Democratic Dominance

Why The Democratic Party Isn't Doomed

Ethan Wallace

Opposing Opinions

Photo: The Hill

A Powerless Party

Why The Democratic Party Is Weakening

Conner Jones

August 26th, 2017


The great Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “If you can’t fly, then run; if you can’t run, then walk; if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” This quote is relevant now more than ever, especially in reference to the current and future status of the Democratic Party. Sure, they suffered many losses this past election season, but that does not mean they are finished. In fact, it is often in the face of great turmoil that institutions begin to thrive the most.

 

Of course, the most obvious topic when considering the strength, or weakness, of the Democrats is the elephant in the room: the 2016 presidential election. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was, without question, the candidate of choice for most Americans. She had consistent and comfortable lead over GOP candidate Donald Trump in almost every poll, even to the point that the Huffington Post claimed she had a “98% chance of winning the presidency." This statement became almost humorously ironic, though, when Donald Trump managed to scrape the electoral votes necessary to become president. However, while the Democrats did lose the Presidency, they still got the most votes, by almost 3 million. But an impression of a dying Democratic Party still among American voters. However, the opposite is true. The Democratic base is steadily growing, especially among Hispanic voters, while Republicans fail to catch up. The Republicans may hold the White House, but as long as the Democrats retain their hold over the majority of the voting public, their power is undeniable and their success in the future is as well.

 

The other unmissable topic lingers: Congress. Since the 2014 midterms, the Republicans have had control of both the House and the Senate, making bipartisan politics very tough for the dreamers in Washington and slowing down Democratic influence. While it would be almost impossible to argue that they have power in Congress at the moment overall, there are some things the Democrats can do to show the Republicans that they mean business and to secure more seats in the future. Our government is designed to resist tyranny of the majority, and several tools exist that can be used by the Democrats to resist Trump and the Republicans. The most important of these is the filibuster. To filibuster is to give a prolonged speech with the intent to block the progression of any congressional action in the Senate, and it can delay or even completely stop the vote on any bill or action. As magical as this option might sound for Democrats, a filibuster can still be stopped. In 1917, President Wilson signed into law the ability of the Senate to end a filibuster through a cloture with a two-thirds majority vote. This was first put into use in 1919, when the Senate voted to end a filibuster that would have stopped the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Then, in 1975, the Senate voted to reduce the threshold to enact a cloture from two-thirds to three-fifths, a much more attainable margin, though still difficult to achieve. Clotures are still extremely uncommon, but there is another way to dodge a filibuster: the nuclear option. This has only been used twice in congressional history: once in 2013 and again in 2017. When the motion to enact a nuclear option arises, the Senate will vote, and if confirmed, it can lower the threshold to vote on any congressional action (most commonly a cabinet confirmation) to a simple majority of 51%. This was used in April of 2017 when Senate Democrats filibustered to block the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nomination Neil Gorsuch. Senate republicans voted to change the rules to allow Supreme Court nominations to be included as part of the nuclear option. They then confirmed Gorsuch to the highest court with a simple majority of 51% rather than the two-thirds previously required. While this sounds damning for the Democrats, it is still incredibly rare and likely won’t be used often in the future. The filibuster remains a powerful tool.

 

Overall, it would be impossible to argue that the Democrats are winning as long as Republicans control the White House and the Congress, but the Democrats do have a strong future ahead of them—and it might just be the doing of the Republicans themselves. Yes, the Republican Party, as powerful as it may be, is doing damage to themselves. The party continuously alienates major demographics within the United States. This can be seen recently with Trumps travel ban on 7 Muslim-majority countries. Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, has said on multiple occasions that this is not a ban on Muslims; however, that is a clear contradiction of the president himself. in December of 2015, Trump said that he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States during his presidency. This alone alienates almost all 3.3 million Muslims that live and vote in the United States and has probably eliminated that demographic from ever voting Republican in the future.

 

After targeting Muslims, the Republicans headed for a new target—the poor. During his campaign, Trump ran as an economic populist, someone who looked out for the poor in the small, urban parts of the country. He said he would cover everybody with his replacement for the Affordable Care Act. He said he was going to bring back jobs in coal in Kentucky, Wyoming, Montana, and other states that are being hurt by the clean energy industry. He promised voters a revitalized tax system that would tax the rich more and the poor less with fewer tax brackets set up at 10%, 20%, and 25%. What he didn’t tell the voters was that this plan would have cost $9.25 trillion dollars over the course of a decade. Fortunately, he didn’t follow through on this promise. Trump’s new vague tax plan would give some cuts to all brackets, but more significantly, cut taxes for high income taxpayers. Like his tax policy, Trump’s promises to the poor have either been completely abandoned or reversed completely. As for the promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and still cover every American, nothing has been done. Republicans in Congress working with Trump were quick to make a new bill called the American Health Care Act that would replace the ACA and slash the benefits of the millions of Americans that relied on the ACA. The bill attempted destroyed the protection for those with pre-existing conditions, as it allowed insurance companies to charge more for people with them or out-right deny coverage, which was banned under the ACA. Overall, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that under the American Health Care Act, nearly 24 million people would lose their health insurance. What about bringing back coal jobs? Yep—another lie. First, he claimed that Obama was the reason the coal industry was declining, when in truth, the industry had been declining for decades. Trump then claimed that by reducing regulations on coal companies, he was helping miners;  however, that wasn’t true either. What he was really doing was allowing coal companies to expand to other types of production, such as mountain top removal, that don’t really create new jobs. The fact of the matter is that Trump does not understand how to bring back coal, and there really isn’t a way to. Instead of focusing on relief for coal families who are now out of work, he sought only to help the bigwigs in the industry make more money.

