It is safe to say that the 2016 presidential election was a shock for the Democratic party, even traumatizing for many. The results were both overwhelming and unexpected.
Obviously, most shocking was the triumph of Trump over the odds-on favorite; however, to add insult to injury, the Republican party retained majorities in both the House and the Senate. This also guarantees at least one Supreme Court Justice nominee with the possibilities for several other positions to open during Trump’s term.
For those who were predicting doomsday for the Republican party on this election, it seems as if the tables have been turned with the Democrats being nearly obliterated from power. However, I would not say that this is the end of power for the Democrats, if anything the popular vote total – which the Democrats will not let anyone forget about – indicates that they do still have significant support.
To me, what this election shows is that the Democrats need a significant tone, and possibly attitude, adjustment before the next election. Last February I commented that the borderline condescension of the “political correctness” and other liberal attitudes were fueling the rise of Trump. Since the election, The New York Times and other editorials have levied some similar critiques, calling out identity politics and the tendency of the new liberalism to divide rather than unite as a central failing of the ideology.
However, much of the analysis of the election has sought to blame everything but the Democratic party itself. Even The Washington Post, supposedly one of the news sources being above propagating fake news, claimed that Russian propaganda was to blame for the election.
You can blame the results on fake news, racists, the Russians or whoever you want – at some level the Democrats need to acknowledge that they blew this one big time. It will take some serious introspection on the Democratic party’s part, and a definite change of tone, for them to recover the momentum that they lost coming into this election.
Speaking as a firm Republican, the strength of the Democratic party that is hardest to overcome is the ability to unify diverse groups under broad policies claiming a moral high ground and being able to control the narrative around those issues. However, that strength did not manifest in this election. Hillary Clinton devolved into finger pointing while being unable to unite the various “minorities” into a strong enough coalition to push her through into the presidency.
In my estimation, this failure was partially because of a lack of a unifying message and partially because of the ire she sparked from the “basket[s] of deplorable” on the other side. If the Democrats are to get back power, I would suggest dialing back the “deplorable” message while emphasizing more on the positive solutions that they hope to implement to unify people in the next round of elections.