Can the Democrats Move Right?

It’s a hard ask, but harder truths are what the buckling Democratic Party needs.

Comments: 193

  1. Democrats need to move left, especially the party leadership that tried to suppress the Sanders campaign. This Republican is not the guy to be giving advice to Democrats, and he's wasting his time hoping that Democrats would become more like Republicans. Bernie Sanders was successful because he presented a sincere liberal/left message to voters and a large number of them realized that his views and policy preferences are what they see as necessary to make and keep America great, regardless of the billions of dollars worth of rightwing propaganda Americans have been bombarded with from rightwing radio, Fox News and similar sources for 30 years.

  2. Great comment and exactly right.

  3. I agree that Democrats need to campaign more in the style of Bernie Sanders, with special emphasis on our opposition to the control of government policy by billionaires and wealthy corporations. Under the Republicans, government Labor Policy is set by Management. Hillary adopted progressive policies on many issues. But she never gave the simple message that she was running against the excessive power of the Billionaire Class. Many liberals are uncomfortable identifying an enemy using class lines. However, the great liberal, Franklin D. Roosevelt, proud to be called a traitor to his class, said, "I wear their scorn as a badge of honor."

    Millions lost their homes to foreclosure and the Obama administration rescued all of the banks but few home owners. None of the Wall Street bankers went to jail, although from the fines paid criminal wrongdoing was clear. Is it any wonder that the white working-class people who lost their homes felt the Democrats who controlled the Presidency and Congress in 2009-10 abandoned them.

    If Democrats fail to name the class enemy, the Republicans are always happy to spin a tale giving their choice for the people's enemy. Since Spiro Agnew, they have blamed the country's problems on liberal intellectuals, the liberal media, minorities, illegal immigrants, and student protestors. If we fail to point out the group which has the power to grab a bigger and bigger piece of the pie, people will not see us as serious about reigning in that power.

  4. I believe you are right...the Democrats will move left. I also believe that history repeats itself....first as tragedy and then as farce. It was a tragedy that the Democrats lost a winnable election. The next time they lose it will undoubtedly be a complete farce. The 2020 Republican Presidential candidate will espouse the same positions as Trump but will not have the same baggage. He won't make the same blunders, he won't run the same sloppy campaign. The Democrats in their lemming like need to destroy themselves will put up an unelectable candidate but one who is ideologically pure ....to the far left. We know how this story ends. They will be the only ones in the room (along with their self deluded far left adherents) that will not see the obvious coming ...an apocalyptic defeat...more soul searching. It's going to take more than one lesson and they are going to get more than one lesson. Ross Douthat for once is spot on. The rational Democratic Party leadership needs to move right today if it ever wants to win another significant election. I would go one step further. Garlic Toast and friends need to either join the Socialist party where they will be happier or pipe down and let the adults run the show. The Democrats can probably win without the far left . But they most certainly will lose major election after election as they are already doing if they continue to listen to their tone deaf prescriptions.

  5. Moving toward the center helps only when the intended audience perceives it as such. Making people work for their benefits does no good if a belief exists that they are getting stuff free. Obama has deported many people but has the reputation of not deporting anyone.

    Moving toward the center will sometimes not be noticed and sometimes be used against the movers. This is a matter of advertising/marketing/propaganda. The Democrats do not need to move but rather to rebrand. Moving will do them no good if they do not rebrand, and if they rebrand they do not need to move.

    This means that the Republican excellence is not in policy or managing the economy. It is in branding, propaganda, and ideological warfare. Doing a good job and hoping it will be noticed does not work. To resurrect their ideological warfare and branding, Democrats are going to have to bring talk of class back to the political arena, because only talk of class can make their policies make moral sense and give them coherence. This is what Bernie did and it explains much of his success.

  6. "The Republican excellence is not in policy or managing the economy. It is in branding, propaganda, and ideological warfare. Doing a good job and hoping it will be noticed does not work." Boy, amen to that. Well put.

  7. Exactly.

  8. Great post which deserves NYT pick.

  9. The real question the Right denies is will Democrats become racists/xenophobes/misogynists--duplicating and adapting the President-elect's winning strategy, now being obscured as good sales craft, intuitive connections to workers--when the verbal, visual, and policy clues and cues of the campaign was the sturm and drang of an absolutism in which power would be given free rein by emotional appeals to violate the constitution and limit freedom in the name of safety and law and order as justice and fairness was denied to millions.

    Will Democrats embrace the worst of America's historic social ills--the new forms of racism and its random forms of government-sanctioned expanding violence, the willingness to imprison women as Indiana did for abortions, the embrace of fear and spending public money for private benefit (the Carrier ransom), a reverse socialism for the wealthy to which we are all expected to contribute without complaint.

    The question is will Democrats stop relying on the Podestas and run winning campaigns as seen in CA and NC, an indication the party's wide base, especially when the popular vote is viewed.

    Disengaged from partisanship, will Democrats work to build state organizations that are effective in local elections, identify clear growth strategies, make all Americans feel safe despite appeals to fear and persistent scapegoating, and protect the historic benefits the political economy provides to the working class?

    That answer better be yes!

  10. Note to Ross: fighting racism, et al. is not a "cultural war." It is the oldest fight within America's political economy, embraced when its settlements were colonies. It poured forth to the West, entrenched in urban areas and created privilege and wealth through its restrictions and conscious applications in hiring, housing, education, and opportunities of merit.

    To call America's oldest fight for freedom and inclusive prosperity a "cultural war" is disingenuous--the kind of shibboleth that Chief Justice Roger Taney (who felt white supremacy was ordained by God and supported by law and historic fact) would be proud: it skirts the main issue, denies its poison, and dwells in myth.

    The fact is billionaires are now put in charge of administering the government--none of whom have a record of wins for the middle class--all steeped in the privilege America grants to the powerful.

  11. I suppose we can all have different views on things, but my view is that the U.S. has only one governing principle, free contract.

    The GOP has only one prime directive: the ever greater concentration of wealth and power.

    They succeed in this by undermining everyone elses agency for bargaininng: workers/unions, middle class/affordable quality education, very poor/ACORN. Meanwhile they reinforce the agency of the rich: the ltd liability corp.

    They are like a giant hover vacuum sucking up and sucking in all other groups resources for the benefit of the 1%. This is why many on the left call the GOP the wrecking crew.

    The more they succeed at this, the harder it is for them to win elections as more and more people are impoverished. So they have to migrate over to more and more radical politics that are more and more fictional. This is why many on the left call them the clown car. This is why they have to suppress voters, something that they wouldnt have attempted prior to 1980.

    Bigotry helps them to make voters forget that their poorer because the GOP stripped them of their bargaining power. It also helps them to further vacuum resources out of other groups.

    We're only about 6 years of GOP runaway rule from Brietbart Republicans openly advocating for a repeal of the 13th amendment. Which is really just a stripping of peoples bargaining power.

    Likewise Trump wants to strip flag burners of their citizenship. Also a loss of bargaining power.

    This is what I think is going on.

  12. If the scale and weight of the Democrats historic tendency to irresponsibly fail to build their party from governorships, state assemblies, etc. down to dog catcher is great than that would be one of the top reasons they lost.

    There is almost no mention of this big fact, until and only scarce mention of it when they lose. Its not a topic cable newsiness which relies on histrionics for ratings ever goes near.

  13. The Republicans have not achieved a majority in presidential elections without the help of a war since 1988.

    Moving to the right only puts the Dems in competition with the GOP over voters on the right while voters on the left fall out of participation for lack of decent representation.

    In 2020 the millennials will be 30% of the electorate. 80% of millennials wanted Sanders. Hillary not picking up Sanders for her ticket is how she lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Today Millennials are anyone who is under 41. In 2020 they will be anyone under 45.

    Meanwhile everyone over 55 will be wanting their Medicade back after they find out that no private insurance company will sell them health insurance at a reasonable rate after turning 55.

    So the GOP will have all the white voters over 45 and under 55 that hate people of color. Good luck with that demographic.

  14. RE: "Meanwhile everyone over 55 will be wanting their Medicade back..."

    It's Medicare, and it's 65, not 55.

    Medicaid is a different program and it's frustrating that the two are so often conflated. I would think a Sanders supporter would know this.

  15. "Hillary not picking up Sanders for her ticket is how she lost Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

    It wasn't just that: It was that she could in no way credibly claim to be battling the political and business establishment. And Americans strongly and firmly believe, with good reason, that their political and business establishment has mostly failed them.

  16. I meant Medicare. Oops. I know that medicare is for people over 65, but people over 55, once Obamacare is gone, will find they cannot afford to buy private health insurance. Without Obamacare they will want Medicare pushed down to 55.

  17. As is so often the case with Ross Douthat's work, this piece is absurdly wrong-headed.

    The Democratic defeat in the Electoral College (not in the popular vote) was fueled by populist anger among a traditional Democratic constituency-- working class whites-- who felt understandably left behind by the slow economic recovery and the Party's embrace of neo-liberalism.

    Rightly or wrongly, working class whites identified Hillary Clinton with Wall Street and the coastal elites. For this group, Clinton's economic prescriptions were too conservative, too cautious, too skewed toward the haves, not the have-nots. Bernie Sanders and his progressive economic agenda won their support. When Sanders was pushed aside, Donald Trump appropriated his message, if not his methods, ultimately capturing the working class at the polls.

    Ironically, Trump won the Electoral College by running to Clinton's left on key economic issues. A rightward shift by the Democratic Party would exacerbate Clinton's missteps: it is precisely the wrong thing to do.

  18. Trump ran to Clinton's left on key economic issues? Say what? Trump ran against free trade agreements, off-shoring (Carrier anyone?) and uncontrolled illegal immigration. I heard Clinton running away from the TPP but not from NAFTA and the concept of free trade agreements. Also, Trump's position will probably turn out to be flimsy - he says he'll "withdraw" from TPP, hard to do as we aren't "in" it, but whatever. He'll reject TPP and then negotiate a bunch of bilateral agreements with individual nations. The public forgot to read the fine print, which of course, Trump did not show them until after the election - classic flim-flam man's methods. But the point is, Clinton did not enthusiastically embrace an end to free-trade agreements. She was clearly forced into a position against the TPP. Other than that, I didn't hear a position about globalization and free trade. And I was listening. Most people aren't.

  19. "Neo-liberalism" has been a thing for fifteen minutes and I have no idea what you are talking about. You fall into the same trap as Douthat: everything is left or right and when traditional descriptions of voting blocks don't fit we make some up: neo-liberalism. Nothing about Trump's ascension was due to politics or policy prescriptions. He never had any.

  20. All evidence points to liberals doubling down and moving further left.

    And I disagree with your characterization of identity politics vs. economic solidarity. The former is the means of achieving the latter. To drop identity politics would mean selling economic solidarity on its own merits. While there is very strong case for government to encourage a more efficient and fairer economy, the liberals want more. They want equal outcomes.

    No, liberals will not be moving right.

  21. Nor should they move right. It's not in their DNA. Let them be the loyal opposition for now and help soften some of the hard edges to come from this administration. But Ross's point, no matter how poorly made, is that a focus on identity politics and subservience to government handouts is not a winning strategy in the near term. Hopefully, never will be again. An entire forgotten multi-colored cohort of this country roared that economic well-being and self-respect matter more. We are all Americans. Think of us as such. We've elected you to govern this country as such.

  22. I dont want equal outcomes. But when I observe that the outcomes of some traditionally-discriminated-against minorities and women are orders-of-magnitude worse than for white men, I am concerned that the *starting point* is part of the problem.

    This liberal thinks that it is immoral that we fund school from local taxes. All children should get an equal START. Something the right have exactly zero interest in because they need a class of aggrieved bone-heads (I grew up with these guys, unlike, I'm sure, YOU) to vote for their upper class tax breaks and loose regulations.

  23. "Equal outcomes?" No, that's not what liberals want. This claim is made by the right wing to put into people's heads what the righties would like for liberals to think. However, no liberal I know ever said anything remotely akin to equal outcomes. What a foolish and blatantly false assertion. One more thing, liberals tend to go on factual evidence, not what they want to believe, regardless of facts, like the righties. I would ascribe to equal opportunity for all however.

  24. Ross, you ignore the single issue that could revive and grow the Democrats--a focus on the economy and jobs.

  25. I think Douthat is saying the Dems themselves ignored that issue. The chose to focus on transgender rights and abortion, how oppressed Beyonce is and how evil the cops are. That pitch didn't sell everywhere.

  26. I agree with the practical advice, but not the language and conceptualization. It assumes that left-right spectrum is solely cultural and is mislabelled itself. The "left" in culture are the values of the upper class--that is, it is really right-wing.

    The grossly exaggerated racism charge against the white working class is a divide and conquer strategy to keep the minority working class from uniting with whites in promoting their economic interests. It is an extreme right wing strategy.

    What the Democrats need to do is move to the left both on economic and cultural questions. The low and middle class minorities have the same cultural values as whites of similar income. The Democrats should appeal to them both in their cultural values. That is not to be labelled right as done here.

  27. We don't need to move right. We need to communicate better the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Like the fact that Democrats promote the interests of ordinary Americans more consistently than does the GOP. Take healthcare. LBJ knew insurance companies were not going to cover older Americans affordably. So he created Medicare. It's worked very well. Lower cost better coverage. Next the Democrats try to extend the protection of Medicare but in a more market based setting, insurance from health insurance carriers, with the ACA to get GOP agreement. It's been an awful compromise. We need to allow younger Americans to buy Medicare coverage and just let the insurance companies compete. Or offer upgrades which are sold to those who can afford the instant hip replacement for example. Note however the GOP has done nothing. Nothing. This alone shows how and why the Democrats are better for the middle class, which includes me.

  28. I couldn't agree more regarding the argument you are making regards to economic and Medicare xcetera. That is why Hillary got my vote. However Hillary did not make that her centerpiece of her campaign. She made the centerpiece of her campaign supporting undocumented immigrants and groups like BLM. That is what mattered more to many white Democrats. She thought she could pull it off with their votes. She thought wrong and it cost her.
    During the debate in Miami with Bernie Sanders, Mr. Ramos backed her into a corner by making her promise that she will "not deport one undocumented immigrant as long as they did not committ a violent crime." And the rioters and looters in Charlotte certainly weren't Republican voters. And the misinformed Democratic voter didn't put our argument first which will affect them more personally and in all fairness you can't blame them. That is it in a nutshell.

