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Can the DNC get over itself and help get Democrats elected in 2018?

Rep. Keith Ellison
Photo by Lorie Shaull
Rep. Keith Ellison: “The DNC is empowering state parties in every state, and we’re insisting on empowering counties in every state.”

Bitter infighting, explosive tell-all books, organizational chaos — all of these things have plagued a major Washington political institution over the past year.

If the White House came to mind, you wouldn’t be wrong. But things haven’t exactly been perfect at the main organization tasked with countering that White House: the Democratic National Committee.

Nearly a year ago, Democrats elected new leadership at their central national organization, selecting as their chair Barack Obama’s former labor secretary Tom Perez, who moved to make DFL Rep. Keith Ellison, runner-up in the race for chairman, his deputy.

The duo faced a tall order for 2017: lead the charge against President Donald Trump and the Republicans, all while rebuilding a party committee that had suffered from years of organizational neglect and mismanagement, while also healing the deep wounds left over from a contentious 2016 primary that alienated many Democrats from their party.

The DNC has made progress over the past year — some concede it had nowhere to go but up — and it has strengthened its fundraising and organizing operations, and notched election wins from Alabama to Virginia. Boosters say that the DNC’s leadership has done the hard work of earning back Democrats’ trust and bridging the lingering divides between the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wings of the party, setting Democrats up for success in what could be a historically important 2018 midterm election.

Yet, sensational stories keep hitting the Beltway press: earlier this month, a juicy Politico article reported that Perez and Ellison still periodically get in explosive fights, and that the Sanders faction continues to fight with the establishment over a series of intraparty flashpoints.

By all indications, Democrats have momentum, and a real chance to take back control of Congress this November, along with governorships and state houses across the country. The DNC is poised to play a central role in that — if it can get out of its own way.

A deficit of trust

Politico’s story on the state of the DNC reported that the relationship between Perez and Ellison “remains chilly, with periodic explosive fights over party strategy and appointments.”

That anecdote, which Ellison told MinnPost was “inaccurate,” comes on the heels of a year of press detailing an uneasy and often contentious relationship between the two factions of the party these two men were supposed to bridge: Sanders-aligned progressives, and Democrats aligned with establishment figures like Clinton, Obama, and former vice president Joe Biden.

The tensions started from the get-go: after the 2016 election, Ellison quickly announced his bid to chair the DNC, and became the early front-runner. But the Democratic establishment — including, reportedly, the former president — was not satisfied with Ellison, and persuaded Perez to jump in the race.

When Democrats met in February 2017 to choose their new party chair, Perez edged Ellison on the second ballot. Afterward, the new chair quickly moved to name the Minneapolis congressman as his deputy chair, a position that had not existed before in the party’s hierarchy.

It was meant as a sign of unity that Perez, seen as an avatar for the party establishment, and Ellison, an early prominent backer of Sanders, made nice — and it was meant to be a message to the party rank-and-file that it was time to move past the divisive 2016 primary.

Democrats, after all, had an awful lot to do: after Clinton’s humiliating loss to Trump, Democrats were shut out of all branches of government for the first time since 2006, left to sort through the rubble and rot at the DNC, which came out of the 2016 election cycle battered and beleaguered.

Under Obama, who operated Organizing for America, his own grassroots campaign apparatus, the DNC was neglected — a neglect compounded by what many saw as the mismanagement of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chaired the party from 2011 until she resigned amid scandal ahead of the 2016 Democratic convention.

Tom Perez
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
DNC Chair Tom Perez and Ellison formed a so-called Unity and Reform Commission to recommend changes to the way the party organization works.

On top of all that, the committee had just sustained an embarrassing cyber-hack during the 2016 cycle that aired the party’s dirty laundry from a contentious primary, and confirmed for many that the process was rigged against Sanders.

Faced with the task of digging out the DNC from a deep deficit of funds, organizational capacity, and trust, Perez and Ellison formed a so-called Unity and Reform Commission to recommend changes to the way the party organization works. They re-invested in fundraising, staffing, and getting back to the committee’s basics — supporting grassroots organizing, state party committees, and other Democratic-aligned groups.

At the same time, Perez made decisions as chair that deeply upset the party’s progressive wing. When the DNC met for the first time under new leadership last October, committee members found that Sanders and Ellison backers were removed from key posts — and replaced by Clinton loyalists.

Several prominent supporters of Ellison’s bid for chair, like Ray Buckley, the former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, were pushed off the DNC’s executive committee, for example, prompting critics to call it a “purge” of Sanders progressives.

‘Rolling down the path toward victory’

To hear people like Ellison tell it, however, the DNC has made significant progress from where it was a year ago. He claims the DNC is heading in exactly the right direction as the party gears up for the 2018 midterms.

“Things are going well over there,” Ellison told MinnPost on a January day in the Capitol. “Tom and I are working together cooperatively.” Directly addressing the Politico story, Ellison said “Tom and I have a great working relationship. I admire him. That’s it.”

Ellison noted his travel for the DNC, which had taken him to Connecticut, northeastern Pennsylvania, and Florida just in the last week, and talked up the success of his so-called Resistance Summer initiative last year, which he said led to Democrats knocking on over one million doors across the country.

“The DNC is empowering state parties in every state, and we’re insisting on empowering counties in every state,” Ellison said. “That means we don’t have to select between voters. We’re trying to reach out to all voters.”

Acknowledging the internal strife, Ellison likened it to a family squabble. “To say things are going well is not to say there are never any points of controversial debate,” he said. “We’re like a raucous family that basically loves each other, but often has arguments internally. I’m not saying that the people that are raising concerns that sound like controversies are without merit.”

“I’m saying, we’re still rolling down the path toward victory,” he continued. “We’re still engaging people every single day.”

