Democrats seem unable to shake off ineffective leaders

The much-hyped special elections in Georgia and South Carolina have resulted in wins for Republicans. It is true that both are heavily Republican districts but the Democrats had hoped that the unpopularity of Donald Trump, the chaos surrounding his administration, and their health care proposals would enable them to pull off wins. But that was not to be and neither race was close.

As usual, the losses have resulted in some re-examination of what is wrong with the Democratic party and calls for the leadership that has proven to be ineffective to step aside in favor of fresh faces, but they refuse to do so.

One of the depressing things about the Democratic party is that its leadership is dominated by neoliberals like Pelosi and Diane Feinstein who seem determined to hold office until they die. Despite repeated failures to energize the party after crushing defeats, they continue to hang on. At the age of 84, Feinstein is reportedly seeking yet another six-year term as senator when her current term expires in 2018. Nancy Pelosi at age 77 seems determined to continue as her party’s leader in the House of Representatives. Feinstein is married to an investment banker and is reported to be the fifth richest senator. Pelosi is reported to be the 13th richest member of Congress holding a large umber of sticks in major corporations. They both benefit from the current system of wealth being siphoned to the already wealthy. Is it any wonder that the Democratic party is what it is?

Age by itself is not the issue. There are older people like Bernie Sanders (75) and Jeremy Corbyn (68) who have breathed life into their moribund parties by bringing in new ideas and promoting them uncompromisingly. But Feinstein and Pelosi are establishment functionaries who want to improve things at the margins and merely distribute the fruits of patronage to their party members. That is hardly the kind of message that inspires. They are not visionaries who can see and pursue a different future the way that Sanders and Corbyn can.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Beware of anyone who wields a large umber of sticks!

    I have one word of advice for the Democratic Party: De-Clintonize!

  2. Matt G says

    I think a big problem democrats face is the greater tribalism among republicans. Remember how disgusted they were at the pussy grabbing tape, but then came right back into the fold? I saw a quote a while back which said that “the gravitational center of the republican party is white nationalism”.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    The liberal, non-corporate arm of the Democratic party has lots of energy, but is lacking in real leaders. The closest it’s got are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the Senate side, but they’re both better with crowds than colleagues. I can’t think of anyone with similar stature on the House side.

    I also think this as much a generational issue as it is a political one. The Millenials are itching for someone like Kennedy or Obama to lead them, but they need someone a bit closer to their own age, and the Baby Boomers aren’t giving up power.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Tabby Lavalamp, #7: …or is she just seen that way by people who want to swing the party further to the left?

    Yeah, I keep hoping that this pissing contest is just the method that the major factions composing the coalition that is the Democratic Party is using to hammer out the compromises needed to construct the consensus program that they can all agree to. And that this all gets done in time for 2018 elections.

  5. Dunc says

    The Millenials are itching for someone like Kennedy or Obama to lead them

    You mean a ruthless war criminal who’s prepared to risk global nuclear annihilation in order to maintain US hegemony, but who looks good on camera and makes people feel warm and fuzzy about it? Yeah, I’m not convinced…

  6. lanir says

    The only thing that will have an almost certain chance of swinging the democrats back on track would be introducing another track. Which is incredibly difficult at any time in our system and moreso with the ridiculous tribalism we have now. We saw with the Tea Party how well party establishments can swallow a movement, grimace through a few unpleasant belches and move on. The 2016 race proved quite firmly that the Democrats have this exact tactic in mind and if anything have learned to be more efficient about it from watching their Republican colleagues struggle with it. They weren’t lying when they said after the recent shooting that they were friends; they just have different talking points.

    The problem with an outside solution is that building a new political party is difficult and expensive. I couldn’t tell you how much effort or money it would take, I suspect I’d need insider knowledge to find out and who do you trust at that point? It would also face an uphill battle because at least one of the two monopoly parties would try to suck all the oxygen out of the room by out-financing you and as soon as that looked like it might fall short, use their best Standard Oil tactics to undercut you. They’d do it by adopting some of your talking points just long enough to get the same con artists elected and then those ideas would disappear as quickly as “Hope and Change” did.

    Funding a new party would also run into issues. Do you take money from people like Haim Saban who has said his only issue is Israel (an overstatement but still telling)? Or do you stay free of such morally questionable entanglements? Can you even afford to run a 50 state campaign without such sacrifices? Or do you have to go the MAYDAY route and shoot for campaign finance reform before you even start trying to oust an established party from power?

    Maybe somebody knows the answer to these questions but I certainly don’t. Lately my crystal ball is pretty murky. All I get is “You have a premonition of doom, but a cheerful one.”

  7. Holms says

    “Weird, I had all my statements and ads thoroughly vetted by focus groups to find the most sincere and genuine way to present myself… where did it go wrong??” -- Democrats. They truly are not interested in winning means having to actually make changes, they just want to say they want changes because that’s the stuff that polls well.

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