 

These lies destroy the administration’s credibility and alienates the people it has promised to help. As Trump and the Republicans continue to lie, they hurt their own party by excluding massive demographics and destroying their own voter base. As Republicans continue to diminish the poor as well as racial and religious minorities, Democrats are lifting these communities up. They are holding rallies in support of Muslim refugees and are actively trying to help the poor in defending their affordable health care as well as actively fighting for lower taxes for lower income families. The Democrats are playing their cards right as the Republicans toss them on the floor. As long as this keeps up, future victories for the Democrats will be no surprise.

The Democrats are seemingly unified in their fight against Trump, but come the 2020 election, just as in 2016, conflicts will arise within the Democratic party’s base. The DNC pushed Hillary Clinton as the nominee and sabotaged Bernie Sanders, furthering the divide between the establishment and the people. If the Democrats are truly the “party of the people,” they sure aren't showing it. While Democrats enjoyed the Republican Party’s unrest over Trump, there was a civil war behind the curtain.

 

The Democrats espoused a “simple but powerful idea: We are stronger together.” However, recent polls reflect the exact opposite. Sixty-seven percent of Americans say the Democrats are “out of touch,” along with forty-four percent of Democrats themselves. This feeling is likely a result of the discontent felt by the grassroot supporters of Bernie Sanders. They have a right to be—the DNC, as revealed in emails released by WikiLeaks, treated Bernie with disdain, not impartiality. In an email from DNC Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda, Paustenbach wrote, “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess.” This was in response to backlash over DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz shutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to voter database files, to which Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver accused the DNC of sabotage. "The DNC, in an inappropriate overreaction, has denied us access to our own data," Weaver said. "In other words, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is actively trying to undermine our campaign."

 

Bernie Sanders had a large amount of support among those between the ages of 18 and 29. The DNC conspired against Bernie’s campaign; Clinton had won before he even had a chance.  A corrupt, partial leadership is not what the new Democrats want, especially Bernie voters. The DNC must respect the past, but embrace the new future of the Democratic Party. The numerous young voters who want to get their opinions out need a party to represent them. Their voices can create change. If the DNC does not listen to its youngest,, the Democratic Party will undoubtedly die.

 

Over the past eight years, one thousand Democratic spots in congressional elections, governorships, and state legislatures have been lost to the GOP. Currently, the GOP controls 69/99 state legislatures, two-thirds of governorships, the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Republicans have a significant advantage over the Democrats, even larger than the gap during the Obama presidency. People across the country are clearly with Donald Trump and the Republicans after eight years of Obama’s “change we can believe in,” which Americans believe in no more after they saw what it was.

 

The Supreme Court is back to having a conservative majority after late Justice Scalia’s untimely passing. This new upper-hand under Trump will undoubtedly push a conservative agenda through the court, as justices’ decisions can often be traced back to their political ideologies pre-appointment. Liberals will vote for liberal results and conservatives for conservative results. This will give Republicans a huge advantage in court precedent, alongside a rumored resignation among the three oldest justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 84; Anthony Kennedy, 80; and Stephen Breyer, 78. Ginsburg and Breyer are liberal while Kennedy is considered to be a swing vote. Any resignation would allow Trump to appoint a new justice, furthering the Republican advantage in the court.

 

While it is true there are more Democrats in absolute terms, sheer numbers are not what decides the president. Our election system, the electoral college, is a combination of equal representation, as in the senate, and representation based on population, as in the House. Each state receives as many electoral votes as their number of congressman combined. This means that each individual vote in Wyoming weighs 3.6 times more than a vote in California. The electoral college was implemented so that the president would best represent both the will of the people and the will of the states. However, the system favors republicans as they make up the majority of the population in these small, rural states. Trump was even able to win the “blue wall” states, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania by the hands of blue-collar workers, who defected from the party that no longer represented them (Democrats). To them, the 2016 bid had a poor choice of party leadership: Hillary Clinton. The DNC chose a flawed candidate with too many controversies surrounding her and a poor reputation. Now, the Democratic Party scrambles for a strong lead. Obama is fading out of the limelight, Clinton has retreated to the shadows after her loss, and other possible candidates for 2020, such as Elizabeth Warren or even Bernie Sanders, are old and aging. Currently, the Democratic party is a headless chicken: idiocracy with no clear direction.

 

After the many protests and rallies carried out against President Trump’s actions, Democrats were still not able to win a single one of the four special elections for vacancies created by Trump’s cabinet appointments,. The most notorious race, Georgia’s sixth congressional district between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel was the most expensive congressional race in history. Jon Ossoff even ran as a centrist, focusing on cutting spending, coming out against Medicaid for all,  attacking Handel and the GOP’s health care policy and surprisingly, rarely mentioning Trump. Even after the lengths to distance himself from other Trump-ridiculing Democrats, he still lost by nearly 10,000 votes. While it's true that the empty seat was created by Trump’s appointment of Tom Price as the Secretary of Health and Human Services and that these appointments are deliberately chosen from “safe” districts, Jon Ossoff was not a typical democrat. He appealed much more strongly to the many Republicans and Democrats in that district who voted against Trump in the first place, or who came to disapprove of him. It seems, at this point, that there is no hope for redemption.

 

The Democratic Party’s cool, calm, and collected façade has been shattered by the rise of Donald Trump and negligence of listening to constituents. Without major changes to the nomination process, both in the superdelegate process and the practice of conspiracy, the Democratic Party will be abandoned.