So, another one lost. This one was touted as the referendum on the horribleness of Trump and his administration. This was going to be the last stand that proved to all and sundry that Russia was the reason Trump became president, and not anything the party did, or didn’t do. This was the mother of all battles that would vindicate the Democratic party establishment from accusations of ignoring the wishes of the progressive base of the party.
This would prove, once and for all, that centrist neo-liberalism remains the ideology of the Democratic party, and anybody asking for a shift to the left was just being mischievous and naughty.
So, all kinds of money was thrown at it – about twenty two million dollars is the number being thrown around. All stops was pulled because this was the one the establishment had to win – needed to win. The calls for the party to lean left was growing louder in the wake of the presidential election loss, and needed to be silenced.
This was the one to do it. The set up was perfect. It was in a red district that has always been carried by Republicans in elections, but was almost flipped by the last Democratic presidential candidate who lost narrowly 48% to 47% to President Trump. There was excitement in the hope that being able to flip this red district to blue would be an emphatic statement. The fact that the special election was to replace a Republican made it an even more perfect target.
But, it didn’t turn out that way. The Republican candidate, Karen Handel, who made no secret of her love for President Trump even if she didn’t fully embrace him during the race, won by almost 11,000 votes, and by more than 4 percentage points.
The Democratic party candidate, Jon Ossoff, the former congressional aide hand picked by the party establishment, failed to reach the 47 percent mark. It wasn’t exactly a landslide for the Republican party as this was the closest election the party has had in that district since 1979. Even Ms Handel’s predecessor had won by 23 points just last November, but the point is that the Democratic party gave this race everything it had in its arsenal and lost.
This loss was only the latest in a string of losses for the Democrat in special elections since the election of President Trump. The party had hoped to use the uncertainty in the country due to the perceived inadequacies of the Trump administration to their advantage, but have seen their candidates lose all the special elections to date.
The obvious goal which is to prove to the dissenting liberal base of the party that centrist neo-liberalism is still the way to go for the Democratic party seems to be receding with every special election loss. It may be time for the party to take a second look at what the dissenters within its base are saying.
Maybe it’s time to try a little bit more liberalism and a little less centrism because, if these losses, beginning from the presidential election loss, have shown anything, it’s that the Democratic party cannot win elections with a divided house. The losses thus far also show that the liberal base of the party is resolute in its decision to no longer support the party’s centrist, and sometimes, almost right leaning stands.
The fact that Senator Bernie Sanders is still overwhelmingly popular with the base of the party should be a pointer to the party leadership of what can happen if the party agrees to change ideological direction. Senator Sanders, whose loss to eventual presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, in the primaries was the beginning of much of the disaffection within the party part, has remained very popular with the rank and file.
Senator Sanders constantly outshines other Democrats, and during the recently concluded unity tour organized by the Democratic National Committee, constantly received very loud ovations whenever he appeared on stage, while the newly elected DNC chairman, Tom Perez, received boos to the embarrassment of the party.
But, will the leaders of that party see the handwriting on the wall before it’s too late? Will the powers that control the leadership in that party sanction a change in party ideology just because the people are demanding and pressuring for it? I personally doubt that it’ll happen for reasons I will talk about another day, but only time will tell, for sure, what will happen.
2018 is around the corner, and, though, 2020 is still few years away, it’s so near. Whatever needs to be done has to be done very quickly because leaving things the way they are currently is a sure way ensuring that President Trump gets a second term, and with a very friendly Congress, too.
They say “a word is enough for the wise” but this word has been joined by concrete action. We’ll find out soon enough, if the Democratic party has wise people running it