On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton spoke at the annual Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California, and her appearance underscored two key developments in today’s Democratic Party: we need fresh faces and we need a new, winning message.
Clinton surely has been critical of the outside factors that led to her election loss, especially Russian involvement, citing colleagues and political analysts, as well as American intelligence officials who, in Clinton’s words, “concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”
I take very serious issue with the role Vladimir Putin played in the 2016 election and it is my view that Putin has broadly succeeded in driving a wedge through American politics, as readers of my previous columns know.
Yet, while Putin is winning, both the Republicans and Democrats seem more interested in rehashing the election, rather than focusing on delivering the policies and reforms they promised to voters.
For the Trump administration, it seems the only positive spin that the President would like to put on his weekly scandals and consistent shortcomings is that he won the 2016 election, despite it being nearly seven months ago at this time, and that his base continues to support him.
For the Democrats, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s comments at the Code Conference show how blaming her loss on Russian meddling and raising up the banner of the “resistance” has distracted from the Democratic party’s real business at hand: rebuilding and reorganizing to win back Congress and multiple critical governorships in 2018 and beyond.
Hillary Clinton cannot continue to blame others for her and the party leadership’s own faults for her losing campaign.
This is not how a major party must operate in order to lead the country, nor is it a credible way to advance a policy agenda that meets the needs of American voters. It is, however, the precise talk that could immediately extend the party’s losses into 2018 and 2020.
The party simply cannot afford to keep losing. Under President Obama’s leadership, the Democratic Party suffered net losses of 11 Senate seats, 62 House seats, and 10 governorships since 2010, as well as nearly 1,000 state legislative seats nationwide.
To reverse this trend, the Democratic Party must acknowledge that Clinton was a weak candidate, abandon its anti-coalition building “resistance” wing, which only further divides the country, and provide a winning alternative for voters the next time they come out to the ballot boxes. First and foremost, this means offering Americans real solutions on issues that matter to them: health care, taxes, and infrastructure.
2016 is now in the past and the 2020 campaign has begun. It is essential that the Democratic Party take critical steps at this time to ensure its future viability and actually deliver the leadership America wants, not just criticize the leadership we have right now.
Just as I argued and we succeeded in implementing during Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Democratic Party can only truly unite the country when we shift away from obstruction and center our strategy on an effective policy agenda that promotes critically needed reforms for hard-working voters and our country’s middle-class.