  29. We need to inform the public that Trump lied his way into office, threatens all of the freedoms, rights, and protections enshrined in our Constitution. When is it ever appropriate to become more sympathetic with the rich fascists?

  30. "Over 90% of so called entitlement benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps goes to the elderly, the disabled and working people." far more Whites benefit from so called entitlements than all other ethnic groups with 17.8 million whites receiving benefits. They are neglected in all arguments about entitlements. They will suffer from what most white supremacists like to describe as a racial/ethnic exploitation.

  31. No, Ross.

    Why would the Democrats push a watered-down version of right-wing faux populist fascism when they can get the real thing from Trump and his ilk?

  32. Hear, hear!!

  33. Embracing the idea, e.g. that if you are in the country illegally, i.e. without the legal right to be here, you can be made to leave, is not the equivalent of fascism. Saying it is perpetuates the problem and keeps Dems away from a solution. It might be considered a nod to the rule of law. What's wrong with endorsing the rule of law? Democrats might wisely consider doing that. It is the alternative - rushing to protect the presence of undocumented aliens, that makes rational people wonder whose side you're on.

  34. Wow. Centrist positions are right-wing faux populist fascism? Let's hope you don't represent the rank and file of the Democratic Party or it will be out in the wilderness for many years.

  35. I have long described myself as a moderate liberal with a strong practical streak. That said, as I read your proposals, I kept thinking about the unyielding positions of those on the right. For example - abortion and choice. I had a conversation with a relative on the holiday, which went like this
    Her: Clinton is pro-abortion.
    ME: Well, she is pro-choice
    Her: same thing
    ME It's not, but let's not have that fight.
    We moved on. That said, I am pro-choice, but find abortion a complex topic and difficult. I am not comfortable with it; would likely never have one myself, and would like to see more done to help women avoid that option (mental health care, support in raising that child, etc.). Still, I don't want the gov't making that choice for a woman. I could find some common ground with the anti-choice folks, some things to work on, HOWEVER, when their position is that pro-choice = pro-abortion, I'm done.

    Similarly, their push to pass laws legitimizing discrimination based upon religious beliefs is extremely troubling. I have many gay friends and acquaintances as well as a trans relative. Not only do such laws legalize treating them as second class citizens, but they also are a slippery slope. Can an employer who believes that the bible says a woman's place is in the home, refuse to employ women? Once we say you can hire, fire, or serve based upon your beliefs, equal rights are out the window.

  36. Abortion (for or against) is a loser issue. You won't change any minds or votes on it. So is guns---people's minds are made up. Talk about bread and butter and jobs, and act on those issues. Talk about help for the actual needy, with actual real-life examples of inadequate welfare, intolerant public housing rules, the requirement for poor people to go here and there without adequate transportation and care for kids when needed, a million issues no candidate said anything significant about in the presidential campaign. Talk about idiot laws and courts that will and do lock people up for being in debt, failing to make payments because they can't afford, because they have no income, etc, etc. Democrats need to look out for people with real needs, not get involved in stupid issues like gay rights and bathrooms.

  37. How is it that human rights is a "stupid issue" and not a "real need"?

  38. With all due respect, your letter typifies the problem. You talk about the "unyielding" right, yet YOU stop the conversation with your relative as soon as she says something you don't agree with. As an example, if you were against the death penalty, you wouldn't leave it up to judges to choose whether or not to apply it, would you? To argue for choice, you NEED to be able to argue for the legitimacy of the act of abortion itself.
    Same with "laws legitimizing discrimination". Is that formulation any less reductive than equating pro-choice with pro-abortion?

  39. I see Ross repeats some of the same patently false memes used in the Trump campaign. Let's start with the Trumpian backlash against liberalism in white working-class communities was associated with welfare programs — disability rolls, food stamps, Medicaid. Over 90% of so called entitlement benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps goes to the elderly, the disabled and working people. That is precisely why Democrats and any compassionate person should continue to fight for the safety net. If youhave a problem with disability claims, that is a problem for the law defining disability, not the programs that serve them. Second, no democrat I know has proposed open borders for immigration (and neither did Hillary or Sanders). The entire transgender issue can be boiled down to a single sentence. Do all Americans of any gender have equal rights? The bathroom debate, even in North Carolina, was a diversion from this basic question. North Carolina's law (as well as many other conservative states) went far beyond just bathrooms and legalized discrimination against transgender persons (as well as many other small groups). The compassionless soul of conservative governance and the 30 years war by the religious right to enshrine their particular code into public law is the real problem.

  40. Like most mainstream Americans, Douthat makes a distinction between EARNED benefits - Medicare and Social Security - and non earned benefits like Medicaid, Food Stamps, welfare. Most Americans do NOT want cuts to earned benefits, since they ARE earned, but object to indiscriminate spending on non earned benefits. He also references the Dems' perceived snubbing or demonizing of police officers, who represent the only protection average Americans have against violent crime, which clearly IS increasing. I agree with Douthat that the Dems' stance on this hurt them on Nov 8. Also, I don't see why requesting some sort of border enforcement equals fascism and repression. Most other countries have MUCH more stringent border controls than the US does, and the US already takes in many more immigrants than any other country in the world. But quite a few of my Emma Lazurus/John Lennon quoting friends have lost touch with reality on this and previously mentioned subjects.

  41. Amen, the compassionless soul of conservative governance is the reason many of their voters vote for the Republicans. These voters don't want anyone to benefit from their "hard earned' tax dollars. Unless, of course, someone in their family needs disability benefits, food stamps, or Medicaid. Then, they line up at the government trough just like those lesser citizens.

  42. "Over 90% of so called entitlement benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps goes to the elderly, the disabled and working people." far more Whites benefit from so called entitlements than all other ethnic groups with 17.8 million whites receiving benefits. They are neglected in all arguments about entitlements. They will suffer from what most white supremacists like to describe as a racial/ethnic exploitation. Democrats must inform the public that this is an attack on poor whites, disabled whites, elderly whites, and white children or the Republicans will continue to exploit the resentment that they have created among white Americans.

  43. OR, Dems could work to reverse the egregious gerrymandering which has produced the radical rightist House of Representatives since 2010, leading to the obstruction/constipation in D.C. that GOP'ers calculated would so frustrate voters that Obama would get blamed instead of GOP'ers:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tom-perriello-obama_us_5741df1de4b06...

    Helping along such an effort would be a return to the 50-state strategy of Gov. Howard Dean when he chaired the DNC, accompanied by a funding initiative for down ballot state Dem efforts on par with the Koch clan's initiatives for GOP'ers.

    After all, the Democratic message in 2016 won House seats away from Republicans, won Senate seats away from Republicans, and attracted almost 3 million more popular votes for the White House - plus, only 1 election out of the last 7 has had a GOP'er win the popular vote for the White House, and Dems almost pulled off the hat trick this year of the same party winning the White House in the electoral college 3 terms in a row for only the 2nd time in 70 years (other time was GOP'ers in 1988).

    All in all, not so bad.

    Dems just need a 50-state strategy, fairly drawn Congressional district lines so that the House can actually do something (GOP'ers can't even pass their own budgets, with GOP'ers Ryan and McConnell in control) and Obama was right that 789 campaign field offices will produce better results in Presidential elections than 489 field offices.

  44. Finishing our thought past the 1500 character limit:

    Quickest of all would be getting more states to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact

    making the Electoral College moot, since it's been so perverted by the 2-party system away from the Founders' intent:

    http://www.salon.com/2016/11/28/a-perversion-227-years-in-the-making-don...

    Then, our votes every 4 years on the second Tuesday in November would be like all our other elections where majority rules - same as all other Western democracies, same as our votes for Senator, Representative, Governor, Mayor, City Council, PTA president, class president, etc., etc.

    Were there no electoral college intervening, there would not have been a Bush 41, nor now, Don the Con.

    Dems aren't looking nearly as bad as Douthat portrays, a portrayal which is a rehash of GOP'er tactics leading into the 2010 mid-terms; but this time, there aren't any fake Tea Party groups to be ginned up by old St. Ronnie operatives like Sal Russo, as reported by NYTimes (not linking, since only 2 links allowed per post).

  45. Democrats certainly don't have to "move to the right"

    As demonstrated by the numbers, the majority of voters support the Democrats agenda.

    That's's why Republicans have to suppress votes, gerrymander (so that Democrats can lose the House even when they get 1 million more votes than the Republicans), and distract with email email Benghazi email email rather than engage in a serious discussion of policy.

    When asked about specific polices, the majority favor what the Democrats support (raising the minimum wage, universal background checks, increased taxes for the wealthy-- including an Estate tax for the 5000 wealthiest--infrastructure investment, available, affordable healthcare, investments in public health, protection of their air and water...even many of your " culture war" items such as keeping the government out of family decisions such as whom you marry, and freedom of religion).

    The Democrats' problem is not policy. It is how to communicate that policy when the media prefers to cover sound bites, now tweets, and angry attacks rather than substantive descriptions of solutions to our challenges.

  46. The problem is how to communicate that policy when the cold-war phobia of red-baiting is deep under your skin. I'm sort of hoping the "Democratic Socialist" Sanders has succeeded in breaking the taboo against saying right out loud that you're against feudalism -- now to see whether anyone younger wants to use the rhetorical territory he has won.

  47. ABC gave Sanders approx. 10 seconds of story time during the entire year, according to Sanders on Amy Goodman last night. T rump got huge air time. The republicans even have their own TV/propaganda network which is 24/7 lies and distortion of anything and everything democratic.
    Perhaps Douthat should have read the companion piece in today's issue: The Evangelicalism of White Men is Dead.
    Republicans are going to have free range the next couple of years and I have no doubt that they will find a way to prove, once again, that they really are not the party of the middle class. And this time I think the middle class will be more inclined to pay attention.

  48. There is no reason for Dems to move right. There are many other non-white, non-Christian groups out there that have yet to be tapped.

    For example, the video gaming community has long suffered from name-calling by bullies. They are screaming to be their own protected class. This group is estimated to number around 10 million - with another 50 million coming on-line in the next decade.

    I hear the Dems are already speaking with Gaming-Americans in preparation for 2020.

  49. That's funny, but not a bad idea.

  50. Bernie is a Democrat. Hillary, a Democrat in name only, is what Republicans were when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Trump is so far to the right of Republicans that he's a fascist.

    The Democratic party must move left, to reclaim itself and the working people who depend on it to protect us against fascism.

  51. @M. L. Chadwick: Wrong right out of the box. Bernie isn't a Democrat. If he would deign to register as a member of the party, maybe more of us would listen to him.

  52. The political spectrum now goes all the way from center-right to far-right. Why would the Dems want to move even further right?

    The irony is that trump won only by courting the Dems' natural base, blue collar workers. If the Dems had gone after them instead of ignoring them in favor of trying to win moderate Republicans (in vain), we would have had President-elect Clinton.

  53. Mr. Douthat mixes up many different issues.

    The Democrats did not suffer a big defeat.
    Yes Trump won the electoral vote and he is rightfully the President elect.
    But HRC won the popular vote by over 1 m votes.
    The Dems picked up 2 Senate seat and some House seats.
    The Dems lost the Presidential race because HRC ran on a platform of elect me I'm a woman.
    She had no program to help laid off and displaced workers.
    Telling coal miners to become call center operators at a fraction of their previous wage is not a program.
    So HRC lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan , Wisconsin.
    Trump successfully peddled his snake oil but he has no program either.
    The Dems should not move rightward.
    They need to develop programs to help these workers.
    The Dems need to fight destruction of Social Security and Medicare.
    The nomination of Price as Secy. HHS. is an ominous sign.
    Trump appears to be reneging [typical behavior] on his promise not to cut these two programs.

    The question of bathrooms and providing birth control or catering gay weddings is separate from the main questions of economic issues.

  54. Honestly, David, is that all you heard through the media Trump-fest noise? I'm a woman, elect me? She had loads of programs that would have helped the white men who rejected her FOR being a woman. Serves them right, but what about the rest of us?

    This blame other people for everything spleen that white men have been displaying lately to make perfectly clear how much they dislike competing with the rest of the population will not improve their situations. That ship has sailed.
    Entitlement is ugly to behold. You have at least 4 years to think about that while the ugliness destroys anything it can.

    Donald Trump to USA: I'm Ghengis Kahn! Elect me! And 46% of the population thought that was a dandy idea. Just don't call yourselves patriots. Likelier, you are the ugly 47% Mitt Romney pointed out in his private speech.

    (Did anyone in the media ask him to supply a transcript of his remarks?) No, didn't think so. We reserve that kind of treatment for the ladies in this country...along with trans vaginal ultrasounds. And David, birth control and bathrooms were only on republican minds.

    Pucker up, buttercup, they have the keys to the castle now. Good job, America! You avoided a female president! Instead we have he truly histrionic Donald. Now let's see how that works out for you. And for the rest of us who don't count to David except as "programs" that don't matter to him.

  55. Interesting that hard right columnists encourage Dems to move center right.

    One can also argue that the Democrats, in the recent election, didn't articulate their support for the American worker. Tim Ryan, trying to upset Mrs. Pelosi, has made precisely that point: the Dems must return to the party of labor, and leave the fancy Hollywood stars behind.

    But I'm not sure that optics alone can regain the support of the American worker, one who used to vote reliably blue. There has to be a reinforced effort to drive home a message over the failure of the GOP to deliver on economic promises.

    Already, the new administration has made cabinet picks that are hardly comforting for the middle class: an HHS secretary itching to turn healthcare loose on the open market, and change the rules for Medicare; a treasury secretary (and vulture capitalist) whose resume includes throwing a lot of mortgage holders out of their homes; rumors of killing Dodd-Frank and thus inciting bankers to go back to speculation; and an attorney general whose attitudes toward voting rights is abdominal; and threats to topple the Consumer Protection Agency that curbed potential banking frauds.

    On paper, things don't look good for American workers no matter what Trump says about "saving" 1000 jobs in Indiana (with 1000 leaving), or how much he claims to be for the worker.

    I see vast openings for Dems to reclaim their mantle of worker protection in the days and years ahead--without moving hard right.

  56. "and an attorney general whose attitudes toward voting rights is abdominal"

    I think you meant abominable here, Christine, but my stomach has been feeling pretty queasy as Trump's picks are announced so it could be both ! ;->

  57. Agreed. But the Banks are already in rampant speculation. So too are the major corporations who have billions to spare--like Apple and Walmart. That scenario in worse now than it was in 2006-2007.

