With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder
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In the aftermath of November’s election, Democrats are in the worst shape they’ve been in almost a century on the local, state, and federal level. The Democratic Party, which has lost over 900 seats total since the 2008 election, is dealing with an identity crisis. The party does not have a clear message nor does it have strong, emerging faces to represent it.

One doesn’t have to look much farther than a map of county results of the last presidential election to understand why this has happened. Democratic voters have, in a sense, self-polarized over the last 25 years, setting up left-wing enclaves around major metropolitan cities. It shows. Except for the thin areas around the coasts, Democrats have abandoned nearly every municipality from medium cities all the way down.

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Stop in any small town in any state and the picture is usually the same: local government, Elk’s Clubs, VFWs, and PTAs dominated by conservatives. Not all of these people vote Republican, but they adhere to a traditionalist view of the United States. They may have pulled the lever for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonJill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Club for Growth goes after Cheney in ad, compares her to Clinton Sanders to campaign for Turner in Ohio MORE, but still see their Normal Rockwell-esque view of country life under threat.

 

So where do the Democrats go from here?

Following Obama’s 2008 election, the media peddled a narrative that there was no strong leadership in the Republican Party. Now the shoe is on the other foot. No one will admit it in the aftermath of the sweeping victories that year, but the Democratic bench was thin in 2008. So thin, in fact, that it chose a backbencher with no resume for its nomination. It’s even worse now.

It’s so much worse that even former Speaker of the House and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi can’t tell you who the leader of the party is. It was clear last year that Hillary Clinton didn't seal the deal with the progressive and corporatist wings of the Democratic Party. In her own inauthentic way, she tried to win them both over — and got neither.

In particular, supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersProtect women's right to choose how and when they work Senate braces for a nasty debt ceiling fight Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE will not abide any centrist steps for the party. Running as an openly avowed Socialist, Sanders changed the paradigm. His supporters have been out for blood since they learned that the DNC unfairly “rigged” the primaries in Clinton’s favor, and waged a costly fratricide over the choice of the new DNC Chair. Vox, the mouthpiece of the Beltway bubble, said the fight happened when “Democrats need it least.” Some even left the party for the Democratic Socialist Party; its membership recently tripled.

The GOP has its divisions, to be sure. However, they are relatively unified on the larger points. Democrats have been forced to call up the reserves, leaving has-beens such as Nancy Pelosi and not-quite-ready for primetime Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE as the party faces. There's no credible leader to bridge the gap between the progressives and the left-leaning centrists.

Making it worse is that the Democrats so mishandled and neglected elections outside of California that they have no farm team. The national Democrats are out of prospects. It's obvious. With few exceptions (Cory Booker and Julian Castro are the only two who come to mind), the leading Democrats have several things in common: they are white and old. How old? In the House, they are an average of 64 years old, over a decade more than Republicans.

The Republicans put up 17 presidential candidates last year, including two Latinos, a female CEO, and a famous black neurosurgeon. The Democrats? That might be better left unsaid.

Democrats hoped Trump at the top of the ticket would have the ‘trickle down’ effect of destroying GOP candidates at every level. But Trump’s overwhelming rural support ensured the opposite actually happened.

The Democratic Party can only ignore these demographic time bombs for so long. In most cases, state legislatures redistrict Congressional seats. It already looks like a bad deal for Democrats, and their recent losses will make it all the worse. The party is also looking at steep defeats at every level in 2018, almost regardless of Trump’s job performance.

During President Obama's terms, the Republicans chose young, diverse, qualified leaders to rebut his statements. Several examples included Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, of Indian descent, and Florida Senator Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers Hillicon Valley: Senators introduce bill to require some cyber incident reporting | UK citizen arrested in connection to 2020 Twitter hack | Officials warn of cyber vulnerabilities in water systems MORE, of Cuban descent.

But the response to President Trump's joint session of Congress speech in February? Elderly, white, former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who actually called himself a Republican within the first thirty seconds of his rambling yarn.

The rest of the Democratic bench are elderly scolds. Who doesn't want to listen to Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Canceling K in student debt could 'transform an entire generation' 10 books that take readers inside the lives of American leaders Schumer leaves door open for second vote on bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE talk about the 1 percent, while ignoring her own wealth and resume lies? Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense: Senate panel adds B to Biden's defense budget | House passes bill to streamline visa process for Afghans who helped US | Pentagon confirms 7 Colombians arrested in Haiti leader's killing had US training On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks MORE? He should probably stick to aligning himself more to the Onion and meme parodies of himself (seriously, the BuzzFeedification of an incompetent vice president?).

The Republicans, on the other hand have the under-50 crowd cornered. Marco Rubio, Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis US, Germany reach deal on controversial Russian pipeline State, Dems call out Cruz over holds ahead of key Russian talks MORE, Joni Ernst, Nikki Haley, Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE, and others represent the future of the party: more dynamic and diverse through skill, not for its own sake.

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It." She was recently named one of NewsMax's "30 Most Influential Republicans Under 30."


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.