Friday, May 11, 2018
With six months to go before the midterm election, new national polls are showing that the Democratic Party's much-touted momentum to gain control of the House has stalled out. The latest numbers tell us a lot about the limits of denouncing without offering much more than a return to the old status quo. Under the headline "Democrats' 2018 Advantage Is Nearly Gone," CNN reported Wednesday that nationwide polling found "the generic congressional ballot has continued to tighten" -- "with the Democrats' edge over Republicans within the poll's margin of sampling error for the first time this cycle."
Overall, the latest generation of adults is negative about the demagogue in the White House. But most Democratic leaders aren't offering a clear and compelling alternative. As Reuters put it, "Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates."
Six months ago, the independent report -- titled Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis -- pointed out that young people "increasingly want politics to be for something profoundly positive rather than just against Republicans." As a member of the task force that worked on the report, I was struck by how the top echelon of the Democratic Party keeps trying to insulate itself from -- and fend off -- the tremendous energy that mobilized behind Sanders during the primaries.
In short, the Democratic Party is still dominated by elected officials and power brokers who appear to be deeply worried that a future progressive upsurge of political engagement could loosen -- or even end -- their corporate-funded grip on the party. As the Autopsy report said, "Emerging sectors of the electorate are compelling the Democratic Party to come to terms with adamant grassroots rejection of economic injustice, institutionalized racism, gender inequality, environmental destruction and corporate domination. Siding with the people who constitute the base isn't truly possible when party leaders seem to be afraid of them."
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