As the reality of the Democratic loss in Georgia’s Special Election sets in, the party is clumsily working through the stages of grief. After the traumatic defeat, Democrats were largely in denial that the party was, in any way responsible for the loss of Jon Ossoff. In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, party loyalists argued that the seat was a long-shot anyway and ruled that Jon Ossoff’s loss was due to the triumph of local politics. Since the early phase of denial, the Democrats have sped through the remaining four stages, moving beyond acceptance and into a newly invented phase. BLAME! The loss of Ossoff must be the sole responsibility of some poor, unpopular soul. A consensus is forming that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be the unfortunately-condemned spirit. The argument is largely being pitched by the same cast of ambitious characters that attempted an earlier coup against the former speaker but that does not mean that their claim does not have merit. Ohio Representative Tim Ryan charges that Pelosi is so reviled on the right that she was a weight around Jon Ossoff’s neck. His sedition prone followers see Pelosi as a nationwide bad luck charm. Republicans merely mention her name, tie Democratic candidates to the San Francisco elite and cruise to victory. Such is the hate for Nancy Pelosi. However, this conclusion represents two of the defeatist tendencies of the Democratic Party. In the recent past the Democrats have tended towards both overly simplistic explanations for their failures and a tendency to be cowed in the face of fierce opposers. The introspection averse powers in the party refuse to consider the more complex questions like perhaps Jon Ossoff needed to stand firm on a posture for or against President Trump. This question would require a deep dive into strategy and a level of rigorous reconsideration to which some of the party’s simpler minds are unaccustomed. Perhaps Jon Ossoff simply failed to define himself in terms of policy and principles which means that party officials would need to pour over his media campaigns and audit successful messaging and failed themes. But that would be hard. It is much simpler to see a single woman in San Francisco as all that ails the party. Instead of re-assessing the party’s approach to organizing and campaigning which would require an invasive autopsy, these Democrats would rather believe that all they need to do to find a path back to victory is replace a single hated party figure. It’s that simple. The Democrats love easy answers and that refusal to consider the complexity of their current quandary is condemning the party to a fatal repetition of errors. The consequences of this refusal to analyse is that Democrats haven’t even asked themselves how Nancy Pelosi became the hated figure that she is today. Nancy Pelosi is one of the most successful House Speakers in American history. She ushered through complex healthcare reform, in the face of historic opposition to the nation’s first African American President. Her mastery of strategy bested every legislative foe in her path and for that she became the focus of right wing anger. Any effective Democratic leader would likely be targeted with the same messaging that has decimated Pelosi’s national reputation. Replacing Nancy Pelosi is a solution that is temporary, lasting only as long as it will take for the conservative phalanx of talk radio, fox news and Breitbart websites to create a narrative about the next Democratic leader. Instead of an in-depth discussion on how Democrats can defeat the message machine of the right wing, some Democrats would rather exile one of their own, and bend to the will of their opponents. And this tendency to bow to those that oppose you explains a great deal about Democratic losses. Kick a stallion and it will buck back, bash the mule and it simply accepts the beating. Getting rid of Nancy Pelosi will not fix the party’s popularity problem. Tim Ryan, the leader of the current mutiny claimed in an interview with CNN that one of his Republican colleagues informed him that Pelosi was hurting the Democratic cause and the congressman sees nothing ironic or ignorant about taking political advice from his opponents. This timidity and gullibility in Democrats is just as responsible for Democratic failure as Pelosi’s reputation.
Today, the House of Representatives will vote on the American Healthcare Act. Despite, holding both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Republicans are expected to vote down their own bill. The reform will cost 24 million Americans their healthcare. It slashes Medicaid and will raise premiums on all but the young and healthy. After 7 years of opposing Obamacare, the Republicans have managed to write a bill that fails to satisfy any of the ideological metrics that Republicans have used to assault Obamacare. Most prognosticators are certain that the AHCA will fail in a fantastic display of legislative pyrotechnics. TrumpCare, if you ask Paul Ryan or RyanCare, if you ask the Whitehouse, is so unpopular that the Whitehouse and Speaker of the House have publicly jousted regarding which Nom De Plume will go on the bill, with neither side desirous of having the dishonor. As the Republicans tempt fate and court decimation in the midterm elections, where are the Democrats? An article in The Politico offers an answer. “The Democrats New Obamacare Strategy: Get Out of The Way”. As a legislative strategy, this is largely the right approach. Democrats should not try to stall republican attempts to vote on a bill that reveals how their party has abdicated its core principles and were perhaps never sincere in their criticism of Obamacare. However, “Get Out of The Way” also seems to be the ethos of the national party. In an epic failure to capitalize, Democrats nationally have not used the disastrous AHCA as a mobilizing tool. Together, with the equally reviled Trump-Budget, the Democrats could easily assemble the ultimate Megazord to fight the GOP in the midterms. And yet, the Democrats have not begun to lay the foundation for an effective mid-term effort. The Democrats should have already hired new organizers and deployed them in the backyards of rural Republican districts. Organizing wins’ elections but Organizing isn’t about phone-calls or door to door. The foundation of Organizing is about building relationships and as Republicans turn their backs on the voters that elected them by offering policies that gut the programs those voters depend on, Democrats have an unprecedented opportunity to build new relationships with rural voters. As these rural Republican voters are forced to confront the reality that they need government programs just as much as the inner cities Republicans often lampoon, the Democrats have a chance to expose the core Republican obsession with the gutting of government programs as fundamentally flawed. Never before have Democrats had such an obvious opportunity to bring about a fundamental collapse of Republican orthodoxy by laying siege to the foundations and overly simplistic principles of the GOP. As rural Republican voters suddenly realize that they are just as dependent on government funding as liberal bastions and minority communities, Democrats have a real chance to batter the intellectual pillars that have buttressed conservative thought since the era of William F. Buckley. And what are Democrats doing instead: They are Getting Out of The Way. Democrats should have been using this time to reconstitute their army of Organizers and begin deploying them to the rural communities that roundly rejected their message in the last election. They can now show those voters the true cost of Republican cuts and argue forcefully for the power of government to improve their lives. The Dems should be giving Organizers the time it takes to build bonds with these new prospective voters who often hail from regions where being a Democrat is socially synonymous with being a communist. Democrats cannot afford to implement the “tried and failed” strategy of waiting until shortly before the mid-term or the Presidential election to deploy Organizers in the hope of making gains in communities that have believed for generations that being a Democrat is akin to being a traitor. The achilles heel of the Democratic Party is a lack of a sustained presence in these communities that nurtures and builds relationships with these votes. For the first time in a long time, these voters have eyes and ears to hear the message of the Democratic Party. The Democrats cannot afford to miss this opportunity.