Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren just sent a blunt message to Democrats, arguing that ”it’s essential that the Democratic Party becomes more of a grassroots organization.”
Speaking before a large group Monday, Warren said the Democratic Party’s failure to connect with working and middle-class people had opened the door for Donald Trump to win the presidency.
The Massachusetts senator, who walked into a standing ovation before she’d even been introduced, ran through a litany of issues on which Democrats had left people behind, either by offering too little or nothing at all. Perhaps her most surprising criticism was directed at the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Waren told the bereft gathering that she was as capable as any other politician at defending Obamacare and rattled off its benefits ― no more exclusions based on pre-existing conditions, you can stay on your parents’ plan until age 26, 20 million Americans covered. “But let’s be honest: It’s not bold. It’s not transformative,” she added.
Had Democrats acknowledged its shortcoming and pledged to fight for more, Warren said, that message may have resonated. “I’m OK taking half a loaf if our message was ‘Here’s half, now let’s go get the rest,’” she said.
She also highlighted Democrats’ inability to help homeowners during the financial crisis, even though banks were bailed out. She blasted the failure to prosecute the bankers, saying that it suggested to working people just whose side the party was on. She also picked up on corporate-friendly trade policies, arguing Democrats were too eager to push deals that hurt the working class.
Warren argued that Democrats need to ask who they truly are and who they stand up for. “Donald Trump had one message: I am with you,” she said.
“That’s where we failed, not in our messaging, but in our ideology,” she concluded.
Sen. Sanders was even more direct.
“The truth is, Democrats should not be losing to a candidate who insults so many people, who wants to give huge tax breaks to the top two-tenths of 1 percent and who rejects climate change,” Sanders told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert Monday.
“How are we losing these elections?” asked Sanders, who lost out on the party’s presidential candidacy to Hillary Clinton. “Something is fundamentally wrong and what I’m trying to do right now is bring about structural changes in the Democratic Party so that it becomes a grassroots party.”
The key solution was to transform itself into a party that “feels the pain of working-class people, of the middle class, of low-income people, of young people.” And the way to make that happen was for people to get “heavily involved in the political process.” “When millions of people stand up and fight back we will not be denied,” he said.
“That would enable us to become an effective opposition to Donald Trump’s looming presidency,” Sanders added.
Van Jones and Heather McGhee also spoke in equally blunt language about the progressive movement’s inability to connect with the black and brown working classes and for “resourcing communities of color too little, too late.”
Turnout was down in African-American and Latino communities, which can just as easily be blamed for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s loss as is the uptick in white support for Republican Trump. And for Warren, one way to drive that turnout would have been to give minority voters, as well as whites, something to believe in.
In Wisconsin, Trump’s current margin of victory is just over 27,250 votes. In Milwaukee County alone, Clinton won 288,986 votes (so far) ― down from Barack Obama’s 328,090 in 2012. That’s a difference of 39,104 votes in that one county. Those voters didn’t go to Trump, who received over 32,000 fewer votes in the county than Republican candidate Mitt Romney did in 2012 ― they just didn’t turn out. If Clinton had gotten those votes that Obama received, she would have won the state, according to The Huffington Post.
Wayne County, Michigan, has a similar story the Post writes: Obama won 77,806 votes more than Clinton’s current tally of 517,447. Trump outperformed Romney’s totals in the county but only by 14,738 votes ― so the missing Obama voters still could have shifted the race. Trump leads by only 11,423 votes statewide.
Spread the word.