Democrats are going to keep losing if they can't articulate a vision
© Greg Nash

The Obama coalition no longer exists. It has dissolved into a listless, even spiritless, faction. That’s one glaring revelation for Democrats following Tuesday’s embarrassing election in Georgia. And while the special election in my home state of South Carolina holds some distinction, all the lessons the party of Kennedy need to learn emanate from Georgia.

I’m not going to study the various voting groups or exit polls. Those analyses have been conducted, and confirmed what we already know: special elections in and of themselves aren’t very good national political bellwethers. But before I leave the subject, I did find one statistic telling – the Republican in Georgia, Karen Handel, won by four percentage points in a district that Trump only won by one percentage point last November. Many conclusions could be drawn from that regarding the district specifically as well as voting behaviors, but the most obvious takeaway is that Republican voters are more reliable in these non-presidential cycles.


So what to do moving forward? I doubt party leaders will care what a right-leaning commentator thinks, but they would do well to ponder four admonitions.


First, Democrats are not ready for primetime. In short, Democrats lack the ability to lead this nation forward in these times. They have squandered the trust of the American people by choosing to fixate on issues that, while important to some, do not capture the attention of a national electorate. Issues such as abortion, bathroom bills, equal pay and women in leadership are important policy considerations, yes, but do families in Elkhart, Indiana or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wake up every day and fear for the future of their kids and their nation because lawmakers in Washington haven’t addressed them? No. Unless and until Democrats reconnect with and tap into the consciousness of what is driving American concerns, they won’t be entrusted to represent them in leadership positions.

Secondly, stop complaining. Start listening. If you could summarize the entire campaign of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE in a slogan, it would be, “I’m not THAT guy…” That’s not enough for a nation of 330+ million who yearn for leadership. Saying you’re a better choice doesn’t make you one. Led by Clinton, Democrats did more complaining about Trump than listening to what Americans were saying and what he was echoing. I’m not surprised. If all of my information came from the mainstream media, I would have likely taken the same steps as the Party. But political playbooks have changed. America has changed. Democrats will fare much better in future elections if they wear a little more humility, admit they have lost touch with the issues that matter most to Americans, and started listening more.

Third, Nancy Pelosi isn’t your problem. I giggled as I wrote that line. Newspapers even in the minority leader’s hometown publicly wonder if she is the millstone around the neck of the Democrats. She is not. Granted, she is not the face nor the future of the party, but she isn’t the problem. In fact, she can actually help Democrats leverage the gains they need in the coming years. Her fundraising prowess is legendary. But that’s where it should end. For the good of the party, she should step aside. Change is good, and somewhere along the way, she and party officials forgot that oftentimes, fresh is refreshing. But moving Pelosi to the sidelines won’t solve their identity crisis. Pelosi is merely the vessel for all the inherent problems the party holds. Break the vessel, and they still spill out. Democrats need to search for a leader with vision; not one who asks, “Can we take the House back next cycle?” That is a short-term goal that masks a longer-term, systemic failing for the party – simply being the un-GOP party isn’t enough anymore.

And finally, think 2024 and beyond. What does the Democratic Party want to look like in the middle of the next decade? Beyond Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden to campaign for Stacey Abrams next week Dems with political experience could have edge in 2020 primary, says pollster Ford taps Obama, Clinton alum to navigate Senate hearing MORE, Warren and Pelosi, can anyone name the next cohort of Democrats? The ‘young guns’ who love their party and are tapping into changing political classes and political winds? Sen. Ben Sasse is that type of individual on the Republican side. Who carries that mantle for the Democrats? Sure, every election cycle, Democrats will want to and strive to gain seats in Congress. But the true strategist thinks beyond elections and ponders tectonic shifts in the electorate. Issues such as an aging America, workforce shortages, income demands, and even growing global trends in energy, innovation and financial centers are important to Americans. These are the elements worthy of a national party and vision. It’s time for some blue-sky thinking on their part. 

Perhaps it’s my right-leaning bias, but I doubt Democrats will take these necessary steps of introspection. It’s too easy to demagogue an issue and be a party of NO. But a man can hope, can’t he?

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign. He is manager and sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. He's on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly from 6:00-8:00pm EST.

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