Following the 2012 presidential elections the Republican Party made a concerted effort to figure out what went wrong.
The Republican National Committee issued a damning assessment, saying the party is “marginalizing itself,” in no small part because young voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents,” because the party could reasonably be cast as a bunch of “narrow-minded,” “out of touch,” “stuffy old men.”
A report conducted by the College Republicans came to a similar conclusion. We argued that the party needed to put in “significant work to repair the damage to the Republican brand,” which could only be done by promoting “diversity of thought,” focusing on the priorities of middle class and poor voters, and rethinking the parties message to be inclusive, accepting and forward-thinking.
It was all a painful, but eminently useful, exercise in self-assessment, one that helped propel Republicans to significant victories in the most recent election.
But Democrats, following their Election Day drubbing, aren’t following a similar path. As DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said of their post-election analysis: “It is not an autopsy . . . We know [the electorate] agree with us. They just aren’t coming out to vote.”
Sadly, it gets even more smarmy than that! As newly revealed emails from top campaign operatives show, the party is not planning a comeback, they’re plotting revenge. ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
They include rallying cries to, in Mook’s words, “smite Republicans mafia-style,” and, to quote Marshall, “punish those voters.” Mook sometimes calls himself “Deacon” in the emails, while Marshall, now a senior White House aide, refers to himself as “Reverend” in many of the exchanges. . . .
“F U Republicans. Mafia till I die,” he wrote. “If you have just a few minutes, hop on that activate and punish those voters!” (“Activate” is an apparent reference to a software program allowing volunteers to contact targeted voters by phone from anywhere in the country.)
The emails are offensive, but insipid – the stupid musings of brash pols who happened to forget that nearly everything becomes public sooner or later. It’s not the makings of a scandal (or at least it shouldn’t be), but it is indicative of a strand of hubris that Democrats should fret over. As Ed Rogers writes for the Washington Post:
What does the Democratic Party stand for today if not just grabbing power, holding power, government for government’s sake and offering and maintaining dependence in exchange for votes? The Democratic brand and what it means to be a Democrat should get a hard look after the party’s six years in power. These recent incidents are not isolated -– they are indicative of a party that is moribund and needs a new reason to justify its existence.
Bingo. Democrats are not learning from their recent failure. They aren’t using the defeat as a chance to rethink their platform or their strategy. They are not even listening to the message that voters were trying to send. Instead, the post-midterm period has been filled with a puzzling shift towards the old guard Left.
Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have retained their leadership positions. The rank and file remain oddly quiet. And President Obama has become increasingly tone deaf, in no small part because his main takeaway from the election is that turnout was low, which he assumes happened because he wasn’t doing enough liberal stuff. The question is why? Columnist David Brooks takes a stab at an answer in the New York Times:
I’m not sure why the Obama administration has been behaving so strangely since the midterms. Maybe various people in the White House are angry in defeat and want to show that they can be as obstructionist as anyone. Maybe, in moments of stress, they are only really sensitive to criticism from the left flank. Maybe it’s Gruberism: the belief that everybody else is slightly dumber and less well-motivated than oneself and, therefore, politics is more about manipulation than conversation.
Whatever it is, it’s been a long journey from the Iowa caucuses in early 2008 to the pre-emptive obstruction of today. I wonder if, post-presidency, Mr. Obama will look back and regret that he got sucked into the very emotional maelstrom he set out to destroy.
It’s a nice sentiment, but something tells me that “looking back” in self-reflection isn’t quite his thing.