On the ground in Minnesota, Democratic operatives and activists offered different assessments of the situation at the DNC: some believe the organization had made remarkable progress considering the bleak shambles it was in just a year ago, and that it is on its way back to relevancy and prominence.

They say the DNC has turned around its fundraising, and that the organization played roles in supporting candidates in the past year’s elections. Democrats picked up a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, won governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, and nearly flipped control of the Virginia state house, a coup of a result for Democrats.

‘Same, failed strategy’

Nevertheless, DNC fundraising has continued to lag behind that of its GOP counterpart, despite the anti-Trump energy that has generated tens of millions of dollars for Democratic congressional candidates. As of November, the RNC had roughly five times more cash on hand than the DNC did; at the beginning of that month, the DNC had fired its chief fundraiser.

Some Democrats, many of them supporters of Sanders, have spent the last year seething on social media and commiserating about what they see as a lack of progress in the party. To some DFL campaign operatives, that dissatisfaction about where the party is heading could hamper Democrats’ chances in the midterms.

Michael Rosenow is the campaign manager for Jeff Erdmann, a DFL candidate for U.S. House in the 2nd Congressional District running as a Sanders-style alternative to Angie Craig, the DFL nominee in 2016 who was defeated by GOP Rep. Jason Lewis.

Rosenow says many grassroots Democrats, who believe the DNC rigged the 2016 primary in favor of Clinton, do not trust the national party organization, nor do they trust state and local party groups, either. “We’ve talked to a lot of Democrats in CD2 who are telling Jeff to get out of the race, because it’s rigged and there’s no way he can win,” he told MinnPost. “You talk to people who are longtime caucus-goers who have given up on the party, and don’t like what’s happening nationally, and in our state.”

Rosenow argued that Washington Democrats are too bullish on their chances to take back Congress in November, and are confusing the intense energy that has appeared to counter Trump with energy in favor of Democrats.

“Democrats continue to run the same failed strategy at candidate recruitment and communication,” Rosenow said. “Standing for nothing but platitudes, and hoping the D next to their name gets them across the finish line. The DNC now has to rely on wave elections to win, and that stems from the culture the DNC has propagated. There needs to be systemic and long-lasting change and I don't see that happening.”

Rosenow and his boss aired some of these concerns in a splashy story in the Intercept detailing how Washington Democratic Party organizations are closing the door on grassroots-minded progressive candidates for U.S. House, such as Erdmann, in favor of establishment-minded candidates who can raise money. 

Mending the wounds

Of anyone in party leadership, Ellison senses this trust gap between Washington and progressive Democrats: after all, he was Sanders’ earliest prominent supporter. And some Democrats still hold that Ellison’s broadly-supported bid for DNC chair was railroaded by the same people who stacked the deck for Clinton in the primary.

The congressman was clear-eyed but diplomatic about the challenges the DNC faces in trying to mend the wounds from 2016. “It’s a growing trust,” Ellison said of the committee’s efforts. “By the way, why should they trust us if we can’t prove to them that we are committed to organizing, that we are transparent, and we are fair to all primary candidates? We have to re-earn that trust.”

He cited the work of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which wrapped up its work at the end of last year. It made a slate of recommendations to reform the way the committee works — notably, to dramatically curb the role of superdelegates, a key priority for the Sanders wing.

Ellison said Democrats can be, by nature, more difficult. “Democrats, as a group of people, tend to be independent thinkers who have their own ideas about the way things should go. One thing I think is true about Republicans is they tend to fall in line easier than we do.”

He doesn’t think that will hurt things in 2018 — and forecasts that Democrats will take back the House, Senate, many state legislatures and governorships on the strength of investing in door-by-door, precinct-by-precinct organizing. “I believe we will,” he said, “because we have a renewed commitment to energizing Americans on the grassroots level.”

“I’m not discounting people who raise issues about getting along. I’m simply saying there’s an assumption that if we aren’t getting along well, we’re not moving forward on our mission,” Ellison said. “That’s not true, we are moving forward on our mission, as we are working out these issues.”

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Comments (61)

I think people overestimate the importance of the DNC...

...and the RNC, for that matter. Personally speaking, I don't look to my political party for guidance. My political party should look to voters for guidance, and try to catch up with us. We know where we want to go.

Primary Choices

The DNC would do well to let the voters weed out candidates through the primary process instead of hand-picking one designate ahead of time.

Yes, the DNC work in the background . . .

But Sam Brodey sums up their importance nicely:
"By all indications, Democrats have momentum, and a real chance to take back control of Congress this November, along with governorships and state houses across the country. The DNC is poised to play a central role in that — if it can get out of its own way."
If the DNC can empower fund-raising, nurture the party's grass roots (which the GOP has done far better in this century), and build a platform that reflects all wings of the party, it will mightily help to win at all levels in November. Like the Producer of a drama, you won't see much of them, but you'll see the results of their work.
If, on the other hand, they continue to work more like puppet-masters on behalf of those on the corporate and neoliberal side, they will continue to weaken the party and waste this golden opportunity, not only to take back the House and a number of State Houses, but to
position the Democrats to do well enough to redraw Congressional maps after the 2020 election.

I'm not seeing the change.

I don't expect Ellison to attack his party but I'm looking at the same party that ran the last election making the exact same mistakes. The "Intercept" article reveals the same DNC that previous critiques such as those of Donna Braziile and Allen and Parnes (in their books). This tells us that the neoliberal's still control the party and THAT means that the main campaign message will not progress beyond the simple claim that Democrats aren't Republicans.

If Democrats don't give voters clear and progressive policies and modalities to vote for in the form of clear and popular initiatives, they very well could fail to capture enough votes to flip the House or the Senate. We could lose here in MN as well.

