The Stupidity of Democratic “Leadership”

As I’ve said for years, the “leaders” of the Democratic Party are their own worst enemies.

What has made Republicans so effective is that they’ve concentrated on key issues that worry their supporters – and made them personal and simple. The libs are baby-killers. They’re going to take your guns. The lefty commies have taken over education and are teaching subversive stuff to your kids. They’re also flooding the schools with gay pornography and black propaganda. They want to swamp the U.S. with immigrants who will do your job for less. To pay for all this, they’ll raise your taxes just like they have before.

Simple, direct, and wrong – because truth is complex and nuanced, and the Democrats have tried to explain why. But if you’re explaining, you’re already at least half-losing.

So how about… the GOP sold out to the fat cats who pay you starvation wages. Or, the GOP pushes murder and death for pregnant women [since in fact the leading cause of death for pregnant women is murder]. Or maybe, the far right wages war on women and outlaws abortion to get cheap minority labor and adoptable white kids. The right opposes free trade to keep prices high and subsidize fat cat companies. [And if the Democrats worked on it, they could probably do better than I did, and if they don’t they’ve got a real problem, because what they’re doing now isn’t working all that well.]

In addition to over-explaining, the Democrats have too many issues and seemingly can’t focus on the ones that are the most important, while over-emphasizing the trivial. Stop worrying about pronouns and language when you don’t have adequate pay and equal rights. And don’t come up with stupid slogans like “defunding the police” when, despite all the problems, minority communities don’t need fewer police, but better police and other support services.

Democrats also can’t organize for the long run. They can create rallies for important issues, but can’t match the GOP in doing the day-to-day, week-on-week organizing, and the grinding and boring groundwork. Part of this is because much of their constituency is either working so hard that they don’t have time, or too young and doesn’t know how to work, and often too ignorant of how grassroots politics works.

And while the Democrats can raise money, they don’t always spend it wisely in supporting electable candidates, as well as candidates who can legislate and not just pontificate.

None of this is new. So why doesn’t the Democratic leadership actually lead?

12 thoughts on “The Stupidity of Democratic “Leadership””

  1. Bill says:

    The Democrat’s leadership can’t lead because they are also supported by the fat cats that support the Republicans. It may not be at the same level and some of the most extreme don’t support the Democrats just as the most liberal don’t also support the Republicans.
    It doesn’t help that the most enthusiastic Democrats don’t understand their common ground with the bottom 80%. Enough of them still come from the top 5% that they don’t understand the other half. They have never had to choose between eating and feeding their children. They have never had to put something back because they didn’t have enough money to pay for all the groceries.
    They have never prayed to whatever God they pray to that they won’t run out of gas before their next paycheck. Or that the transmission doesn’t give out.
    There is a great deal of common ground and ways to solve common problems. Immigration is an issue and so are guest workers. There should be a plan. As many people have said why isn’t it illegal to hire illegal immigrants but only for them to be here? Or at least why isn’t that part of the law enforced?
    Their other problem is they don’t have the same stick that the Republicans have. Right now, 2 Democrats are holding up almost all progress in the Senate. Clearly, the Republicans are more willing to punish people who stray from the plan at least toward the center. Some seem to easily go more to the right.

    1. KTL says:


      I agree mostly with your analysis (and especially with Postagoras’ comparison of the agendas of the two parties below). I will quibble a bit with the notion that the Dems (or at least the ‘most enthusiastic ones) are not representing the bottom 80%. The Dems capture nearly all the African American vote and a majority of the Latino vote and generally try to have positions and agendas that support that segment of their party. I wouldn’t characterize those minority interests as ones of the rich – or at least not of ones struggling to feed their families.

      As for the problem at hand, I’ve thought about this a bit in terms of statistics and choice. At least at the national level, the parties roughly split the country in two, with the Dems holding a small edge statistically in general numbers. Nearly every presidential election after the Clinton years has been close enough to be subject to skewing by gerrymandering and voter suppression (if not unsuccessful get out the vote campaigns and the money used to promote them). However, in both Clinton elections a third party candidate, Ross Perot, had a significant effect on the election campaigns and eventual outcome. Perot pulled 18.9% and 8.4% of the popular vote in 92 and 96, respectively. More voices, and choices, have meaningful effects in shaping the positions and resulting actions of our public figures. After-election coalitions can be made in the interest of an agenda to lead the country.

      Our modern democracy seems especially hampered by having a binary choice for the voters. One can’t really call so called Libertarians, nor Independents, truly third party choices nowadays. So, what’s stopping other parties from gaining a toehold? My guess, in part, is the large amount of money required in this country to engage in politics in an organized way. Citizens United did nothing to help that. Perhaps others in this thread have some ideas regarding third parties? You OUS readers out there chime in.

      1. Postagoras says:

        Multiple parties work in parliamentary democracies, where coalitions fill cabinet posts to further their agenda.
        Coalitions drive the agenda in the parliamentary legislatures and the work of the Prime Minister in a way that doesn’t exist in the USA.

