In Search of the Democrats

It’s taken some time for the Trump Administration to hit their stride on talking points.

They’ve been chaotic and prone to self-inflicted wounds like the firings of an FBI Director and much of the original cabinet. Countless, voluntary “un-presidential” tweets haven’t helped much either.

After nearly a year of constant thrash, the message is starting to sharpen though.

We will protect our borders.

We will enforce the law.

We will strengthen our military.

We will increase corporate investment in America.

On Monday, economist Tyler Cowen wrote in his weekly Bloomberg column about the impact of the Trump presidency on the American economy.

“…the real significance of the Trump economic revolution — for better or worse — is a focus on investment. There is no coordinating mastermind, but if you consider the intersection between what the Trumpian nationalists want and what a Republican Congress will deliver, it’s this: wanting to make the U.S. a new and dominant center for investment, including at the expense of other nations.”

With tax reform passed and the Trump administration’s first win under its belt, Democrats should be actively wondering —even worrying—what their own message actually is. And who their own leaders are that need to deliver it.

It’s been understandably hard to get past the personal antics and bad behavior of those delivering the Trumpian message. The risk though, is that the low hanging fruit of the president’s behavior and other sensational outcomes like collusion with the KGB don’t allow for the roots of an effective counter movement.

It’s telling that it’s not possible to state the case for the Democratic Party’s movement without mentioning Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Russian collusion, racism or sexism. Other questions are also hard to answer.

What happens if Roy Moore loses?

What happens if the tweets go silent?

What happens if the President behaves?

There’s a common observation made by political wonks that the longer an opposition party stays out of power, the worse their message gets. A losing party comes off of the slope of a losing argument and degrades into unhelpful counter point opposition to whatever is delivered by the party in power.

For eight years of Republican opposition to Obama, the Republican leaders were so uninspiring and ineffective, they lost the party to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon.

In focusing so much on what to run from, they never bothered to build something to run towards. Trump and Bannon were happy to oblige with their own; a veneer of strength and protection in a scary world.

Countering that message is going to take more intellect and leadership than the current Democratic party is showing. The American people, though more diverse than ever, are also older, more anxious and more dependent on corporations than they’ve ever been before.

Sitting back and relying on demographic shifts to gain a majority has led to the strongest Republican majority in my lifetime.

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That spike of blue in the surging sea of red was the last effective message the Democrats delivered.

It came in the form of Barack Obama.

Obama’s message of “Hope and Change” was the promise of an America that finally delivered on the vision of modern, western liberalism; a government built on fairness and equality of opportunity.

The vision was a post racial, global America where open trade and immigration weren’t symbols of weakness. They were symbols of American strength and leadership; leadership in a world of unprecedented human peace and abundance.

Today, the only place you’re hearing that message is from people like John McCain, a Republican for which there’s no place left in his party.

McCain, 81, suffering from brain cancer, spoke last month.

 “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”


Not a Democrat in sight.

We inherently understand that it’s easier to retweet things we don’t agree with and attach a snarky one liner. That’s what gets liked. That’s what gets shared.

Original content is harder to come up with. And harder to sell.

Such is the challenge of leadership.

The torches of people like McCain are burning low for America. Within the Republican party, they’ve gone out completely.

If we’re looking for a strong counter-point to the Trumpian movement, perhaps a refusal to bear witness to the end of modern western liberalism can suffice.

None of that trends like identity politics or screaming at the top of our lungs how horrible President Trump is.

But it may give those of us searching something to run towards.

And someone to run with.

2 replies »

  1. Yes. A vision to work toward is far more positive than something to be against. Even if you overcome what you were against…what will you replace it with? If you don’t answer that question at the beginning — as FDR and Churchill did even before the US entered World War Two — then you accomplish nothing in the end.