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Democrats in sad shape: Power deficit as Trump era begins

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of N.Y. spoke during a Jan. 5 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The inauguration of Donald Trump leaves Democrats facing a stark power deficit, not only in Washington but in states around the country. Republicans control the White House, Congress, almost two-thirds of statehouses and 32 legislatures.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. spoke during a Jan. 13 news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The inauguration of Donald Trump leaves Democrats facing a stark power deficit, not only in Washington but in states around the country. Republicans control the White House, Congress, almost two-thirds of statehouses and 32 legislatures.

WASHINGTON >> Democrats begin the Donald Trump presidency in sad shape. They lack a clear power base, they’ve got no distinct national leader, and party brokers are searching for a formula to counter the new Republican-dominated government and figure out how to win again.

It’s a curious and dispiriting position for a party that has led the national popular vote six out of the past seven presidential elections. Yet Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College count, while Republicans maintained their largest House majority since 1928 and kept control of the Senate — with 2018 advantages that offer the potential of a Senate supermajority in two years.

Outside Washington, Democrats now have just 16 governors and run 14 state legislatures, compared to 33 Republican governors and 32 GOP-run legislative bodies.

“We haven’t been in this shape in a while … but we will rebuild,” insists interim Democratic Party Chairwoman Donna Brazile.

And Republicans have their own challenges.

Control means answering for everything from the economy to health care. Trump enters the Oval Office with the lowest approval ratings of any newly inaugurated president in more than a generation, and he’s an unapologetic freelancer who sometimes flouts GOP orthodoxy.

That leaves elected Democrats to decide how they will treat the new president as they try to woo middle-class voters — particularly whites — who were lost in November from President Barack Obama’s winning coalitions.

Party insiders will choose Brazile’s DNC successor next month, a campaign that has revived fissures between the party’s liberal and centrist factions. The next chairman will jockey with Congress’ Democratic leaders and perhaps Obama as the party tries to settle on a national standard-bearer.

Around the country, Democrats are quietly looking to the 2018 midterm elections, with a focus on governor races that will give the party its first tangible shot at climbing out of the present crater. Republicans will be defending more than two dozen seats, including in Democratic-leaning states like Massachusetts and Maryland.

No clear consensus guides all those moving parts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California says Democrats must “fight with more clarity” on issues affecting average Americans, such as health care and laws covering wages.

“We’ve done it before, we know how to do it,” she says of winning.

Yet she adds that Democrats have a responsibility to work with Trump where there is common ground, such as infrastructure spending.

That’s a divergence from Republicans’ near-absolute, eight-year opposition to Obama. It’s also a seeming contrast to the man many top Democrats have endorsed for party chairman: Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

“This question of whether we fight back right away or not, that question has been answered,” Ellison said in a DNC chairmanship debate this week. “He has already started to institute a right-wing program, so of course we have to fight.”

Outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez, viewed as Ellison’s stiffest competitor, offered slightly more nuance. He dubbed Trump “a target-rich environment” and said Democrats can “hit him with a two-by-four.” But, he added, “What we can’t do is go after him every time. You can’t meet him tweet for tweet. I think we’ve got to be surgical.”

In Michigan, a key state in Trump’s November victory, Obama campaign veteran Amy Chapman said the 2010 tea party movement gives Democrats a model.

“Fighting against something brings people together,” she argued, adding that intense opposition doesn’t have to conflict with some compromises that help Democrats avoid an “obstructionist” label.

Steve Israel, a former New York congressman now advising the Democratic Governors Association, noted political fortunes are never as solidified — for better or worse — as predicted in the wake of elections.

Republicans hailed the notion of a “permanent majority” after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. Eight years later, when Obama won a second term, Republicans fretted about their long-term prospects in an increasingly diverse country. And in November, Trump’s Electoral College margin came by a cumulative margin of fewer than 100,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Given that, Israel said Democrats’ best measure on strategy and tactics is simple: “Does this win back Obama-Trump voters?”

Confirmation hearings for Trump Cabinet picks so far show that even Israel’s standard isn’t absolute.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have sharply, even mockingly questioned multiple choices, whereas Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia introduced former Texas Gov. Rick Perry before his confirmation hearing for energy secretary. Manchin is one of 10 Democratic senators facing re-election in states where Trump won.

