“What we are doing right now is not working,” Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said following the 2016 elections. “Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929. This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections.”
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats in Congress apparently disagreed with Rep. Ryan, i.e. the number of Democrats who voted against Ryan in his upset bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as the House Minority Leader. It seems the party was perfectly content to continue ignoring the working class communities they once dominated, to continue neglecting the issues that matter to the majority of voters, and to continue attempting to divide up the electorate with the use of identity politics.
“I think, in part, we try to slice the electorate up. And we try to say, ‘You’re black, you’re brown, you’re gay, you’re straight, you’re a woman, you’re a man,’” Ryan told Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd. “The reality of it is there’s no juice in that kind of campaign. There’s no energy in that because it’s divided.”
But after suffering losses in four straight special House elections, each of which attracted outsized attention and enormous influxes in outside cash, Democrats appear to be rethinking their choice of leadership. The New York Times reports:
Among Democrats in Washington, the setback in Georgia revived or deepened a host of existing grievances about the party, accentuating tensions between moderate lawmakers and liberal activists and prompting some Democrats to question the leadership and political strategy of Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader.
A small group of Democrats who have been critical of Ms. Pelosi in the past again pressed her to step down on Wednesday. And in a private meeting of Democratic lawmakers, Representative Tony Cárdenas of California, Ms. Pelosi’s home state, suggested the party should have a more open conversation about her effect on its political fortunes.
Yes, her effect. Under her leadership the party’s policy platform has dramatically drifted leftward, and as a result, her party’s representation has gradually shrunk to the enclaves of the coastal elites.
“Fully one-third of Pelosi’s 193 House Democrats now come from just three states, the usual liberal suspects of California, New York and Massachusetts, not the crucial Heartland,” writes Andrew Malcolm for HotAir. “Pelosi’s entire leadership team is also coastal, and like her, linger on in their mid-70s.”
These trends have become a death spiral for Democrats. The more leftward they shift, the smaller their base becomes, which necessitates deeper progressivism in an attempt to placate their increasingly strident base. And all the while, Republicans are making political hay out of pointing out the simple truth – that the values and priorities of San Francisco are not the values and priorities of the midwest, or the South, or the Rust Belt.
Rather than face down further losses in 2018, Democrats are becoming increasingly vocal about the need for a change at the top.
“There is consensus, I think, that we can reach in the caucus that allows for a new leadership team to be put in place in a time that’s well before, hopefully, November of next year,” Rep. Kathleen Rice told MSNBC on Thursday.
“Nancy Pelosi was a great speaker. She is a great leader. But her time has come and gone,” Rice continued. “There comes a time in every leader’s life that they have to know it’s time to leave and usher in the next generation of leaders.”
Pelosi, frankly, disagrees.
“I think I’m worth the trouble she said at an odd press conference on Thursday, in which she made a public case that she shouldn’t be fired.
“I’m a master legislator. I am a, uh, strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country and that is why I’m able to attract the support that I do, which is essential to our elections,” Pelosi said.
But at the end of the day in politics it comes down to winning. That’s something that Pelosi hasn’t done much of in recent years. And until she guides her party back toward the mainstream, no master legislating, no political strategizing, and no amount of fundraising, is going to be enough.
Photo Credit: Department of Labor