In a report from NBC News, titled “Democrats don’t have a Pelosi problem,”California Governor Jerry Brown (D) spoke about the big picture issues for the Democratic party as they embark on the uphill battle to win back both chambers of Congress in 2018. The report comes from an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday, and Brown said that recent struggles within the party can’t be simply attributed to the failures of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“If you added up pluses and minuses, I think Nancy Pelosi is a major pillar of the Democratic Party,” Brown told host Chuck Todd. “And the answer is not to try to replace her with somebody, but to make sure the candidates represent and can empathize and be a part of the district they’re running in.”
Pelosi’s image has experienced a boost in recent weeks as she continues to succeed at doing the one thing above all else that gets politicians to where they are: raising money. Overall, however, her leadership position has been far from secure following four straight special election losses for the Democrats. While all taking place in traditionally red states, the election losses caused Democratic leaders to grow restless at their inability to capitalize on Trump’s unpopularity.
But Brown sees the issue as institutional. Democratic candidates are being chosen as if they are running directly against Trump, and in so doing the party has abandoned a succinct, core message for an “everybody vs. Trump” mentality. Brown sees this as evidence of shortsighted thinking and an ignorance of the diverse range of issues from which one can glean the political capital needed to win elections.
“If we want to be a governing party of a very diverse, and I say diverse ideologically as well as ethnically, country, well, then you have to have a party that rises above the more particular issues to the generic, the general issue of making America great, if I might take that word,” Brown said.
As part of the “Meet the Press” broadcast, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joined Brown in a refreshing and self-aware analysis of both parties current issues. Flake’s new book “Conscience of a Conservative” explores where he believes traditional conservative thinking has gone awry in recent years, namely in pursuing conspiracy-driven political narratives such as “the birther movement.”
“I wish that we as a party would have stood up, for example, when the Birtherism thing was going on,” Flake said.
He believes they have what it takes to win on their own, rather than needing to foster the environment of zero-sum politics in which the delegitimization of your opponent reigns supreme.
“We shouldn’t be the party for jailing your political opponents,” he added.
But, in the end, he recognizes that plays to the tribal instincts of mass public partisans is the mark of modern populism, and what won Trump the election. He worries what this populist strategy, devoid of conservative roots, spells for the future of the party’s message.
“My concern is that populism is a sugar high, once you come off it, it’s particularly troublesome for the party,” Flake said.
See videos of Brown’s comments below:
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