Democrats need to understand that voters aren't interested in seeing Democrats "win". Voters want voters to win and if Democrats don't connect those dots they won't get the votes.

It's about the platform

The Dems are still busy fighting between the progressive Bernie crowd and the Clinton followers with the only thing in common is their continued vitriol towards conservatives and Trump. If it is anything the Dems still have not figured out is that while the economy is booming and people are having more money, all they want to do is complain and belittle. The throngs of voters who just go about their business will be more turned off and not knowing what the Dems will stand for other than to obstruct and use false rhetoric. That won't bode well for the Dems. And leave it to the Dem party to fix when they have a great track record of not listening and extreme lack of transparency instead of letting their followers pick what they want.

Get over itself?

When Trump is President, and clear not getting over himself,but doubling down on his lies and daily scandals, you seriously think that Drmicrats have to get over themselves to win elections? Might you wish to look at actual special elections that are happening, rather than speculating on tea leaves? Alabama, Virginia and Wisconsin come to mind. Democrats disagree with each other. Is that news? That has always been true? The level of real division within the Republican Party is much greater? Any liberal or progressive who doesn’t vote for. aDrmicrat over a Republican replicant has failed to learn how much bad Trump with a Republican Congress has achieved.

He's the problem

Keith Ellison:

An elitist, whereas he has difficulty conversing with people, and what legislation he has passed that he has sponsored? As an ordinary citizen, try having a conversation with this man, he is obnoxious and rude to people, for no reason at all. I remember I was attending the King Holiday celebration a couple of years ago, Ellison was standing alone, not even engaged when people would come up to him and just say hello, within 5 seconds his staff would intervene with the Congressman's card while the Congressman would literally turn his back to them. I also witnessed, when a very nice guy attempted to talk to Keith at the King holiday event, I was within 5 feet of Ellison, the individual said to Keith, hope to talk to you later I have to go, Keith Ellison replied in a high tone of voice "Man I'm not holding you up", this guy is an ass, and he needs a challenger, his time should be over. If you cannot take time to say hello to your constituents at a King Holiday Celebration, something is wrong. The man is an elitist jerk. This is why I informed his campaign to take me off his email mailing list. It's unfortunate as an African American, that happens to be Democrat that I'm saying this about Ellison, but its true, so true.

Do not send this guy around the US campaigning for DNC Congressional candidates, it will backfire. The experiment is over, he has to go.

Simply wrong

I've spoken to Mr. Ellison many times, and seen him speak many times to different audiences. He has no trouble speaking to people or explaining and defending his votes or his agenda. You may not like him for some reason, but he's as accessible as any politician and his agenda IS progressive.

The anecdote provided here describes someone who didn't have time to talk to Ellison saying he'd like to talk to him but didn't have time... and somehow that makes Ellison an ass? Ellison is a sitting US congressman, and the co-chair of the DNC, so yeah, he's busy, if you're standing next him- THAT'S the time to talk to him. If you don't have time to take advantage of that opportunity it's not Ellison's fault.

the center

I think "Trump fatigue" will be the overriding factor by far in the years ahead.

People who identify as Progressives are outraged by him, and angry about what his people are doing - that won't change, but it isn't enough in itself. But people in the middle are already getting tired of hearing about him 24/7 and will be craving a return to normalcy. That's what the Democrats should be offering - not more preachy political correctness, not more entitlements - just sensible government that focuses on mainstream issues of economics and security.

The center of American politics is wide open. Democrats just have to reach for it, and it's theirs.

Centrism put Trump in office, it won't take him out

One of the biggest myths of "centrism" is that they are a majority, and as such determine election outcomes. Trumps election revealed that myth. Clinton was the very epitome of a centrist candidate, and she lost. The Republican party became the strongest political force (in terms of office holding) in the nation because decades of centrist creep towards the right made extremism, ignorance, and magical thinking a viable campaign strategy.

We already have one Republican Party, we don't need Democrats to be another Republican party that's slightly less Republican.

I think we've had enough of "centrists" pretending to be the only adults in the room when they produce election outcomes that put Republicans in power while offering no viable leadership.

centrist

Yes, Clinton was a centrist, and she lost. But how did Trump win? IMHO, by attacking and ridiculing progressive "social justice" and "globalism" issues that have become identified as the core of the Democratic platform. Clinton had no way to counter this.

Trump's most successful sound bites were about stopping immigration, stemming the loss of jobs to Mexico and China, and dog-whistle mockery of issues widely seen as over-the-top political correctness. Do we respond by just blowing those trumpets louder?

Hmmmm

No. Trump won by attacking Clinton, who was already a weak candidate to begin with, she was the most unpopular candidate Democrats have ever put on a presidential ballot. He also won by having a clear and unambiguous campaign message.

Your logic is collapsing because if Clinton was a centrist not a progressive, Trump couldn't defeat her by attacking her progressive issues or agendas because she had no progressive agenda to attack. You're basically claiming that Trump defeated Clinton by running against Sanders, that's illogical, and historically incorrect. Clinton's e-mails and honesty had nothing to do with any progressive agenda.

You may also be a little confused about the nature of progressivism, globalism for instance isn't a progressive agenda, it's a neoliberal agenda. While progressives support social justice, that's actually just a liberal agenda that progressives support. You seem to think that the center lays between conservatives and reactionaries, and you're labeling classic liberalism as leftist progressivism.

neoliberalism

I doubt all those NASCAR folks who voted for Trump appreciate the distinction between progressivism and neoliberalism. They only word they know is "liberals".

This debate can never be settled, of course.

