After the Democrats’ defeat two weeks ago you might think the party would start looking beyond a strategy of identity politics, particularly considering there’s growing consensus that it helped Donald Trump win.
But instead, Democrats seem ready to double down on different versions of their same old politics—with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and likely DNC chairman Congressman Keith Ellison leading that charge.
Politico described Warren Monday as the de facto head of the Democratic Party, filling the vacuum created by Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.
“The irreverent first-term senator is one of the few with the stature to break through the muddle, and her move to promote her brand of no-apologies progressive warfare could have longer-term implications for the party’s direction, an emerging dynamic that’s cheered by liberals but far from embraced by the whole of the party,” Politico reported of Warren.
Warren has called Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions a racist; has accused President-elect Trump of “doubling down on racism;” relishes in old-fashioned class warfare and demagoguery; and when you add her dubious Native American ancestry she becomes the perfect progressive dream candidate.
But it is unlikely that a “one percenter” preaching socialism and social justice will be able to appeal to Trump supporters and swing them.
One of the most frustrating things about unhinged conspiracy theorists like Frank Gaffney who see Muslim plots to take over America in your Thanksgiving turkey, is that it provides a shield for Muslim politicians who need to be criticized.
One of those politicians who can cry “racism” when they’re rightfully criticized is the likely new head of the Democratic National Committee, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison. Ellison, who is the first Muslim-American member of Congress, is a radical leftist who holds some pretty disturbing views.
Ellison in the 1990s was a member of the Nation of Islam, the racist and anti-Semitic cult run by Louis Farrakhan. The organization has more in common with Scientology than Islam. In 2007, Ellison compared the 9/11 attacks to the Reichstag Fire that led Adolf Hitler to transform Germany into a dictatorship. Many historians suspect that the fire was set by the Nazis themselves to justify their rule. Ellison also has ties to anti-Israel groups, though he himself has condemned anti-Semitism in the past.
Regardless, both Keith Ellison and Elizabeth Warren are out of step with the average American. They are cliched practitioners of identity politics, and neither has shown they can reach out beyond the progressive base.
One of the problems Democrats are facing is that black voters are tired of being taken for granted. The New York Times went into a black neighborhood in Milwaukee and found not only that many of them didn’t vote but also perhaps more significantly—they didn’t regret it. These voters were angry about the rising cost of health insurance, lack of economic opportunities, and the broken promises of Democrats. They even found a black man who voted for Donald Trump. Most people they interviewed were unhappy with their choices.
As an illustration of how out of touch Democrats are, Neil Albrecht of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission, blamed stricter voter ID laws for the decreased turnout, despite the fact not a single potential voter mentioned such laws. Black voters want solutions to their problems, not different ways to play race cards that too often come off as condescending.
Democrats need to find new ways to reach voters besides identity politics, but unfortunately the party is currently elevating two of that failed strategy’s worst practitioners.