When Hillary Clinton lost the election to Donald Trump in November, even many of those who supported Donald were surprised. The Democratic primary had brought to the party new, harder left views as a result of Bernie Sanders being the second place finisher in the race. His power in shaping the platform was incredibly immense. Changes to the platform came in the form of single-payer healthcare, free tuition college, a $15 minimum wage, and more. Bernie Sanders may not have won, but he did affect the party in ways that changed the 2016 presidential election in a major way. He brought new, hard left views that moved the Democratic party away from its Rust Belt supporters and towards smaller parties such as the Green Party, and people like Jill Stein, as well as millennials, who would end up staying home on election night and tilting the election in President Trump’s favor.
Is it possible that the hard left movement in the Democratic party contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss in November? I would say yes. The Democratic party has built its success from local city council chambers all the way up to the presidency for decades based on one thing: their reservoir of support in the Rust Belt. They were able to maintain these voters by fighting for workers rights, higher wages, and unions. But this past election season, the Democrats focused on swing states such as Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and even states that were newly at risk for swinging right, such as Pennsylvania. What Hillary Clinton refused to do was spend time in the Rust Belt, nurturing the multitudes of lifelong Democrats who were willing to support Hillary Clinton if she gave them a reason to. But she didn’t give them a reason to support her. Instead, she spent more time enjoying her lead in the polls and taking the historically Democratic Rust Belt states for granted.
Meanwhile, her Republican competitor Donald Trump was going back to states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania speaking to factory workers and telling them that he would bring back jobs from countries that he demonized such as Mexico and China. That’s all they needed to hear, that someone would bring their jobs back. After the election, CNN’s Van Jones filmed a special report called “The Messy Truth”, in which he interviewed Trump voters in the Rust Belt who had voted for Democrats their entire life but voted for Trump in 2016. He interviewed a family of Trump voters who had voted for Democrats until this election, and their reason for supporting Trump? It certainly wasn’t because he’s charming, or nice, or inspiring. They didn’t like the things he said, who he offended, or what he said about women. It was for one reason: his promise to bring jobs back to where they once were: The Rust Belt. They were willing to vote for Trump and put aside the controversial remarks he made and what they heard on the news because he would bring back what they lost.
Yesterday the Democratic National Committee elected a new chairman: Tom Perez. Perez is a former labor secretary under President Barack Obama and has little elected experience. He did serve as a county counselor for Montgomery County, although that was short lived. He was also the United States Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, as well as the Secretary of Maryland Department of Labor. His election is the most important move the Democrats will make towards their mission to retake Congress in 2018 and ultimately the presidency in 2020. His first action as Chairman was to appoint Representative Keith Ellison as Vice Chairman. How will they shape the party platform in the future? Keith Ellison is a liberal, and while Tom Perez is progressive he isn’t as liberal as Keith Ellison.
The bottom line is clear: When the Democratic party moves to the left, they alienate their core voter base that they need to win. But win they move to the center, they win presidential elections and control Congress.