  58. Really? Move right? Didn't you notice how the progressives deserted Clinton? The Democrat Party needs to move LEFT. The election would have been won by Bernie Sanders. Instead the Democrat establishment chose Clinton well in advance and then forced their choice on the people through chicanery and fraud. The whole country is paying a terrible price. Imagine how different things would be now, if Sanders had at least gotten fair media coverage. So no, the Democrats should not move right, but the question is can they. Of course they can..been moving that way for thirty years. There has been no "leftward drift under Obama". Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for progressive causes over and over, from scuttling the public option to deep sixing our civil rights under the guise of national security. I am not impressed.

  59. Sanders could not have won for several reasons:
    1. The GOP never attacked him. Had he won the nomination, they would have easily caricatured him as the second coming of Josef Stalin.
    2. He is not a Democrat; he is an Independent Socialist who caucuses with the democrats. The party owes him no support. He has never supported other Democrats running for office.
    3. If he had gotten the nomination, Michael Bloomberg would have run as a 3rd party candidate, which would have split the Liberal vote, easily allowing Trump to win. I realize Bloomberg got elected Mayor as a Republican, but I can't imaging too many conservatives voting for him based on his social liberalism, nanny stateism (soda bans) and strong opposition to gun rights. He is probably the most high profile anti-gun politician in the country today.

    Under Obama the Democrats went to the right on Fracking. That's about it.

  60. Donald Trump's Electoral College victory is too multi-layered to adequately dissect here, but one category where Trump outplayed the Madam Secretary was his effective appeal to 'the forgotten man' that FDR appealed to in his 1932 election campaign.

    As FDR said in 1932, “these unhappy times call for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten, the unorganized but the indispensable units of economic power… that build from the bottom up and not from the top down, that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

    DJT is no FDR, of course, but people do ultimately vote for 'jobs' and with their selfish wallets, and Trump directly appealed to that instinct....AND to his voter base's deplorable White Wonder Bread Society instincts.

    Trump's Presidency will be aided with a massive infrastructure bill that the Just-Say-No-Whites-R-Us-Party-First-Republican Congress denied to the Democratic, pigmentally-challenged President Obama.

    Trump may even save a few manufacturing jobs, but he will not defeat the tides of globalization and modernity.

    When Republicans regress to 'free-market' extortionist health care policy, voucherized healthcare and public schools, massive 0.1% tax cut welfare and a deregulated Robber Baron-Wall St. vulture capitalism that presses its boot down even harder on the throats of Americans and re-collapse the economy, the Democratic sun will rise again.

    Democrats will always have GOP self-destruction on their side.

  61. What I find curious is this insistence that Democrats lost because of "identity politics" when the very center of Trump's campaign was the use of identity politics: "uneducated" white men. What people are calling identity politics is the effort of the Democratic Party to give dignity to every group that is excluded or discriminated. The party that is willing to remove health care for the poor on the "higher importance" of freedom to choose, is now criticizing the Democrats' effort to give personal dignity the importance it deserves. And I don't see that the Party is in such straits. If you win the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and if you lose the electoral vote by the slimmest of margins: turning 5,000 votes would have won Michigan ;10,000 in Wisconsin;; 35,000 in Pennsylvania. More robust campaigning in rural areas or more extensive vote turn out would have changed the results. Clinton's campaign stressed improvement for all segments of the population while Trump concentrated on the people who have been hurt by globalization and automation, promising them things that he cannot bring about.
    And, by the way, if Carrier gives in on not moving to Mexico, it is due to the fact that it also builds many items for the defense industry, and there Trump can exact his revenge. Carrier has decided not to risk losing those contracts.

  62. Short answer, no. Nor did Trump move to the center. His supposedly centrist position on entitlements has already been unmasked by his choice of hard-liners for the cabinet. Together with Ryan, they seek to undermine Medicare, among other things for which they did not have a mandate. And let's see where Trump ends up on trade, after the impact on big business concerns is properly explained to him.

    As far as so called identity politics? The leftist ideals of a melting pot where citizens were considered equal under the law, where we protect civil rights under our constitution, where we might disagree on how to fix things but we agree on the problems, where we insist on civil discourse, where we agree that so-called "white-nationalism" (Bannon's media brand of nazism dressed up in middle class clothes) is an abomination. That's where solidarity comes from, from shared ideals and most of all a shared truth. When you undermine the truth by lying again and again we no longer occupy a shared reality. That is how societies fracture.

    Those "liberal" ideas used to be our shared ideals. They were our national brand. So no, Ross, we won't be moving right. We won't be joining you in your march toward corporate rule and social Darwinism, helped along by voter suppression laws that overwhelmingly target the poor and people of color. No Ross, now, more than ever, we will fight for the ideals that other nations once admired.

  63. Are we still pretending that Trump won (the Electoral college) because of "economic solidarity" with the distressed working class and that Hillary lost (except for, by millions, the popular vote) because she focused on identity politics?
    As Michelle Obama said and Hillary often repeated , "When they go low, we go high". The truth is Trump went lower than anyone thought possible and millions upon millions of people saw their lower selves reflected in him and voted accordingly -- the ultimate identity politics.
    The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is stark; inclusion vs. exclusion, the common wealth against unfettered individual acquisitiveness, good will against fear, social evolution against reactionary policy.
    Your prescription isn't actually for the Democratic party to tack to the right, it's for them to join the Republicans in pandering to our citizens' lower animal. That isn't going to happen.
    As for "demographic triumphalism"; it isn't simply demographic changes that the Republican party has to fear, it's the evolution of human awareness. As MLK said, "“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
    Your side had a temporary victory but that doesn't change the fact that you're dinosaurs -- and there's an extinction level event at some point in your future. The sooner that happens the better for humanity.

  64. Mr. Tragoes, I thank you for your brilliant analysis and your reasoned defense of liberalism. Inclusion and moving forward was what John Lennon was all about. "Come together," he sad. But I digress. Again, thank you for renewing my hope.

  65. You are expecting too much of humans. Humans after all are mere mortals. The way the Democrats are currently stressing identity politics is a very big turn off for many of us. If the Democrats continue doing this, I suspect more and more of the population will get turned off over time.

  66. So what it's all about is winning? It's all right to toss aside deeply held beliefs in order to win?

    Compromise is always necessary, of course. (Although the obstructionist Republicans don't seem to believe that.) But there are certain ideals that it is wrong to let go of just in order to win. Besides, how seriously should we take candidates who passionately defend their ideals and then make a 180 after an election loss? What is really in their hearts?

    The Democrats don't have to move to the right. They need to educate the population in a non-condescending way so that we understand why deregulation, why worshipping profit over real prosperity, has not worked for most of us. They need to point out that allowing discrimination against some groups could very well make discrimination of just about any group the new normal. They need to drop the attitude that those who don't agree with them are deplorable and instead make a case for why certain behaviors are deplorable. And they have to then act on what they say rather than compromising so much that they reinforce the belief that there's no point in voting because all politicians are the same.

  67. Whoa, Ross. You very quickly dismiss the emerging debate among Democrats about the party's future course of action in the wake of Nov. 8. That's a bit premature; not even a month has passed and you are prescribing a move to the right that would have the Democratic Party literally abandon its core support by adopting the GOP's scorched earth policies that enrich the wealthy to the detriment of everyone else.

    There is a progressive path forward for Democrats anchored in environmental protections, gender equality (including reproductive rights), a single payer health insurance option, humane immigration reform and -- yes -- a tax and fiscal policy that enhances middle class lives through increased levies on obscene (and often unearned) wealth.

    The Democratic weakness has been its inability to articulate a cohesive world view. But the fact that it won a majority of the Presidential vote should tell you that stronger candidates and a more cohesive policy is a much preferred way to right the ship rather than follow the GOP path down the alt-right rabbit hole.

  68. Yes. Had the Democratic Party and the corporate media - comprised of corporate Democrats in the mold of the Clintons - not titled the playing field during the primary we would have president-elect Sanders. He was a far stronger candidate for the general election as virtually every poll taken during and after the primary showed. He was the only person who consistently beat Trumpand by double digits - no margin of error would have change it.

    But the same "very serious people", as they are called by an insider who should know, already determined that it was Hillary's turn. She had not raised buckets of money for the DNC all those years without expecting a payback, and she was going to get it any way possible.

    You want to blame someone? Blame the DNC and the media who colluded with them to shut out coverage of Sanders. What don't you get about the fact that Hillary was roundly hated and distrusted by a large number of voters and she is a weak candidate, anyway?

    There will be no movement right. We tried that with Bill Clinton and have done it ever since. Being Republican "lite" will not bring back the base. They didn't vote for Trump because for his social policies. They vote for him because he wasn't the usual Republican cadidate. They want him to shake those folks up.

    The country wants another FDR. They have been voting in hopes of finding one since 2008. Both Obama, and now Trump, ran on changing the status quo, not perserving it. The GOP isn't as strong as you think.

  69. What "went wrong" had little to do with liberal ideas. It had to do with millions of clueless voters electing a slack-jawed idiot for president. Even Ross Douthat realized that the "president"-elect was a vulgar, ignorant and unelectable fool who sullied the Republican Party and didn't deserve to win. Now he says that the man is shining symbol of a new conservative world order, and that liberals should move toward the flame.

    The proper response to racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny is not to move toward it. We're not going to lie down with the dogs who are being elevated to important positions in this new administration. We're not going to help them return our country to the way it was in the 1950s.

    Maybe Republicans are content to compromise their values and embrace building walls, destroying medical care for millions, recriminalizing abortion, denying science and trashing education. But fighting those things are what liberals stand for, and they're what made this country great.

    We have a choice to make. Do we want to succumb to the disease that has affected our nation, or do we want to fight it? The decisions we make today will decide the future of this country for decades to come.

  70. I completely agree with this column. I could also write the same column, with tweaks, about the Republican Party.

    What the United States needs is for both parties to move to the center, and be more like the 1950s when it was almost impossible to distinguish a Democrat from a Republican.

    True, the parties back then were more like *machines*, but those machines produced far more competent leaders (e.g., members of Congress) than today's ideological parties.

    There used to be much more civility and compromise back in the day. That is precisely what our nation needs.

    So, I am not for ending our two party system. I am for moving both parties to the center, sort of like a bell curve: the lefties and righties in each party would be few in number.

    We can do this! All it takes is one small step in this direction, followed by many more small steps toward the center.

    As Jesse Jackson has said many times, let's Keep Hope Alive.

  71. "We can do this! All it takes is one small step in this direction, followed by many more small steps toward the center."

    Tim, nice sentiment; however, you're neglecting one factor: how to educate enough willfully ignorant people to stop voting against their best interests?

  72. The center is already skewed to the right and has been for several decades. What actually needs to be done is that everybody needs to move to the left a little while and then the left can move in towards the center. Your idea of a center government is a nostalgic one that overlooks many of the detriments to good government that we experience during the 50s and 60s like Jim Crowe and mysogyny

  73. Dream on, Ross. One month ago, all the talk was about the disintegrating Republican Party. Now, after an election in which their candidates got well over 2 million more votes than the Republicans and made gains in the House and Senate, it's the Democrats who are in trouble? Republicans may coalesce around Trump - although this is still highly doubtful - but will this take the country in a positive direction? Democrats need to continue to fight for the programs that make America better for everyone - affordable health care for all, real educational opportunities, engaging diversity - and they need to do a better job of countering Republican voter suppression strategies and getting people to vote. Trump won this election by making promises he has already shown he has no intention of keeping. This opens up opportunities for Democrats to win back the disaffected white working class by promoting programs that truly are in their interests, while the Republicans show clearly they are in Washington only to represent the big corporations. Moving to the right will not help the Democratic Party, nor the country.

  74. Do Brooks and Douthat live on another plane of reality. The absurdist quest to appropriate the erstwhile center right position and constituency that was the pre Reagan Republican Party has been the mantra that had driven the Democratic Party's effort since The Clinton's first came to town.

    Hillary's failure was incisive identity politics, it was her obsessive affinity for hanging out with wealthy donors. Yes the electorate has been beguiled by a faux populist who plays a billionaire on TV. But the denizens of the rusty ruin chose him because they bought his carney barker shtick about the little guy.

    Had the Democratic establishment, and the print and media oracles have paid anything like equal time and interest in Bernie Sanders, he would be choosing his staff and cabinet right now. Had Hillary spent less time at fundraising soirées in the Hamptons, and more time in the rust belt, she would likely be drafting her inaugural address now.

    But no, spending more time trying to triangulate the message while you cuddle with the donor class, that bolt's been fired and it was a miss.

  75. 2.3 million people more than those who voted for Trump, voted for a weak and compromised leftist candidate, Hillary Clinton. Her major defect was only that she had so little true leftist bona fides. Moving to the right by Bill Clinton and his ties to his wife is what cost her the election (that she actually won in the democratic sense and only after voter suppression that could not have happened before the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, is testament to our present "democratic" (but not really democratic) reality. Trump's loss is the right's disaster unless he can consolidate an end to democracy in the United States. The question on the right is, "Are you willing to sacrifice your most basic constitutional and democratic values for power that you cannot retain forever?" It's a Faustian deal with the devil Trump. And we know how that story ends. A minority will never rule the USA. The Republican view is a shrinking minority whose policies have consistently failed to improve the economy or shrink the deficit as much as the democrats. They are good at criticizing democratic presidents. They are bad at policy when in power. They are now in power and will fail (as always). 2018 will be the year the old right collapsed. Trump will be the straw that broke the Elephant's corrupt and hypocritical back.

  76. Democrats may be wringing their hands over mis-calculating their elections strategies, and rightly so. But I doubt that there need to be the amount of adjustment of beliefs and goals that Mr. Douthat advocates here. The public, including those who voted for Trump, will see soon enough the ideological extremism, the incompetence, and the corruption inherent in the way the presidency will be conducted. The GWB years of incompetence and duplicity, I suspect, will pale in the face of the prospects of the Trump administration. Meanwhile the Democrats need to be vigilant and in considered opposition. Tiime itself will be on their side come future elections.

