The Democratic Party is on fire and half of its members think the solution is to douse it with gasoline. Democrats lost Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in a presidential election. Last time that happened, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! was on its way to the top of the Billboard charts and every teenager in America had a “Frankie Say Relax” T-shirt.
Democrats lost the House in 2010 — a 63-seat hemorrhage that forced Nancy Pelosi to hand over the people’s gavel and become minority leader. They lost the Senate in 2014. They lost the presidency in 2016. Ideologically speaking, they’re about to lose the Supreme Court. They’ve lost so many state legislature seats that even some Republicans are worried about the health of our two-party system.
In Middle America — the giant red area between the coasts — “Democrat” is a swear word these days. And all the while, the party elders didn’t pick up on any of it. The Democratic Party isn’t popular — President Obama is. But Democrats, even while they were getting voted out of office by the clown car-full, believed in a kind of trumped up, trickle-down popularity. But it didn’t trickle down. President Obama is leaving office and he’s taking his popularity with him.
There are a lot of House Democrats whose districts suddenly got a lot redder, and those Democrats are going to be under severe pressure to work with Trump instead of obstructing him.
In July of this year — when progressive hubris was headed straight toward its Nov. 8 climax — Newsweek ran a piece titled, “Will the Republicans Ever Win the White House Again?” The author, whose analytical skills fall somewhere between “eeny meeny miny moe” and a Magic 8-ball, stated that “No one who is a realist, including this author, now thinks Trump can win any ‘blue’ state. And the odds of any 2012 ‘swing state’ being gained by the Republican nominee seems extremely unlikely.”
In 2012, Obama won Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa. In 2016 they were all red — and it’s so simple to see why.
The Democrats abandoned the working class by refusing to support an immigration policy that stops wage stagnation or a trade policy that protects jobs. Instead, they went all-in on globalization. The average American is worried about paying their bills and doesn’t have time for idealistic, progressive crusades. Their vote was not motivated which politician could do the most good for their identity group, but by which politician they were carrying in their wallets. And there was an epidemic of too many George Washingtons and not enough Benjamin Franklins.
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For House Democrats, today’s decision between Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tim Ryan will be like the scene in the Matrix where Neo has to choose whether to take the red pill or the blue pill. They’ll either take the blue pill and continue living the delusion that progressivism is taking America by storm, the electoral college is essentially meaningless, and John Oliver is hilarious. Or Democrats will take the red pill and awaken to the reality that the Democratic Party is a corrupt, vitriol-spewing, highly exclusive social club.
Here’s a look at three possible outcomes from Wednesday’s vote, what they’ll mean for the House Democrats, and what they’ll mean for the party as a whole.
1.) Tim Ryan becomes minority leader (the Democrats take the red pill).
This would be a shocking outcome, and one that would strike some fear into the Republican Party. If Tim Ryan wins, it means that Democrats accept that they are no longer “a national party” and are willing to reach out to the identity groups they’ve rejected. Identity groups like people who mow their own yards, people who are required to wear steel-toed boots to work, and professional paycheck stretchers. These are identity groups that win elections. Identity groups like billionaires, Hollywood actors, and political pundits are identity groups that make you feel like you’ll win elections right up until the second you get blindsided.
2.) Pelosi wins in a landslide (the Democrats take the blue pill).
This is a worst-case scenario for the Democratic Party and could be the most likely. This outcome would be a big fat thumbs-up that says, “we’re getting it right; it’s the voters who are wrong.” They should take a look at a U.S. government organizational chart. Right there at the top, above all three branches, is “We the People.” They’re supposed to be the people’s representatives but sometimes they get confused and think we’re the representatives’ people — that they tell us what to do. That’s no recipe for governing success. They’re snowmen watching the sun rise and telling each other those hot, golden rays of light inching toward them are nothing to worry about.
3.) Pelosi narrowly defeats Tim Ryan (the Democrats take both pills).
If the House Democrats break into two factions, they could wind up in a battle for the soul of the party. In the long run, that might be a good thing for the party. In the short run, it will fracture the party and make it difficult for them to fight Trump’s agenda.
There are a lot of House Democrats whose districts suddenly got a lot redder and those Democrats are going to be under severe pressure to work with Trump instead of obstructing him. Those Democrats would love to see Ryan pull out a victory today — but whether they have the guts to vote for him is a different matter. If they do, it will show that there’s a mutiny brewing, and it’s only a matter of time until it starts spreading to everything the party does.
Democrats should take the red pill, elect Tim Ryan, and try to become a party with broad appeal.
Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.