The most important goal of a politician is to get elected, closely followed by getting re-elected. Everything else is secondary. I’ve heard politicians justify this by saying stuff like, “the only way I can help my constituents is to stay in office.” That really sounds noble but the truth is: political power is addictive - you can never have too much. I know this is true based on my own sixteen years of personal experience as an elected official.
When a major American political party loses a national election, its members look around to find a new “message that resonates” with voters. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. If your political campaign fails to get enough votes, you either get out of politics or offer the voters something they want.
Retail businesses do something similar when their sales are not meeting expectations. They find new products to offer customers. This is usually accompanied by an advertising campaign designed to whet the appetite of the consumer.
Most people are familiar with the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). These stages of grief are normally associated with death of a loved one, divorce, or loss of job. The five stages of grief are also applicable to an election loss.
After the November 2016 Presidential Election, news media interviewed numerous experts, held round table discussions, conducted post voting surveys, and sponsored opinion editorials - endlessly speculating about what happened and why. This is the denial stage of grief. In the eight months since the election, members of the Democratic Party have begun experiencing other stages of grief.
On July 24, 2017, CNN published an opinion by Chris Cillizza claiming that Senator Chuck Schumer had ‘thrown Hillary under the bus.’ Schumer said recently, “When you lose to somebody who has 40% popularity, you don't blame other things - Comey, Russia - you blame yourself," Schumer, the top ranking Democrat in the Senate, told The Washington Post over the weekend. “So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that." What makes this quotation significant is proof that Senator Schumer is entering the final stage of grief - acceptance.
As of July 25, 2017, not every member of the Democratic Party has entered this final stage of grief over the 2016 Presidential Election results. Some are stuck in the earlier stages of grief. You see this exhibited when the news media show democrats continuing to express anger and depression over the election. Some democrats are still in the denial stage; they just can’t accept what happened in November. This is illustrated by the democrats who are still ‘wrapped around the axle’ over Russian influence in our election. They are desperately clinging to anything which can be used to help them rewrite history. Liberal news media are ‘adding fuel to the fire’ by devoting much of their broadcasting time toward pandering to those in denial.
Thankfully, in spite of widespread insistent and continuing rejection of the election results, some democrats are beginning to craft a new election campaign for the Democratic Party.
Republican and Democratic parties have each adopted core beliefs common to their party members. These are known as ‘political planks’ in their party platforms. This is a good thing because it helps the party's candidates stay focused on their campaigns and provides a consistent ‘voice’ on issues. It also enables a single political advertisement available for use by all candidates in the party. Political action committees (PACs) usually spend their money on national advertising campaigns.
The 2016 Democratic Party Platform
“Our party should run a national campaign on three simple issues:
- Enrich and expand Social Security
- Medicare for all, including dental, optical, hearing, mental health, and elderly services
- Raise the minimum wage
This gets paid for with smart cuts to defense spending and tax increases on the wealthiest.”
Unfortunately for the Democrats, this message did not resonate with enough voters and Donald Trump was elected President.
Recently, the Democratic Party has begun work on their 2017 Party Platform. Here is a list of potential party planks:
- “Raise Incomes and Restore Economic Security for the Middle Class
- Raising Workers’ Wages
- Protecting Workers’ Fundamental Rights
- Supporting Working Families
- Helping More Workers Share in Near-Record Corporate Profits
- Expanding Access to Affordable Housing and Homeownership
- Protecting and Expanding Social Security
- Ensuring a Secure and Dignified Retirement
- Revitalizing Our Nation’s Postal Service
- Create Good-Paying Jobs
- Building 21st Century Infrastructure
- Fostering a Manufacturing Renaissance
- Creating Good-Paying Clean Energy Jobs
- Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology
- Supporting America’s Small Businesses
- Creating Jobs for America’s Young People
- Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality
- Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System
- Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration
- Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
- Promoting trade that is fair and benefits American Workers
- Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities
- Ending Systemic Racism
- Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
- Reforming our Criminal Justice System
- Fixing our Broken Immigration System
- Guaranteeing Civil Rights
- Guaranteeing Women’s Rights
- Guaranteeing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights
- Guaranteeing Rights for People with Disabilities
- Respecting Faith and Service
- Investing in Rural America
- Ending Poverty and Investing in Communities Left Behind
- Building Strong Cities and Metro Areas
- Promoting Arts and Culture
- Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations
- Fighting for the People of Puerto Rico
- Honoring the People of the Territories
- Protect Voting Rights, Fix Our Campaign Finance System, and Restore Our Democracy
- Protecting Voting Rights
- Fixing Our Broken Campaign Finance System
- Appointing Judges
- Securing Statehood for Washington, DC
- Strengthening Management of Federal Government
- Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice
- Building a Clean Energy Economy
- Securing Environmental and Climate Justice
- Protecting Our Public Lands and Waters
- Provide Quality and Affordable Education
- Making Debt-Free College a Reality
- Providing Relief from Crushing Student Debt
- Supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions
- Cracking Down on Predatory For-Profit Schools
- Guaranteeing Universal Preschool and Good Schools for Every Child
- Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans
- Securing Universal Health Care
- Supporting Community Health Centers
- Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
- Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research
- Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
- Treating Mental Health
- Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families
- Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
- Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports
- Protecting and Promoting Public Health
- Ending Violence Against Women
- Preventing Gun Violence
- Principled Leadership
- Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans
- Defense Spending
- Veterans and Service Members
- Military Families
- A Strong Military
- Confront Global Threats (Terrorism, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Russia)
- Cybersecurity and Online Privacy
- Non-Proliferation of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
- Global Climate Leadership
- Protect Our Values
- Women and Girls
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
- Trafficking and Modern Slavery
- Young People
- Religious Minorities
- Civil Society
- Closing Guantánamo Bay
- Development Assistance
- Global Health
- HIV and AIDS
- International Labor
- A Leader in the World (Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Europe, Americas, Africa)”
Obviously, the Democratic Party will have to summarize this list into manageable bites and prioritize the summary. Otherwise, this is nothing more than a laundry list of wonderful things. It’s the kind of list that you would expect if you went around a large crowded convention hall and asked each person what he or she would like to see happen in the world while everybody is singing verses of Cumbaya.
Just think - the next major election campaigns are getting underway! Fund raising has begun, candidates are assessing their chances, and the Republican and Democratic parties are shaping their party platforms.
As the 2018 campaigns get underway, I wonder how long some democrats and liberal news media outlets will continue talking about possible Russian influence during the 2016 Presidential Election. Did the South really lose the 1865 Civil War? Can we find a group still discussing that subject?
Joe R. East, Jr.