  77. Did the Republiicans move left on the election of Obama? Nope, they just dug in their heels and become the party of total intransigence.
    Dems have already moved too far right since the Clinton presidency. There is nothing in the election of Donald Trump to suggest a further move since he did not run on the traditional Republican ideology, and even if he had, this was an amazingly policy free (and fact free) election. Remember, Bernie did well too.
    Democrats should continue to stand by their principles. Unlike how the Republicans behaved, they should compromise when possible, but they should stand up for principles when reasonable compromise is not possible.
    The Republicans may benefit from a slowly improving economy which has nothing to do with their favored policies. They may even (predictably) ditch their concern with deficits and government spending and engage in stimulus spending (which is okay with them only when they are in charge of it). But one thing for sure: their policies will NOT benefit ordinary Americans economically, they will only further enrich the haves and likely lead to another economic crunch. Dems should stand by what they believe is right and be ready to pick up the pieces, or take advantage when the public tires of the Republican's thin gruel and over-reach.

  78. The Democratic part shows no signs of moderating itself, which is why it's going to continue to lose election after election. Bernie Sanders message on wealth redistribution was a hit because its typical populist rhetoric for the have-nots during a time of economic anxiety, as is free college and universal healthcare. It's catchy and infectious because of how fantastical it sounds, but it's completely unrealistic in our political environment. Even if he beated Trump, the Republicans still own congress, and why did Vermont of all places elect a Republican governor? Obamacare - the half measure - took enormous political capital to pass during a time when Democrats had both houses, and the party is still suffering the blowback from that. People need to stop deluding themselves into thinking the country is really just a closeted liberal and if only we can "activate" the populace. Fact of the matter is we have a large number of people who lean right and we have to find an amicable solution for both. Otherwise we are going to take turns ramrodding the other side with extreme policies like what the Right is doing now. And FYI: I'm a registered Democrat but I agree with a lot of conservative ideals, just not their methods or their party. Personal responsibility, family values, strong defense, secure borders, respect for the law, respect for one's beliefs, balanced budgets, and promoting business sounds as good to me as diversity, equal opportunity, gender equality, and civil rights.

  79. The commentary does neglect the fact that the Democratic Party gained seats in the senate and the house and also won the popular vote. Also left and right orientations are replaced by progressive (democrats), reactionary (republicans) and populists (democrat and republican)voters. Bernie Sanders stood for the progressive-populist movement and Donald Trump (beside standing mostly for his own interests) stood for the populist-reactionary one: their voters right now (falsely) feel: what's good for me, is good for the country. In the globally connected world we created, that's a dangerous sentiment. What the world and with that I mean the civilization we erected on the Earth is a popular-global progressive approach where we correct the multi-dimensional asymmetry between the rich and the poor with the goal of a peaceful and just world civilization. The biggest obstacle might be the poor adaptation of Homo sapiens herself to the world we created.

  80. I would say that the traditional small government, low-tax policies which have been associated with conservatives and the Republican party in the past have little to do with party affiliation or voting patterns today. Unfortunately, most voters don't examine issues other than those which make them feel threatened and afraid: loss of control by whites, that a particular group of people threaten their safety, the fear that the government is going to take away their guns, etc. Social issues like abortion and prayer in schools also play an important role for some. Most voters are in the low- and middle-income brackets; yet, they seem oblivious to the fact that most of the tax cuts proposed by Republicans always favor the wealthy. They care very little about issues such as climate change and the outrageous amount of money spent in elections. If by moving to the right you mean embracing those policies of fear, then Democrats could probably benefit politically--an example of fighting fire with fire. I hope that won't happen.

  81. I consider myself a progressive Democrat. I never voted for Bernie Sanders because I doubted his ability to win, but his positions cheered my heart. I believe we need to take those positions and adapt them to our globalized economy and to the challenges presented by technology.
    I particularly appreciate that Senator Sanders made it once more acceptable to call ourselves liberal. That liberalism is not particularly "left" and it is what appealed to so many young people in the primaries.
    The reality is that increasingly many jobs can be done remotely making borders less meaningful, except as symbols. Tom Friedman wrote "The World is Flat" years ago and it's getting flatter all the time.
    Desexed bathrooms are meaningful only as another symbol of respect for people who are different. It's not a bad thing that many young people just don't understand why differences should be stamped out.
    Guaranteed income might be the way to address the rising inequality that's undermining democracy around the world. Inequality is one of the most pressing issues of the day and conservatives have no tools in their ideological tool kit to address it.
    Dealing with refugees is another problem that becomes critical because displaced people create instability. It's hardly forward looking to just deny that the problem exists.
    So, none of these are "somewhat-radical causes." And we haven't mentioned inequality and climate change.

  82. There is more to the political process than winning. Moderate and conservative Republicans have adopted a winning strategy, never compromise. They hold to their ideals, and advocate for them, even when it is unpopular. But, they may become examples of the advertising truism, the best way to kill a bad product is with good advertising.

    Only time will tell how much damage the Trump administration will do to the country. Unfortunately tearing things down is a lot easier than building them up, so with all branches of the Federal government controlled by the Republican party they can quickly turn the clock back, but they are unlikely to “Make America Great Again.”

    I hope that I am wrong, but what if I and others like me who have a vision of hope are right? Half way bad ideas that are crafted solely out of political opportunism will not be effective. In the next two to four years there will be a reckoning one way or the other. Either Trumpism will succeed or Democrats will need to make sure that they do not help carry the water of their failure by advocating for slightly more temperate forms of the same bad ideas. Democrats must stand for effective policy ideas, not ideology, and we need to create a sense of identity that is emotionally appealing to all Americans. I doubt that will put us in the political center. It is a little bit like the old joke of looking for you keys where it is well lit because it is easier to see, rather than in the place where you lost them.

  83. So the Republican party that uses identity politics, class warfare, xenophobia and misogyny is the party that the Democrats should emulate? The results would be a one party system very similar to Russia. The American voter would be left with a choice between Make America Great 1950s style or Make America Great 1850s style not a good choice for a country that has help lead the world towards the future. The Democrats won the popular vote one more time because the majority of the voters want to embrace the future. The Republican strategy is very short term in success which has been rigged every possible way to win so the last thing the Democrats should do is move to the right. Bernie Sanders proved it the voters are moving more to the left. Go with the flow.

  84. I don't think Trump won on a shift to the center. Both parties must place jobs and the economy at the core of their platforms; to suggest this was Trump's ingenious move or Hillary's folly is to accept the false narrative that President Obama and the Democrats had not been focused on reviving the economy and had been quite successful. Appealing to the Midwest by focusing on bringing back manufacturing and coal may appear novel, but it is not all that different from Republican emphasis on small businesses and "real America," while also running counter to reality in which manufacturing and coal will never come back to the levels of economic development they reached in the mid-20th century. What changed for the the Republicans was the messaging and the messenger. That's where Democrats must change. We're in the age of aesthetic, rightly or wrongly, and nothing justifies the triumph of style over substance than the election of a grifter with no political experience who spent the whole campaign promising the moon and the stars like the candidate for president of your high school class that promised your favorite fast food chain will be served in the cafeteria if you elect him. Maybe not feel the Bern; but incinerate the Trump.

  85. The late philosopher Richard Rorty warns us against over-using metaphors such as "left," "right," or "center." They remove us from the reality of what we are trying to say.

    While these terms might serve us well on a flat surface or in three-dimensional space, they mean lots of things to lots of different people. And if we give these words a pass and do not challenge them, we end up with fuzzy meaning.

    The Democratic Party needs to start talking about real issues that effect real families of the working and middle classes --- jobs, wages, cost of education, health care, and respect for working people and law-abiding people. President Obama, for example, gave the white collar crooks of 2008 a "Don't Go To Jail" card. Hillary hid behind her "Blue Wall" of affluent Democratic areas while avoiding the "Deplorables" who inhabited the rural and rust belt areas (formerly known as "safe" Democratic districts.

    Start using straight language and avoid euphemisms and similes. And, by the way, stop throwing out complex terms like "global capitalism" and "technological innovation" as if they are inexorable forces that we do not have the intelligence or imagination to deal with. Jobs are disappearing because corporations are making these decisions. People need better and more honest explanations.

    Trump is leaving no rock unturned in his efforts to slap together an administration. We'll be hearing plenty of nonsense in the next few months and years. Stick to straight talk.

  86. This article is actually totally and completely wrong. The real problem the Democrats faced and always face is that they cannot get out the vote. The fact that barely more than 50% of Americans voted in the last election is the real issue and the real story. The fact that less than 25% of the eligible voting population chose a man to be President who is already well on track to being a total disaster should chasten the American public. The question of why so few Americans vote is what needs to be determined. Are they just uninterested? Do they feel that it is pointless? Beyond this basic reality, the fact is that moving to the right is the kiss of death. The US is already an extremist right wing society. Most Americans have no clue that their country's political spectrum is already skewed so far to the right that the Democrats would qualify as a right wing party in most other places in the Western world. It is this bizarrely distorted understanding of politics that needs to be treated. Why are so many Americans opposed to healthcare for all? Why do they oppose affordable education? Why do so many Americans have a mercenary approach to their own society? The roots of these pathologies go very deep. The right wing skewing of the US political system is a reflection of a societal illness. Embracing the illness doesn't do anything to treat it or cure it.

  87. Is it still a question of "left" and "right"?

    Mr. Douthat has not discussed classic left and/or right issues but a lot of issues that are present on both sides of the fence. Some of this issues came to the left or the right more or less coincidentally. The Trump wing has raised the "job" issue - a somewhat European--style social democrat classic element that was stressed also by the Sanders wing. Neocon wing was not as interested neither a part of the Dems.

    The fissures go through both parties. Same sex marriage is a problem with Evangelicals but not so much with some of the Neo Con elite. For dems its a problem because it seems to be "overstressed". Front lines go through parties and political positions.

    Fissures hardly covered in the past are breaking up caused by economical and social pressure amplified by populists - and in case of the Dems by defeat not only in the presidential but also in other elections. GOP is glued together by the result of the Election but in reality they have to face similar problems.

    In Europe we have to face same problems. It´s more a clashing of world views than of classic party politics or ideologies. The SPD is torn in a similar way.

    The solution cannot be "more left" or "more right" I think. This classic seems to be obsolete somehow.

    In any case an interim solution is required.

    It´s getting feet on the ground again and giving up to see the world through the lenses of political ideology driven by wishful thinking only.

  88. This is the slyest bit of Republican, perhaps self-delusional propaganda I've seen in some while. It assigns positions to Democrats that have no basis in fact. For example, core Democratic principles most certainly do not include open borders and pen-stroke amnesty. (Please recall the successful implementation of the bi-partisan 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act under President Reagan.) Further, Douthat is merely adhering to the Republican playbook that for some years moved our entire political environment to the right. Moderate Republicans were reviled and punished by their own leadership and the party, as a whole, was no longer centrist. Democrats, less united than Republicans, but more willing to remain centrist, reacted in two ways. Many, though reluctant and fearful of the consequences, swung right. Others, to offer sharper distinctions and to more fully embrace the progressive mantle, moved further left.

    The past campaign emphasized extreme positions as both parties tried to gauge public temperament and win support. Both parties need to recalibrate their positions. But there is no need or justification for Democrats to now be silent about core civil rights and economic issues. Such silence is tantamount to surrender to the Republicans' deliberate right-wing agenda. Such silence is a disservice to our nation.

  89. Yes there was a lie, a bunch. Our fellow citizens, voting against their interests in a lot of cases, are being snookered as we speak. If Trump won by a) being an alpha male and b) by rejecting Republican dogma why would the Democrats change their understanding about the future. The big disagreement is that the average citizen still gets the shaft by someone. Income inequality, tax inequality, political influence inequality are the political problems that Trump addressed without policy proposals. Jobs are going to be a huge problem in the future. One thousand jobs in Indiana doesn't solve anything, the job market is the job market. Multiculturalism is a reality, as is intellectual and talent multi-nationalism. Global warming is real and we have to plan for it. It isn't the past or present that separates us, it is the future. If the Republican doctrine of short term profits, white preference and denial of income inequality, climate change and any opposition wisdom, is not changed, then there will be crises in the future. The Democrats were victims of a successful character assassination, a flood of disinformation, and a dissatisfaction period that the candidate didn't recognize. Their candidate was not well liked and was a woman; she lost the male vote, so do the math. What the Democrats need is some charismatic candidates and if, sad to say, Post-truth persist, either a much more vigilant press or some of their own marketing strategists to push their own lies.

  90. The fact is that between Bernie Sanders' challenge to the Democratic establishment from the left and pro-worker, anti-free trade support for demagogue Trump, the country has rejected the strategy of "moving to the right" which has been in play for forty years. Polls showed that Sanders - with his support for single-payer health car, banking regulation, free public college, student-loan debt forgiveness, a $15 per hour minimum wage and diplomacy before war - could have beaten Trump; Hillary, with her pro-Wall Street stances, couldn't and didn't. Why? Because voters know the Democrats' constant rightward shift has hurt us profoundly, essentially eliminating the middle class. It began, I believe, as early as the 1970's, when Spiro Agnew was trotted out to paint middle-of-the-road Vietnam War opponents as rabid "leftists." It was amped up as Clinton embraced shipping our jobs to extremely low-wage countries on behalf of multinational corporations and banking de-regulation that led to the 2008 crash and subsequent transfer of wealth to the richest 1%. Obama's earliest appointments, Geithner and Larry Summers, were Goldman Sachs guys, and a shift to the right continued with the President keeping Guantanamo open, escalating a war in Iraq to Afghanistan and, eventually, the entire middle east. Now, salvaging or, after Trump, restoring a few marginally democratic (yes, lower case "d") programs will seem radically left wing to party insiders. Voters know better.

  91. Democrats should not move anywhere near the a-factual hate spewers I regularly see comments from in the media.

    There could be a measure of Liberal fatigue in the population. Act on climate change, accept gender equality, redress racial iniquities, bless gay marriage, don't pollute, recycle, preserve habitat, protect species; the list of Liberal causes is a constant demand placed upon people to alter their lifestyle and values. Nonetheless, those are all worthwhile and ultimately necessary transformations that Liberals should never give up on.

    Liberals do need to re-frame those issues, and God forbid, educate those who don't get it or cannot be bothered. The rural areas where Trump received lopsided support have been experiencing a brain drain for the past several decades. Kids who want something more or different than the limited opportunities in rural areas leave and they don't come back. They are often the best and brightest. What remains is often the under-educated.