My experience is that if I ask someone why they voted for Trump, I find they didn't really know a thing about Hilary Clinton - other than that she's a crook, of course, and something-or-other about secret emails. They often seem embarrassed to talk about why they voted as they did, but if I persist in friendly way, they'll eventually start ranting about "elite liberals", "illegal immigrants", "jobs going to mexico" and other familiar memes. And if they really get rolling, it's God, guns and gays, as always.

If I then ask what they thought Trump would actually do in office, they might talk about the wall, or cutting off Chinese imports, or stopping Muslims from entering the country, or protecting their guns. All are threats advancing under those "elite liberal" banners.

So as I see it, people voted mainly against a familiar set of hot-button "lefty" issues - and to a lesser extent, against Clinton, just because Fox told them to - and to an even lesser extent, for Donald Trump because of his positions on issues.

Books are no doubt being written on this election already. Some may be insightful.

So now Trump voters are the "centrists"?

So now Trump voters are the Centrists? Again, this is just Republicans calling themselves something else for whatever reason, that's not the "center", and it's certainly not the future for the Democratic Party. Those Trump voters will NEVER vote for Democrats.

No...

... I'm saying the center - the real center - is being ignored by both parties, as the media relentlessly cranks up the polarization. One party or the other will eventually retake it.

The Republican party was hijacked by Trump, and now their officeholders are afraid to get off the runaway bus.

I think the Democrats have a real opportunity to just sell a "return to normal" and talk about a laundry list of basic issues that matter to ordinary people. I could name a few that shouldn't be on that list, but I'd just get progressives (and neoliberals) angry.

Repeating something doesn't actually make it true

The repetition of a false claim doesn't render the false claim true. You're saying the "center" is being ignored, the truth is the majority is being ignored. Yes, both Parties are elitist, and that elite places themselves in the center of an artificial spectrum. Point being, your "real" center isn't the "real" center. Centrist claim to be in the middle of the political spectrum, and they claim to be a majority... both claims are simply false.

A return to "normal' is a return to elitism, and since that "normal" gave us Trump, why would we go there?

My point is that Democrats need to be a liberal Party. We already have one Republican Party we don't another. Centrists are just Republicans who don't want to call themselves Republicans or some cases I've found- Republicans who think they're Democrats.

definitions

I'm not sure we actually disagree on anything of substance.

There are various definitions for 'center', 'majority', 'elite' etc. In my mind there's a spectrum of opinion on every issue, and it's a bell curve, with a statistical center. Take all the big national issues, and merge those curves in some unimaginable (and no doubt invalid) way, and there's a political 'center'.

In the end it hardly matters what the DNC says, or what candidates or officeholders say, about issues. Because the mass media define the axis of belief ("conservative" vs "Liberal"), the issues, their importance, and the parties' positions on them. They're basically like the NFL, they create the game, they market it, they own it. And it has little relation to reality IMHO.

Funny

It's always funny when "centrist" back themselves into a corner they become relativists... suddenly our language is filled with words that have no common definitions. You can have your own private definitions if you want, but you can't use those definitions to make public policy.

definitions

However we define the political 'center' of the voting public - if a party simply has disdain for it, their candidates won't win many elections.

Not to tit for tat but...

Republican's win elections without regard to centrists... as YOU define centrist. This is another bizarre feature of centrism... for some reason Democrats can't win elections without the centrist, but Republicans win elections without the centrists all the time. Trump and Republican's make no effort whatsoever to reach for the "center" and it works for them... they won. So we are still left with two basic realities: A) The "center" centrism claim to live in is an illusion. B) Centrists are really just Republicans (or conservatives) pretending to be something else. This explains why centrist reject the notion of a liberal Democratic party, and it explain how and why the Democratic Party has become a moderate Republican party under the leadership of centrists.

Centrist

I will never understand how folks see candidate Hillary as a Centrist?

Even as a Senator she was Left of Center a ways.
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/hillary_clinton/300022

And to court the Bernie voters she had to move even further left.
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/bernard_sanders/400357

Apparently Heidi Heitkamp is a dead center Democratic politician. :-)
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/heidi_heitkamp/412554

The DNS request ...

envelops are being recycled until I see and hear some powerful big picture coalescing out the party. The mealy mouth is disturbing. Give me some powerful moving speechs attacking the GOP nonsense and forwarding the great Progressive ideas. Prez is a decent speaker put him out front with Ellison by his side giving a series of public speeches. Maybe buying public time if necessary or appearing at sporting events and concerts to present the ideas. Everything liberal and progressive seems muted. Pods for America should become a nightly show.

If

You don't have the reins for the horses you can't drive the wagon! The reins tend to be more in the land of moderates than at the fringes, statistically its called a distribution curve, the passion is however in the fringes, but many times emotion overrides our logic, how did that go in Harry Potter "got to have your wits about you"

toxic moderates vs. the majority

Distribution curves don't produce moderate majorities, they simply describe majorities. When majority of Americans (58%) support a single payer health care system, they hold the majority and "moderates" who reject that policy are actually on the fringe. The problem with moderates and "centrists" is they ASSUME that moderation put them in the middle of the bell curve regardless of their popularity. It's simply a false assumption. That assumption led to the selection of an historically unpopular presidential candidates... who was certainly "moderate".

Centrism and moderation are delusional beliefs built upon manufactured "spectrum's" that assume voters aren't interested in successful policies, popular leaders, or effective government. Centrism moderates assume that in any given election cycle voters will opt for mediocrity rather than excellence... because mediocrity is better than excellence. This is simply irrational. Moderates start with the assumption that the best policies and good government are impossible, so they pretend failure is success while perfectly viable solutions and policies sit on the shelf for decades and voters get desperate enough to vote for guys like Donald Trump.

