In the aftermath of an election loss, it is more important than ever to keep Shakespeare’s admonition in mind — to thine own self be true. But so far, the Democrats appear to have rejected a self-aware, detached point of view. They can’t seem to respect the legitimacy of their defeat.
Their denial crescendoed yesterday when Hillary Clinton blamed her defeat on FBI Director James Comey and emails leaked from WikiLeaks. I won’t belabor the point, but Clinton lost because she had no economic message at a time of great economic anxiety. And, 2016 was a change election and she was the opposite of change. Her candidacy embodied the status quo and celebrated more of the same.
Now she wants to be a leader of the so-called resistance? Yawn.
And, oh by the way, the Democrats’ defeat in November continues one of the most gruesome political slaughters any American political party has ever experienced. Specifically, since 2008, Democrats have lost 62 House seats, nine Senate seats, 12 governorships and 959 state legislative seats. An autopsy of the Democrats’ performance through the Obama years reveals the deep problems that the left has with white voters. Relative to the 2012 election, Slate notes that Clinton lost nearly 1 million white votes in the Rust Belt states of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And per a Politico report, Clinton lost rural America by a 3-to-1 margin in 2016. But Democrats don’t want to hear it. Rather than ask how they can win back the voters they’ve lost, the left seems to be saying good riddance to white, working-class Americans.
Meanwhile, the most popular “Democrat” in the United States is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a socialist outsider who isn’t even a true Democrat. He doesn’t embrace the Democratic Party as the vehicle for his political “movement” but has nevertheless been welcomed by the intransigent new-left as its leader. And for members of the Democratic establishment, latching onto Sanders is their only hope for maintaining some semblance of party unity — even if their change agent isn’t a committed Democrat.
While Republicans stagger around legislatively and fitfully build an administration, the Democrats are stuck carping and pursuing conspiracies of their own. Even though we are six months out from the election and no evidence suggests collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, the left is still hopelessly looking for a silver email to strike and bring down this president. Their pursuit of a smoking gun is simply dishonest and distracting.
In Washington, it is hard being in the minority. You have competing agendas, jealousies and multiple leaders who are probing the possibility of running for president themselves. It is hard to have a spokesperson that others defer to, and it is hard to make your message heard when the majority party in the White House has superior resources at its disposal. To stand a fighting chance, the minority party must launch a forceful effort, presented by nimble and sharp, made-for-TV personalities. And above all else, a coherent agenda and party unity are required. So far, the Democrats have none of these.