You don’t have to be a seasoned political operative to question the logic behind Democrats investing so much money into a congressional district that has gone Republican for nearly 40 years, yet that is exactly what the Democratic Party did.
They believed they could switch moderate Republican voters to vote for a Democratic candidate and mobilize Independents by spouting a progressive message, which is philosophically antithetical to the values held by most voters — such as limited government due to a fear of government encroachment and excessive regulation — as well as utopian ideas about society, which many frankly believe are unrealistic.
Grand visions about the future are typically distrusted by most people regardless of their ideological leanings because people live in reality, and nothing in reality happens overnight. Most Americans want pragmatism that builds toward a better tomorrow, rather than grandiose promises built on unproven ideas.
Maybe the intent of progressive Democrats is good. Maybe it isn’t. However, what is most concerning about progressive ideology is that it maintains the belief that ultimate good comes from a centrally planned state or in essence the government. Similar to socialism, progressivism advocates for a government built on compulsory force.
The government cannot possibly know the needs of every single person today, so that the needs of the individual are met for tomorrow. Any more than a socialist system knows how much of a product to produce. The two are arguably one in the same.
One of the biggest problems with progressivism is that they advocate the importance of a centralized nurturing state with a moral goal, but that has never been the role of government. Government, as advocated by progressives, is impossible because it is impossible for a government to know exactly what each individual need or how much of it that they need.
Democrats foolishly believed that college-educated Republicans would vote for a progressive Democrat over a Republican because of their disdain for President Trump and his many mishaps. The unknown Jon Ossoff ran against the known Karen Handel, who once chaired Fulton County Board of Commissioners from 2003 to 2006. She was then elected and served as Georgia’s secretary of state from 2007 to 2010.
And she even threw her hat in the ring for the highly contested U.S. Senate race in 2014 to replace former Sen. Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissOPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party GOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price’s seat MORE (R-Ga.). In essence, she isn’t a political newcomer and the fact that Democrats actually believed they could flip a district that has gone Republican for nearly four decades purely because of Trump’s actions shows how out of touch their strategy is.
Handel made the election about issues, pointing out that a vote for Ossoff would be a vote for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is far more unpopular with Republican voters, including those with a disdain for Trump.
Republicans were able to maintain all four House seats that were vacated by individuals who went on to serve cabinet posts in the Trump administration. From Kansas to Montana and Georgia to South Carolina, nothing worked for Democrats. Their strategy — or rather, lack thereof — leaves many in the Democratic party wondering where did they go wrong. And the answer is simple: it’s progressivism. Far left-leaning policies aren’t registering with a majority of Americans, who still believe in themes such as tradition and small government.
Ossoff’s loss, along with the losses in Kansas, Montana, and South Carolina suggest that “Democrats are destined to lose every race from here to eternity by margins just close enough to maintain some hope for the future,” tweeted Sam Stein, senior politics editor at the Huffington Post.
Granted, Republicans didn’t increase their power. They maintained what they already had, but if these four races were any indication of what’s to come in 2018, it’s that Democrats can’t just run campaigns against Trump. They also can’t rely on the idea that they can flip moderate “Romney Republicans” who reject Trump. That alone is not enough to win an election. They must better appeal to independents and blue-collar workers who have become turned off and isolated by progressivism.
By focusing on local issues and the local implications and attaching a vote for Ossoff to Pelosi was enough to sway even moderate Republicans to vote for the GOP candidate over the Democrat, despite their dislike of Trump.
It should be clear to Democrats that the progressive message is not resonating with Independents or blue-collar workers — some of whom are within their base. And it is evident that Democrats still haven’t learned anything from the 2016 presidential election. They decided to stick with Pelosi as House minority leader and elected Tom Perez, whose rhetoric has marginalized non-progressives within his own party, as chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Progressivism is ruining the Democratic Party. It will be interesting to watch how much damage it will do to the brand before the party recognizes that progressivism doesn’t resonate with the American people, not now, nor will it in 2018 and beyond.
Shermichael Singleton is a CNN political commentator and a Republican political strategist who has worked on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and Ben Carson. Follow him on Twitter @Shermichael_.
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