Webb: Aristocracy ‘Pervades American Politics’
Former Democratic senator says party has left behind 'white working people'
Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said “there is an aristocracy now that pervades American politics” and rebuked his party for leaving behind “white working people” to embrace identity politics during an interview Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
Webb, who ran in the Democratic presidential primary in 2016, lamented that his party doesn’t “have a message” to offer ordinary Americans.
“But there is an aristocracy now that pervades American politics. It’s got to be broken somehow, in both parties, I think. I think that’s what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.”
“On the Democrats, first of all, they’re looking at 2018. And they don’t have a message,” Webb told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd. “But there is an aristocracy now that pervades American politics. It’s got to be broken somehow, in both parties, I think. I think that’s what the Trump message was that echoed so strongly in these flyover communities.”
Noting that his party has “moved very far to the Left” over the past several years, Webb said that ideological shift left voters particularly receptive to President Donald Trump’s outsider message and appeal to working-class voters.
“I think that the message that has been shaped by the Democratic Party has been shaped toward identity politics,” Webb said. “And they’ve lost the key part of their base, the people that … the people who believed that regardless of any these identity segments, you need to have a voice in the quarters of power for those who have no voice. And we’ve lost that with the Democratic Party.”
And sure enough, the Democratic Party appears to be struggling acutely with its internal disarray and lack of unity in its messaging. The day before Webb made his remarks, candidates vying for the chair position of the Democratic National Committee offered competing viewpoints over how the party should respond to Trump’s presidency.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley offered a viewpoint similar to Webb’s when he promoted his candidacy for chair at the DNC Future Forum in Baltimore Saturday.
“My answer might cost me this race. I’m sorry. While many of you know that I am openly gay, what many of you don’t know is where I really came from, and that’s the lowest of the white working class,” Buckley said. “And let me tell you, when we are running hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of commercials telling the voters that, oh, our opponent is offensive. When you are worrying about your damn paycheck, worrying about your job, if your kids are ever going to school, they don’t really give a crap about if the president is an insult dog.”
“The reality is we did not offer a positive message to anyone that I’m related to. We did not offer a message to my neighbors. We did not offer a message to the people in Indiana or Ohio or Pennsylvania or Kentucky. What we did is we said, how offensive!” Buckley continued. “Grow up. That’s not reality for most of America.”
But other candidates exhibited only a sense of mourning for their party’s losses while advising Democrats to oppose Trump in every manner possible.
“The day after the election, when we all woke up and realized that very soon in a few months that we were going to have a despot as a president,” said candidate Jaime Harrison, who served as head of the South Carolina Democratic Party. “For me, I was sad. I was not only because Hillary Clinton lost, I was sad because of the world that my two-year-old would have to grow up in.”
Tom Perez, the former U.S. secretary of labor, promoted his candidacy by fawning over former President Barack Obama.
“We are only a few weeks removed, it seems like a few decades removed from Barack Obama. I miss Barack Obama a lot, my friends,” Perez said. “What we have seen in these short weeks is nothing less than carnage and chaos — every single day. The raids on immigrants are things that can my heart apart … We see it every day, the assault on democracy. And we are in this together.”
Meanwhile, Sally Boynton Brown, the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Committee, trumpeted her own depths of “soul-searching” as she called on Democrats to defy Trump and continue their nationwide protests as the party’s viable future.
“I am by nature an optimistic, positive person who fights for what I believe in. And I have had to do some deep soul-searching in the last two months since Trump won to say, OK, that’s still who I am by my nature. And we also have this narcissist as the head of our country that we have to fight against,” Boynton Brown said. “What I know is that people who fight against do that really well. They know what they are fighting against and they are very vocal about it. And I think we have seen that in the last year and the last two months. I decided we needed to give them the information they need to fight against, and keep empowering them to do that.”
As the Democrats struggle with their inner disarray and disunity, Webb offered a sober warning.
"But the Democrats have not done the kind of self-reflection that they should have starting in 2010," Webb told Todd. "You've lost white working people. You've lost flyover land. And you saw in this election what happens when people get frustrated enough that they say, 'I'm not going to take this aristocracy.'"
"There is a campaign going on on the Hill, in the media, in the academia to personally discredit not only Donald Trump, but the people who are around him," Webb added. "I think that the message that has been shaped by the Democratic Party has been shaped toward identity politics. And they've lost the key part of their base, the people that ... the people who believed that regardless of any these identity segments, you need to have a voice in the quarters of power for those who have no voice. And we've lost that with the Democratic Party."
If the Democrats don't change their tune soon, it may be too late for 2018 and beyond, Webb concluded.
"The Democratic Party's gotta do some real hard looks at whether or not they're going to expand and get back working people who used to be the core of their party," Webb said.