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When being anti-Trump is not enough, Dems re-brand

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

On a day when President Donald Trump unleashed a Twitter storm that senselessly attacked his own attorney general, among other targets, the future might seem to be so bright for Democrats that they ought to be wearing sunscreen.

But as history shows us, you should never underestimate the Dems' ability to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

After Trump's surprising upset victory, Democrats are left with a White House and Congress controlled by Republicans -- and too many voters with a confused sense of what or whom the Democrats stand for.

So it was with the fierce urgency of next year's midterm elections that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York took a group of his fellow party leaders across the Potomac to Berryville, Va., a town of 4,000 in a county won handily by Trump, to unveil a rebranding of the party.

Their big message: It is not enough to have Trump to run against; Democrats need to offer people and programs to vote for.

"In the last two elections, Democrats, including in the Senate, failed to articulate a strong, bold economic program for the middle class and those working hard to get there," Schumer said. "We also failed to communicate our values to show that we were on the side of working people, not the special interests. We will not repeat the same mistake."

Schumer's declarations of party unity glossed over significant divisions in Democratic ranks that mirror the Grand Old Party's internal divide. It is a gap between the party's moderate, centrist establishment and the left-progressive populists who turned out for independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' maverick campaign.

Both parties have establishment leaders who want to get things done, but it is their immoderate extremes that have most of the energy and excitement that gets people to the polls, especially in midterm and other off-year elections.

For the 2018 midterm elections, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll offers signs of hope and peril for the Dems. Only 38 percent of registered voters favor Republican control to promote the president's agenda, according to the poll, while a slight majority of registered voters -- 52 percent -- say they want Democrats to control the next Congress.

Yet, despite numerous anti-Trump protests since November, Republicans still show an advantage in voter enthusiasm. A 65 percent majority of Republican and GOP-leaning independents said they were certain they will vote next year, compared to 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

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(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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