        1. Chris says:

          Coalitions could work if we used something like RCV for all congressional / senatorial elections. That would make it much more likely for candidates from third parties to get elected, and also likely that no party could get an hold a majority.

        2. Mayhem says:

          Yes, the binary nature of US politics is a major issue, especially combined with the winner takes all nature of FPP.
          New Zealand for example used to be similar, and then they adopted a form of proportional representation to allow for alternative parties to get representation. In the 30 years since then there’s been half a dozen different parties in government, and only once ever has a single party held a dominant majority, and it won’t retain it in the next election.

          But the US also has two very different issues running simultaneously. First is a refusal to increase the size of Congress in according to population increases, because there’s only so many seats they can squeeze into the building. So it is innately disproportionate and getting worse.

          Second and far more fundamental is the lack of term limits. Because the incumbents in the US have such incredible power, they have almost no chance of being evicted – they only stop when they choose to. Seriously, there have been dictators with lower re-election rates, and they get to freely rig their elections!

          If they had say a 2-3 term limit with a mandatory stand-down afterwards, you’d see a far greater diversity of representation in both House and Senate, and a lot less strict control by the Leaders partly because the leaders would themselves have to change periodically but mostly because they’d basically have to bribe everyone all over again every few years instead of bribing or blackmailing them at the beginning and keeping them there forever.

          Our host himself uses a variation on this in his newest series, though the three party leaders are exempt from the limits.

          1. KTL says:


            I’m curious to hear from you what triggered NZ to actually institute the changes you describe. Prtesumably the peope in power weren’t in favorof such changes. So, how do good governance changes actually get done – anywhere?

          2. mayhem says:

            Generally by a breakdown in public trust and a referendum or other citizen inspired revolt. In this case it was the opposition repeatedly winning the popular vote but losing the election.


            It’s why most western democracies are terrified of them, because they have the potential to go any way. See Brexit for a modern stupid example.

            Mind you Switzerland by contrast has referenda every other week, whether on a local/regional/national level. A memorable one was on legalising bratwurst … or more accurately revisiting the street vendor laws to adjust was could be sold.

      2. Bill says:

        It isn’t that they don’t represent them, but I think most of them don’t understand them. The worst of the republicans play on their fears. The democrats should focus on their reasonable hopes.
        The diversity of the US and the rightful concern about language has made it difficult for the democrats to have common language that unites rather than divides. In the past religious references were a unifier. Now they will be more divisive.
        I worry about term limits. It gives the power to bureaucrats and power brokers. Right now, too many companies write legislation as it is. If someone is only in congress for a few terms, they will lean on lobbyists, long term staffers, and party bosses. I also worry that there will be a greater desire to take the money and run. Short term legislators that know they are short timers will put in special benefits for the industry they will return to.
        I would rather see ways to limit the money in politics.

  2. Postagoras says:

    It’s easy to encourage emotions like fear or anger when you’re motivating voters against everything. It’s much harder when you’re trying to motivate voters for something.
    Looking at the list of Republican hot issues, you’ll notice that they’re all about fear. Republican electioneering is all about fear, and they’ve nailed down the portion of the population that responds to that.
    The Democrats actually have a policy agenda based on the government doing things. Like fixing roads and bridges, reducing pollution, improving health insurance, and getting billionaires to pay taxes.
    The Republicans don’t have to prioritize their agenda, because they are the Party Of No. The Democrats have to prioritize the things that they are trying to get done, and that’s where things get messy.
    As Will Rogers famously said almost 100 years ago, “I’m not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Government SHOULD NOT “DO THINGS”. It should leave problems to be solved by private entities. And if private entities don’t step up, and people do not sufficiently help themselves, then Darwin will take care of the problem.

      Liberty IS WORTHWHILE, but it isn’t cheap. And fake compassion (the kind that says government should solve problems, rather the you or me ourselves solving the problems we see near us) destroys liberty.

      I’ll look out for who I can, and leave it to others to look out for who they can. Those that nobody looks out for, it’s no big deal to bury them.

      If government has less power, it will have less “fat cats” lobbying it for favors, because it won’t have enough power to DO favors.

      Imagine if Congress was only in session 90 days a year at most, and half of that was spent REPEALING laws until the total body of federal law gets MUCH smaller. They’d have real jobs the rest of the time, and some idea how people with real jobs live; and they wouldn’t have enough time to be handing out favors to either corporations or interest groups.

      1. Postagoras says:

        Sigh, we’ve all heard your opinion many times in your blog responses. You left out the part about leftists being “despicable”, for which I thank you.
        But until the day you convince the voters to follow your philosophy, we’ll have to deal with the political parties as they exist.
        That’s what Mr. Modesitt wrote about, and that’s what we’re responding to.

      2. Darcherd says:

        So, from your Libertarian viewpoint, is there any role for government at all? Military, emergency services, navigational aids, road and bridge construction and maintenance? All that should be parsed out to private investors? How would you allocate who pays for it and how?

        Or is your real issue simply that the government is spending what money it has on things it considers important and not the things you consider important?

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