by Brent Budowsky
National Democrats did not lose the four special elections for House seats since President Trump was elected. They surrendered three without a fight in Montana, South Carolina and Kansas and ran a campaign in Georgia that was shallow, risk averse and content free.
The biggest single problem for Democrats, and what enrages so many Democrats outside Washington about Democrats inside Washington, is that Republicans play politics like war while Democrats play politics like badminton. Doing little to help the Democratic candidate in Montana, and doing nothing to help the Democratic candidate in South Carolina, was a stunning example of political malpractice.
Had Jon Ossoff won in Georgia, national Democrats would have been trumpeting the victory as the beginning of the end for the Trump presidency. But Ossoff, in another astonishing example of political malpractice, said the election was not about Trump but was about “local issues.” While the Trump forces worked to drive their turnout higher and a right wing PAC suggested Ossoff and liberals favor the shooting of congressmen, Ossoff campaigned like the nowhere man with a campaign that lacked toughness, theme or the fierce urgency of fighting for a great cause.
Instead of worrying about offending sensitive Republicans, Ossoff should have quoted prominent Republicans who warn against the grave dangers, extreme actions and banana republic tactics of the Trump presidency.
Instead of treating Trump as though he barely exists and running a campaign on “local issues,” Ossoff should have openly asked voters to create a check and balance against Trump’s crude politics of crony capitalism, conflicts of interest, national division and isolation from America’s democratic allies around the world.
Democrats outside Washington are madder then hell. Democrats inside Washington need a war plan to turn public outrage into the great cause of restoring democracy and winning back control of Congress.
Democrats should create a massive war chest — now — to tap resistance to Trump from small donors and large donors. Hundreds of millions of dollars should be raised — beginning today — and put into an escrow fund to recruit and support Democratic challengers and incumbents in 50 key House races and 10 key Senate races for starters.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other leading progressives should rally Democratic small donors — immediately — to raise huge money for this fund that would drive high-quality candidate recruiting and all-out candidate support.
While the Democratic base has been passionately waging battles of resistance against the abuses of Trump, former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State John Kerry have all been virtually AWOL from the fight, compared to what they should have been doing since Trump took office.
Obama, Biden, the Clintons, Gore and Kerry should belatedly join the fight in full force — now — by aggressively raising vast sums of money to recruit and support top-flight candidates for the 2018 midterm elections.
Second, the constantly sleepwalking Democratic National Committee should spearhead the largest voter registration drive in history, even larger than the Freedom Summer during the civil rights era. Republicans are waging a policy war against the interests and dreams of blacks, Hispanics, women and young people, who should be mobilized to register and vote like never before.
Democrats win elections by increasing the electorate, registering new voters in large numbers, and building a powerful and unprecedented get-out-the-vote machine for a party that acts like a movement and cause, not merely a collection of consultants making small fortunes through massive television buys for losing Democrats.
There is a great movement waiting for national Democrats to fight and lead. Those who lack the clarity and cajones to effectively confront the most unpopular new president in American history, which is what happened in all four recent special elections, should yield the floor to those who will wage and win the epic political struggle of our times.