What the Hell is Wrong with the House Democrats?

What the hell is wrong with the House Democrats? In their understandable frustration with this year’s election results, some Democrats are taking inexplicable steps that further threaten to diminish progressive power in America. Apparently some of them feel that the way to counter an angry white male President-elect who rode to power by galvanizing angry white male voters is to put forward white men as the face of the future of the Democratic Party.

First, Congressman Tim Ryan, from an Ohio district that is 83% white and voted for Trump, challenged Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to ever serve as Speaker of the House. Now Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents a largely white district in suburban New York, is threatening to seek to depose New Mexico representative Ben Ray Lujan, the first Latino to ever serve as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Both these challenges come in the context of widespread suggestions that Democrats are ignoring white working class voters, and Ryan and Maloney seem to be happy to benefit from their perceived status as champions of the allegedly aggrieved white working class. Such an approach is not only offensive, but it flies in the face of all of the empirical evidence about what is happening with the American electorate.

First of all, it’s imperative to remember that Hillary Clinton won 2.5 million more votes than the pseudo-champion of the white working class she ran against. Clinton’s substantial popular vote margin affirms the basic mathematical reality that women and people of color are the majority of eligible voters in America. And when you throw in the white men — both working class and college-educated — who are not drawn to racism and misogyny (and that grouping is larger than most appreciate), then there is clearly a majority for Democrats to attract without having to resort to Trump-like tactics of coddling the racial resentment of some white voters.

If the Democrats truly want to be competitive in the future, then they need to go where the growth is. The data is undeniable that the fastest and largest growing sectors of the population are the communities of color.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2012 National Projections: “Methodology and Assumptions for the 2012 National Projections,” December 12, 2012

In fact, every single day 7,000 people of color are added to the population as compared to just 1,000 whites.

Source: American Majority Project Research Institute (AMPRI) analysis of data from U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates Program, 2015

These demographic changes point the way towards the path to power for Democrats. A majority of the eligible voters in Texas will be people of color in two years. Arizona will become a “majority minority” in 2022, Georgia in 2025, and both of those states have meaningful minorities of progressive whites right now, which will hasten their transitions from red to blue.

Where is the clamor for House Dems to invest heavily and go deep in those regions which are trending in our direction demographically? And isn’t a Latino such as Lujan, who is from the Southwest, the right messenger and leader if we’re moving forward into the multi-racial reality of the future?

Notably, the DCCC under Lujan’s leadership is the furthest along of all the Democratic Party committees in terms of making reforms to make the Party more reflective of the diversity of Democratic voters and transparent and accountable to all stakeholders. Lujan’s team has developed a long-term plan that tracks with the country’s changing racial demographics in congressional districts across the country. The DCCC under Lujan is the only committee to publicly post all its job notices, insist that the pool of applicants for every position include a person of color and maintain a permanent diversity officer. As a result, the DCCC staff is more skilled and competent in how to engage the growing sectors of the population, all of which bode well for the future. Abandoning those reforms and the leader who championed them in the wake of the most racist presidential campaign in decades would be foolhardy, cowardly, and a recipe for failure

House Democrats need to realize that Trump-lite won’t work. Voters who want an angry, misogynistic, racist, groping sexual assaulter as their candidate aren’t going to vote for a less-grabby Democrat.

Make no mistake about it, all the Democratic Party entities need to change, but what they need to do is redirect the many millions spent on TV ads and sink those funds into community-based staff at the local level in the states and communities that represent the future of the country and the party.

To the extent that Maloney and his ilk have a point that the Party hasn’t done enough for white workers, where have they been? Where are their bills to tax the wealthy and use the money to retrain and lift up the working class of all colors? Where were the press conferences on Wall Street (just 69 miles from Maloney’s district headquarters) calling for a financial transaction tax to prevent foreclosures and send a strong signal that Democrats were squarely on the side of working people? Before they go blaming the brown guy running the DCCC, disgruntled Democrats should look in the mirror and confront their own shortcomings. And once they are done with that, they should get a calculator or spreadsheet, download the latest census data about where the votes are, and get busy investing heavily in the areas of greatest growth, promise, and opportunity.

Contact Congressman Maloney and ask him why he’s trying to oust the first Latino head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

Phone: 202–225–5441

Email: Congressional Website

Twitter: @RepSeanMaloney

UPDATE: After this piece was published, Maloney announced he will not be challenging Lujan for DCCC Chair position.

Host of podcast, Democracy In Color with Steve Phillips; Author of national bestseller “Brown is the New White”; Sr Fellow, Ctr Amer Prog

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