But the seeming conflicts in the theater of confirmations may actually preview the right approach, according to some Democrats.

Tessa Gould, chief of staff to North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, said politicians like her boss, up for re-election in 2018, must be given the space to work in a bipartisan manner. “These 2018ers, they are really good about taking care of the politics back home,” Gould said.

Another Obama campaign veteran, Florida Democrat Steve Schale, agreed that Democrats must avoid a one-size-fits-all idea, even if voters rewarded Republicans for their opposition to Obama.

“Both parties have gotten themselves so narrowly cast that literally everything has to go right to win elections,” he said.

Thomas Beaumont contributed from Des Moines, Iowa.

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  • It was time for a change. O’bama had 8 years to spend the US into oblivion. Trump will have to be a janitor for a few years cleaning up the mess. For those die hard democrats (D), hoping Trump will fail is like hoping the pilot crashes the plane you are on so at least support him while he is in office. It’s the right thing to do.

    • lol, it was not Obama who spent the US into oblivion. You republicans practiced Voodoo for 8 years from 2001 to 2009. You started with a surplus and ended with a trillion plus deficit. Way to go so called conservatives. With conservatives like todays republicans who needs liberals? lol

      I do not hope that the Donald will fail but when you toss gas onto a lit fire are you surprised at the result?

        • Andrew, there was a huge deficit when George Bush left office and we had a Subprime mortgage crisis, people were losing their homes and jobs. Since Obama has been in office, he reversed the Great Recession he inherited from Republican President George Bush, and the deficit has gone done since

    • Trump dicredited Obama for eight years with the Birther movement. It’s our turn to discredit Trump as illegitimate, and we have valid and factual reasons for doing so.

    • I am not depressed as being in Hawaii, we voted correctly. I pity people in red states who will face more problems if republicans succeed in ditching Obama care or its more correct term, Nixon care. I feel however that the Donald will soon be backing a single pay system such as medicare for all. That is what he would do as the republicans appear to have boxed themselves into a very small corner.

      • I feeeeeeel however that the Donald will . . .

        And right there is the nub of your problem.

        You give every indication of being one of those pampered, preachy, pettifogging, preening, pusillanimous, puerile, pretentious, post-war p i s s a n t members the draft dodging, flag burning, dope smoking, veteran cursing Cry Baby Boom cohort who has embraced as your curriculum vitae “if it feeeeeels good, do it.”

        As long as you insist on enshrining your precious feeeeeeeeeelings over cognition, you will continue to hand your adversaries a sword, daring them to use it.

        With opponents like you, PRESIDENT ELECT TRUMP has little to fear.

  • “Democrats in sad shape: Power deficit as Trump era begins”

    Reading many of the posts here you wouldn’t believe it. Several of those posters, who I will leave unnamed, would lead you to believe the democrats can do nothing wrong and the republicans nothing right. That, in my opinion, is an indication of one the their party’s main problems, they think they’re smarter and better than everyone else. On one hand they claim to be the party of the working man. In their next breath they belittle anyone who doesn’t agree with them, including those “working men”. They claim freedom of speech when they rip into those they don’t agree with. Then they try to silence anyone who speaks for the other side, with protests and boycotts. And they now wonder and can’t believe how they lost.

    • Not sure who is so clear cut. Shame you didn’t name names. My position is that republicans haven’t done anything really right since Eisenhower who was the last republican who guess what? To actually balance the federal budget. Thats unfair. Nixon gave the country Osha and the EPA which were good. Reagan broke the 20 year curse and Bin laden. Papa Bush coined the term Voodoo economics.

      • Time to follow the bouncing ball
        And sing along to the tune
        of ‘Glow little glow worm’:

        Quake in fear little snowflake
        Tremble, groan, and shiver
        Thanks to TRUTH arrows
        From a bountiful quiver

        FINALLY in the WH a patriotic American
        One whose winning campaign
        He so tremendously ran
        So we deplorables could survive the pain

        Soon in all media will appear
        His victorious smiling face
        To remind one and all
        That all is NOT about race

        For an octave of years
        We’ve suffered sorry and torment
        At the hands of one who should
        Never ever have been President

        So squirm, snivel, hide, and tremble
        You sour grape losers
        At the hands of wise Electors
        Intelligent vote choosers

    • For heaven’s sake AhiPoke SHUSH!

