OPINION | Democrats, look to the other Clinton playbook to win again in 2018
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President Trump’s first six months have been plagued by controversy, an inability to deliver on key campaign promises, and a declining confidence in the Republicans’ ability to effectively govern.

ObamaCare has yet to be repealed and replaced, and despite a congressional majority, leading Republicans have failed to deliver on a healthcare plan that works for all Americans. This is just one policy issue of many that President Trump and his party have failed to fulfill.

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Now, more than ever, is the time for the Democrats to rethink their strategy heading into the 2018 midterm elections to get the country back on track.

It is clear from the results of the recent special elections that the fumbling of health care reform and President Trump’s low approval rate are not enough to sway swing voters to the left.

Americans are looking for an agenda that focuses on their most important issues: economic growth, tax reform, returning to traditional values, and embracing differences within the party.

Tackling these issues requires a completely new strategy from the current. The stagnancy in the party’s leadership is largely to blame for this radical movement to the far-left, alienating much of the party’s base. This movement has already cost the Democrats 11 Senate seats, 63 House seats, 10 governorships, and hundreds of state legislative seats since 2010.

The Democrats need an alternative agenda if they want to take back voters and start winning again.

The party can move more to the center without fearing that its existing base will disappear.

This was the exact concern of President Clinton and his top advisors in 1995 when I played a central role in repositioning the president as a centrist. We focused on a balanced budget, deficit reduction, welfare reform, and standing up for traditional values. The argument that the base would leave did not hold sway then, and it does not hold sway now. 

The Democratic Party will continue to lose if it pushes far-left candidates like Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips 'ridiculous' spending bill | FBI dragged into new fight | Latest on Maryland shooting Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE. The exodus of working class voters to President Trump was merely a response to a Democratic agenda that does not represent their views. 

The Democrats need a new leadership with new ideas. Pursuing a moderate agenda more than twenty years ago gave President Clinton the credibility as a fiscal conservative and a cultural moderate that was essential to regaining the support of suburban moderates to the Democratic Party. The same needs to be done today.

The current health care debate is a window of opportunity for the Democratic Party to reunite and reinforce these ideas. Democrats have the opportunity to come up with a moderate plan to give Americans accessible health care in a competitive, affordable marketplace.

A new Democratic agenda starts with a pro-growth economic agenda, rather than redistribution.

Democrats need to prepare Americans for the jobs that we have. There needs to be a focus on job training and retraining at community colleges if we want them to succeed in a modern global economy.

Americans feel burdened by their taxes and we need to look to the income and corporate tax cuts President Kennedy introduced in 1963 and the bipartisan Tax Reform Act of 1986, rather than push for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The Democratic Party has moved far away from traditional values and religion as a positive force. President Kennedy’s inaugural address explained that we are a nation united by “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” Embracement of morality and tradition is needed for the Democrats to win. 

Democrats need to stop creating divisions within the party. Subjecting qualified Democratic candidates to a litmus test on issues such as abortion or single-payer health care is an approach that is doomed to fail. We need tolerance to avoid the brutal politics of polarization, which has alienated swing voters and suburban moderates.

Under the current resistance strategy, it is going to be impossible to rebuild the Democratic party, absent of a collapse of the Trump Administration. The party has changed and moved left, but the people have not. This is the agenda that voters have always supported, throughout the second-half 20th century, the past Presidential election, and clearly today. This is a more timeless strategy, rather than the near-sighted resistance that the party promotes today. 

Put simply, this may seem to many as an appeal to the past and a recipe for alienating much of the party.

It is neither.

It’s a return to a strategy that have been proven to work for Democrats and plans they will need to implement if they want to win in the midterms and regain control of the policy agenda.

Douglas E. Schoen served as a pollster for President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle Presidential approval: It's the economy; except when it's not Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC MORE. A longtime political consultant and pollster, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books. His latest book is Putin's Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence (Encounter, 2016). Available at Amazon. Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.


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