    This is why the Electoral College has and will do great damage as it over-represents rural areas into a tail-wagging-the-dog situation.

  92. No.

    They should focus on middle and working-class economic stability (not "solidarity"): * job growth; * Keynesian spending on infrastructure now, while rates are low and labor's plentiful; * decreasing healthcare costs; * decreasing higher education costs; * stabilizing Social Security; and *reforming the tax code.

    I'd also suggest easier ways to discharge medical debt without a full bankruptcy process.

    These issues transcend race and heritage.

    And President Obama got no help from Republicans on these issues. Their only goal was obstruction and their only tool a spanner.

    Numerically, voting patterns suggest identity politics are a distraction from the core financial issues faced by voters Trump picked up.

    Certainly, issues like Black Lives Matter, immigration, and gender-neutral bathrooms did not help Democrats this year, which is why the smart ones stayed away. Policing issues like harassment and discrimination are local concerns indicative of widespread toxicity, but ultimately they are state/ local government issues. Federal involvement would be rare.

    In sum: class struggles, not expressly racial ones. Financial security, not identity sensitivity.

    What's remarkable is that white wage-insecure voters preferred Trump the charlatan and the Republican band of merry hucksters.

    That's where Clintonian neoliberalism has led the Dems. That's how far they are from working and middle class people. The people the think they're fighting for.

  93. I am a lifelong Democrat whose immediate family of 7 includes 4 Jews, a gay Latina, an immigrant, and a 30 something trans person (my son). I also happen to live in a rural, overwhelmingly white section of the country. I first had serious concerns about this election the day the Obama Education Department released its "dear colleague" letter mandating trans access to the school bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice. It demonstrated to me just how out of touch the Democratic party establishment was with the real concerns of the electorate. It was also tailor made for Republican ridicule and abuse. We need to get real and focus on the economic concerns of the lower 90% while remaining true to our historic vision of equal rights for all. I hate to say it but Trump's announcement this morning of "saving" 1000 Carrier jobs is exactly the kind of thing Obama should have been working on this spring and summer. If he had, there's a good chance President Clinton could have pushed for some social progress over the next 4 years.

  94. Cough, Cough - remember the auto industry?

  95. Saving jobs and creating them is what Obama should have been doing in 2008, instead of hijacking the healthcare system with the ACA.

  96. Obama save the entire American auto industry yet he gets no credit for saving those jobs. He has created 5 million jobs during his eight years in office yet he gets no credit for those jobs either. He had a very robust infrastructure program ready to go but the Republicans in the house kept throwing up roadblocks to new roads bridges tunnels in schools. Maybe you should read a little bit before you voice such an unschooled opinion.

  97. Russ always cracks me up! "There has been much less conversation about the ways in which the Democratic Party might consider responding to its current straits by moving to the right."

    We had an election where the winner was the loser for 2nd time in 16 years, and Democrats won the popular vote for the presidency in 7 of the last 8 elections, and more people voted for Democratic senators than for Republican senators, and Republicans won 51% of the vote for the House but 57% of the seats, and places like Wisconsin where Republicans win 48% of the votes but 60% of the seats, and Russ's question is whether Democrats should "move right."

    No. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 1.7% and 2.2 million votes; just because 5,000 people in Iowa voted for Trump instead of Clinton after the Comey Affair and flipped the state, and after horrific press coverage of innuendo as fact - does not mean that the Democrats need to move right. What they need to do is undo the damage done by Republicans where the minority party continues to win - and, I will add this - talk about people's problems, not what bathrooms they use.

    I'll give Russ that much. No more.

  98. I cannot find anywhere documentation that either campaign focused on winning the popular vote. You seem to be playing checkers while the rest are playing chess. If the campaigns were about popular vote, then the objective changes and candidates campaign in such a way that maximizes their vote count. But it's ridiculous to keep mentioning popular when the objective is to get to 270 electoral votes first. Using your thinking, there was no winner this year in MLB, because the Cubs and Indians both scored 27 runs. Cleveland isn't claiming a co-championship. They weren't playing for run count. There is no value whatsoever in claiming a prize no one was seeking. When our system becomes entirely a direct democracy, you will finally get to play the game you think you want.

  99. Left, right - it really doesn't matter. The reality is that the Democratic party has been consigned to irrelevance, where it will likely stay for the foreseeable future.

    Everyone is now aware that the GOP now controls the Executive and Legislative branches of the Federal government. In the very near future, President Trump will appoint [several] new judges to the Supreme Court, something that will ensure a highly conservative SCOTUS for a decade or more.

    GOP control doesn't end at the Federal level however. The governors of 31 states are Republicans and in 25 states, there is a GOP trifecta (control of the executive, legislative & judicial branches). The GOP controls a majority of county and local governments. The majority of school boards in the US are under GOP control. Citizen's United practically guarantees that these GOP majorities will grow.

    Unfortunately for Democrats, it gets even worse. Full GOP control of the US through the next census in 2020 is a near-certainty. This will in turn mean that voting districts, already gerrymandered to ensure maximum GOP advantage, will be redrawn to ensure even tighter GOP control.

    So we see that the question is not whether the Democrats need to move left or right but is rather whether the Democrats - or any political party other than the GOP for that matter - will have any relevance in the new Red America.

  100. The only way the GOP when is by cheating and this is been going on for decades now. Eventually this will catch up to them but in fortunately they can do a great deal of damage before they get caught in their own webs.

  101. The better question will be can Republicans move left? Ross keeps forgetting Republicans lost the popular vote. They are on the wrong side of macroeconomics, on the wrong side of history, and their base now has sold it's soul to Trump who has no values. When Republicans overreach and they surely will, no amount of money and propaganda will save them from defeat. Evangelicals voted for Trump and poor whites voted for Trump thinking he would save them, he would bring back their jobs. When they see that con for what it is we now know they will vote for relieving their economic misery. It's sad that White America thinks that corporate America who outsourced millions of their jobs will want to save the very same people that have no use for. Much of flyover America refuses to accept why they are not enjoying prosperity in 21st century America because that would be an admission of being wrong. Wrong about how they have treated others, wrong about not supporting science and education, wrong about not evolving from their tribalistic view of society. Their rigidity to change has left them without the skills that corporate America demands for a knowledge based economy. Discrimination and sexism are not OK anymore. Being uneducated and White will not save you from being relegated to the same economic level as other uneducated people in a globalized economy led by multinationals. Their only help will come from the one thing Republicans oppose - a government of the people for the people.

  102. Wow. This is messed up. Douthat and others suggest that it's Democrats who need to do some soul searching, Democrats, under whose watch the economy has consistently done better, both in terms of GDP and job creation, than Republicans, as well as debt and deficit reduction (even surplus, in the case of Bill Clinton), because Democrats committed some "culture war" crime of saying that intense, increasing, and mainstreaming bigotry and a candidate espousing it and running on it is deplorable?
    "What went wrong" is that this country elected a man who knows nothing about the US Constitution to defend and uphold that document, a man who admitted to serial sexual assault, with at least a dozen women to correlate his own claim, a man who, despite earning a billion dollars, paid no income taxes to the country he professes to love while also saying he's the voice of the working man who does pay income taxes on very little income, a man who has very severe personality disorders, starting with pathological narcissism, a man who has never done anything altruistic for anyone in his entire life and in fact has taken charitable donations and spent them on himself, a man who just paid a $25 million settlement for defrauding those same people he claims to care about, and a man who has the emotional IQ of a lonely, angry 10 year old, Tweeting his rage manically and at anyone who dares say anything negative about him. That is what went wrong, Ross.

  103. Right on Virginia! Well said!

  104. The great fiction here is that the Democrats have gone off the charts left and need to get back to the center that is dominated by the right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Obama has represented the center for 8 years and the Democrats sound rejection of Bernie Sanders shows that there has been no vast migration to the left. Yes, Trump swooped in a picked up the disaffected rural and rust-belt voters. But that was not with any great right-wing social agenda, but with a parade of lies about how he was going to return dying industries to our nation. It will never happen. Once these fictions become apparent and Trump is outed for the kleptocrat he is, the disaffected will have the chance to see that the Democrats offer the only meaningful path to economic recovery and a better way of life.

  105. Sound rejection of Sanders? He took the party favorite (and documented party favoritism), to the left and had the primaries not been rigged by the DNC, he may have gotten the momentum he needed. But your more central point is the most errant. First, those rural and rust-belt voters see Trump for what he is. They like the idea that someone sees what has happened to them, but they understand reversing the recent past is a tall order. They will take what they get, but they don't see a full rebirth through Trump. What they do not want is any leftist/elitist/Democratic solution that treats them like a special identity group unable to rely on their own hard work to meet their needs and pursue their idea of happiness. Clinton lost because she was a poor candidate. It is easy to say that is because she was a poor politician, but much less easy to see that she embodied the very ideas that make liberalism repugnant to the working class, who, for all their collective wisdom and life-experience, elitists call poorly educated. Trump got it. Elitists ridiculed him when he said he loved the poorly educated. But the working class understood the subtext of what their betters thought was a Trump-killing sound-bite.

  106. The premise of Mr. Douthat's column is so ridiculous that it's hard to know how to respond. Why does the Democratic party need to change its message when its candidate got over two million more votes? How can the Democrats move towards the center when Republicans are constantly trying to move the goalposts rightward? My own feeling is that the Democrats need to sharpen the message to workers that the party is on their side against the Republicans which represent the interests of multinational corporations and oversized banks. There's no doubt that older whiter populations have a political advantage that far outweighs their economic power but, instead of pointing figures at each other, a message of solidarity with all working people from the Democrats, backed with demonstrable action, can bring America together again. During the Trump administration, downtrodden Americans workers will need a voice more than ever.

  107. What is up with the NYTs right wing op-ed writers claiming that the Democratic Party under the Clintons and Obama is some far left dirty hippie Bolshie political party that keeps losing because Americans just hate it when government works and makes everybody's life better through things like Medicare, Social Security, affordable education. The Clinton/Obama dems are to the right of Nixon. By todays standards the last liberal president we had was Nixon, nut case that he was he still worked through some policies that had the concept of the The Common Good within them. The EPA, the draft, he even tried and nearly got passed a healthcare law similar to the ACA. For all your fear of a radical Bernie Sanders he would have beeright smack in the center of the Democratic Party circa 1975. Then again, most of what he is for already existed then but has since been taken away. Good jobs, strong unions, affordable college, health care, pensions, civil rights were all taken for granted. Now they are all gone and the Dems had as much of a hand taking them away as the Republicans. Reagan started it but the Clintons accelerated it to the point were we now speak of policies that might help people, the common good, as radical acts. sad.

  108. Ross Douthat bases his entire column on a false major premise and then compounds that error by adding the usual Conservative Republican staples of hyperbole and distortion. In the approximately 850 word column he mentions the two word cause of the Democratic defeat only one time, Hilary Clinton. This election was not about ideology as Ross wrongly suggests. It was a personal rejection of a self entitled, flawed, uninspiring candidate, who put wealthy fundraisers and egregious speaking fees above contacts with Rust Belt Democrats. Yet she still won a popular vote victory by a greater margin than 4 presidents elected since 1960. Catholic charities and hospitals were only asked to submit a form saying the wouldn't take part in the ACA."Transgender bathroom directives" were orders from the justice Department to enforce the Equal Protection Clause, something Republicans ignore when it comes to LGBT issues. Where does Ross find the concept of "religious pluralism"in the Constitution? Finally I want him to explain his concept of "moral pluralism"to evangelicals.

  109. I'm a 45 year old Democrat from the l4 corridor in Florida. I'm only a Democrat because Florida has a closed primary and I want to be able to vote for someone before the general election. Sanders was my first choice and I was never a fan of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. Trump winning has shaken me to my core. I don't believe this buffoon really represents what the majority of Americans believe. I don't believe we are a country of thin skinned bullies. I think people are excited for change now but his shelf life will expire quickly. at least I hope so. I think both parties are really in a shambles. what we thought was a reasonably mature political system is showing signs of dementia. I can't make any predictions because all of mine have been wrong. but the state of the Democrats and Republicans is very worrisome.

  110. The Democratic party is not bucking, Mr. Douthat. Purveyance of truth is buckling. No one who feels that the isomorphic connection between money and power is problematic, and who got truthful information about who Donald Trump is and is not, would have found him a logical choice for the remediation of this nation's problems, or the world's. Decency and compassion as principles will never buckle. Manipulation of information is moving at a pace fast enough to convince people that a liar and narcissist with no moral structure whatsoever and no ideas beyond his own aggrandizement was a reasonable choice for the leader of the free world.

  111. Democrats are already in the center. Take healthcare for example. The left end of the spectrum is universal coverage. Most countries have it. The Democrats shifted right and passed RomneyCare- a market-based, government-subsidized healthcare system. In this election, Hillary was actually to the right of Trump on economic issues. Trump sounded like Bernie Sanders. He campaigned on protectionism and a trillion dollar infrastructure program. On immigration, Democrats don't propose open borders. They want tough border security. But they also want a path to legal citizenship. That's just being practical. Our economy needs immigrants. On social issues, Democrats do want a culture-war truce. But Republicans keep waging battle on minority and women's rights. Examples include, new voter suppression laws and closing down abortion clinics. On tougher language, Hillary did use the term "radical Islam" and even created her own demonizing term - "superpredator". Didn't seem to help. She's also rightfully known as a hawk on foreign policy.

    Democrats need to focus their messaging on economics. Hillary struggled with that because she was associated with TPP and NAFTA. She was in the center and struggled to move left.

  112. So, the moral of the story is, "if you can't beat'em (the fascists) join'em." Sorry Ross, not in this lifetime. The wiser course for the left would seem to be to fight to protect our Constitution, and our basic way of life, while giving the opposition all the rope it needs to hang itself. When citizens awaken to the realization they have lost Medicare, Social Security and a myriad other programs that make life bearable then there will be a reckoning--not before. The left's long march to the right and its internalization of neoliberalism over the last forty years is no small part of the disaster that has culminated in the election of Donald Trump. Moving rightward to meet the extremists who now constitute the Republican brand would not just constitute capitulation but would signal the end of the Great American Experiment.