      The LAST thing we need is for Rip Van Democrat to wake up, acknowledge his real problem and begin to address it.

      President Trump will have smooth sailing as long as he continues to be underestimated by these preening mental dwarfs who think of themselves like a young duke among the fishmongers, clearly and inherently superior to everyone else without fact one to support such silly nincompoopery.

      The good news for our next President is that his would be opponents INSIST on continuing to underestimate him – – they still have no idea who they are [obscene gerund redacted] with. And that is how he has been flummoxing the “experts” of both parties for the last 18 months.

  • No one to blame except themselves and yet they cannot accept the outcome of the election. More exposure of corruption within their ranks is forthcoming.

  • Dems/Libs in TOTAL DISARRAY…that’s good.
    Dems/Libs cannot believe the LOST in a LANDSLIDE…that’s even better.

    Am watching the LIVE Pre-Inagural..forgot what a “Presidential First family” looked like.
    Tomorrow President Donald J. Trump & VP Mike Pence will begin their endeavor to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

      • Boots, who is taking the oath of office tomorrow as President of the United States? What is HIS name? Spin it however you want, Donald Trump is going to be your president. Don’t like it? Well, there’s always Canada.

      • Boots, sensible folks in both parties understand who won and who lost, but if you find it comforting to wrap yourself in a snuggy blanket of myths and half truths, by all means . . . .CARRY ON.

        You and those like you are the magic carpet your adversaries can ride to victory after victory for years to come.

        Heartfelt thanks for helping DONALD Trump become PRESIDENT Trump.

      • Good on ya, Mate!

        Being skeptical is the duty of every good citizen.

        Action talks and BS walks.

        If nothing else, after eight years of being lied to and treated with utter contempt by the current (but not much longer) occupant of the White House THAT lesson should be seared into all of us like a cattle brand.

        PRESIDENT ELECT Trump is a man who embodies the very motto of the Brits’ famed Special Air Service: “WHO DARES, WINS”.

        Has he made some painful mistakes in his career swimming with the sharks? You betcha dupa! And has he LEARNED from those mistakes? We are about to find out, but my guess is that we will see not mere chinwag but actual ACTION in his first 100 days based on the life lessons he has taken aboard.

  • This is hilarious. Democrats are having pandemics of electile dysfunction and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the trouncing they received in the last election. It truly is enjoyable to watch.

  • This is the one legacy of President Obama that I am very happy about. Yes, the country has suffered under Obama, but sometimes we need to struggle to get to a better world, and the marginalization of a corrupt Democratic Party, is worth it. Now for the corruption in our aina, we need to begin here as well, let’s make Hawaii great!

  • IRT Peter (aka Boots) have you reviewed the Federal government financial plan to be put in place next week? It has a reduction of some $1 Trillion a year for 10 years. And, shifting some of the spending from one department to another for best efficiency and use of funds (tax funds). President elect Trump’s group has found areas of funding that the programs do not exist, yet get funding. Figure it our? And, when the American economy hits growth of 3%+, the revenue from taxes will increase creating a budget surplus and reduction of the Nations deficit.

  • Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbors stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog. During our friendly conversation, I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to be President someday. Both of her parents, Democratic Party members, were standing there so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”

    She replied… “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed with pride!

    “Wow…what a worthy goal!” I said…”But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that!”

    “What do you mean?” she replied.

    So I told her, “You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim my hedge, and I’ll pay you $50. Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

    She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”

    I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

    Her parents aren’t speaking to me anymore.

  • Did anybody see Klastri and Allie today. I’m afraid they jumped off the Pali look out. They were really despondent. Please someone let me know where to send the flowers.

  • Yes, the Dems are in sad shape.
    And they have nobody to blame but themselves.
    Not the white supremacists, not the Russians, not anybody but themselves.
    Their current commitment to divisiveness and denial is unprecedented, I have never seen anything like it before. Their best answer in their belief is to totally resist and revolt rather than working together towards solutions. The 50+ Dems boycotting the inauguration are proving just that and sending the wrong message to all of America and the rest of the world. And then they wonder why 5 states that voted for Obama twice voted for Trump.

  • The Democrats will remain in bad shape so long as they continue to ignore the white worker. Keep courting Hollywood, LBGT, BLM, and they will NOT recover.

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