflowing with people who want to register voters.

      And the message from the Dems who were hosting the event? Nada.

      Not a mention of the May election, that it will include the HISD board and municipal offices. I think.

      60+ active people. Opportunity lost.

      1. Bobo – As a small act of activism, if you go to any other Dem sponsored events, ask about things like this. After all, you’re there as a newbie, to learn, but also to help the party. Part of helping it is to respectfully ask questions about things like this. The event leadership shouldn’t have to be reminded, but obviously, they failed to use a prime opportunity to inform people in their camp. If you have a contact with leadership still, I’d suggest you follow up with this question/comment letting them know it was a missed opportunity and suggesting they not waste the next one.

  8. Perhaps the Democratic Party should become the party of the educated, and leave its blue collar roots. Maybe we don’t need a rigid adherence to a two party system divided roughly into labor and capital – that sounds like a system for the 1920’s instead of the 2020’s.

    Over 50% of kids are now undertaking some form of tertiary education, and a party that is based in educated reality that looks to innovative solutions would definitely be in my wheelhouse. This is not the Democratic Party I see today – we see a bunch of septuagenarians like Warren and Biden lecturing us about the common man.

    I’ve just watched a minority of this country vote a complete clown into the White House – I want a reality based Party that realizes that the jobs of tomorrow are going to require agility and flexibility at the workforce, but also at the individual level. A recent IDC report on robotics ( outlines the increasing pace of technology in the workplace – even to the jobs that have hitherto been safe, or new jobs created by the information revolution. A Democratic Party that has a vision for the future for the educated workforce, and has strong support for tertiary education for all will become a rolling snowball that will squash the Trumps of the future.

    Reverting to appealing to the people who voted for Trump when that was the minority at any rate is asinine in my view. Let them learn the lesson the hard way – the ACA was good, coal jobs aren’t coming back, Mexico isn’t going to pay for the wall, good paying jobs are going to be strongly correlated to educational achievement.

    1. Here’s a story, possibly apocryphal, that I often think of when robotics are discussed. It’s Henry Ford and Walter Reuther (union boss) looking at some new automated equipment. Ford says “Walter, how are you going to get those machines to join your union?” and Reuther replies “Henry, how are you going to get those machines to buy your cars?”

      1. “Henry, how are you going to get those machines to buy your cars?”

        Isn’t that the lesson of technology – the old jobs are replaced with new jobs delivering services and product that currently are too expensive or do not exist yet? 80% of people used to work on the farm, but now that we are at 2% people are still eating.

      2. It’s a fact that automation and other productivity improvements make products more affordable, and as long as the affordability increases outpace the reduction in wages, it’s a win. That win isn’t guaranteed, though.

  9. As I find to be refreshingly frequent here, Chris has opened my lifetime-Democrat eyes to a viewpoint I had not considered in 64 years. Specifically, that although I favor almost every individual thing my party favors, the sum of the parts is seriously less than the whole.

    It’s counter-intuitive, but there is some sense to it: You can’t simply like every tree, and therefore like the forest they represent. I would go to battle stations to fight the battles for (a) universal health coverage, (b) a [somewhat] better minimum wage, (c) protection of vulnerable minority citizens from voter suppression, (d) protection of our environment, (e) improvement of education for all our children, and also for adults displaced in the job market, (f) …etc. (The list is long.)

    Nevertheless, after compiling a comprehensive list of admirable specific objectives, the picture comes into focus of a “nanny state.” Yes, I know that’s an extreme and pejorative characterization. But I can see how, from a distance, it looks that way, and is thus extremely distasteful to many citizens, some of whom I respect a lot.

    And I can see how, even to me, this realization makes me take a step back and ask (to myself, and to anybody who cares): with all these specific objectives, what is the overall goal we are striving for? Is it realistic, or do we need to reassess what we think is possible? And do we need to try to work down from our goal(s) towards identifying specific enabling objectives? After all, that’s the way management is supposed to work–from the top down.

    1. Management that works “from the top down” forgets the water cooler theory. Smart management works from the bottom up….they involve rank and file workers as a valued part of the big picture and use their input and observations to improve industry/business. One cannot run a business successfully without understanding the problems and needs of their workforce and its situation…, training, education, adequate pay/benefits. Good management doesn’t mean just having the skills to solve problems, rather, it is the ability to prevent problems from occurring.

  10. As George Washington anticipated, political parties are just private clubs that have wedged themselves between the People and their government. They enact laws that obstruct competition, isolate disfa-vored people, empower themselves, and enrich (and conceal) their campaign funders. This is far from a “free market.” The recent Presidential “elections” were public subsidies to select delegates who were limited to candidates apparently more responsive to their party or donors than the People. The ’70’s FEC $3.00 donation to Presidential campaigns and political party conventions facilitated that take-over. Donors had no idea whose money they were supplementing. Thereafter, public subsidies to businesses increased as the wealth and influence of most citizens declined.

    Property managers must analyze and correct real, on-the-ground physical, financial, legal and social problems. My experience in developing the Street Performer Program at Fisherman’s Wharf (Free Speech for all performers, extra benefits for Licensees, + a little revenue for the Port of San Francisco) became the prototype for new legislation titled The Fair Elections Fund—a Whole New Ball Game©, at

    This plan funds federal campaigns with a $7.00/year tax paid by individual IRS income tax filers. It engages citizens in the process. Prospective candidates must obtain Supporting Signatures from 2 – 3,000 Registered Voters in each jurisdiction in order to use these public funds for their campaigns. Upon enrollment, candidates do no more fundraising. Public funding extends opportunity to more candidates and Approval Voting eliminates the outliers. People will discern that extreme candidates will waste not only their own money, but also that of their neighbors. If one’s chosen candidates don’t gain wide acceptance or play by the rules, the popular #2 would be elected. This may simplify and ex-pedite replacement in the event of a recall. It can be scaled down to state and local elective offices. Perhaps this could improve representation before the next round of redistricting.

    This plan lets candidates and legislators retain their independence and self-respect. It is not my place to decide how Americans will shape their government. This is just a gratis effort for them to do so. Is your government worth $7.00 a year to you?

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