When moderation and centrism prevent progress and block perfectly workable policies and solutions, they promote human suffering on a variety of levels in a variety of ways. That's a toxic mindset that harms society and people while pretending it's the best we can do.

Well

Yes, we understand distribution curves describe populations, (58% does not describe that they are all sitting on a pin head, it describes a response to a survey, and we can suspect that each of those 58% have a different perspective on exactly what they interpret that "single payer health care system" to encompass. Point being the problems are in the details. We, middle of the bell curve have ~ 65% of the population, again everyone is not sitting on the head of a pin. No, "T" is not a moderate, not sure where you came up with that result, the moderate as many of us saw it, was rejected by the far left, which, according to your MinnPost comments, you appear to be a very vociferous supporter of, Thus the far alt-right was successful in gaining the white house, which is exactly the point of my comment, folks go yanking the reigns around, or chose not to play because they can't have it all their way, and then lose it all. Many of us agree with the end goal. but prefer to approach these issues in a bit more of a paced well thought out fashion. read: reduced risk of failure, reduced chaos, effective solution, "Rome wasn't built in a day" that from this perspective doesn't make us "delusional" and have "beliefs built upon manufactured "spectrum's" that assume voters aren't interested in successful policies, popular leaders, or effective government" What you have more or less just admitted to, is my comment, you are a passionate fringe, and because folks like me chose to keep our wits about things, seems we don't know what we are doing, or having some false sense of where we think America is or should be going. When folks take the corner to sharply the turnips fall off the back of the truck, The objective is not to get things my way, it is to get the best way for all involved and not leave the streets full of dead and or disillusion bodies.
Sun Tzu: The smart general, Always tries to take the state whole. The art of war is to never have to go to war, win the war before it is fought! We are trying to encompass passion in a successful campaign, would be beneficial if the passion folks would try to encompass some of our wits! Kind of hits right to the core of the topic now doesn't it?

Bell curves...

There is no pin head on bell curve. The rest of your observations fail to establish any credibility for centrism, although you've deployed an impressive collection of metaphors in a relatively short space.

We can go down the list of major concerns on American minds today and you won't find a majority support for any centrist proposal, health care is just one example. Centrist manufacture an artificial spectrum that places them in the center but they are not actually in the "Center" of anything, which is why they are the real fringe standing outside the majority.

Let's take "entitlements" for example. Centrism would assume that the best political outcome would be a split between preserving existing benefits, and reducing them. Centrism then give us cuts to social security and medicare, despite the fact that a clear majority oppose those cuts. Those cuts also ignore the economic fact that benefits actually need to be increased. The "spectrum" of simply preserving existing benefits vs. cuts is an artificial creation because the REAL spectrum ranges from proposals to expand benefits to draconian cuts to benefits. The centrist practice of creating an artificial spectrum, placing themselves in the middle that artificial spectrum, and then declaring themselves to be a majority... is simply facile.

On the other hand your warnings about losing our turnips on a sharp turn look more like an argument for rejecting popular initiatives. This is at once an admission of the minority status of "centrist" and a claim of expertise or superior foresight. In reality it's just alarmist elitism pretending to be centrism. This is really just a conservative mentality pretending to be something else.

Getting back to reality progressive agendas can be pursued and enacted without losing our turnips. It would have been much simpler, cost effective, and efficient to have rolled out Medicare for All than it was to enact Obamacare. And it would still be. We've always paid for big public infrastructure projects with tax revenue, we could do that again. Social Justice a basic human priority, not a dangerous challenge to democracy.

Let's

Try to stay to the point: Precisely, all 58% aren't on a pin head, which means there is a diversity of thought, now apparently that is not acceptable, seems there is a failure to grasp the obvious?"Fail" Really? Does not the center 2 Std. Dev. represent the mean, "center" 68% of the population? Yes 68% is also larger than 58%. Congratulations for supporting Sam's point, looks like Sam really struck a nerve with this topic, it appears the perspective, "agenda" is, if folks aren't aligned on the same "pin head" as other folks, they don't belong, in the democratic party! One would think that first and foremost in a progressive "agenda" would be allowing diversity to be heard!

I'm afraid your still not making any sense

Bell curves don't obliterate diversity, they chart it. The Mean is a an average... the formula for a Standard Deviation is NOT the same formula for calculating the Mean and SD's represent SD's, not averages. should I explain what the Median and the Mode are? What's the point?

Sure some majorities may be larger than others, but that doesn't establish majorities as "centrists" or give "centrism" more legitimacy. Centrism is irrational because it pretends that a policies position on an artificial spectrum is more important than the policy itself, this more likely than not will guarantee failed policies. Consider a home that's burning... we have a spectrum of responses ranging from putting the fire out as quickly as possible to letting the home burn to the ground... in theory centrism tells that letting home burn almost to the ground is the best solution. That's a failed policy. Letting homes burn nearly to the ground is also not going to be a policy supported by any majority of home owners... so the centrist can't claim to be in the middle of the bell curve or occupy any kind of majority status.

In practice Centrism tells us that our range of options is between letting the home burn to the ground and not rebuilding after it's burned to the ground. So we get a policy that lets homes burn to the ground, but then rebuilds them afterwards... still a failed policy. Then we end up with a NEW spectrum that ranges from rebuilding homes to not rebuilding homes that have burnt to the ground... and the center of THAT spectrum is home insurance that pays 50% of the cost of rebuilding the home... and so it goes.

Sure there's always diversity within any group, that doesn't mean there's no such thing as a majority, and it doesn't mean a majority can't reach a consensus. The process of reaching a majority consensus has nothing to do with dancing on pin heads, nor does it ignore diversity.

Bell curve

Now hold on. If you poll people on what to do about a burning house, the bell of the curve will be waaay up by the "put it out now" end. And that would be the political center on that issue. Your definition of the center seems to be the average of the 2 most extreme positions.

