Conor Lamb’s Pa. win should make Democratic leadership very worried

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The GOP is shaken after Democrat Conor Lamb’s stunning victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th district special election — a district where Donald Trump won by 20 percentage points less than two years earlier. Analysts and pundits have branded the race a bellwether for the midterm elections this fall. And while Lamb’s win is bad news for Republicans, who risk losing the House in November, the Democratic Party’s leadership have reason to be just as worried as the GOP.

{mosads}Lamb is a distinctly different kind of Democrat from the current faces of his party. The 33-year-old former Marine it seems has never spoken a bad word about President Trump — in fact, he openly supports some of the president’s policies, including his tariffs on steel and aluminum. He is pro Second Amendment. He opposes hiking the minimum wage to $15. These views are all in line with working-class voters in rural Pennsylvania, many of whom were once “Blue Dog Democrats” but voted Trump in 2016 because they feel alienated and forgotten by today’s Democratic Party.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the figureheads of the left-wing establishment, continue to busy themselves resisting Trump and, at times, shamelessly mocking the president’s blue-collar voters. They have failed to present positive, unifying principles for the party and offer little in the way of solutions for good Americans in the middle of the country — many of whom lost their jobs in manufacturing and coal during recent years. But then again, fighting for the “deplorables” is not a priority of Pelosi or Schumer; rather, they fight for illegal immigrants.

Lamb appeared to have understood the disconnect between D.C. Democrats and the voters in his district. “I don’t care what the future of the party looks like,” he told The Atlantic in an interview. And in a bold move before election day, he even called for Pelosi to step down from her position as House minority leader. He made purposeful, calculated attempts to distance himself from party leadership, and it paid dividends. His victory underlines Pelosi’s unpopularity with potential Democratic voters. But more than that, it signals to Democrats running in November’s midterms that association with party figureheads may hurt more than it helps.

Pelosi, Schumer, and other entrenched D.C. Democrats have lost sight of who the core constituents of their own party used to be: blue-collar, hard-working Americans. Such left-wing figureheads have transformed the Democratic Party into one that regularly alienates and mocks the very people who used to be the backbone of their movement. Lamb’s remarkable victory in the 18th District underlines the liability that the Democrat’s leadership has become, and it will serve as a roadmap for other left-leaning candidates as November approaches. Democrats can rebuild a coalition that includes white, rural, working-class voters if midterm candidates reject party leadership and offer pragmatic solutions that resonate with middle America.  

Pelosi and Schumer should be worried. They represent everything that American voters in both parties have come to despites: entrenched, life-long bureaucrats who have become completely out-of-touch with everyday Americans. As an increasing number of congressional Democrats realize how toxic the most prominent faces of their party have become, the chorus demanding new leadership will only grow louder.

By far the most important lesson to be learned from the 2016 election is that many voters today want nothing to do with career politicians who no longer fight for their constituents. Lamb’s victory is a reminder that “Drain the Swamp” isn’t just a right-wing rallying cry. It has deep connotations that speak for constituents on both sides of the aisle.  

Kristin Tate is author of the new book “How Do I Tax Thee?”, due out from St. Martin’s Press on March 20. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.

Tags 2016 election 2018 election Basket of deplorables Chuck Schumer Chuck Schumer Democratic Party Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi Political parties in the United States Republican Party Special Election United States House of Representatives

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