The alliance of Trump’s corruption and Paul Ryan’s social Darwinism presents Democrats with the simplest messaging challenge any opposition party has faced in memory.
The most unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling managed to very, very narrowly beat the second-most-unpopular nominee in the recorded history of polling in a handful of swing states, while losing the national vote by 2 percent. Because of this, Democrats can escape their nominating disaster. Republicans can’t. None of us can, of course — a fact that is very bad for the country, but also good for the opposing party.
Consider how the world looked eight years ago. The Republicans lost power amid having let Osama bin Laden and his followers escape in Afghanistan, launched a failed war on the basis of misleading intelligence, managed a scandal-ridden administration stuffed with hacks, handed off an economy plunging into the worst crisis since the Great Depression, and had its outgoing president’s approval ratings bottoming out in the 20s. Barack Obama leaves office with a growing economy throwing off wage gains up and down the income ladder, and with a president whose approval rating has risen into the upper 50s. Some conservative intellectuals tried to grapple with their party’s governing failure in the Bush years, but their mental exertions wound up having no bearing at all on the circumstances that brought their party back to power…
The party that needs to search its soul about whether it has the capacity to govern competently is not the one out of power. And what should concern Democrats is not whether they’ll get back in power but what will be left of the country when they do.
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