If any two things clarified where the Democratic Party sees its future they were the election of Tom Perez to head the DNC and Steven Beshear’s pitiful response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union Tuesday night.
Perez, a former Obama lackey, bested fellow progressive Keith Ellison in what had to be the saddest excuse for a pity party contest to lead a major party in a long, long time. Then, highlighting that all Perez did was hide the flaws of Ellison’s beliefs better than Ellison did, he appointed him to be his deputy.
Ellison, the anti-Semite who connected so well with blue-collar and Christian Americans he swore his Congressional oath on the Koran. Perez, the same guy who tried to FORCE workers at Boeing in South Carolina to unionize when they clearly did not want to (they just said no again last week).
Tuesday night, after Donald Trump had delivered a speech on taxes, wealth inequality and infrastructure that even brought Democrats to their feet, former Kentucky Governor Steven Beshear spoke. And spoke. And spoke. The people in the diner with him even seemed to have glazed eyes. For a quick reference Beshear was the Governor that passed Medicaid Expansion in his state and saw his party lose its century long hold on the state House. Worse, his hand-picked replacement was crushed by a tea-party acolyte the state GOP did not even rally behind. Ouch.
Beshear’s tortured speech began by calling himself a Democrat first, then a Republican (whoops) and finally an American first. Glad we got that out of the way. Beshear was surrounded by the forgotten Americans, the blue-collar white voters that flocked to Trump. I bet a few in the diner voted for Trump.
Beshear also was Governor in 2008 when John McCain carried his state while losing nationally by ten million votes. It was the first time since 1960 the state had not backed the winner of the Presidential election. More worrying, Obama did worse than John Kerry did in the state four years earlier.
The SOTU response was very much an appearances over values deluge of dribble. Instead of honestly talking to Americans as individuals the speech was full of meaningless platitudes about how we cannot go back to the past and give into hate. Great. Show contempt to more Americans with valid concerns about the listless direction of the nation in the name of vague ideas like diversity and equality.
Trying to cover such a blatant subtext the former Governor stressed he was the son of a white guy preacher and that he had served in the military. Trump, on the other hand, was a rich, arrogant ass. The latter is probably true but America has come a long. long way from when we only elected people based on geography and their origins.
On a personal note, I was struck that a former Democratic Southern Governor (once the heart of the party) looked weak and out of touch compared to a NYC billionaire with a really bad tupe. It is definitely true the surface differences are deep. But, in reality, Trump recognized his origins as a Democrat had led him to once support a party that disdained Americans. Beshear sold his soul to that party for life.
Building on my prior point, Americans have long left behind the idea of electing somebody solely on their origins. They elected a Roman Catholic in 1960, a former Democratic turned Republican in 1980, a black man from Chicago not once but twice. Americans look beyond the superficial when they vote. It’s why despite the 1860 election looking like a wipeout they elected a guy with a log hat to the White House. Americans overlooked these origins again when they elected a real estate tycoon to the White House last November over a scandal tainted but policy savvy female candidate. Trump gave voters the feeling he shared their values and wanted change. Democrats just keep offering more of the same old, same old. They might want to look at where that has gotten them.