Democrats are just as much to blame for what happened in 2016 as are the Republicans, and in my view more so. They had a golden opportunity against a divided and rudderless Republican party to put forth a candidate from among their younger (meaning less seasoned), more progressive field of politicians, and had they done so, the outcome would have been much different. Instead, they backed Hillary Clinton, a qualified candidate but one for whom the voters in the US had absolutely no enthusiasm, and in many cases, outright animosity. Leaked documents from the DNC show the lengths to which they went to quash opposition to their selected nominee, despite the fact that Bernie Sanders waged an energetic opposition campaign which brought out young progressives in droves, garnering far more enthusiasm than the front runner. The manner in which the Democrats ran their campaign showed just how out of touch the party is with the people, simply assuming voters would obviously back Clinton instead of her opponent, and making no case for why they should.
People have been pointing to results showing that Clinton garnered more votes in the election, but none of this is relevant. Gore got more votes nationwide than Bush in 2000, and yet Bush became president. Both Clinton and Gore lost according to the established rules which each one accepted before and after the election, so overall vote totals don’t matter. Since their respective elections, I have heard neither Gore nor Clinton call for reform of the system, despite the negative outcomes they received.
Once again the Republicans have bested the Democrats nationwide and once again the Democrats are trying to play catchup. What a stark contrast to 2008, when they gave the voters a real choice and ended up in control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency. Now, the Democrats believe the electorate has no choice but to vote for them in 2018, just as they believed we’d have no choice than to vote for Clinton in 2016, and we see how that worked out. Documents which ended up on WikiLeaks painted a picture of a party with a single goal in mind, that of getting their anointed candidate elected at all costs. Regardless of how the DNC’s documents were leaked to the press, they got out and painted a very bad picture of how the party does business.
There are hopeful signs that many people have had enough of business-as-usual politics and are willing to hit the streets to demand change, but already the politicians are trying to co-opt these movements for their own ends. While they supported the actions, the Democratic party did not organize the women’s march on Washington in January, nor did they lead the spontaneous protests that occurred at airports in the wake of Trump’s Muslim ban. Despite claims by the Republicans, the Democratic party has not been responsible for the waves of constituents showing up at the offices and town hall meetings of their Congressional representatives demanding that their concerns over health care or the direction of the country be addressed. While there have been individual politicians, such as John Lewis, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, and Bernie Sanders, who have vocally supported progressive solutions in response to the extremist policies of the current administration, most of the party prefers to remain centrist, reacting to what the Republicans do rather than proactively charting a new progressive course for the nation.
It will be a supreme tragedy if all the progressive fervor generated by this activism against the administration is simply channeled back into supporting Democrats for office. What’s needed is a break from the two-party tyranny which led to the inevitable outcome of electing our current president. We should not simply return to business-as-usual politics, but chart a new course, guided by the will of the governed and not the corporate-controlled professional politicians. The Republicans have already made their choice, choosing party over people, and history will judge them accordingly. Their epitaph will contain every bit of venom and rancor they have inflicted upon the public. If the Democrats follow them into the dustbin of history, so be it. They’ll have earned their reward for losing the confidence of the people.