Fecteau: Democrats Lose Again

Thursday, June 22, 2017


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Jon Ossoff

This was supposed to be a huge Democratic victory, a vindication of past disappointing defeats; Democrats had to win this race, but fell short again. 

The Georgia U.S. House seat was up for grabs after it was vacated by President Donald Trump’s newly appointed Health and Human Services Secretary Mr. Tom Price. This was the very seat formerly held by Republican US Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. To Democrats, this was when President Trump would finally reap what he sowed, a referendum on his backward agenda. 

After a contentious presidential race, the narrow losses, but alleged moral victories in Montana and Kansas, this was the Democrats time to shine. Montana was particularly interesting because the winning Republican candidate assaulted a reporter before Election Day, and was still elected to Congress. These races were cited as evidence of weakening support for the conservative platform, and the U.S. House race in Georgia would be the cherry on top. 

We’ve heard this before though. Then Republican presidential candidate Mr. Donald Trump was supposed to trigger massive voter backlash against the Republican Party. Democratic presidential candidate, Mrs. Clinton was supposed to win by a landslide; even conservative Texas and Georgia were in play – obviously Trump won both those places and captured the presidency. 

During the presidential campaign, Congress was also supposed to go to the Democrats. Mr. Trump’s outlandish statements, his bigotry, and his many flaws would mobilize voters to repudiate such a terrible candidate who at one point bragged about assaulting women. This certainly didn’t happen. 

The Democrats were wrong once again; that inevitable backlash against the Trump presidency never transpired. Despite his financial advantage, the Democratic candidate Mr. Jon Ossoff lost to Republican candidate Karen Handel in a race that was largely seen by Democrats as a litmus test for the Trump presidency, and a precursor for midterm elections in 2018. 

This is not just humiliating to Democrats but opens up fresh wounds about the direction of the party. Some Bernie Sanders progressive Democrats argued that Mr. Ossoff’s main flaw was he was not progressive enough on certain issues. Former presidential candidate and current U.S. Senator Sanders even said during the race that he wasn’t sure if Mr. Ossoff was a progressive. These progressive critics argue that a much more progressive narrative would have won the day. 

There is no empirical data that supports this claim; in fact, the information available supports the opposite, a more progressive agenda was a death knell. In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Mrs. Hillary Clinton walloped Sanders about 70% to 30% respectively in the Georgia Democratic primary; Sanders did have a compelling progressive narrative, but the voters of Georgia simply didn’t agree with it or didn’t care for it. The results speak for themselves. 

Other Democrats have argued that embracing a far left progressive platform in such a conservative stronghold would be detrimental to any Democratic candidate’s chances – I fall into this camp. A progressive, left-wing platform would have been difficult for small government conservative voters to support, no matter Trump’s unpopularity; perchance, Mr. Ossoff would have lost by far more. 

Republicans seem to have found their way ahead, but Democrats haven’t just yet. The Republican victor – Ms. Handel — in Georgia’s U.S. House Seat race wouldn’t even say Mr. Trump’s name during the campaign or in her victory speech. Ms. Handel endorsed an aggressive anti-establishment platform of cutting taxes, reducing waste, and promised she would hold Republican Party leadership accountable. 

Furthermore, Ms. Handel also linked Mr. Ossoff to the deeply unpopular Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. With all of this, she won against an upstart, young challenger who was the fledging hope of the Democratic Party. 

The Democrats have to do some serious introspection. But there are no cookie-cutter political strategies that will work everywhere, and idealism can only take our party so far. The Democratic Party needs to decide on a formula to win elections and balance the interests of competing factions within its party – that will be a difficult calculus. 

More importantly, it now knows it cannot simply rely on Trump's unpopularity to win elections. After all the losses thus far, that is a given.  

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Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau


Related Slideshow: RI Democrats React to Trump Withdrawing from Paris Climate Agreement

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Gina Raimondo

RI Governor

I am deeply disappointed that the President has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize that the Paris Agreement is about so much more than climate change. It’s about opportunity, stewardship and America’s standing as a global leader. 

President Trump’s action will not deter Rhode Island from taking necessary steps to address climate change. Our action at the state level will create new jobs and attract new investment in the green economy. 

We’ve set a goal to secure 1,000 MW of clean energy resources and double the number of clean energy jobs by 2020. Ocean State families and businesses are on the front lines fighting climate change. I will continue toward with the General Assembly and partners in other states to protect our environment and advance clean energy alternatives, while creating new opportunities for our workforce in the process. 

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Jim Langevin 

U.S. Congressman

President Trump’s ill-considered decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement puts the future of our entire planet at risk. The withdrawal represents an abandonment of pledges to protect our environment and risks undermining the entire accord, which includes nearly every country on earth. In addition, the President’s action cedes Unites States leadership and means losing a seat at the table to negotiate global agreements in our country's best interest.

The Obama Administration made significant progress toward slowing the rapidly warming climate by negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions on a global scale. Unwinding these commitments represents another assault by President Trump on the health of the public and the planet. His Administration continues to deny climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows this is an ongoing human-caused crisis.

Rhode Island is on the front lines of sea level rise, and our citizens will ultimately pay the price for inaction today. Communities like my hometown of Warwick are particularly vulnerable to the storms and floods that come with climate change. Warming seas have chased our traditional catch out of our fisheries and threaten to decimate our beloved Ocean State coastline. Abandoning the Paris deal, the culmination of a multi-year effort by world leaders, is an abdication of our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.”

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Sheldon Whitehouse

U.S. Senator

“Donald Trump and his children said just a few years ago that climate change was ‘irrefutable’ and its consequences ‘catastrophic and irreversible.’ They were right. There is no denying the growing threat of rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. 

But we can still avoid the worst if we quickly reduce carbon emissions. That is why ignoring reality and leaving the Paris Agreement could do down as one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our nation’s history, isolating the U.S. further after Trump’s shockingly bad European trip. 

Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation. It’s Sad. 

America’s biggest corporations and investors urged the President to stick with international efforts to address the climate threat. They and all of us will now have to proceed with a seriousness of purpose commensurate with the threat, knowing of this President’s grave defects. 

If you haven’t joined an environmental group, join one. If your voice needs to be heard, get active. If you are a big corporation with good climate policies that has shied away from engaging politically, it’s time to engage. And if you’re a university that teaches climate science, it’s time to stand up for your scientists. Whoever you are, help end climate denial and take action.”

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Jack Reed

U.S. Senator

“President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement is a blow to the environment that makes us a less secure nation. Our military, which spends every hour of every day thinking about how to protect Americans says climate change is a problem and a real threat multiplier. Indeed, climate change is an established part of the military’s threat and risk assessments.

The United States should continue to be a leader when it comes to protecting the planet; instead, the President is abdicating this responsibility. President Trump is unwisely putting the United States alongside Syria and Nicaragua in declining to be part of the Paris agreement. 

The American people deserve better.” 

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David Cicilline

U.S. Congressman

The President’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement is a terrible mistake. It will diminish American leadership in the world, undermine our ability to create good-paying jobs, and contribute to the further degradation of our environment. 

It is very disappointing that we now know, without question, that the President of the United Sates is a climate change denier. His decision today ignores the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the serious consequences failing to address climate change. 

The only thing President Trump will accomplish by this decision is to set the United States and world back decades in this fight. I have no doubt that future generations are going to wonder what the hell we were thinking today”


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