The point

As before remains the same: The majority are gathered around the mean. it also indicates as noted by others as well as yourself "diversity" which is precisely the earlier point, 58% in a bell curve is far different from 58% on the head of a pin. Which emphasis the point, that what you assume is fact/perspective, is suggesting that you have 58% on the head of a pin meaning , they all agree with you 100% on every item on your "agenda". "The process of reaching a majority consensus has nothing to do with dancing on pin heads, nor does it ignore diversity" congratulations you now agree with the 101 premise. i.e there is room for others, and other opinions/ideas, as well as when building that "majority consensus" be careful how hard you take those corners, i.e. how many "turnips fall off the truck", exactly to Sam's article point, democrats want a majority not minority of turnips on the truck, "majority consensus", which as a bell curve indicates requires a certain level of acceptance of diverse potentially "centrist" opinions.

Not to belabor but...

You seem to be touching on another one of my enduring political assertions which is that Republicans, libertarians, centrists, and Democrat elitists don't actually believe in democracy. In fact they seem to be afraid of democracy.

I still don't see you making a coherent point of any kind, you keep talking about 68% and 58% and turnips and Mean's... but it doesn't coalesce into much of anything. The only thing I can get out of it, after much examination is that you don't seem to think majorities should make policy decisions, or that popular policies should never be adopted because they are always opposed but some minority. That's a basic rejection of the core principles of democracy. Basically what you seem to be saying is that although "centrist" aren't a majority, we should never adopt policy without their consent. That's exactly the kind of elitism that put Clinton at the top of the ticket.

The other conclusion I can draw from our discussion is that you seem to arguing that the Democratic Party should NOT be a liberal party because a liberal party will alienate "centrists". We obviously disagree.

Bi Modal

After much thought I have decided that our citizens are best represented by a Bi Modal curve.
http://www.statisticshowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Bimodal.png

Interesting

I find this a very interesting topic, especially the "build a platform that reflects all wings of the party" comment. I truly have no idea how the Democratic party could accomplish this?

And if the Far Left members pull the platform that direction as several here wish, I am certain many in the country will vote Republican again.

I guess I am just very curious how the Democratic Party is going to reach out to those in more conservative districts? I just don't think focusing on pro-LGBT rights, Pro-Choice, Pro-Government controlled healthcare, Pro-illegal workers, Pro-Public Employee Unions, etc is going to do it.

On the upside, the GOP does not seem to be doing much better. And if they continue to field terrible candidates, the Democratic party may have a chance this Fall.

One last note... Please remember that many like me dislike Trump's character, his lying, bragging, womanizing, etc... However overall the things that are happening under his watch seem pretty okay so far. Lower taxes, fewer illegal workers, fewer regulations, higher stock market values, very low unemployment, increasing wages, etc.

Are We Watching the Same Movie?

The stock market, which primarily benefits the 1%, has been on a tare since March of 2009. You credit Trump with that?

Net illegal immigration has been zero since the Bush Recession. You credit Trump with that?

Unemployment has been falling since 2010. You credit Trump with that?

As for wage growth, there is no evidence of sustained growth. Wage stagnation has been a problem for decades. Centrist Democrats have ignored it, conservatives only discovered it in 2009. I'll believe rising wages when I see hard evidence of it.

Don Trump's "accomplishments" are nothing more than what any boiler plate GOP POTUS would get done with GOP Congressional majorities.

Accomplishments

The reality is that we do not know what the impact of the tax bill, reduction in regulations or deportation of illegal workers will be yet. However we should by Nov 2018. My guess is that they are going to prevent a recession, keep unemployment very low and drive up wages.

And of course he gets credit for ... " Lower taxes, fewer illegal workers, fewer regulations, higher stock market values, very low unemployment, increasing wages, etc." Just as Obama got credit for great things that occurred on his watch, mostly because the economy was recovering. Timing / luck is important.

Well

We agree on 1 thing luck! Credit for? OK what ever you say, fewer regulations, means what: There is a direct correlation between fewer regulations and increase pollution, increase in on the job accidents and deaths, increase in financial corruption, increase in consumer abuse? Lower Taxes, all financed with debt, nice smoky mirrors, OK all yours. You do realize, as your Mr. "T" keeps patting himself on the back about the great economy, that your "R" friends are on track for a $1T deficit year, worst since 2012 and aren't these the really good times? Go figure my friend, go figure! We can discuss Obama at another time, one just needs to look at the central bank economic charts.

Pay Back

Regulations come with good and bad consequences. (ie cost vs benefits) These need to be evaluated. More regs is not always good.

As for the deficits, I was against the tax cuts especially for individuals. However now that they have been made I hope they start cutting spending and making government more effective, efficient and accountable.

Though my faith that this will happen is low. Too many people who want the money from us tax payers.

A couple simple points

We are way off topic, but:
Regulations are almost always a response too something, we are not a very proactive country. Point: No home land security until after 9/11. Cost benefit meaning what, that is a tag line to nowhere, less regs. is not always good either, we just accomplished nothing. There are tons of C:B analysis on climate change, but as folks have been posting forever (Big corporations like to socialize costs and privatize profits) and if they can buy the votes, as they have done we get deregulation, (socializing costs and privatizing profits), there are many examples we can go after in another time.
Cutting spending, I agree faith is low to none existent. The real answer may be some of both, but we have just seen how interested the "R's" are in raising revenue, especially from the wealthiest of the wealthiest.

So to Sam's point, can the DNC find a perspective that resonates with folks about, (Socialized costs and privatized profits?) Without aliening folks on the (steal all my money) redistribution of wealth propaganda? .

Well...

