The Democratic Disconnect

Giving advice to Democrats is simple, but it’s not easy. Most of their ideas involve either a new government initiative for every wrong in society, or creating a wrong for every new government initiative.

But the soup d’jour is figuring out what the hell is wrong with the Democratic Party, and how they can fix it, and it’s difficult not to chime in. My thesis, in short, is that the Democrats don’t care about anyone who won’t show up at a protest.

Democrats spent many years splicing the electorate into segments – segments that started broad. By race, by gender, by immigration status, and so on. I’d suppose that this formulation started after 2004 – after Howard Dean yelled himself out of the Democratic primary, and became a ground-changing chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Dean led the DNC to a remarkable tech-driven renaissance that put his party ahead of the medieval GOP for years.

But the identity-driven politics that Dean’s data operation enabled became increasingly nuanced. Pretty soon the Democrats were targeting college-educated-women-who-change-their-own-oil-and-drive-six-cylinder-domestic-vehicles who may support bisexual school board candidates.

You can cut your electorate into too-small chunks, then get obsessed with whipping them into a meringue.

That’s what the Democrats did. They spent quite a bit of time championing non-sexual bathrooms and transsexualism, which doesn’t appeal to people who just tele-trained their foreign replacement. They flung flames about global warming, which is on the back burner for someone who is working two jobs to pay for the next trip to the grocery store. They blabbed nonstop about increasing taxes on “the rich,” all while average working people saw one-third of their paychecks going to the government – people who started wondering what the government’s definition of “the rich” really is.

I have nothing against an adult who makes a decision about their gender identity. I have plenty of things to concern myself with – that’s not one of them. I think climate change is happening – it has been for billions of years. I think wealthy and well-connected people get away with too many tax loopholes – a problem that only major tax reform can change.

But the Democrats didn’t make that case. They claimed Republicans hate the LGBT community. They claimed they Republicans want Manhattan to be destroyed by a tsunami/ice storm in which Dennis Quaid suffers a tragic end. They claimed the Republicans love to enrich billionaire hedge fund managers.

Lost in the ridiculous rhetoric for the last decade? Working middle class people who haven’t gotten a real raise in decades. Those are people like my dad, who drives truck for a construction company, or my mom, a preschool teacher – one of those relatively rare public workers whose pay and benefits exist in the real world like everyone else’s.

Nowadays, qualifiers like “the real world” and the “private sector” must be applied to areas of the economy populated by those who work in sectors of the economy where economic realities are fully felt. These realities, felt by Wisconsinites who bear a tremendous tax burden, are a large part of why Gov. Scott Walker won three elections in four years. It has nothing to do with jealousy over the deal public workers get – it has to do with the holy grail of progressive rhetoric: fairness.

Even without regard to public employees, the average working person has been fully cognizant of their declining status for decades. Many people have lost well-paying jobs during their working lives, many have been forced to take lower-paying jobs, and many others are forced to be on unemployment or assistance.

Most Americans don’t want assistance. Trump spoke to them.

Both parties have very recently gone through times when they needed serious introspection. After 2012, when the GOP lost a winnable race for president, they did their famous autopsy. Now, after losing the presidency to Donald Trump and Congress by an even wider margin, the Democrats have suffered three clobberings when Barack Obama was off the ballot. They are at least going through the motions of introspection, but re-electing Frisco weirdo Nancy Pelosi didn’t help.

Nonetheless, it appears rumors of the Republican Party’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Maps of the party’s control of Congress are dominating; if Obama’s assertions that he would lower the seas in 2008 were true, and if the blue House districts around the country were the Democrats’ estuaries, the president has indeed fulfilled his goal. Blue areas have receded like floodwaters after a mild storm.

The Democrats have lost seats in the U.S. Senate, dozens of seats in the House, at least 12 governorships, and somewhere near 900 statehouse seats nationwide. There are now only four states where the Democrats control the governor’s mansion and both houses of the state legislature. In addition, one-third of all Democrat members of the House are from just three states: Massachusetts, New York, and California.

Geographically, most of the state of New York is red, and roughly half of California is red.

