[…] We can’t comprehend even 1 percent of what’s just happened. But one aspect of it, minor in the overall sweep, that I’m pretty sure we can comprehend well enough right now: The Democratic Party establishment has beclowned itself and is finished.
I think of the lawmakers, the consultants, the operatives, and—yes—the center-left media, and how everything said over the past few years leading up to this night was bullshit.
The midterm losses? That was just a bad cycle, structurally speaking; presidential demographics would make up for it. The party establishment made a grievous mistake rallying around Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t just a lack of recent political seasoning. She was a bad candidate, with no message beyond heckling the opposite sideline. She was a total misfit for both the politics of 2016 and the energy of the Democratic Party as currently constituted. She could not escape her baggage, and she must own that failure herself.
Theoretically smart people in the Democratic Party should have known that. And yet they worked giddily to clear the field for her. Every power-hungry young Democrat fresh out of law school, every rising lawmaker, every old friend of the Clintons wanted a piece of the action. This was their ride up the power chain. The whole edifice was hollow, built atop the same unearned sense of inevitability that surrounded Clinton in 2008, and it collapsed, just as it collapsed in 2008, only a little later in the calendar. The voters of the party got taken for a ride by the people who controlled it, the ones who promised they had everything figured out and sneeringly dismissed anyone who suggested otherwise. They promised that Hillary Clinton had a lock on the Electoral College. These people didn’t know what they were talking about, and too many of us in the media thought they did.
What was the line? Hillary Clinton would do well in a general election, because she’d been “vetted” for 20-some years and there was nothing new Republicans could try? Just writing that, I recognize that it’s the funniest line I’ve ever seen, and yet it was the exact argument Clinton used in two separate campaigns for the Democratic nomination.
And I’ll add three words: Debbie. Wasserman. Schultz. (Who won tonight, by the way.)
The Democratic Party that will re-take the Senate, House and Presidency will not look like the party that DWS or the Clintons fostered and maintained. The house organ of that Party will not be the New York Times or any other part of the false equivalency establishment press, no matter how “liberal” their columnists are. The advisors and consultants who bring that Party to victory will not include John Podesta or anyone who ever worked for him in a senior capacity. The reason is simple: this combination killed us in 2016.
Obama was a breakout candidate in large part because he went around the Democratic establishment. The message, style and operations of a winning Democratic Party will be part Obama and, as much as many of you hate hearing this, part Bernie Sanders. The simple fact was that there was a hell of a lot more excitement about Bernie’s candidacy among the Democrats who need to be energized for us to win, than there was among Hillary supporters. Bernie wasn’t the guy, but we need to look hard at what he said, how he said it, and how his campaign operated. We need to find someone who isn’t Bernie to carry that message into 2018 and 2020.