Let's start on a positive note. Please read this from the NY Times: Frank Bruni's How to Win a Senate Race. It's about Rob Portman's GOP victory in Ohio. Portman even outpolled Donald Trump, Ohio's darling. Bruni's piece looks at how someone won in this wild year by just doing the basic hard work of a campaign and using good political judgment. We can learn from anybody and should, GOP included.
Let's admit that the Democrats had better start learning from someone pretty damn fast because in just two years the Congressional elections come up and then reapportionment per the 2020 census. So far this decade the Democratic leadership in D.C. has become worse and worse at winning the Congress.
Rob Portman wasn't supposed to win the Senate seat in Ohio. Early this year the Democrats looked poised to make at least a net gain of 6 seats in the Senate, including Ohio, which would have given them a majority and thus a bulwark against repeal of Obamacare. That majority would also have blocked repeal of the environmental rules that may stave off climate change. Regaining the Senate majority could also have blocked bad appointments to the Supreme Court. An enormous amount was at stake.
Instead the Democrats won only two seats of the six, a failure almost as surprising and disappointing as Clinton losing to Trump. Instead of analyzing what the Demcrats did wrong, in his column Bruni looks at what one Republican senate candidate did right. It's nothing far out. It's just good basic campaign techniques and lots of hard work. The Democratic Party in D.C. seems to have forgotten both of these.
Nor do they seem particularly interested in remedying their failures. The re-election last week of Nancy Pelosi to the office of minority leader of the House, while having no bearing on the Senate disaster, nevertheless speaks ill for the future. It means the Democrats in D.C. haven't learned from this terrible year that their party leadership is largely worthless at the most fundamental issue in politics: winning elections. If you can't win elections, you can't win anything else. That was the first lesson in politics my UAW buddies taught me.
The media credits Pelosi's hold on the leadership post to her vaunted skill in keeping her caucus in line and getting legislation through.
"Wait!" you say. "What legislation?"
Good question. Because of the GOP's determination not to let Obama have one damned thing, no Democratic measures have moved through the House since the GOP captured it in 2010. Pelosi has therefore accomplished nothing in 6 years. Her skill as a legislator has been worthless. And this is a sad story of her own making. We got no legislation because she failed at task Number One, holding the House in 2010 or winning back the majority in the House in 2012 or 2014. Now she has failed yet again.
For six years she has accomplished nothing. No regaining the House majority and no enactment of legislation.
She did do one thing, however. She raised money. Pelosi is the pin-up girl for the Democratic party's entanglement with fat cats.
That's her way of keeping power and her leadership role. It's the money she raises—in enormous amounts—that keeps her popular as she spreads it around among her colleagues for their re-election campaigns, thus insuring they will vote for her as minority leader. But money alone doesn't win elections, as Hillary Clinton's well-financed campaign demonstrated. A good party leader has to help win elections with more than money. Just ask Howard Dean, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, who engineered the Democrats' sweeping Congressional wins in 2006.
But Pelosi puts a different face on the situation. After the November Democratic debacle she apparently felt she needed to say something on her own behalf to minimize her failure to get a House majority yet again. Give her first prize for sheer gall for saying, "We have won elections before and we will do it again."
What elections is she talking about? None that she's won in getting a House majority. She hasn't won any! As I noted above. it was Howard Dean, as chair of the Democratic National Committee, who managed the enormous win of House seats by Democrats in 2006; then Obama's win carried the House candidates along to another Democratic Congressional majority in 2008. Pelosi blanked on 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. That's 0 wins to 4 losses. If she were a football coach, she would have been canned after such a losing streak.
As for the Senate seats the Democrats should have won but didn't...... Well, let's not get too gloomy all at once. My understanding from the media "experts" is that the Democratic candidates were "weak".
Well, yeah. Let's leave it at that for now.
P.S. Watch for my upcoming post on the easiest and fastest way to change the electoral college so that the voters get the candidate the majority chooses. It's called democracy! You can help make it happen. No more of empty land choosing our president!