Episode 17: The Future of the Democrat Party and Polarization in the Colorado Statehouse

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In this episode we continue our discussion of the anti-Trump movement by taking a look at Elizabeth Warren’s potential impact on the 2018 Midterm elections around the country. We then move on to a discussion of the current polarization in the Colorado statehouse, whether it is simply the “new normal” given the state of our political parties and to what extent it can be attributed to President Trump’s actions.

Segment 1: Elizabeth Warren, The Race for DNC Chairmanship and the Future of the Democrat Party

  • Much has been made about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s use of Senate rules to prevent Senator Elizabeth Warren from reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King during the debate over the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. The move has been described as a terrible blunder and as carefully planned strategy, and everything in between.
  • Which side you fall on depends upon how you view Senator Warren – is she a champion of progressive values who shows the way to future Democratic success, or does she symbolize how far left the national Democratic Party has become, which hurts the chances of the 10 Senate Democrats who are up for re-election next year in states where President Trump won?
  • This all feeds into the discussion we had last week about the Women’s March and the Tea Party, and it’s important to remember that all this anti-Trump energy does not automatically translate to Democratic success. It still matters where in the country the Democrats are trying to win elections. Dan McLaughlin has a useful breakdown of the 2018 Senate Races here at National Review. Clearly, Democratic senators are up for re-election in states that will be incredibly tough: West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana, Indiana and Missouri are all states were Trump received 60% or more of the two-party vote for President.
  • Whoever prevails in the race for DNC Chair will also presumably play a large role in determining the party’s success next year. James Hohmann at the Washington Post has some great reporting about the race for DNC Chair, and he highlights the fact that the candidates all give a similar explanation for why Hillary Clinton lost: She talked too much about Trump. Yet, as Hohmann points out: “Ironically, every person who complained about how the party was too focused on attacking Trump in 2016 also tried to out-do the other candidates in promising to go after the new president. Ellison called Trump “the most misogynistic person to ever become president.” Perez called him “the most dangerous and destructive person to ever hold the presidency.” Buttigieg described the new commander in chief as “a chicken-hawk.”
  • Most of the DNC Candidates also highlight the need for a 50-state strategy – basically, strengthening local and state parties across the country from the ground up. What they don’t acknowledge is that the party’s move to the left makes this more difficult. Quite simply, the voters who Democrats need to reach in red states and most swing states are not going to respond to this kind of reflexive, anti-Trump sentiment. They are going to view it as either exaggerated or inconsequential. They care far more about kitchen-table economic issues, and they are not going to be animated by the same issue set that concerns the liberal base (immigration, women’s and minority rights, etc…)

Segment 2: Polarization in the Colorado State House

  • In Monday’s Denver Post, Brian Eason and John Frank write that anti-Trump sentiment is influencing the Colorado legislative session, as Democrats face pressure to push back against Donald Trump.
  • House Democrats introduced a resolution urging Trump and Congress to rescind his executive order restricting travel from 7 majority-Muslim nations, and a second resolution defending women’s reproductive rights and health care. Both drew criticism from House Republicans as purely political moves that undermine the possibility for bipartisanship and cooperation. At the same time, Republican Rep. Dave Williams introduced a bill targeting sanctuary cities, and House Republicans have also introduced three abortion-related bills, which were all rejected along party lines.
  • The danger for both parties in all this political posturing is that middle voters will witness the back-and-forth arguing over President Trump’s policies and it will just further convince them that legislators are incapable of working together to solve the issues that they care about.
  • Still, it’s important to remember that this kind of polarization is not exactly new. There have always been contentious debates during the legislative session. But if the battle between support for and opposition of Donald Trump’s agenda overshadows the real bi-partisan work that needs to be done on transportation and education, it’s unclear who exactly stands to benefit.
By | 2017-08-16T22:45:29+00:00 February 16th, 2017|