The Democrats answered a recent challenge to change their tone to address the concerns of working class Americans in “flyover country” via the challenge of Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, but they chose to put Nancy Pelosi back in place. Also, far-left Keith Ellison of Minnesota – documented to be an extreme left-wing socialist, is the frontrunner to take control over the Democratic National Committee.

Ellison should be organizing a protest; he’s hardly someone who can marshal the party to relate to average working Americans.

On healthcare reform, the Democrats’ flagship initiative, Obamacare, has led to an inflation of healthcare premiums and deductibles, rendering many plans as useless as a power drill without a battery. Americans recognize this, even if Donald Trump didn’t articulate it well on his campaign.

On the minimum wage, Democrat professional operatives are flooding the street demanding a $15 minimum wage. For Americans who work for that amount or less in far more important jobs than slapping together a smooshed fast-food burger, the demand is downright offensive.

The Democrats are also now the party of political correctness. On campuses and elsewhere, the stories stream forth about nonsensical, fabricated offenses, microaggressions, safe spaces, and other idiocies that Americans who are struggling to afford to go to the grocery store simply don’t give a crap about.

Most Americans don’t care about someone’s race. On race relations, the Democrats have become the party obsessed with race versus race. To be sure, there are concerns to address about criminal justice, mandatory sentencing, and police profiling, but most Americans are more concerned about crime in America’s communities than what the skin color is of who commits the crime. That’s a legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s crusade to remove skin color from the most important conversations about public policy in America.

On abortion: most Americans aren’t extreme on the issue, but few believe abortion should be a method of birth control. The thought that aborted babies are a source of material for research also unsettles many Americans. It seems now that many Democrats have taken a hard-line stance on abortion that the American people, who are more nuanced than many in the political elite give them credit for, do not support.

And while a large number of Americans are aware of the issue of climate change, it’s not at the forefront of Americans who are suffering a declining standard of living. And despite its best efforts, the left has not effectively made the case that massive economic disruptions are worth addressing it. Most Americans are aware that the climate is never static and are deeply skeptical that expensive corporate welfare for green energy corporations that put up wind mills in Indiana is the solution.

Back to geography: Thirty percent of the House Democratic Caucus is from three states: Massachusetts, New York, and California. That astounding fact shows that claims the GOP was doomed to decay into a regional, marginal party was in fact diametrically untrue.

In the wake of their lurch to the left, the Democrats have become a starkly regional party, limited to the coastal and urban areas of the country – all despite a decade-long campaign to besmirch conservatives.

The Democrats and their allies in the media mocked the Tea Party movement that emerged during the debate over Pres. Obama’s healthcare law in 2009-2010 as Koch Brothers-funded astroturf. That era produced a massive upswell of conservative voter sentiment and swept Democrats from power at all levels of government.

Six years later, Democrats’ fortunes have not improved. In their mockery, the Democrats erred. The Tea Party movement and the subsequent high tide on the right has produced an incredible number of fresh faces in politics in state legislatures, governor’s mansions, congress, and the Senate. The Left has produced its own uprisings, from “Occupy” to “Black Lives Matter.” Neither appears poised to produce viable candidates for office, and the core message of nonstop protests by leftists is muddled at best, and will only turn people away.

Those who spend their time working, raising a family, and running a household are not impressed by protesters who march out, block the streets, and in some cases smash windshields and destroy storefronts.

In the foreseeable future, the Democratic Party will be hobbled by extreme causes that are disjointed with the pocketbook concerns of most Americans. Their hyper-segmentation of the electorate that produces anger among a very small slice of the American people, who take to the streets and block roads that people use to get home from work in order to protest, will only increase that party’s marginalization.

There’s simply nothing left that the Democratic Party stands for that the majority of Americans care all that much about.

The Democratic Party’s star has not gone supernova. Instead, it has just shriveled, shedding its hot corona and shrinking to a small core that is dense, hot, potentially dangerous, but otherwise insignificant in the broader political universe.

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s an armchair politico, veteran of several campaigns, and communications specialist. He's the communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.