It has been a difficult six months for you if you are a Democrat. First, Donald Trump sweeps Hillary Clinton in the rust belt last November, sealing his unlikely election to become the 45th President of the United States. Next, Democrats lose a close special election for the Georgia 6th Congressional District seat just a few weeks ago; a seat that, despite being a traditional Republican stronghold, looked as if it might finally flip blue. It was a crushing loss for a party that, since last November, has had little about which to be optimistic. The constant variable between the election last November and the George 6th Congressional race was strategy. Both candidates in those races – Hillary Clinton and Jon Ossoff – employed similar tactics and strategy: attacking President Trump.
This strategy failed last November and it failed again earlier this month. Democrats need to wake up and realize, much to their chagrin, that it will take more to win elections than not being Donald Trump, especially in non-Democratic strongholds. After all, most people want to vote for someone, not against; for a positive agenda, not a list of what someone will not do when elected. Voters want to attach themselves to something; to feel something, to be moved and inspired by a clear vision of the future. Reagan understood this. Obama mastered it. Democrats need to realize that they need to present ideas to voters on how to improve their lives and their futures; how to inspire their hopes and address their concerns.
Next, Democrats need to begin thinking with their heads instead of allowing their hearts to continue to lead them into the political wilderness. Blinded by their dislike of Trump, they poured more than $40 million into the Georgia 6th Congressional District race – a seat that Republican Tom Price, now Health and Human Services Secretary, won with more than 60% of the vote – rather than investing heavily in the South Carolina 5th Congressional District race, which saw the Republican winning by only 3 points. If Democrats had been thinking clearly, they would have seen the potential to win in South Carolina and diverted more money into that race. However, they wanted to send Trump a message by stealing the seat in Georgia. Terrible strategy. Worse execution.
This brings me to my next point on how Democrats win going forward: new leadership. I know this will not be popular, but I have to acknowledge this fundamental question: how can we be lead to the future by the voices of the past? Einstein himself said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I understand that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a consummate fundraiser. But $40 million in Georgia didn’t pay off. None of the money raised over the last few years has resulted in many gains either, with Democrats losing over 1,000 local, state, and federal seats. Time for a new captain to steer the ship. The daunting statistics speak for themselves.
Lastly, instead of just touting the positive attributes of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats must begin to acknowledge its setbacks and present proactive, positive solutions on how to address the bill’s shortcomings. The choice here is not Obamacare versus Trumpcare; the choice is having credibility with voters versus continuing to look like pure partisan shills. And if Democrats do not put forth an agenda to address skyrocketing insurance premiums and exorbitant deductibles, they may stay in the political wilderness for the foreseeable future. But there is still time to turn things around in 2018 if they are willing to learn difficult, yet valuable lessons from the special races earlier this month and the crushing defeat last November.
Written By: Brett Zografos (@BrettZografos)