"And of course he gets credit for ... " Lower taxes, fewer illegal workers, fewer regulations, higher stock market values, very low unemployment, increasing wages, etc.""

As a person who has expressed a knowledge of statistics in your posts over the years you understand slope and all of Trump's accomplishments are generally following Obama's slope. Of course whenever Obama's results were positive, they were due to "rigged data". Now that exact same data is the basis for daily Trump crowing and let's not hold our breath while we wait for Trump to thank Obama for a better "slope" than the "slope" Obama inherited from Bush.

Luck

Please remember "timing / luck is important" The reality is that the President has little control over the economy, and yet voters give them credit or blame. So Trump's task is to keep the party rolling through 2018 and he will get the credit whether it is justified or not.

And it seems to me that will happen. If you have good reason to be concerned, please tell me so I can diversify further out of the stock market...

As for Obama's luck, the US economy was going to recover whether Obama was President or not. Yet his stats look great because he came in at the bottom of a recession.

What is wrong with the Democratic Party?

• The Democrats depend upon big money
• Individuals feel that their interests get only lip service at best
• We feel betrayed by the end of the “Shutdown” (it was a media event only_.
• The internal workings of the party mean nothing to most. We want candidates that will voice our concerns and deliver on them when elected.
• The practice of Majority Rules leaves the minority frustrated and angry. Too often we recall as being on the losing side. To cope with this many ignore the news and politics. Others get shriller and more militant. Few are happy with America.
I have observed the losers getting shriller and more militant with the Roe v Wade sequali. The “Pro Life Movement” will not go away (or die off). Thus whatever issue underlies these remains unaddressed. The arguments on both sides have splintered into so many sub issues. How we might start to heal this I am not sure. Meetings of both sides to explore this would be a start.
Many elections have candidate forums. Could they be used as opportunities for candidates to hear not just each other but the people?

Get a message that

folks can get behind. Identity politics have not worked for the Dems. People want more than calling folks who don’t agree with you names. I have no idea what policies the Democratic Party have in place to stimulate job growth, keep GDP increasing and introducing Billions more into our economy so there is the ability for workers to move from low to middle class also middle class to upper class.

Rip van winkle

Was some one sleeping from 2008-2016!

Economic fallacy

I keep hearing people, even some economist make the claim that tax cuts inject money into the economy. This is simply a false claim. As I've pointed out before, government spending takes place in the same economy all other spending takes place. Taxes don't remove capital from the economy, and in fact government spending circulates more capital in the economy than does the private sector.

The government doesn't park money in offshore accounts, or tie up money in investments, or pump capital into financial bubbles that eventually collapse taking trillions of dollars of "wealth" with them. The Government doesn't shut down government offices and move them to other countries (unless government operations are privatized). Aside for debt maintenance 98% of all government revenue goes right back out into the general economy as services and payments.

This idea that Trump's tax cuts, or any other tax cuts are pumping money into the economy that would otherwise not be pumped into the economy is simply ignorant. If nothing else comes out of this conversation we should finally get that straight.

It is almost impossible to call what

Government does with our tax dollars stimulating our economy. The 10’s of Billions the Government gives to countries that hate us really stimulates the economy. Of course you could point to “cash for clunkers” where it costs the tax payers $24,000 a car to destroy it, that was stimulating the economy. A couple million to find out what pigs enjoy eating is good for sweet toothed pigs not so much for tax payers.
I assume those who want us to give all of our money to the Government, truly believe that the economy would skyrocket. That is why Obama never had over 2% growth in GDP.

10’s of Billions

Foreign assistance programs account for 1.3% of the federal budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. Foreign assistance may not have a direct economic benefit. It's a long-term investment that looks to establish better relations with foreign nations (something not done by insulting them, FYI).

Agricultural research ("what pigs enjoy eating") only matters if you're a farmer, consumer of food, or someone who cares about helping rural America move forward. Otherwise, meh.

I would call either of those a more productive investment than flying the President for Florida so he can play golf.

RB, we spent 35billion on foreign aid in 2015.

That doesn’t include the 300 Billion we spent there nation building. So yes the Government wastes our tax dollars to the tune of Billlions and Trillions.

Numbers?

If we spent 35 billion in foreign aid (source?), and another 300 billion on nation building (Where? Definition of nation building?), we get nowhere near a trillion dollars. The total budget for USAID, our main "nation building" agency, is around $27 billion.

Math aside, are you saying it's all wasted? Do you see no benefit to the US in building stable governments overseas?

Nation building includes war efforts..

The total dollars spent is hard to get but it is 10 of Billions like I said. Yes, I feel nation building is a waste. Yes, I think giving our Federal Government 4TRILLION+ dollars is a joke. if you claim the Fed Govt makes the economy go better than having individuals keeping/spending more of their own money, I have great ocean property up by Grand Rapids for you. The liberals lost all credibility when they called individuals keeping more of their own money Armageddon and middle class saving a couple thousand dollars was crumbs!,! So elitist,!!

Just Curious

Was the investment in the Interstate system a waste of money? Atomic bomb? Rural electrification? Satellite technology? etc. You do know that "T" and the "R's" are on track to run a $1T deficit this fiscal year, worst since 2012, and these are the good times. So what does fiscal responsibility look like?

War Efforts

I'm all for cutting the defense budget.

Well lots of ...

Pharm originated from Goernment funded research as did much of many products we know today come from NASA related research and more....

Maybe Trump didn't "win"

Maybe a better way of looking at it is that HRC lost it... Or her campaign did.

Trump didn't really improve on either McCain's or Romney's performance, but Hillary failed to match Obama's performance.

In short, her campaign failed at the basic ground game of getting out the vote.

The difference in 2016 was fewer than 80k votes across 3 states... And she actually received more votes nationwide than he did.

