The following is an editorial reflecting the opinion of the PoliticusUSA editorial board comprised of Jason Easley and Sarah Jones.
Sifting through the detriment of a failed election, many are claiming victories for their “side” or opinion or desires. The numbers are still coming in, and so no analysis can be completely accurate yet but so far it’s looking like white men were the largest electorate and white married women showed up, while everyone else stayed home (some were denied their right to vote). In other words, if this holds, it was a conservative’s election. This would explain why the polling was so off, as the pollsters under-sampled white men.
One thing is obvious: Democrats are still allowing the media to parrot GOP narratives, and Democrats are still running away from their own ideas and into the arms of the tepid enemy of equivalency. Democrats are still afraid to be bold.
If Democrats had embraced Obamacare from the beginning, as we have been going on about for years now, all Democrats would have had to say was what some of them did say, “I’m proud to be a member of the party that pushed to offer affordable healthcare to everyone in America. Like any good policy, Social Security for example, there are tweaks that we can make to the ACA. The thing is, I still believe that it’s more important that my neighbors and friends have access to healthcare than it is to give corporations another tax break. I’m not going to back down from that position and I challenge my Republican opponent to tell the people what his/her alternative is in detail. The thing is, Republicans keep telling y’all what’s wrong with Obamacare, but they never offer any ideas on what they want to do for you instead. They’re trying to con you into voting against things that are good for you and your family.”
Now to the other “albatross”, President Obama.
The day after the elections, even more good economic news poured in. Jobs were hit another high for the year in the private sector. Now, why don’t you know about that? Why doesn’t the media tell you that? Because the narrative is Obama is toxic. The narrative is also profoundly stupid.
We were telling readers that the polls didn’t look good for Democrats and that it was not the same as 2012, when the polls were biased for Republicans, because Jason compared the demographics of the polls to the states and couldn’t find any over or under sampling problems as he did in the 2012 elections.
So reality is important. But when reality has been skewed by relentless media narratives, it might not be worth much. In 2012, the media told us Obama voters would stay home. They were wrong.
In 2014 they told us everyone hates Obama.
Wait, correction. After six years of the media repeating Republican lies about this President, the public who showed up to vote in this midterm believes the lies.
From the bogus IRS targeting conservatives to the Benghazi emails that proved nefarious intent by Obama but actually weren’t actually read by the reporter and turned out to be completely inaccurate to the planted Benghazi story told by CBS’s Lara Logan – it’s been a storm of embarrassing attempts to pass Republican lies off as truth by the very media whose job it is to get to the truth.
They claim that in telling all of these lies, they are just doing their job. So the real enemy is not just government anymore, but the corporate puppets who parrot the lies the party that deregulates them wants told.
This is what Democrats are up against. It’s not easy.
But the answer is not to run from the bully pulpit or hide from the very policies that were successful. Would Democrats have still lost had they been bold and told the people what they actually believe in? Possibly. But the very people who voted for the minimum wage raise in a red state also voted for the Republican who wants to abolish it. It’s possible that campaigning with the President would have given the policies a bigger audience.
This is why we disagreed with David Axelrod when he said the President should not have said his policies were on the ballot.
Obama’s policies are popular, and by the way, the only person who has been able to turn out the vote for Democrats since Clinton is the guy you all don’t want campaigning for you? Well. If it turns out that the base stayed home, as some numbers are suggesting that the great early turnout for Democrats was misleading because it simply replaced latter turnout, then no. This plan was a big fail.
No one likes a coward. Most voters like populism. Democrats had that on their side. It is what Republicans fear the most. And so Democrats naturally followed Republicans and ran from their own power.
But liberals are making a mistake thinking that Democrats need to run more liberal candidates in red states. A populist Democrat like Governor Beshear is not the same as a super liberal like Elizabeth Warren. Sorry, but Elizabeth Warren could not take the south.
Instead of running from the very policies the people love because the media has convinced them to shut up about it (hat tip to Nancy Pelosi who has never bought this baloney and never stopped talking about the minimum wage and equal pay and affordable healthcare), Democrats need to be bold and proud, as Wendy Davis was in Texas. Sure, she didn’t win but no one expected her to win. She did, however, set fire to turning Texas purple. She did sell Democratic policies for the people and she did it with class and dignity. Mary Landrieu did it with class and dignity.
Stand for something. Stand with the president who got re-elected in a landslide when Republicans and the media told you that the Obama voters hated him. Yes, 2014 was an uphill battle, but it was also a chance for Democrats to learn. And they did learn about turnout – they focused so much energy on turnout. If the numbers show that Democrats didn’t show up anyway, that means that the candidate matters. It means that people need to be INSPIRED in order to get out the vote.
No one has ever been inspired by tepid.
Do you want to date tepid? Does tepid turn your head? No. Tepid does not get out the vote.
Pragmatic and proud Democratic populism tailored for its region (see Beshear in the South) is what works. Democrats gave it their all this midterm with great efforts at turnout, but the campaigns before that turnout failed to make the case to the voters or failed to motivate the Democratic base.
Running away from their base to the extent that they did when they shunned President Obama is looking like a costly error. We warned before the election that the base needed to see Obama, they would turn out for him, but they get depressed when all they hear is bad things about Obama. Obama won two national elections. Maybe regional politics don’t trump that.
Democrats need to stop being so afraid of what is a toxic environment for them, and take a lesson from Republicans. Since Reagan, Republicans have been accusing the media of liberal bias. This is laughable today. But it still serves to game the ref. A wee bit of contempt for liars is never a bad thing, Democrats.
Be bold. Don’t be run by fear and committee. Fear is why Hollywood can so rarely turn out a good film these days and committee fear is why Detroit turned out crap cars for years.
Be bold. Stick with the bold leaders who have sold the voters on Democratic ideas and policies in the past. Don’t be tepid. Don’t be ashamed of success. Don’t let anyone shame you into denying your values.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.