The Democrats have decided that agendas are overrated. Back in May, the party unveiled its “Better Deal” program, calling for expanded broadband access, an increase in the minimum wage, and paid family and sick leave. Voters didn’t bite. So last month the Democrats came up with “For the People,” which simplifies the platform to infrastructure spending, lowering health care costs, and draining the swamp. Again, crickets.
What to do? Party leadership has declared that it’s every cis-het man for himself. “We trust our candidates to know their districts and the challenges facing their communities better than anyone,” House campaign chair Ben Ray Luján tells the New York Times. Translation: If you are Conor Lamb, run as a gun-friendly champion of the working class. If you are Rashida Tlaib, feel free to announce that you would vote against aid for Israel and to call for bi-nationalism that would end the Jewish State. Texas Democrat Colin Allred, following Hillary Clinton, says everyone should be able to buy into Medicare. Maine Democrat Jared Golden, following Bernie Sanders, says, “We need to move towards a universal health care system, like Medicare-for-all.”
Such diversity of approach troubles the philosopher kings of Forty-First Street. Discarding a “Washington platform,” write Sheryl Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, is “a risky strategy.” It leaves unanswered the question of what the Democratic Party stands for. It “could raise questions among voters about how Democrats would govern.” Questions to which there are few substantive answers.
The truth, though, is that the Democrats do have an agenda. They just can’t say it aloud. The reason Democrats seek power in 2018 is to obstruct President Trump wholly and without exception, to tie down his administration using the subpoena powers of a dozen committees, and ultimately to lay the groundwork for his impeachment. The Democratic grassroots expects nothing less.