  113. As far as I know, the Democratic Party doesn't support "open borders". And, if being anti-trade is suddenly centrist, then Sanders is a centrist? As for abortion rights and equal marriage, there's no compromise on these issues. Civil rights can't be negotiated away. A woman's right to control her own body and everyone's right to marry the person they love are moral imperatives for liberals. As for transgender rights, they too are inevitable. Your religious liberty stops where it infringes on my civil rights.

    Democrats need to go back to their roots - which is the working and middle class. The Party itself is mostly a fund-raising machine. The reason Sanders did so well in the primaries is because he spoke directly to that reality. And he refused to take money from it. If the Party can do that on a larger scale, they don't have to compromise any liberal principles. No edges to soften.

    Because the corruption of the system is at the heart of Trump's rise, his own corruption (and the GOP's) will bring them down. Democrats needs to be ready when that happens. And it's not about moving right politically. It's about *doing* right ethically.

  114. The Democrats' loss in the presidential election had nothing to do with the party being too far to the left, which it patently wasn't despite Douthat's attempt to characterize it that way as the basis of his continued false narrative (which the NYT allows him to perpetuate).

    Rather, it was the failure of the Democrats to market themselves with the same cynical lie-driven tactics of the Republicans. How else to explain the fact that millions of Americans voted against their economic self-interests?

    The fact is that on most social, economic, and foreign policy issues the majority of Americans agree with the Democratic positions, often by a wide margin. What is called for is are far more aggressive campaign strategies that give the people what they need to hear and understand - that Democratic programs and values provide the best means for the country to escape the death spiral of ignorance and deceit that the last campaign embodied.

  115. I said it once and I'll say it again. I voted for Hillary mainly because her economic policy is far better for my pocketbook along with her stance on lowering the the age for Medicare.
    But that's not what the vast majority of other the other white working class voters went for Mr. Trump. Mrs. Clinton pandered far too much to the supporters of illegal immigration and groups like BLM. When the white working class voters saw time and time again Mrs.Clinton promising Hispanics they won't be deported and the Charlotte riots supporting groups like BLM who, whether they intended to or not, represented the destruction of private property that stood out first and foremost in the undecided voters mind. Especially when Mr. Trump time and time again pledged to be the "Law and Order President." Those optics is what turned the election for Mr. Trump and with good reason.

  116. It's all in the messaging. Media control is very powerful, so powerful that people end up doing things they would never consider (think 1930's). Media control drives innuendo, lies, false news and group hysteria. Group hysteria is very motivating. Trump and his likes (Conway, Bannon) are expert at creating hysteria, they are drama queens. They can be deflated easily by a willing press, which can lead the public in a thoughtful discourse rather than a reading of "chicken little". The outrageous statements made (taking away citizenship, deporting, etc) feed into a "group mind" which captures the radical mindset. This is not rocket science. The Democratic Party has an angry group that can be tapped, Sanders did, and this should continue under the leadership of Sanders, Clinton, Obama and Biden, as they bring in the younger stars. No time for being crybabies. It is high time to stop thinking of the election as over, in a sense, with media, it is never over. Time for 2018, it must start today, no time to waste.

  117. I would prefer the Democrats "moved right" rather than "moved Right", which means they should "move Left", rediscover the roots of Franklin Roosevelt and even the 1990's Bill Clinton, and stop acting as Republicans in disguise, which is what Hillary and the 2016 version of her husband came to represent. (I suppose they were both on the side of the poor and the meek until their assets suddenly exceeded $ 100 million and placed them in the camp of the 0.1 %).

    The U.S. is sorely lacking in justice and fairness for all, the pillars on which it succeeded magnificently in the post-WWII period. It's now all about material success, competition between social strata and sound bytes to fool the majority into acting against their own interests.

    Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are breaths of fresh air, but will the party apparatchiks ever support them?

  118. If what you say is true, how do you explain the excitement around Bernie Sanders' campaign? Sanders brought many very liberal ideas to the table and there was great enthusiasm around his campaign. In fact I almost thought the U.S. could become like the rest of the industrialized world by enacting universal health care and post secondary education. The neocons of the Clinton ilk have not inspired much excitement for a while now.
    The voters have sensed that since the Citizens United decision, politicians are courting money, not voters. This applies to both parties, and so enthusiasm for "outsiders" continues. Unfortunately they chose a candidate whose main trait is greed, not service.

  119. This is an argument for totalitarianism; for a far-right wing nativist-fascist party and a 2nd right-wing party. It's blatantly manipulative, resting on lies that the right is infallible; discrediting all things progressive, left, and liberal. What's the real reason that the Democrats have lost representation "in most states, most House districts, most Senate races"? Why does the Democratic Party have less "political power than it did after the Reagan revolution”? Because Republicans have spent 50+ years destroying American representative democracy by rigging the system. Forgetting the Electoral College, where a person who gets 1 vote in California would get 3.6 votes in Missouri, there’s a small matter of voter suppression and Republican Gerrymandering manipulation at the state level. In Pennsylvania alone Democrats got only 25% of the House seats though winning over 50% of the vote; a vote cast by a Republican was worth 2x that of a Democrat living a few blocks away. All Douthat’s proven is that Republican control is only possible because they’ve created a system where “elected representation” is a lie. Finally, how can Douthat pretend that Donald Trump is “a hard-right candidate on certain issues but a radical sort of centrist on trade, infrastructure and entitlements” when he’s appointed only far right ideologues, foreign policy hawks, and Wall Street billionaires who plan to gut Medicare? It is Bush 43 pumped up by Putin’s Olympic Steroid Program and enforced by the FSB.

  120. Ross both parties support the collection of mega data, secret courts, murder by Presidential decree and secret wars that target civilians. The last two Presidents both supported almost identical immigration reform policies.

    You really think that Democrats have lost the Congress, Senate Presidency and most of the State houses because they insist that Catholic bakers make cakes for gays who get married?

    The real problem the Democrats have is the American public no longer trusts their government. The reason they don't is Republicans have been running the government for almost 2 decades. Without a Democratic figure head to take the blame the public will be clear on who to blame. The sugar rush of tax cuts will probably wear off before the next election.

  121. Um, no. The people who voted for DT--though they certainly were energized by xenophobia, tacit or explicit biogtry, and fear of the other--also faced legitimate economic concerns that have to do with the outright failure of capital. And who addressed that failure most honestly? Who resonated with workers in the blighted Rust Belt, who eventually flipped and went over to the flaccid conman? Who treated late capitalism like the horrific crisis that it was, instead of some problem to be addressed over two or three decades of incremental tweaks? (Remember: The system can stay insolvent longer than you can stay alive). It wasn't the center-right democrat. It was the center-left one; the one reviving mainstream social democratic principles.

    Immiserated Americans were took by a greasy millionaire straight out of the DSM-V. But many of them are ready for an economic arrangement that is far more to the left than anything in the nation's history. The task will be breaking their ideology through open, face-to-face conversations. How would they feel if they could own and operate their own businesses with their fellow workers? How would they feel if they didn't have to face a $15k deductible? How would they feel if they could stick it to the monopolies that have been ripping them off for forty years? My guess is that they would feel pretty good.

  122. How willingly we hold to the idea that a world as complex as ours can be divided into right and left. This country is a diffuse cloud of disparate interests all struggling to have their voice be heard. Standing out in the cloud is like being in fashion, and it frequently comes with compensation. There is money and 'likes' to be made in issues. Being right or left is way to make a living, build a network, satisfy your ego. Agenda franchises. And when your prophets invariably preach for profit, that explains why we so often feel nothing ever changes.

    Shifting positions. Admitting there could be even the slightest merit in another point of view comes with peril. You could lose following.

    In our heart of hearts I think we as a country know it is not black and white. That being pro choice and female reproductive rights is a strong and worthy issue. But equally we know that to some, abortion cannot be seen without seeing the death of person who could have been -- and the push back is understandable.

    So our democracy really exists as a cantilever. Perhaps we need to admit that the bridge stands because opposing forces push against each other. Parties want to push us to extremes, both left and right guilty of aggression. But we have to see past their need to pander to the extremes. I think the truth of American life exists in the in-between.

  123. The democratic party offers the country much more if the consequence for holding steadfast to ideals were it to become a minority party. I don't believe that's the consequence, but if it were, so what? This multicultural country of multi-regional and multi-economic influences needs many vibrant colors not a few shades of black. But i just wish we can move from right and left ideology and instead read op-eds sharing ideas on climate change solutions, wealth disparity, globalization, and health care to name a few. I suppose the media is forever stuck in the mud of the tired old themes and debates over left and right over right and wrong.

  124. Nice try, Ross. No, we don't need to move right. Your Party has already moved the country so far to the right that we're about to fall into the Atlantic Ocean. What's needed is better messaging by Democrats. They should have a great opportunity coming up as your President shreds every American value and constitutionally enshrined right other than the one that supposedly says we can all buy Uzi's to our heart's content. What the Democrats need to do is shout loud and often to help people see what has been right in front of their eyes for 30 years: your Party only cares about the 1% and wants to return to the 1950's, when women knew their place and white men were in charge. I have to give your guys one thing, Ross, you sure know how to run a con. You've been doing it for 30 years and have convinced just enough people that up is down (with the help of Faux News) to allow you to stay in power. Let's see if the marks remain blind to all the ways they're being cheated when the biggest con man of all starts making decisions from the White House.

  125. Well said, Wendy. People want jobs, and GOP trickle down economics has failed to produce good ones, to say nothing of the deregulation that crashed the economy in 2008. With the GOP in control of the White House, Congress, and, soon, the Supreme Court, 31 Governships, 22 states in full control (compared to 3 in Democratic full control) the GOP's fingerprints are all over the situation that we are in. People want change, and they want it to benefit them and their families.

    Look at what we've lost in the last 50 years. We used to be able to live a comfortable middle class life on one income which included living in a nice house, sending your kids to state college without onerous debt, having your medical expenses covered if you got sick, and being able to retire, frugally but comfortablly, when you turned 65. And, if you and your kids worked hard and played by the rules, the future was bright. It's all gone.

    Elizabeth Warren gets it. Bernie gets it. They know what to do. And, they are not "center". They are progressive, to the left, and that indeed is our future, should we be smart enough to to choose it.

  126. For the Democrats to regain majority status in the House, Senate, and Executive branches, both in our nation's capital and beyond, they need to remain true to their ideals and not be co-opted by recent elections that seem to indicate a cultural shift to the Right.

    This current election will, in time, be viewed as an aberration and not an indication or signal of a national movement to the Right. In order to win, Trump made some "Trump University-like promises" about what he would do if he were elected, and the sad part is that many former middle class factory workers actually believed what he was peddling. As has been said and reported elsewhere, Trump would say whatever he thought would win the hearts and minds of his audience, regardless of its veracity or lack thereof.

    Many in the industrial rust belt were swayed by his rhetoric because that's what they wanted to believe. Conversely, Hillary Clinton won the majority of the college educated because they knew that Trump was selling snake oil and little else. But the less educated only knew the pain of losing what they once had and wanted to believe that Trump could pull off an industrial revival of sorts.

    Bottom line is, people appreciate authenticity and real compassion. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and those who share their enthusiasm for justice and fairness in all walks of life, are the future of the Democratic Party and, I believe, will ultimately win the majority of the political battles that lie ahead.

  127. I think your last paragraph says it all. Hillary tried to persuade - but could not convince. A compassionate Democrat could - nay will - have their day. Passion enough to take on the bullies, compassion enough to not ridicule the heartfelt concerns of those who feel left behind. A unifier, not just a social critic.

  128. I observe that most of the changes you call rightward implicte the identity politics side of the Democratic debate. Notably, you have not called for the tempering of any of the Democratic impulses toward ameliorating inequality, or what used to be part of a job-oriented pro-labor agenda. While you do cite some criminal justice and welfare eligibility initiatives, these i suppose are in between the identity politics and economics wings, not strictly the domain of either.

    Perhaps inadvertently, then, your argument tends to strengthen the claims of those Democrats arguing for making primary an economic, universalist agenda designed to yield tangible benefits for working class Americans of all races and backgrounds. Employment, better wages, economic development, wages that keep up with rising costs, tax fairness, defending Medicare and Social Security, protecting the evironment, and attacks on concentrated wealth and disproportionate political power seen in such industries as finance, pharma, and fossil fuels, and yes, rebuilding our infrastructure.

  129. Why would we want to move right? Who wants to live in a society that values racism, hate for other religions, women and minorities. The Democratic party has moved right. Which is the problem. They are now all Nixon republicans and there fore cannot offer any solution different than the republicans.

    Who wants to move right when it means scrapping all social plans, education, health care for all or even seniors. Gutting any welfare programs, cutting teh support for American veterans who the right gleefully sends off to wars.

    The party needs to move left hard.

  130. It is hard to know where to begin to respond to this.
    Particularly bothersim is the statement that the Democrats have to return to religious pluralism. Members of the religious right are the ones who want to control how people live, who can love whom, etc. They want limited government regulation of everything except the most personal activity and decisions.
    They have no understanding of the concept of separation of church and state - the desire for school prayer and for the placement of the Ten Commandments on public buildings being two glaring examples.
    The Democrats are not telling anyone they must use birth control, must get abortions, must marry people of the same sex, must pray a certain way, or even must pray at all.

  131. Sorry, Ross,
    This country just elected under the Republican banner a man that has not only repudiated many of the beliefs of your party, but has horrified most of the believers of mine. The response to trumps election is not for the Democrats to move right and start shoving people out of its umbrella.

    When Trump and the Republicans start trying to implement the vile policies it trumpeted during the election, we will see how the populace actually feels. When your party starts gutting public schools, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, health care, environmental protections, first Amendment protection, etc. etc. etc., we are going to need the Democrats to protest the dismantling of those policies and programs that the majority of this country prefers to remain in place.

    I am sorry that you lost your party when you won the election. The Democrats may have lost the election but we didn't lose our soul.

  132. It sure is funny how a different perspective changes one's view of everything.
    From my point of view Democrats have been moving steadily rightward since Bill Clinton. And judging from their results, I'd say I have the stronger argument than Douthat. Hillary Clinton is a veritable Neo-Con in her foreign policy. The ACA has some good points here and there, but it fundamentally exists on a mandate to buy insurance from for-profit companies and Obama didn't even fight for the public option or drug bargaining. Wall Street is prioritized above all other financial concerns. White collar over blue. High-end CEOs still make more money in a year than MOST of us will in 6 centuries and often pay lower tax rates. The minimum wage has stagnated for years. Sounds very conservative to me. By comparison, Nixon seems like a radical lefty. And Eisenhower? He's a veritable traitor to the country with all that talk of the military industrial complex.

