by Ed Rogers · April 19, 2017
Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff speaks to his supporters on Tuesday in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The results from Georgia’s 6th are in, let the overanalyzing begin.
First, just to state the obvious, the Democrats fell short of their goal. They tried to pitch the special election as a referendum on President Trump, but that message failed. It seems strange, but today’s liberals invested a huge amount of money, media attention, and hopes and dreams in a 30-year-old straight, white Southern male. I think it points to the bewilderment within the Democratic Party. Looking at the mixed bag of confusing images and messages that have come from the left of late, it’s easy to ask: Who are the Democrats?
On the one hand, the Obamas took a well-publicized trip on a Hollywood billionaire’s mega-yacht. They reinforced negative stereotypes about Democrats being too cozy with and solicitous of the entertainment industry’s billionaire mogul class just as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and new DNC Chairman Tom Perez launched a nationwide “unity” tour to help save the United States from the billionaires. Ironic.
And meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress have no agenda beyond being anti-Trump. Of course, Sanders and Perez are playing to their stereotype. They’ve called for a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan with no plan to pay for it. And again, Sanders and Perez are demanding a $15 minimum wage but have offered no explanation for how they settled on that amount.
Finally, we’ve come to the Democrats’ latest initiative — electing Jon Ossoff to a historically Republican district in Georgia. How did they let their expectations get so out of hand? On its face, Democrats should have hedged at least a little. Their candidate is young, unproven and does not even live in the district he is running to represent. Expectations for a victory had not been this high for a Democrat since Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. It’s still not impossible for Ossoff to win in the runoff, but the consensus is that Tuesday’s election was his best shot and the Democrats fell short. They claim Ossoff came close, but coming close isn’t worth anything in elections. You either win or lose.
The Democrats appeared to make the same usual mistakes: they allowed the big liberal interest groups to nationalize the election and raise hordes of money from outside the state; they had a somewhat ill-fitting candidate run to represent a district he didn’t even live in; and, star-struck, the Democrats’ consultant class couldn’t resist recruiting Hollywood celebrities to come on down and “help.” No less than Samuel L. Jackson got involved. And he appeared to reprise his role as Jules Winnfield from “Pulp Fiction,” exclaiming in a radio ad: “We have to channel the great vengeance and fury we have for this administration into votes at the ballot box.”
Anyway, they should have known better.
With all the mixed messages, muddled policies, and now, two losses in special elections, back to our question: Who are the Democrats? At 77– and 66-years-old respectively, House and Senate Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hardly represent the next generation of Democrats. Even Sanders, who seems to have the most energy of any Democrat, is 75. Chelsea Clinton doesn’t represent anything but a small slice of Manhattan liberals and the dwindling few that live off Clinton nostalgia. The ill-considered and clueless Black Lives Matter movement is not a movement that can attract new voters to the Democratic Party; in fact, it contributes to the opposite. And their Hollywood supporters appear to be a spent force, except as an occasional fundraising platform. Democrats need a new bag of tricks.
Meanwhile, the Republican organizations led by the RNC did a good job of ensuring adequate Republican turnout despite the fragmented field, and the Trump administration appears to be engaging the wheels of government. It has moved past the squabbling and randomness of its early days in a way that is less alarming and is being taken more seriously. With the Democrats looking like a ragtag band of confused and hapless roving protesters and Team Trump getting its act together, the contrast appears to favor Republicans.