DNC Candidates: We Can’t Just Be Anti-Trump

The finalists contending to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee came together for a debate in Baltimore this weekend, and they all seemed to agree on one thing: The Democratic Party has to have a message that’s about something more substantial than Donald Trump. In their comments, most of the frontrunners said that Hillary Clinton failed to bring such a message to the voters, instead relying on a non-stop attack campaign that ultimately failed to win the day.

“We forgot to talk to people,” said former Labor Secretary Tom Perez. “We didn’t communicate our values to people. When Donald Trump says, ‘I’m going to bring the coal jobs back,’ we know that’s a lie. But people understand that he feels their pain. And our response was: ‘Vote for us because he’s crazy.’ I’ll stipulate to that, but that’s not a message.”

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a similar argument.

“We spent so much time talking about the politicians, like that’s what really matters,” he said. “I was guilty of it. I had a button when we were campaigning for Hillary – that said ‘I’m with her.’ It was all about her. Then when we realized who the opponent was going to be, it was all about him. We said, ‘I’m against him because he is terrible.’ He is terrible. But the people at home were saying, ‘Who is talking to me? Who is talking about me?’ Everything we talk about has to be explained in terms of how it directly touches people’s actual lives.”

Strangely enough, however, none of the DNC candidates seemed to consider the possibility that the party was simply too far left to appeal to many of the country’s voters. Instead, there appears to be a massive rush to embrace the Bernie Sanders wing of the party and turn it into the face of the new-and-improved Democratic establishment.

That’s a fatal mistake, and the 2018 election will likely be the first proof of what is seemingly obvious to everyone outside the Washington bubble. Your Bernies and your Liz Warrens and your Keith Ellisons might drum up enthusiasm on social media, but they have very little to say to the white working class Americans who traded Obama for Trump in November. If Democrats think the path forward is to double down on an insane social justice agenda, their days as a nationally-viable political force are numbered.