    HIllary was the worst of all worlds. She was a conservative candidate with delusional belief that she was above it all. Come on. I still can't get over her making closed door speeches to bankers for big bucks at a time when she knew she was running for president. How delusionally impervious and imperious can you get? She should have stepped aside for the good of the country.

    If Dems want my vote they are going to have to earn it. And the more rightward we drift, the more radical the Dems are going to have to be to be credible.

  133. On the other hand, having seen the ugliness of the other way, perhaps Democrats could stand firm on fairness and justice, with a stronger dose of economic opportunity. Douthat wishes to give credit to the demagoguery and viciousness of the Trumpers, and celebrate the malignant gerrymandering launched by Tom DeLay that guaranteed a lot of Republican seats by disenfranchising Democrat voters.
    Douthat forgets that the Trumper position will increase climate danger, excite violence, tolerate inequality, and promise jobs it cannot deliver at any price.

  134. Yes. Progressive liberal Marxist elitist "intellectual" idiot democrats can move right, but it takes rational thought to overcome their feelings. It takes understanding that respecting the inalienable individual rights of others is always the moral path. It takes understanding that force, in all of its forms, including coercion, lying, stealing, cheating, etc. is immoral. When they understand these simple things, they will find a renewed appreciation for the Constitution as it was written, not how some Marxist democrat, like Obama, wishes it was. Suddenly, they realize how important it is to conserve the constitution and they realize they are conservative.

  135. The indications are, with Trump's cabinet picks so far and the apparent choice of Mitt Romney as Secretary of State, and with the handling of donations to the inaugural, that this is going to be a plutocratic administration with racist overtones.

    Obamacare was unloved - now it's finished. But Paul Ryan and Tom Price intend to also do in Medicare. With the racist tinge of the incoming administration, expect them to at least de-fund if not dissolve the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Then there is Trump's promise of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, to be paid for by cutting social programs. We will see the largest transfer of income upward in the nation's history.

    The suffering that Republicans will inflict on most Americans does not suggest that the Democrats should move to the right. Rather, the best course of action would be to return to being the party of William Jennings Bryan, FDR, Henry Wallace, Harry Truman, and Lyndon Johnson. The dominant 'gentry liberal' wing of the Democratic Party, the creation of George McGovern, Fred Dutton, Tony Coelho, Robert Strauss, and the Clintons, has to go.

  136. The only lesson for the Democrats is that the party needs to renounce its alliance with Wall Street. That's neither right nor left. It's simply a recognition that we should no longer subsidize Wall Street's parasitic existence. Leave Wall Street to the Republican Party. We are already seeing, despite seeming conflict within the Republican Party, that the unifying principle of the Republicans is subsidies for corporations. Let that be made plain.

  137. Democrats lost the electoral college for these reasons - a weak message and candidate, and low voter turnout. In effect, it was a mid-term election where 45% of the people stayed away because they saw no difference between the candidates. For those who voted, it was the same dilemma. Many people I've spoken with voted for Trump based upon a distaste for Hillary or on narrow economic interests. There was no buy-in to the GOP agenda. They could just have easily have voted for Hillary. It was a coin toss. The truth is that we are deeply divided country. The Democratic Party needs to rediscover its soul - Bernie showed the way.

  138. Considering the fact that Trump's win was aided in every swing state by third party votes who disliked both candidates, which was in part due to the media that loved false equivalency and an FBI director who unfairly tipped the scales during the election (there were 75k write-is in Florida for goodness sake), and the fact that millions of voters did not vote for the grotesque ultra conservative/racist government that seems to be coalescing before our eyes (Trump promised to drain the swamp not fill his cabinet with swamp dwellers), and they sure didn't vote for gutting their social safety net, he promised to protect medicare and social security, and finally yes, we are the majority but are out of power, especially in the Senate, because we happen to like living in cosmopolitan areas, I think the last thing Democrats need to do is shift rightward. The Republicans are dunk with power and think they can do anything they want with zero opposition. They are crazy. Their plans to gut healthcare reforms will create chaos. Trump will not bring back the jobs that he promised and his cabinet picks from DOJ to Education to DHS and beyond, will push policies concerning civil rights, gay rights, women's rights etc. that will create such a backlash that we will be on fire. What the Democrats need is a backbone. They need to stand firm for the values and principles that we, the majority, hold dear while the Republicans hang themselves by finally showing America what party they really are.

  139. Ross, Your analysis goes wrong the moment you propose that Democrats lost by being too far left. Trump won by mounting a campaign that ruthlessly ignored traditional left-right labels. From the Left he pulled his emphasis on protectionism in trade. From the Right he pulled his anti-immigration theme. From the Left he drew his proposal for a massive investment in infrastructure. From the Right came his embrace of low taxes.

    What really characterizes Trumpism is white populism, which borders on white nationalism. He feeds on the anger and anxiety of a white working class that sees itself in decline relative to the growing visibility and influence of minorities.
    It is Reaganism without Reagan's charm or innate optimism.

    Trump will fail to correct the white decline, and Democrats will eventually profit from that failure. But the Democrats' strategy going forward cannot be to try to appeal to the same inward-looking white angst. They cannot out-Trump Trump. Instead, Democrats need to embrace an openness to the world. Where Trump believes Americans are basically losers, Democrats need to show how we can be winners by putting education, training, and investment first. Leave inwardness and fear to the Republicans.

  140. Now that the debris has finally settled over the post election Democratic blues it's time to take stock and rebuild. For starters it's highly unlikely that the Democrats will take a rightward turn especially with the alt left in the Senate represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren getting leadership roles. The only hope the Democrats have is to rally around the only influential leader they have, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for the time being. In Congress Nancy Pelosi has just got to go. It's time to stop rewarding failure. What's also hurting Democrats is that they're now perceived the party of clueless cocktail party elitists. Look at the electoral map--only the Far West and the Northeast still remain steadfastly blue. The rest of the map which the Democrats disdainfully refer to as "flyover country" is as red as it ever was. That is why the Democrats fail--they just refuse to understand how and why Middle America rejects their positive progressive revolutionary agenda in favor of this bombastic billionaire whose childish goal is "To Make America Great Again." Seriously???

  141. I happen to live in a flyover state that is becoming more blue rather than less. What makes it different from most of the flyover states that are turning redder? It's simple: it has an economy that is doing very well at attracting younger, more educated people--just like the West Coast and Northeastern states. It has good schools, a thriving cultural scene, great public amenities, and a dynamism that is almost completely missing from the states that are becoming redder. The reality is that Democrats don't disdain those other states; they disdain the attitudes that keep those economically losing states down.

    One of my children lives in Wisconsin where almost everyone she meets grew up in Wisconsin. She's a rare bird who voluntarily moved there, albeit to its most liberal (and vibrant) city. The sad thing is that for many younger people in those states, the only option is to move elsewhere if they want to take advantage of economic growth. And that's not the fault of the Democrats; it's the fault of their Republican governments which are busily doing things like dismantling the once first class public universities that were the pride of the state.

  142. I'm not sure how the Democratic debate will go, but the success of Bernie Sanders, especially among independents, suggests considerable scope for moving left. I was always a Clinton supporter, but saw clearly that her past center-right history was one of the main factors working against her.

    Meanwhile Trump won by in part coopting an economic populism more usually associated with the left, and making magical promises such as giving everyone free healthcare while abolishing Obamacare. Whatever that is, it's not exactly a move rightward.

    We'll see.

  143. Witnessing the post-Trump rise in hate crime points to how a win emboldens folks to start dishing out all the rubbish they've held in for so long. Ross is no exception.
    In our current post-fact world it does not matter that I have neither the time nor the space to address his ramblings one-by-one. The purported fact that Democrats are loosing on the State and Local levels conveniently ignores years of GOP-lead Gerrymandering. The electoral college is just the same, but at the Federal level.
    The GOP would do itself a service by understanding that winning an office at the cost of a popular vote loss is a disaster in the making. As Dr. King said "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"

  144. Hold on Mr Douthat...your headline should read can the extreme left move more towards the center but still left and can mainstream republicans move center/center left.

    Despite the election result America is not moving right. They did not elect a ideological right winger who won both the electoral and popular vote.

    They elected a rabble rousing, ego maniac, reality show star demagogue who won because he demagogued the plight of the blue collar worker in the rust belt(while Hillary did nothing about it) and he lost the popular vote by millions.

    America is moving center/center left from center/center right (1980-2008).

    Trump is just an aberration. History has shown that demagogues never do anything for their electorate, just for themselves.

    Learn from history or forever be condemned to repeat its' worst aspects.

  145. Some of my friends and I believe that the Democrats lost because they did not move further to the left, not the right. Bernie Sanders' message to workers had tremendous resonance with the working class, and I believe that Hillary would have been well-advised to take it up, at least more directly and forcibly.

    These are, nevertheless, perceptions and false images promulgated by the Republicans and right-wing politicians. The Democratic Party does not need to forsake its core beliefs simply to garner favor from the right wing parties in this country.

  146. I think you are really, seriously, out of touch with the real America.

  147. The ills of the Democratic party aren't that different from those of the Republican party. Both are built on the status quo model of consumer capitalism and economic colonialism that enriches the elites at the cost of everyone else. When the western democracies exploit a country, the people always come along with the extracted wealth and create the ethnic diversity and cultural pluralism that the current populism rejected in favor of Donald Trump and Brexit. The way forward is not through the past, but toward something that is not yet fully understood and not yet fully formed, a new paradigm that is not post-enlightenment, post-modern, post-anything, but pre-whatever is coming. Whether or not we must first go though 400 years of a new dark ages remains, as yet, to be seen.

  148. Another piece lying about Democrats disconnected from the real world. Democrats don't support 'open borders', mass immigration of refugees, or supporting 'no strings dependency.' These are Republican fantasies. Democrats however have supported since FDR a safety net and reasonable regulations to temper the worst excesses of the free market, which do not effectively deal with collective externalities such global warming and environmental degradation, and excesses such as stock market panics. Democrats also have been at the forefront of the civil rights movement since LBJ.

    Please try a serious examination of the issues instead of your cartoon preachiness which is both tiresome and not contributing to a serious discussion of the issues, including how Trump's short term grifting of working people threatens their own self interest in the potential destruction of Medicare and Social Security, which have done more to reduce human suffering in this country than any other action in the past century, and which were and still are opposed by most Republicans who have yet to escape from their Ayn Randian fantasies.

  149. In case you hadn't read it, Hillary supports -- nay, she dreams of -- open borders. That's what she told her pals at Goldman Sachs.

  150. Perhaps the Democratic Party and Liberalism have not attracted enough support because they finished the prelude, "..perhaps this is a gross generalization." That phrase should not be made nor completed in a political campaign. What citizens all across the country want are politicians who listen, who can through direct action or legislation make our world better and freer. The current climate of America beyond global warming is fear. Fear generated by job loss and no options readily available, fear of being shot in the back by law enforcement for a traffic violation, fear of losing parents by deportation, fear of losing access to quality healthcare, and fear of student debt and inadequate job opportunities. As long as Liberalism heeds the advice of a wise teacher, "The first shall be last, and the last shall be first." , tax and welfare policy will be more just. The historical strength of liberalism is organization and working in groups; e.g. unions, underground railroad, public education, women's suffrage, civil and voting rights, and peace and environmental marches and protests. Conservatives now rely on the singular 3am Tweets by the solitary Twit. Liberalism is about liberty and justice for all. Conservativism is about power and money for the proud privileged few who are not brave but boisterous and obnoxious. The lie is saying that liberals in Congress would not compromise. The truth is conservatives pledged they would not compromise but obstruct. Tell the truth.

  151. Sure they can, but not in three microseconds.

    For now, the Democratic caucus is chock-full of bomb-throwers; but nothing is forever. Soon, the dawn will break on a weary Senate without Harry Reid, and that could never be a bad thing. He’s done more to damage Dems than anyone alive, except for Nancy Pelosi – his fault, despite warnings, that Dems no longer are able to employ the filibuster to influence Republican presidential nominations. True, Pelosi herself is re-animated as House minority leader, although she has some competition this time.

    But we Republicans will loyally support Pelosi, because she’s presided over four serial Democratic House electoral disasters. Did you folks know that Republicans polled three MILLION more House votes than Democrats in 2016? Yes, I know, the Times didn’t made a thing of it – you had to go to the WSJ to find this out. And it continues to bleed into the states: 33 Republican governorships, undivided Republican legislatures in 32 of our states, just about everyone down to dog-catcher a Republican. And, of course, undivided Republican national governance.

    Then, Liz Warren is buried so deep in the political graveyard that to dig her up would cause the Chinese to scream about territorial infringement. And we’re not hearing a lot from Bernie these days, either.

    Sooner or later Dem voters will twig: being so left gets them bragging rights but absolutely nothing else. THAT’S when they’ll tack starboard. And America will be a much better place.

  152. The fact that Republicans received 3 million more House votes than Democrats is as meaningful as Clinton's popular vote victory of over 2.3 million (and counting).

    Most of the House seats are gerrymandered. Even so, the Democrats gained 6 seats in the House.

    The next 4 years are going to be terrible for our nation as we are being led by a petulant child who will do tremendous damage to the very same people that gave him the victory.

  153. No, Kevin, the performance of Republicans in the House elections is MUCH more relevant than Mrs. Clinton's win of the popular presidential vote. Or hadn't you noticed who runs the House these days?

    And keep blaming "gerrymandering" for the slaughter. It will keep you from mounting an effective counter-effort, such as more compelling messages, that could change the electoral reality.

    The next four years will be fine, except for the stomach-linings of liberals.

  154. Yes Richard darling, but the Dems won the votes.

  155. I'm afraid that sadly, they probably won't. The Obama-era party (during which Hillary ran) is comprised of progressives so steeped in the moralistic rhetoric of left-wing academia that any compromise is akin to "selling out," "white supremacy," "heteronormativity," "Islamophobia," etc. The entire worldview of the progressive wing is based on Post-Colonialism and Gender Studies.

  156. Bravo!

  157. I presume that in 1933 Germany this columnist would be (mildly) suggesting that Social Democrats should become more tolerant of the opposition's anti-Semtism, gun-wielding mobs, direct assault on truth by racist propagandists and so forth. And the Right's leader couldn't possibly be "all that bad," because the burden of governing would mature him.

