After the shock defeat of Hillary Clinton, many are now asking, what is the future of the Democratic Party? It's clearly not enough to hope that Santa will leave a time machine under President Obama's tree, but the way forward is not crystal ball clear. There is currently a conflict between those who are focused on identity politics (think: African-American, Hispanic, women and LGBT issues) and those who are focused on a more universal and widely-appealing (read: economic) strategy. But, as with hard taco vs soft taco comparisons, while it may seem like they are two very different things, maybe the question people should be asking is, why not have both?
Surely there is a way for Democrats to appeal to both sides of the country, to those minorities who feel that their lives matter, and to those white rural working and middle classes who have their own problems. And the answer doesn’t lie in the current recount. And this may be the way forward: to address those minority groups individually, but emphasize that the party will be working for everyone as a whole, regardless of your identity. Simple right? President Obama followed this path, in part because he was edging away from being labelled “the black candidate”. But Hillary Clinton focused a lot on identity politics, speaking directly to those minority groups that Trump had offended. Unfortunately, she failed to articulate a message for everyone else – or at least failed to articulate a message that was better than Trump’s. If the Democratic Party wants to win back the country, it’s going to have to take stock and rework its message.
Of course, it’s simplistic to put the Democratic defeat squarely in the hands of the liberal identity-focused party members, there were obviously many other factors which contributed to the outcome. Partly it was also a failure to read demographics, and putting money where it didn’t need to go, and putting faith where it was misplaced. Trying to win back red voters may not be as useful in the future as concentrating on new areas that are slowly turning blue. Of course this doesn’t mean ignoring the rest, but simply acknowledging that a winning Democratic electoral strategy will look very different to its predecessors. If they don’t, it will be a very long wait to get back into the White House.
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