New Democratic leadership necessary for 2018 success

New Democratic leadership necessary for 2018 success
© Getty Images

Congressional Democrats seem poised to make major gains in the midterm elections this year. However, capitalizing on this energy will require serious consideration of policy strategy and vision for the future of the party. First and foremost, the Democrats must promote fresh faces and elevate new leadership. After the 2016 elections, Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanTim Ryan ‘seriously considering’ 2020 bid Baseball legend Frank Robinson, first black manager in MLB, dies at 83 House Democrat warns ethics committee about Steve King promoting white nationalism website MORE (D-Ohio) challenged Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Calif.) for her minority leadership position.

While Ryan fell short and he does not intend to challenge Pelosi again after the 2018 elections, the support behind his candidacy shows that Democrats need to reconnect with blue-collar workers and middle-class Americans. Electing a midwesterner from a state which Donald Trump carried in 2016 would help accomplish this.

ADVERTISEMENT
A Republican had not won the county in northeastern Ohio where Ryan lives since Richard Nixon in 1972. In fact, President Obama won the county by 23 points in 2012, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE won by 7 points. Ryan’s efforts have been echoed by many sitting members of Congress, including Seth MoultonSeth Wilbur MoultonDem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - All eyes on Trump after lawmakers reach spending deal Overnight Defense: Acting Pentagon chief visits Afghanistan | US, Taliban peace talks intensify | Trump tweets in Persian to send message to Iran | Defense world pays tribute to Walter Jones MORE (D-Mass.), who has said, “It’s clear that across the board in the Democratic Party that we need new leadership. It’s time for a new generation of leadership in the party.”

Moreover, Pelosi’s popularity among voters nationwide continues to decline. A CNN poll last fall showed that only 29 percent of voters have a favorable impression of her, while 50 percent take an unfavorable stance. For these reasons, the longer Pelosi leads the House Democrats, the more negatively her unpopularity hurts the party as a whole.

In addition to elevating new leadership into the party, Democrats need to focus on revitalizing their image as a dynamic and forward-looking party of the people. This means that the party must focus more on effective policy alternatives and less on trying to impeach President Trump.

In the past, the Democratic Party has thrived when the party runs on platform that promotes inclusive economic growth and makes necessary fixes to the Affordable Care Act and our health systems. In 2018, it is vital that Democrats develop an inclusive platform that appeals to voters across the ideological spectrum and not just to the most mobilized groups, such as democratic socialists and the “resistance” base.

The Democrats must avoid unpopular and unrealistic proposals such as “Medicare for All.” Instead, the party needs to focus on driving issues such as gun control that have more widespread support. A CNN poll earlier this year found that 70 percent of Americans support stricter gun laws, while only 17 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll late last year said that they favor “Medicare for All” system.

With 2018 elections drawing closer, the next steps that the Democrats take will be tremendously consequential for the party’s future viability. Democrats have a choice. They can either continue to campaign under the banner of “resistance,” using similar faces, messages and policies that proved so uninspiring in 2016, or they can present the American people with a new generation of leaders and a new slate of ideas.

Indeed, the latter will do far more to excite voters across the ideological spectrum and will help Democrats in key swing districts that are crucial to the party taking back the House. Ultimately, it is the best way for the party to take advantage of the political opportunity before them.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. A longtime political consultant, he is also a Fox News contributor and the author of 11 books, including “Putin’s Master Plan: To Destroy Europe, Divide NATO, and Restore Russian Power and Global Influence.”