Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Democratic Party Has A Diversity Problem...,


BostonGlobe |  “She is the most unpopular politician in every single competitive district in the country,” said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm. A March NBC poll found her approval rating in the low 20s. (House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, is also unpopular, with an approval rating just three points higher than hers in the NBC poll.)

Pelosi said the GOP strategy shows the “bankruptcy” of the opposition’s ideas and the negative ads only help her cause. “The more they do it, the more money I raise,” Pelosi said. “Because I have a following.”

She says Democrats are running on an economic message of raising the minimum wage, boosting education, and strengthening the health care system. But Democrats are mostly counting on a Trump backlash to provide big gains in midterm elections.

Pelosi is a master fund-raiser, pulling in tens of millions of dollars that Democrats will use to help House candidates across the country, even those who are skeptical of her leadership. In a show of force, she raised more than $16 million for Democrats in the first quarter of this year. 

Even Pelosi’s fiercest critics admit she is a whiz at raking in money and at counting votes. She’s managed to keep her fractious caucus together in the Trump era, increasing her clout in spending talks and wresting key concessions from Republicans even while in the minority.

But some in the party are questioning the message it sends to the grass roots that the top three House Democrats are all in their late 70s and have been in power for years, despite running on a message of change in the midterms. 

“I think there’s a strong desire out there in America for new leadership in Washington, not just getting rid of Republicans but getting new leadership in the Democratic Party,” said Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, one of the loudest voices in the party calling for Pelosi to go.

NYTimes |  Democrats venerate diversity as they do no other value. Yet the party’s Senate leader is a white man, Charles Schumer. Many will wonder whether a party that now gets nearly half of its votes from nonwhite people — 46 percent of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 vote was from nonwhites — should be led nationally by two white people.

The full picture is actually even a little weirder. Mr. Crowley would not be a shoo-in should Ms. Pelosi not be able to get the votes. There are two others who want the job: Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the current No. 2 and Ms. Pelosi’s rival of 50 years; and Tim Ryan of Ohio, who challenged Ms. Pelosi two years ago for the minority leader job and lost, 134 votes to 63.

So, should Ms. Pelosi decide not to seek the speakership again, the main contenders to replace her, at least as of now, would be three white men. For a Democratic Party leadership post in 2018! That sounds more like a race for Queens borough president in 1961.

To me, though, the diversity issue isn’t even the main problem. Even if two white men ended up leading the Democrats, no one would doubt that the Democratic Party is the multiracial party. That much is well established, and presumably Mr. Crowley (or whoever) would name a Rainbow Coalition-ish leadership team and surely have a woman as his No. 2.

The bigger problem is geographic. If Mr. Crowley became the House Democrats’ leader, the Democrats would be led by two legislators from New York City. And that is deeply weird.

The Democrats are coming off an election in which their presidential candidate won only 487 of the nation’s 3,141 counties. Four years before, Barack Obama won just 689 against Mitt Romney. The party is in severe geographic retreat, and it has happened with alarming speed.

If I told you that Democrats once controlled the governors’ mansions in the unlikely states of Tennessee, Wyoming, Arkansas, Kansas and Oklahoma, what year would you think I was referring to? Maybe 1987? Nope. Up through the 2010 elections, Democrats governed all these states. Likewise, the Democrats had a House majority until those elections. They controlled seats in large swaths of North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, both Dakotas, Indiana, West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio.

They held up to 257 seats in those days. They got decimated in 2010 and 2014, and maybe there just wasn’t that much they could have done about it. But they could have identified some young comers from swing and heartland states and elevated them to positions of greater prominence than they did. For example, in the 114th Congress (2015-2016), the Democrats had nine leadership positions — and only one was held by a representative from a state that didn’t have a coastline.