    I prefer Bertold Brecht as a writer and observer to Douthat, and I hope readers forgive me for daring to use Brecht's name in such a revolting comparison.

  158. Obviously, this is what Douthat would like to see. But frankly, the so-called "social-cultural issue" (which liberals see as issues of civil liberty) would be less hyped if working class swing voters felt better about the economy. The Dems didn't alienate too many voters by being to liberal on social issues, but by being technocratic on economics ones. Most people, if they do not feel economically threatened, are willing to live and let live. And most people, unlike Douthat, do not have an axe to grind regarding sex and reproduction.

  159. In a contest between a Republican and a Republican, a Republican will win every time - Harry Truman

  160. Wait, didn't the Democrats win the popular vote by about 2%?

    The country didn't move right, Mr. Douthat.

  161. Yes and all Democrats could become Republicans. Except, speaking only for myself, prefer my liberal ideas. How about, as the compromise you apparently want, Republicans move left.

  162. The photo of Trump , Preibus and Romney sharing a $500 meal at Jean George's says it all. Let them eat cake " is the message to us , the lumpen proletariat , who will stand by helplessly as Ryan guts our health care and Social Security.
    Is this the moving right that you call for?

  163. The Democrats cannot correct the profound wrongs of the GOP by becoming more wrong themselves. They only need to keep the faith, and be patient.

    Mr. Douthat is justifiably frightened about what the electorate (and for that matter, the rest of the world) will think of Republicans in four years' time.

  164. A Trump apologist offering advice to the Democrats is the equivalent of a doctor offering hemlock. Trust me, it doesn't taste so bad, try it.

    Good satire, RD.

  165. This is conventional wisdom cubed. Why have two political parties at all?

  166. "Moral and religious pluralism" is not what got Mr. Trump elected. It was just the opposite - a hunkering down amidst an avalanche of verbal abuse and ridicule aimed at many of the most vulnerable in our land. I would hate to see the Democratic Party lean in that direction.

  167. Earth to Ross: Anyone paying attention during the primary and general election would know that moving the Democratic Party further to the right would relegate it to the political graveyard, along with the Whigs et al. Of course, that’s what you’d prefer anyway. There is a reason, Ross, why Bernie Sanders filled dozens of venues with tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters during the Dem primary. It wasn’t because they wanted him to move right of center of the mainstream Democratic Party. But you and other pundits are hell-bent on ignoring this inconvenient bit of history. After all, your owners - corporate America (by the way, also the owners of this government) - don't want to see reporting on America's progressive base. It might cause more Americans to think that way. And it could mean the death of establishment politics for both parties.

  168. I thought that Clinton had the more thoughtful campaign and approach to things. Trump and the GOP have relied upon cheap shots, the usual round of half truths about tax cuts, government interference, and elitism to goad unhappy citizens into voting against their own interests. Nothing I've heard in this campaign on the GOP side is new or helpful to the working and middle classes. That means that nothing the GOP is planning will truly help most of us. If you want to criticize the Democrats there are plenty of other things that need changing. The biggest was counting on Clinton rather than grooming at least one or two others to run in the primaries. The GOP had no good candidates. Even Trump doesn't have the qualifications and experience Clinton has or, worse, that Ted Cruz has. At least Cruz has served in government. Trump has served his own interests.

    We'll see how people feel after the midterm elections when Trump will have been in office for 2 years. Will his policies and the policies of a GOP controlled Congress be helping to make America great again or just assisting the rich in amassing more wealth at our expense? Will America work for all her citizens or only the elitists (in this case those who are at the very top of the income ladder0? Given the statements Trump has made and what the GOP wants, I doubt it. What the Democrats need to do is point out, with emphasis, every action the GOP makes to hurt the majority of Americans.

  169. If Democrats from SF, LA, Seattle and NYC keep telling 50% of the country they are intolerant racists because they are not totally on board with identity politics and the narrow agendas of certain very left interest groups, then Trump's four years will most certainly be eight years. The traditional Pelosi message is not resonating. Time to change course.

    PS--I am a Democrat.

  170. Michael says "PS_I am a Democrat". Your rhetoric suggests you have the wrong tense: you WERE a Democrat. You are a Dixiecrat.

  171. If winning elections is the ultimate objective and ideas are just products that need to be fine tuned to achieve that (in the same way as Apple's ultimate objective it to earn money, and Iphones are just the product), then this column is point on. But if you have the weakness to believe that ideas are what counts, and winning an election is just a way to apply these ideas, then this is pathetic. Of course there is the Trump way, which is to make you sign for an Iphone and effectively give you an old 1990 Nokia.

  172. Hello brother Ross. Is anyone in there?

    Listen up. More people voted for Hillary than the president elect.
    If only the millennial's voted the country would be blue from sea to shining sea.

    Yours is a dying breed of movement conservatism that is only in power for a short time due to the vagaries of the electoral collage, voter suppression, and lies.

    Don't even think we are going to move right. Your people and party are going to have to move left. Right along side the rest of the country.

  173. The Electoral College is there to protect all of the country's voice. Do you really believe it is fair to have condensed states and cities dictate policy for all other Americans? How does the left and right coasts know what policies and agenda are best for so called "flyover" states? A good example is the lefts view on illegal immigration (Note: Illegal is different than legal.) Come and live in a border state for a bit. If you are an American citizen that does not speak Spanish, you will wonder what country you are living in at times. It is not unusual to walk into a small store and ask if anybody speaks English to assist you. In government buildings it is difficult to find signs that are not written in Spanish. One is lucky if the front desk help speaks English. It is almost as the government believes that American citizens are not worthy of assistance. Stand in line at a grocery store and see non English speakers use their Lone Star card (food stamps) to purchase $252 worth of brisket when you are using the last bit of your tax reduced paycheck to buy macaroni and cheese for your family to eat. Then on the way home an illegal alien with no drivers license and no insurance runs a red light taking out your vehicle that you can only afford liability insurance on. The illegal immigrant is then given a ticket for not having insurance but not held to account for being in this country illegally. Welcome to your open borders nirvana.

  174. As a Democrat, I do think some reforms are necessary. But the next four years will probably show us extreme Republican overreach with an inevitable backlash that will make the reforms difficult.

  175. Nothing went wrong for liberalism on election day -- Hillary Clinton earned the plurality of the vote. In fact, the Democrats have won the plurality in six of the past seven national elections, which is the most wins in seven elections for any party since the Civil War.

    The question is, what went wrong for democracy on election day; what went wrong for America.

  176. All this analysis about the democrats need to move this way and that way. there was nothing wrong with the dems platform the election was stolen from Hilary by Comie. If he had not made that announcement Hilary would have had it in the bag. But noooooo you guys want to report on fluff and feel good stories. I listen to the alt right and i know why people are drawn to them, they call a spade a spade with some deception of course. you continue barking up the fluff tree and you too will lose readership. NY times i emplore you to stop being the CNN of print media, go out and do your research. Do hard hitting investigative journalism or find yourself in the dust pile of history.

  177. Comey was NOT the cause of this epic election loss by HRC. Please face the facts. HRC couldn't get the lackadaisical voters pumped up, she didn't even TRY to appeal to the Rust Belt, she lost the youngsters, she flipped on issues that mattered, identity politics ... on and on and on. No, it wasn't HER time. The Democrats better learn from this or they face a long time foraging in the political wilderness.

  178. We've tried identity politics; it's a stone cold loser. It's time for the sensible pocketbook politics that animated FDR and Truman's political dominance for a generation. Here's four ideas that will make a substantive difference and send the right political message to the blue collar Democrats in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who handed the election to Donald Trump:

    1. Close the loss carry forward deduction from income that gave Mr. Trump $916 million in undeserved tax breaks according to the New York Times. To that add as many as you can from the attached list of special tax breaks for the wealthy put out by the IRS: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/tax-policy/Documents/Tax-Expend.... Assign the savings from those repealed tax breaks to reducing Federal income taxes on families making less than $60,000 a year.

    2. Tax capital gains at the same rate as is ordinary income, and assign the tax savings to tax cuts orrebate checks for families making less than $60,000 per year.

    3. Adopt one or more of the tax policies designed to help low- and middle-income families proposed by the Brooking Institution (see: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2015/04/15/tax-policies-to-suppo.... I like giving substantial tax breaks to secondary workers in low-income households since this group (largely women) now takes home only about 50% of what they earn.

    4. Fund a $5 trillion infrastructure program heavy on blue-collar jobs.

    This is the GOP's Achilles heel.

  179. You apparently don't know who the country just elected.

  180. No. We don't need to move rightward and if anything the next 4 years will reward a leftish stance. Just to review, the Dems lost because of Trump's many lies and demogogery, Comey's thumb on the election scale, an antiquated electoral college, HRC won more votes in the wrong places, Trump voters ushered in a new word--post-truth, the GOP has spent the last 10 years avoiding doing anything on immigration causing the problem and was then rewarded for it. I could go on but the GOP Ideas are antithetical to the constitution. How's that SCOTUS nomination going? See my point?? Re: Ferguson, why don't you talk about how the police force was being used as a revenue generator? It was in the AG's report. Wasn't there a consent decree? Bernie Sanders moved left and nearly won the nomination and at the time was polling ahead of HRC vs. Trump. Dems are in disarray but to revamp would be to take themselves out to a further place in the wilderness. The play now is to resist Trump's more egregious proposals and cooperate when it makes sense.

  181. No. It's not that complicated. We lost because a Spoiler split the party. Another Nader.

  182. Why Ross, so we can have a conservative party and a fascist party? Next thing you know it's the 50s again....the 1850s.

  183. Sorry Russ. Not buyin' what you're sellin'. The democratic party has, up until this election, been dragged farther and farther to the right. It's why everyone thinks that there's only one party in DC. The unabashed liberalism of Bernie Sanders breathed new life and hope into the party and the platform. You talk about this election like it was some crushing defeat. I would remind you that we gained 6 seats in the house (despite the rampant gerrymandering by the GOP) and 2 in the senate. Not to mention a 2.5 million vote lead in the popular vote for president. No sir, we don't need to move right. The GOP needs to move left. We'll talk again after the mid-terms and 2020. Because this republican victory is going to be short-lived.

  184. The right did not take the fresh breathe out of the Sanders campaign. One must look no farther than mainstream media, highlighted by the NYT, and the Clinton campaign working with the DNC for that. As a conservative, even I was appalled to see what happened to Senator Sanders. I did not agree with some of what he said but I am a solid supporter in a kind of fair election to give the voters the right to decide. I am also disappointed in our parties nominee but he legally won the nomination.

  185. So you believe the Democrats should be willing for bipartisanship even after watching the Republicans hold Pres Obama and the citizens business hostage the eight years he was president. I have a message to Mr Schumer. We need to work with our adversaries to obtain as much as we can for the values of our platform. However, in no way should he try to normalize Trump or his band of sycophants.

  186. I got hung, drawn and quartered in a previous comment thread for suggesting that a policy of obstruction by the Democrats would happen if the shoe was on the other foot. Unbelievable.

  187. Mr. Douthat, a Republican, wants to help the Democrats like a coyote wants to help a roadrunner.

  188. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than two million votes. More people typically vote for Democrats for Congress. But Republicans prevail because of gerrymandered districts and voter suppression. In other words, the game is rigged. In addition, Hillary had to contend with white nationalism, Comey's October non-surprise, third-party purists, fake news that reinforced decades of lies, and the media's false equivalency of her. I fail to see how caving in to right-wing bullying would have overcome those obstacles.

  189. All of that is true, as is the fact that holding the Presidency three terms in a row is very hard, and current circumstances make it harder. And HRC was a wonky low-inspiration candidate with some very unfortunate baggage. Buckraking Wall Street was always guaranteed to be a political liability. No way around running with Bill & Monica in the background music.

    To be frank about it -- elections do have consequences. The American electorate wanted to burn it down, and they put a burn-it-down-clown into office. And now we'll see how far Trump can burn it down.

    the Democrats can't be "the we want to burn it down less" party. The Democrats can't be the "Republicans say 1+1 = 3, we'll be the 1+1 = 2.5 party."

  190. This is becoming a far too often used excuse from members of the left "If we lost, then it is because the game is rigged against us." Unfortunately, gerrymandering is just politics and practiced by whichever party is in power, mainly at the city and state level. In Texas, which the left loves to use as an example of Republican gerrymandering, when Anne Richards (a great Democrat Governor) was in power, there was plenty of gerrymandering going around for the liberals. It was undone when Bush took over in Austin. I am a conservative, but, look at the person running and the platform run on. Using this, I have voted for Dems (as well as independents) on a good number of occasions. A lot of Texans vote this way as well. Texas has recently been solid red, but with the uncertainty of a Trump presidency, was more a light purple this year. I believe the state might have switched to blue had anyone but HRC, or Bernie on socialist agenda, ran against Ms Clinton. Members of all parties here are fed up with the status quo of both parties recently. To most Texans, what a candidate stands for and what they will do for their constituency, is more important than party, race or gender. This statement is proven by the results of elections since the 1960's.

  191. No. The Democrats should not move towards becoming a more "Republican light" party. They need to reconnect liberalism with the working class, and emphasize the economic uncertainty that exists in the world and the need for collective action. Americans are generous, and they understand teamwork, they understand the value of someone "having their back". They need to get out of bed with the corporate interests and back into a real dialogue with working people in all walks of life.

  192. Moving to the right would be a bad idea for The Democrats. Younger voters are more open-minded and accepting of the changes going on in our country. I am an aging boomer, and sadly, so many folks my age want to go back to the good old days.

    We need a viable alternative to the right wing extremism in this country. Change is coming. America wanted one last taste of moving the country backward before the younger generation takes over.

    Move forward, not backward. We lost in the electoral college because a lot of younger voters could not connect with Mrs. Clinton and apparently did not think she was qualified for the presidency. I disagreed with them, but the results are in and it is time to turn the page on the past and look forward to the future.

  193. We have already experienced the Rockerfeller Republicans in Democratic garb. It was the Left wing of the Democrats that gave the party a wake-up shake before the T Train ran over them. Ross, thank you for your concern, but the Republicans need to collect themselves because their cause is at stake as well. The right-wing populists are the engineers on their train, and it may be headed towards a bridge that is out. Pax, jb.