With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder
© Getty

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' 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 SandersWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Sirota: Biden has not fulfilled campaign promise of combating union-busting tactics Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents 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 SchumerPew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia Schumer lays groundwork for future filibuster reform 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: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Senators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations 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 WarrenWorld passes 3 million coronavirus deaths Poll: 56 percent say wealth tax is part of solution to inequality Democratic senators call on Biden to support waiving vaccine patents MORE talk about the 1 percent, while ignoring her own wealth and resume lies? Joe BidenJoe BidenSuspect in FedEx shooting used two assault rifles he bought legally: police US, China say they are 'committed' to cooperating on climate change DC goes to the dogs — Major and Champ, that is 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 CruzRepublicans who backed Trump impeachment see fundraising boost US has seen 45 mass shootings in the past month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Nearly half of U.S. adults partially or fully vaccinated MORE, Joni Ernst, Nikki Haley, Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' 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.