She was a poor candidate running an incompetent campaign.

Simple as that.

And

Perhaps there were a few to many "progressives" that took their ball and went home because Bernie didn't get the nomination?

Clinton's loss

We've know for quite some time now that Clinton lost because past Obama voters, white women, and independents didn't turn out for her.

There was a garbage analysis a while back that tried to claim Sanders's voters cost her the election in Wisconsin but that was a garbage analysis claiming that 50k Sanders votes for Trump did more damage than 200k women votes for Trump. You just can't pull numbers out of an election like that and make those kinds of claims. At the end of the day all you can say is if she'd got more votes she would have won.

It WAS Clinton's election to lose. Democrats turned that election into a unpopularity contest by putting Clinton on the ballot... and Clinton won.

Having said all that, Democrats can't complain about progressive voters in any event. It's a basic and elementary concept of politics that if you want votes, you have to give people candidates they want to vote for. Democrats are forever complaining that they're losing elections because they don't the votes... it's like: "Well OK we didn't give something you wanted to vote for... but that's no reason to not vote us!" If you want my vote you have to give a candidate I want to vote for. It's no like we're keeping our preferences secret or anything.

I, like 95% of my fellow Sanders supporters, voted for Clinton by the way.

We agree

You have to cover a big enough spectrum of positions to get people to show up and vote. Or it seems being 1 hell of a conman is also sufficient! In the end Sam's article point is pretty clear,, "Big Tent" open mind, perhaps a lot less dictation to the voter, or risk another poor election cycle.And that is a problem for those of us that lean left of center, near or far.

Not really

A single wildly popular idea, will defeat a wide "spectrum" every time. This is the simple political fact that Democrats don't seem to understand. You don't build a platform with separate targeted appeals to disparate groups of voters, you build a platform with basic popular agendas that appeal to the largest number of voters. Popular agendas assemble disparity into a majority, not the other way around.

I really hope Democrats stick

I really hope Democrats stick with "But she won the popular vote" talking point. It is sure to keep their voters believing they really did win, and that nothing needs to be done differently.

And keep defending illegal immigration; keep referring to the tax cuts as "crumbs"; keep scowling when positive employment stats are released; keep denigrating rural folks; keep bashing white folks...it's all working!

"Bashing White Folks?"

It seems like only a couple of weeks ago that we were all getting misty-eyed at the memory of Martin Luther King. Now, we're snarking about the Democrats bashing white people.

What a difference a fortnight makes.

MLK was of the opinion that

MLK was of the opinion that using race as any measure is immoral; I never recall him bashing white people. We're discussing the dysfunctions of the Democrat party; different thing all together.

The DNC needs to avoid the

The DNC needs to avoid the 2004 trap.

There were a lot of people, myself included, who could not stand George W. Bush. The Democratic field was crowded, and when I went to door-knock in Iowa, my impression, based on yard signs and conversations with Iowans, was that John Edwards would come in first and Howard Dean second. I was astonished when Kerry won Iowa and continued to win primaries.

But we were told that it was "his turn."

I saw Kerry in person twice. The first time was at a rally aimed at veterans. I am not a veteran, but the rally was open to the public, so I went. The crowd went crazy for Max Cleland, Clinton's director of Veterans' Affairs and himself a disabled veteran, and they liked Edwards pretty well, too, but somehow, Kerry failed to connect with the crowd.

When I saw him again in a rally at the old Metrodome, he seemed to be going through the motions and mostly blasting Bush. His website said nothing about what he stood for unless you went deep into it and downloaded a bunch of wonkish PDFs.

But we were told that it was "his turn."

When Election Day rolled around, I spent the entire day in get-out-the-vote activities, running around in the cold, fueled by a single hot dog and Coke. I met scores of people who were determined to get rid of Bush.

But that wasn't enough. It was not enough to hate George W. Bush, because there were a lot of people who either liked him or didn't see what was so bad about him. What the Democratic presidential candidates failed to do, both in 2004 and again in 2016, was to make a POSITIVE case for themselves instead of just counting on the awfulness of their opponent to make the case for them.

They need to stop nominating people "whose turn it is," e.g. Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, Walter Mondale, unless they are able to work up their own passionate followers.

Pundits have convinced Establishment Democrats that they lose because they're "too liberal," when in fact, the current Democratic Establishment is in Richard Nixon territory ideologically. If Americans really believed that the Democrats were "too liberal," then the Republicans would receive 75% of the vote nationwide--which they do not.

The largest political party in the U.S. is not Republicans or Democrats but Non-Voters. Party regulars like to stereotype them as stupid and lazy, but I know several who are simply convinced that neither party is concerned about the country's real problems. They see both parties as playing to their bases by taking opposite sides on hot button issues (abortion, guns, sexual orientation, immigration) and hating on each other rather than dealing with the country's needs.

In order to win Congress, the Democrats need to get together and agree on three or four policies that every candidate will endorse and that will serve as steps toward solving problems that affect Americans of all races and genders. Of course, candidates may add other issues that are of interest in their states or districts, but all of them should headline these issues and talk about them in simple terms at every public appearance and whenever anyone interviews them.

Back in the 1920s, a traveling salesman named Huey Long ran for governor of Louisiana. In his travels, he had learned that Louisiana had almost no paved roads and that large numbers of children never went to school because their families were too poor to pay the required price of textbooks. Both lack of infrastructure and poor educational levels were holding the state back. Long campaigned on two pledges: to pave the roads of Louisiana and to make textbooks free for all public school children.

Long ran into problems later and ended up being assassinated, but his principal campaign strategy is worth copying. That is, identify problems that concern everyone, regardless of race or gender, and campaign on feasible steps to alleviate them.