What Democrats Should Learn From Omaha

I am going to take a moment to not comment on the James Comey non-scandal and focus on a more electorally consequential event held on Tuesday.  The Omaha mayoral race.  If you did not follow the race closely, you’d be forgiven.

The Omaha Mayoral race was a rather sleepy affair until Democrats, desperate for any victory they could point to as a rebuke of Trump, nationalized the race.  Bernie Sanders and DNC Chair Keith Perez embarked on a unity tour that turned out to be anything but unifying.  Meanwhile, the candidate they chose, a moderate and perfect for being a mayor in red Nebraska, angered liberal activist groups with his heresy on opposing abortion for any reason at any time.

Throughout the campaign, GOP early ballot totals trailed Democratic ballots (as seen prior).  But, when the results were tallied, despite Democrats representing almost 50 percent of all early ballots cast, trailed in the early ballot count.  This ensured Stothert an easy victory and Mello a six point defeat.

Democrats would like to pretend the ugly intraparty brawl in Nebraska never occurred and have turned their attention to the MT-AL special election and June GA-6 run-off.  But, the party would be foolish to ignore what happened in Omaha.  It showed deep divisions within the party that opposition to Trump cannot cover over.

During the Democratic primary, the party split into two clear factions.  One was driven on identity politick and cultural lines.  This faction lined up behind Clinton.  The other faction supported Bernie Sanders and was driven along class economic lines.  In an ideal world, these groups would realize they have more in common than not and band together.  But, the wounds of the Democratic primary run deep.

The Nebraska mayoral race became a microcosm of this struggle to the detriment of the party.  Instead of the party unifying behind Mello it splintered.  Worse, Mello was caught in a malestrom he had nothing to do with and little ability to curtail.

As Democrats embark on their quest to take back the House especially the Senate they are going to have to back candidates they do not agree with 100 percent,  More importantly, the grassroots that has fueled the party’s special election bursts, will have to.  There is simply no way clearly pro-choice candidates can win a statewide race in red Texas or probably purple Arizona.

Democrats were in a similar situation after George Bush won reelection.  But, instead of the party splintering it worked with interest groups to find acceptable candidates across the country not just to said interest groups but also the voters they were courting,  The results were massive electoral gains in 2006 and 2008.  Of course, as soon as the party took a left turn it blew almost all those gains in 2010.

Democrats, instead of fighting each other, should unite behind their opposition to Trump and support candidates who are not ideological diehards,  Yes, an identity politics candidate may run fine in a California swing district.  But, a candidate running on a class grievance based campaign will run better in Ohio.  They may diverge on abortion and other issues but they are both Democrats.

Republicans are currently dominant across America exactly because they have a wide degree of ideological flexibility.  Governors from Maine to Idaho represent different degrees of conservatism.  Likewise, lawmakers in Virginia to Texas have different views on different issues but they are united under one party banner with largely similar goals they can agree on.  Can Democrats say the same?  Omaha argues no.

 

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