Opinion

Dems chasing nutsy left activists instead of voters is a recipe for loss

The political sage who’s all the rage at the moment, 30-year-old Democratic consultant David Shor, is making a splash, even though he’s saying unbelievably obvious things.

Things like: Democrats should talk about popular things and not talk about unpopular things to win elections. They should promise to do things people want, rather than things people don’t seem to care that much about.

The thing is, liberals are beginning to realize they need to hear these unbelievably obvious truisms. They can see the iceberg ahead of them in November 2022, and they have very little time to change course before their party turns into the Titanic and their jobs disappear like Leonardo DiCaprio’s body into the icy brine.

And when leading Democratic figures try to address the crime crisis by saying that the numbers really don’t look so bad except for a 30 percent increase in homicides, you get the feeling Kate Winslet’s Rose would roll her eyes and kick them right off the raft into the North Atlantic.

Oh, and with a captain at the helm like President Stuff an Ice Cream Cone in His Mouth Before He Says Something Stupid, they have double the worries.

But it isn’t just Democrats who need to hear it. Republicans need to hear it, too, though about different issues in different ways.

Republicans are also obsessed with focusing on hot-button issues that don’t offer answers to how ordinary voters are to flourish and prosper (like former President Donald Trump’s supposed non-defeat).

National political control in the United States has changed hands so frequently over the past 20 years that you’d think people who live and breathe politics would learn from past experience that much of what they do causes their side to lose power, rather than gain or sustain it.

Nope.

In 1992, Democratic President Bill Clinton came into office with 43 percent of the vote, proposed the most intrusive expansion of the federal government into the private economy in decades — and lost Congress to the GOP two years later, with Republicans taking control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

Republican George W. Bush prevailed in an almost literally tied election in 2000 while his party lost and gained control of the Senate three times during his presidency — and during that same period, control of the House switched decisively for the first time in 12 years.

Republicans need to stay away from issues like former President Donald Trump's claims of voter fraud.
Republicans need to stay away from issues like former President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
AP Photo/Ben Gray, File

In 2008, Barack Obama’s Democrats won control of the presidency, the House and the Senate — and then lost the House two years later and the Senate six years later.

In 2017, Donald Trump came into power with his party in control of both chambers of Congress, then lost the House to the Democrats and, in the aftermath of his election defeat, single-handedly depressed GOP turnout in Georgia recall elections and handed the Senate over to the rival party.

What this ridiculously brief history of the past 30 years suggests is that the American people are very much of many minds at any given time about how the country should be governed.

Meanwhile, the parties tie themselves ever more tightly to increasingly unreasonable activists who continue to argue against all evidence that their most extreme convictions are the secret sauce to winning over tens of millions. And then comes the next election, and they’re humiliated.

But in the wake of these humiliations, party leaders tell themselves fairy stories about how what actually happened didn’t just happen. Trump’s ludicrous “I didn’t lose” narrative post-2020 was an echo of Obama pooh-poohing the results of the 2014 midterms, in which Democrats lost nine net Senate seats, by saying not enough people had voted for those results to matter.

Two years later, Trump won, in no small part because Democrats allowed themselves to be seduced by Obama’s self-justifying hooey.

Shor says Democrats need to ask themselves why it is that they are losing support with working-class, non-college-educated African Americans and Latinos.

His fellow Democrats don’t like the question. Republicans don’t like the question of what on earth they think is going to happen with suburban voters who loathe Trump if they continue to serve as his blocking tackles for 2024.

But dealing with unpleasant realities is what it means to be in politics. Pick another profession if you can’t handle it.

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