For even the armchair political commentator, the results of this election were not surprising. The voters made two things clear from the outset of the election: they wanted a change from the establishment and they did not like Hillary Clinton. The Democratic leadership responded by engineering the selection of perhaps the greatest establishment figure in politics and someone with a record level of unpopularity with voters. On election day, voters followed through on every poll: they voted against Clinton and the establishment. Only the mainstream media and democratic insiders seemed bowled over by the news — shocked that the voters would reject their sage advice and lopsided coverage. Indeed, as someone who contributed to the coverage that night, I was shocked how shocked everyone was. While the odds favored Clinton, her low popularity with independent voters and high polling figures on dishonesty made the election uncertain at best. As we began to discuss years ago, the “remaking” of Clinton seemed disconnected from voters who continued to view her and the Clinton family as the personification of the establishment. It showed how entirely out of touch the core Democratic leadership (and media) has become. Now, that thick cloak of denial appears firmly in place as Democrats blame FBI Director Comey for the loss despite the fact that Hillary was declining in the polls before his late disclosure to Congress and the fact that Hillary set records on dishonesty in poll after poll. Two stories this week have brought this home. One was the rallying behind Donna Brazile by DNC staff last week with the notable exception of one man who confronted both Brazile and his colleagues. The second is the report that Democratic leaders immediately turned form Hillary Clinton’s historic defeat to start grooming Chelsea Clinton for political office. The problem it seems was that the public was not given enough Clintons. Faced with a populist uprising, the Democratic leadership seems to be offering more of the same like an actor who cannot move beyond one script and one role.
We have previously discussed the unethical actions of interim DNC chief Brazile and the conspicuous failures of the media to investigate her claims of altered emails. While CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker called Brazile’s actions “disgusting” and others have denounced her actions, the DNC has stuck with Brazile and she recently appeared before staff to given them a pep talk.
The event however did not turn out quite as planned when one staffer had had enough. According to The Huffington Post, a staffer named Zach asked “Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this? You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself.” He continued by saying “You are part of the problem. You and your friends will die of old age and I’m going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.”
He then left — a personification for millions of independents and Democrats who abandoned the party to elect Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, the rest of the DNC rallied behind Brazile and gave breathless accounts of her inspiring leadership. A DNC staffer told HuffPost that there was “overwhelming” support for Brazile and that her words “had some staffers in tears.” That would be welcomed news for Republican strategists. It is also worth noting that, after emails showed that Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (Brazile’s predecessor) had worked to rig the primary and dealt dishonestly with Sanders, she was overwhelmingly reelected and embraced by the DNC leadership.
The second story is even more curious. Many viewed the election as the ultimate rejection of the Clinton dynasty that has controlled the Democratic party for over a decade. The Clintons put their family and its “brand” front and center in this election . . . and voters rejected it. However, within hours of the defeat, Democratic leaders were reportedly turning to Chelsea Clinton as the new flag bearer. Clinton, 36, is reportedly being groomed by the same leadership to replace Rep. Nita Lowey, 79, in representing New York’s 17th District. Of course, Chelsea does not live there but the district covers part of Westchester County, including Bill and Hillary Clinton’s hometown of Chappaqua.
Chelsea was previously given a high-ranking media position with disastrous results — a move that was denounced by journalists as political connections overwhelming journalistic merit. Her role in the Clinton Foundation has come under fire. However, the greatest problem is that her resume is largely the result of her family and foundation ties.
The question is whether the Democrats are going to spin the result of this election and deny reality when, in two years, they will be facing the inverse of this election: more Democratic seats will be up for grabs and Trump could receive a super majority in Congress, including a veto-proof margin.
I am an independent and do not have a horse in this race. However, in speaking with my Democratic students, they express complete separation from the Democratic leadership and the establishment politics that it has come to represent. I come from a long-standing Democratic and liberal family in Chicago. When I was raised in that environment, the Democratic party was the populist party — the voice of the outsider and emerging constituencies. Now it is viewed as the party of insiders and establishment power brokers. There may be enough unhappy members (particularly Sanders people) to change the party, but these stories do not help with that image.
It seems to me that, if the Democrats want to resurrect their party, it will require entirely new leadership and a new vision to fit an increasing independent populace.
What do you think?