Faced with perhaps the best opportunity they’ll ever have to grow and expand its ranks for years to come, party officials are instead squandering this gift ― falling into Trump’s troll traps and fighting internal battles, including who should lead the party if they retake Congress in November. Still absent is a cohesive message that informs the American people what exactly the Democratic Party is for, aside from being against Trump, and recent evidence shows Republicans may be gaining ground in the political battle.
So, in a climate that is resoundingly anti-establishment and needing to reach an electorate feeling abandoned by politicians in Washington, the Democratic Party is reportedly looking to the everyman’s favorite community, Hollywood, for help. Politico reported this week that “the Democratic National Committee and members of Congress are turning to Hollywood for help with voter turnout and messaging ahead of the midterm elections and 2020 presidential campaign…” Meetings of a group of writers, actors and executives are reportedly held at the “Century City headquarters of the public relations giant PMK-BNC, seated around a long table in a 14th-floor conference room overlooking the Los Angeles skyline.”
Because nothing speaks more to messaging everyday Americans than a bunch of Hollywood executives and political party elites brainstorming from a posh conference room in Los Angeles. I’m sure this is the group that will figure out how to “message” gun reform to folks in Missouri, Alabama and Arkansas.
The Republican Party right now is over-run by the Trump cult-of-personality - just ask recently defeated Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. The GOP is trapped in a one-way conversation with its own base. In recent months, they have nominated a child sex predator as their Senate nominee in Alabama and just last week a Senate candidate in Virginia who is thoroughly steeped in the racist so-called “alt-right.” If you want a preview of how this story could end for Republicans at the national level, just look to California where after years of pandering to the conservative base, the state party has been shut out of every statewide office and relegated to third-party status, falling behind Democrats and Independents/Decline-to-States in voter registration.
The Republican Party is on a path of self-destruction, except they have the Democratic Party and Hollywood giving them life support.
Here’s a tip, if you want to understand how and why Donald Trump won the 2016 election, go to some country music concerts and pay attention to what you see. In my non-D.C. life, I have been fortunate enough to turn my hobby of being a country music fan into my job through a media platform I started a few years ago. Through that, I’ve spent 14 of the past 23 days embedded with tens-of-thousands of country music fans from across the country at shows and festivals in Maryland, Virginia and Nashville. They weren’t racists. They weren’t stupid. They weren’t bad people lacking a moral compass. But you know what? There is zero effort from the Democratic Party to engage these people in any meaningful way.
You cannot win elections if you aren’t willing to thoughtfully engage people in a genuine attempt to win hearts and minds.
Instead, we see Robert De Niro at the Tony Awards saying, “First, I wanna say, ’f*** Trump.” Everyone in Hollywood and NYC cheered wildly. But guess what? Those folks are already voting with you. How do you think that played in Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Montana? If Democrats want to take control of the Senate, they must win in those states. And If Democrats want to win in those states, they need a message that will appeal, not to Hollywood or political elites, but to middle-class American families who by-and-large are just trying to make it to the end of the day in one piece.
Trump is the only one talking to these people. Democrats need to give them an alternative and coalesce around a message that invites them to be a part of the Democratic Party and support an agenda that will make their lives and their children’s lives a better one.
If you like clean air and drinking water, join us. If you want safe schools, join us. If you want affordable health care, join us. If you want equality for all, join us. If you want workplace protections, join us. If you want a fair paycheck, join us.
It doesn’t take a roundtable of Hollywood executives to figure it out!
Kurt Bardella is a HuffPost columnist. He is a former spokesman and senior adviser for former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) and Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter: @kurtbardella