Time for a New Playbook

As the polarized pundits fill their biased media of choice with explanations and spin for the outcome of the Senate race in Alabama, the clear message is that both parties are failing voters.  Bankrupt of new and compelling ideas, elections are based solely on proving the opponent to be more flawed.

For Democrats rejoicing Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore, particularly historic in context of Alabama’s decided Republican leanings, I suggest that winning by the slimmest of margins against a significantly flawed candidate is not a formula to build upon for future elections.  Similarly, any victories that come from the public’s low opinion of President Trump only suggest that the Democrats have become the lessor of two evils; not that their policies are resonating. 

In the absence of anything more compelling than single-payer healthcare and minimum wage increases, the Democrats’ recent electoral successes will be quickly fleeting in the face of the next Republican legislative triumph.  For example, should the middle class decide that the tax bill provides adequate cuts and drives wage and job growth, Republicans will survive the mid-terms with minimum damage.

For Republicans who fail to comprehend that President Trump won because Hillary Clinton was the more flawed candidate (no matter which flaw was the tipping point), the arrogance of supporting Moore shows that they have misread the public’s contempt for human failings, particularly accusations of child molestation.   If the Republican tax plan does not receive a favorable reception outside the Republican donor base, they will own and wear the same tattered jacket the Democrats wore for many years after the passage of Obamacare with only Democratic votes.  

No wonder more and more surveys of public opinion show the desire for an effective, competitive third party.  Given the demographic shifts occurring over the next decade, both parties should be very wary of recent reports that millennials favor a third party.   A recent poll by NBC News/GenForward not only showed that 71 percent of millennials think a third major party is needed, but also that sentiment was consistent across all groups measured, whether by racial subgroup or gender.  

Even more striking, the desire for a third party was also consistent among millennials who currently identify as either Democrats or Republicans.  Change may not be imminent, but the leadership in both parties are officially on notice.

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