Nearly one year since the 2016 presidential election, a new 34-page report “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis” concludes that the party’s national leadership has continued with the same failed strategies that lost the White House. Drawing upon aggregated data and analysis, a task force of party activists and researchers–including the chair of the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus–is recommending a series of changes including bolder policy initiatives and structural reforms inside the national party.
“This report makes clear that the Democratic Party needs to stop giving higher priority to the chase for the elusive Republican voter than to its working class base,” said Norman Solomon, co-author of the report and co-founder of RootsAction.org, a political action group with more than a million active supporters online. “In the 2016 campaign and since then, we’ve seen party leadership failing to advocate for policies that speak to core constituencies–especially people of color, young people and working-class voters. To make matters worse, the party has failed to allocate sufficient resources to reach those constituencies, to cultivate grassroots organizers and to directly challenge voter suppression.”
“It’s urgent for the national party’s leadership to put an end to its defensiveness and denial. Instead, confronting hard truths with honest self-reflection is how we move forward.”
Urging that the party go beyond stale debates over identity politics, the report says: “Building an intersectional coalition–one that unites the working class across racial lines while addressing issues specific to people who are targeted based on identity–is key to creating an electoral force that can not only win, but also overwhelm the small group of wealthy white men the GOP works to further enrich. If the Democratic Party is to become such a political force, it will require a much bolder economic agenda to directly challenge corporate power.”
The report also indicated the lack of voter outreach to Latinos by the Democratic party: “Inadequate outreach extended to Latino voters as well. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus critiqued the Clinton campaign’s strategy, saying it did not hire enough Latino consultants who had experience working within the communities that outreach efforts were meant to target. This shortcoming should have been addressed well before the campaign ramped up. In 2014, Albert Morales, then the Hispanic Engagement Director at the Democratic National Committee, proposed a $3 million plan aimed at raising voter turnout in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New México and Texas. Despite the meager cost, the plan was nixed. ‘I just asked for what I needed,’ Morales said. ‘I ended up getting closer to $300,000 and it all went to radio…. It was just pitiful.’ (This $300,000 for Latino outreach in those five states ended up being less than a third of the $1 million the campaign-coordinating Super PAC Correct the Record pledged to spend on social media accounts to counteract anti-Clinton comments on Twitter and Reddit.)
“We want a winning strategy that’s built on truly progressive policy proposals and inspiring programs that give voters a compelling reason to show up and vote,” said Karen Bernal, report co-author and chair of one of the California Democratic Party’s largest caucuses, the Progressive Caucus. “It’s urgent for the national party’s leadership to put an end to its defensiveness and denial. Instead, confronting hard truths with honest self-reflection is how we move forward.”
Read the full report here: www.democraticautopsy.org.
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