EDITORIAL. “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose …”

When President Obama takes his final flight on Air Force One in just a few weeks, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer will become the highest ranking elected Democrat in the United States.

Senator Schumer will be the Democrat the media will turn to more than any other party person, elected or appointed, for comments and statements about the position of the party on so many issues … such as the likely assaults on: equal opportunities in employment, education and housing; minority voters; equal pay for equal work; marriage equality; universal access to healthcare; immigrants; reproductive rights; as well as protections of religious communities.

For at least two years, and possibly longer, the voice of the Democrats on the national stage will be heard as though from the wilderness … a wilderness the leadership banished the rest of the party to by adopting political plans drawn by actuaries and executed by elite professional fundraisers and strategists who seem to end up on top financially whether they win or lose.

The leaders of the party, particularly those who are members of the US Congress, have lost touch with many of the people they used to represent.

That disconnect began to surface clearly in 2012, when so many members of the House and Senate were at best tepid in their support and association with President Obama, because they felt he might be a political liability – despite the President being the leader who prevented the country from falling into a real depression, and who also delivered something no Democrat, no President for that matter, had ever done … nationwide health coverage.

President Obama’s incredible win in 2012, juxtaposed to the Democrats’ historic losses in the House and Senate, should have been instructive to Congressional Democrats that a chicken-hearted and soulless strategy in 2016 would further alienate many of the people they claim to protect.

Bernie Sanders knew the party needed to stand for all working people; why didn’t his colleagues in Congress understand more and more people felt abandoned and were shivering outside the so-called big tent?

A specific piece of evidence of the actuarial approach versus standing for and defending a philosophy of true inclusiveness, especially on economic matters, is this statement by Senator Schumer to the National Review in July 2016:

“For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”

In addition to losing the support of blue-collar Democrats in places like the Rust Belt, the party is also losing the confidence of more and more economically challenged minority communities because of a correctly perceived lack of real commitment to them by the Democrats in Congress who expect their support, but ignore their needs after election day.

As we see the national government taken over for four years by purveyors of fear and merchants of hate, it will be hard for Senator Schumer, and by extension the Democratic party, to be taken seriously about representing the needs of all working families if he does not accept ownership of that insensitive statement and the strategy it represents; and make a very public ‘mea culpa’ on behalf of the party’s elite.

Then he needs to demand his colleagues actually fight for all the folks that have sought shelter under the big tent.

If he does not, then the many diverse constituencies the Democrats claim to represent should worry if their group will be the next that the political class will cut loose.

First, they abandoned the blue-collar Democrat, and we were silent. Then …