The Era of Trump might be over before it begins. The Democrats have regrouped, rethought their branding and their strategy, and have an all-new set of forward-looking policy proposals — and the unity needed to act as an effective counterweight to the GOP on Capitol Hill and beyond.
Ha-ha. Just kidding. Actually, they have their ostrich heads stuck in the sand while running around like chickens with their heads cut off and…
…oops, I thought I had one more avian-cranial reference to tack on there, but no.
So instead, let us ask today’s important question: Are you prepared for the goatiest of rodeos?
To see what I mean, come with me now as I take you to the latest report from The Hill’s Niall Stanage. The headline says, “Dems grapple with lessons from Clinton disaster,” but the story is that the Democrats’ grip on “WTF just happened?” is as firm as an overcooked noodle looking at naked pictures of their failed presidential candidate.
Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump is an unmitigated disaster for Democrats, who want to ensure nothing like it happens again. But Clinton’s popular-vote lead over Trump is so large that it complicates the question of how to recalibrate for future elections.
Clinton led Trump by almost 3 million votes as of Sunday, according to a Cook Political Report tracker, with some final results still to be tabulated. More than 128 million votes were cast for the two main candidates nationwide, and Trump emerged as the victor by winning three Rust Belt states by margins of roughly 11,000 (Michigan), 23,000 (Wisconsin) and 44,000 (Pennsylvania).
Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist who managed former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, pointed out that, amid all the Democratic remorse and recrimination following the election, very small differences in those three states would have led to Republicans questioning their future, not Democrats.
Trippi also saw a danger for the party, in that virtually any explanation for why Clinton lost is plausible, given the narrowness of the margin.
“Everybody can point to something that went wrong — and they’re right,” he said. “It makes it impossible to know what the party really needs to do.
Two things are remarkable about this story. Three, if you include the part where Joe Trippi has it almost exactly right.
The first is how hard Democrats cling to the popular vote story, while also nodding their heads when Rep. Keith Ellison says, “Democrats win when we harness the power of everyday people and fight for the issues they care about.” Sorry, Dems — but you only get to choose one. Either your party failed to address the issues people care about, or you did address them but got cheated out of the White House by that tricksy Electoral College.
But watch now as they try to have it both ways.
The sad fact is that California voters are alone responsible for Clinton’s “win” in the popular vote. The latest tally shows Clinton up by about 2.8 or so million votes. She’s won California by nearly 4.3 million votes. So, take away California and the rest of the country starts to look like… well, it looks like the rest of the country. California is weird, but if that’s what the Democrats want to elect a president of, then the only thing you can really say to them is, “Congrats, you already have Jerry Brown.”
Still, they do like to shout about that popular vote, even though that’s not how we elect presidents. So let me explain how our system works, in language simple enough for a California Democrat and brief enough for the attention span of a Millennial.
The voters’ popular will is expressed in elections to the House of Representatives. From there, popular will goes to the Senate where the Founders meant for it to die on principle, but today we have to settle for it choking to death on arcane rules. Presiding over this whole mess is the president, who by the genius of the Electoral College represents the broadest possible swath of Americans and our fractious interests.
In other words, California doesn’t get to pick the president over the objections of 30 other states.
But I digress.
The second remarkable thing about this story is the Democrats’ leadership change, or lack thereof.
Nancy Pelosi still runs the House minority, despite the GOP Congress having a popularity rating detectable only by an electron microscope, and even then only if you squint. Chuck Schumer, age 66 and long Harry Reid’s heir apparent, will take the reins of the Senate minority uncontested — and only because Reid “decided” to retire.
ASIDE: What, you thought Reid got his skull broken in because his Vegas backers were happy with him? Anyway, that’s the smart theory until somebody in the mainstream media digs up contrary evidence. And I’m sure they’ll get cracking on it any year now. Any year.
True, the Democrats are getting a new chairpersonofgenderandorcolor at the DNC, but only because the last two got hounded out of office for cheating on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Debbie Wasserman Schultz put her thumb on the scale during the primaries, and Donna Brazile helped Clinton cheat so badly in the presidential debates that even CNN had to fire her. CNN!
And of course the Change That You Can Believe In™ at the DNC is going to end up being another one of the Super-Duper Progressives who helped turn the Permanent Democratic Majority into the subject of Entertainment Weekly’s next “Where Are They Now?” sidebar.
Most perplexing at all, from the party that once dropped Mike Dukakis down the memory hole and then threw away the hole, is that Hillary Clinton wasn’t thrown out like yesterday’s bathwater. But soon enough the Clintons will be the Democrats last happy memory, even though they and their coterie haven’t thrown a winning national election in 20 years.
Then there’s the man most responsible for the Democrats’ fast fade into oblivion: Barack Obama. His eight years in office saw the Democrats lose nearly 1,000 elected offices — including the one where he now walks and quacks like a lame duck. But will he be reviled by the party he did his inadvertent (?) damnedest to destroy?
Of course not. Obama will go on to be the party’s elder statesman, dispensing advice and lectures and reminders of “Who we are.”
So which is it, Democrats? Do you want to shake up your party, starting with its failed leadership, or do you want to wrap yourselves up in the comforting fiction that California is just like the rest of the nation?
I’ll wait here for your answer while I watch Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on all the cable news channels.