Democrats should trade in identity politics for more inclusive policies

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After the latest round of midterm primary elections, the question facing Democrats, particularly in light of the clearly unacceptable and racially charged comment President Trump made about former White House assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman, is simple. What do we do?

It is my argument that if this battle turns into a reality television sideshow with the president and Omarosa going back and forth in the news, and Democrats merely attack Trump on this scandal in the same way they have for the past two years, the party will have wasted an enormous opportunity. Make no mistake, it is unacceptable for anyone, especially the president of the United States, to refer to someone as a “dog.”

{mosads}In terms of political campaigning, however, the fundamental key is how do we influence voters, not how do we express moral outrage. To me, there is a very clear answer, which I discussed on a panel this month at Martha’s Vineyard, hosted by Henry Louis Gates and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research of Harvard University. My argument is that Democrats need a moderate agenda that focuses on the needs of working people generally and African Americans specifically.

To be sure, Democrats need an answer to the issue of the job growth that has occurred in the African American and Hispanic communities, as well as in all the lower segments of society, during the Trump administration. The president, despite the abhorrent language he has used recently about CNN broadcaster Don Lemon, NBA basketball star LeBron James and his former aide Omarosa, has a point here. Since Trump became president, the economic position of communities of color has improved.

That being said, there remain clear gaps. While job creation may well have increased, the quality of opportunities that are available lag considerably. We do not have adequate programs to train and retrain workers for the jobs that exist in the technology or modern manufacturing sectors. We simply do not have a series of targeted initiatives to help increase wages for working people who are most vulnerable to another recession.

Put simply, Democrats need to focus on issues that will demonstrably improve the quality of life of people of color and all working class Americans, which means we need to encourage experimentation, whether it be in public schools, charter schools or parochial schools, in vocational training so that those not on a college track have opportunities to create a middle class lifestyle in our society today and in the future.

As the Democratic Party continues to play identity politics against a Republican Party which, despite the economic good news, is clearly out of touch, it is important to refocus on another huge opportunity that has come up. I realize it is no longer just enough to say that I do not want Nancy Pelosi to be the Speaker of the House again. I believe it would be logical, appropriate, and well deserved to advance the candidacy for party leadership of Democratic Congressman James Clyburn. He has been a voice for both progress and consensus within the party.

Regardless of whether or not the next Speaker is Clyburn, we need new leadership. Moreover, African Americans need to play a significant, if not the most significant, role in framing the Democratic agenda and offering leadership to a party that desperately needs a new direction.

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.”

Tags Americans Congress Democrats Donald Trump Election Government Nancy Pelosi Omarosa Manigault Newman Politics President United States

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