Make no bones about it, Democrats suffered devastating losses in the 2016 election. We gave the White House back to the GOP, and Republicans kept control of Congress. Currently, the GOP has near super-majorities in state legislatures across much of the South, and some states are firmly in their control.
Since President Obama has taken office, Democrats have lost hundreds of state offices across the country. The House flipped back to GOP control in 2010, followed by the Senate in 2014. Through all of this, liberals believed the Senate could be taken back in 2016, and that Hillary Clinton would easily become the first female president.
Obviously, none of these things happened, and now Democrats are sitting and wondering why they were handed such a surprising defeat as we prepare ourselves for a Donald Trump presidency coupled with a Republican Congress that will go along with much of what he proposes.
Bernie Sanders sat down for an interview with comedian Sarah Silverman to discuss the election, and his analysis of the surprising outcome.
“What the [expletive]?” Silverman said to laughter and applause. “Is that the entire question?” Sanders responded, before warning that the Democratic Party “cannot be the party of the liberal elite.”
Sanders told the audience that it would be a mistake to assume that the only reason Trump won was because his supporters are “racists, sexists and homophobes.”
“What he touched on in many, many parts of this country is a pain and a level of despair that you never, ever see on television,” Sanders said. “A lot of people are suffering, a lot of people are hurting and they need a party which brings them into the process.” (Source)
Bernie Sanders is right. Democrats suffer from an image of being coastal, metropolitan elitists who have nothing but disdain for the residents of fly-over states. That is an image that is based partly in fact, and the perception of the Democratic Party in states like Louisiana or Mississippi is pretty poor at best.
In the swing states that Hillary Clinton lost, Democrats just didn’t turn out enough to give her the victory we assumed she was destined for. Bernie Sanders did very well in some of those states in the primaries because he acknowledged the populist angst over poor infrastructure and the lack of jobs.
Democrats didn’t promise to bring jobs back like Trump did or fight outsourcing like Bernie Sanders, they instead discussed raising the minimum wage which didn’t mean much to people who didn’t have jobs to begin with.
One of the worst moments of Hillary Clinton’s campaign is when she stated that half of Trump’s supporters belonged to the “Basket of Deplorables.” Even though it may have been accurate, it was unnecessarily divisive in places where people were more socially compatible with tobacco-spitting pickup truck drivers than they were with liberal elitists in San Francisco or New York.
Not everyone who lives in the Bible Belt and works a blue-collar job is a raging racist, but too many liberal elitists, especially many bloggers, were far too happy to paint them as such. We may have some individuals down here who have rebel flags on their trucks or use the “N-word”, but they have black friends and neighbors who they would lay down their lives for. Lumping them in with the small minority of true racists is wrong, and completely unproductive.
Going forward, Democrats have to start listening to Bernie Sanders more. Democrats need to stop stereotyping all red state conservatives, and stop catering to blue state liberal elitists alone. A Democrat voter in Louisiana is different than a Democrat voter in Chicago. A Republican in New York may not be the same as a Republican in Alabama.
We’re all citizens of this great nation, and we have more in common than what divides us. Democrats have to start concentrating on what brings us together, instead of what drives us apart.