House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared Sunday on Fox News to defend herself and the Democratic Party’s new initiative – dubbed A Better Deal – aimed at rebuilding her party’s standing with the nation’s voters.
Pelosi’s pitch was straightforward: our economy is rigged against America’s workers and only Democrats can fix it.
One small problem: America has heard this before. On countless commercials. In numerous debates. For months on end.
As highlighted by even supportive media outlets, A Better Deal is largely a rehash of solutions offered by Hillary Clinton during her failed presidential campaign. That doesn’t mean A Better Deal is without merit, as Fox’s Chris Wallace noted. But clearly something was missing when Clinton made these same losing arguments.
The American people were looking for something more. Something different.
And that underlines why Pelosi’s performance was another train wreck for Democrats. D.C. Democrats still don’t understand – or won’t accept – why they keep losing.
President Trump reached the White House with a simple promise: Make America Great Again. He saw a broken immigration system, gutted manufacturing base, and a set of toothless foreign policies that all originated from feckless and corrupt D.C. elites.
To right the ship, Trump vowed to drain the swamp of America’s political losers and push through an agenda that would leave the country literally tired of winning.
Said differently, Trump focused on the brokenness of Washington D.C.
It was a smart strategy.
For years, Congress’ approval rating has been dismal. America has grown tired of the constant political warfare between dueling politicians that has resulted in little progress.
Poll after poll also shows that voters are disgusted by a political system that all too often leads to career politicians who drink off the corrupting spigot of campaign cash from corporate interests.
Bottom line: America wanted better leadership and an effective government in 2016. Fair or not, Trump became the credible voice to accomplish those goals.
Six months later, it’s debatable whether Trump is the voice that America wanted. However what isn’t up for debate is that the country still desires better leadership. In fact, polls show that we view it as the most pressing issue facing the nation.
More important than health care. More than the economy. More than immigration.
And yet despite the country’s hunger for fresh leadership, Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi (with 29 years in office) continue to appear on TV to promote the party’s reboot. Complete with Clinton’s losing proposals.
To underline the absurdity, Pelosi made it clear that the new initiative is “not a course correction, but a presentation correction.”
In other words, same politicians and same message, just a prettier bow.
If the whole enterprise smacks of ego, it should. Pelosi knows that Americans want new leadership and a functional national government. She knows that this requires her to step aside for the good of the party and country. However she’s made it clear that she’s not going anywhere.
To the point, when Pelosi was asked about the importance of a fresh start for the party, she responded, “I don’t think people want a new direction.”
When asked whether she would withdraw for a new generation of leaders, she refused.
“I am a master legislator,” Pelosi said.
D.C. Democrats have thus placed the party in an intractable position: they have leaders who lack the credible voice to move the party forward, yet the leaders refuse to leave.
For those Democrats outside the Beltway, this conundrum leaves them with two uncomfortable options: Accept the status quo, or fight back.
The status quo is clearly unacceptable. Democrats have the fewest number of elected officials at the state and national level since the 1920s. Sixty-seven percent of Americans view the party as out of touch.
That leaves rebellion.
An effective political coup requires concerned governors, legislators, and Democratic voters to publicly reject their current leadership. If Pelosi and others like her won’t step down, the rebels must make it clear to America’s voters that the D.C. Democrats do not speak for them.
Meanwhile, a successful rebellion must offer an agenda that demonstrates that Democrats have heard America’s demand for new, effective leadership. Indeed, the rebels must embrace the only proven ways to eject career politicians from their perches of power and money: term limits and a lifetime ban on elected officials from lobbying.
For years, an overwhelming majority of Americans have demanded passage of these two initiatives. Voters understand that if politicians aren’t chasing corporate cash for reelection or a lucrative retirement, they are more likely to do the business of the American people.
Consider the issue of prescription drug prices, highlighted as a part of A Better Deal. When the U.S. Senate recently considered legislation that would have allowed Americans to import cheap prescription drugs from Canada, 14 Democratic senators rejected it (along with most Republicans). Not surprisingly, many of these politicians have collected large sums of campaign cash from pharmaceutical giants.
To point out the obvious, this is the broken system that helped put Trump in the White House.
And that begs the question: would the president join a Democratic rebellion in a push for term limits and a ban on lobbying? After all, he recently upgraded his “drain the swamp” mantra to “drain the sewer.”
If President Trump declines, then the rebels could fold the idea into a new covenant with the American people.
Call it Our American Oath.
Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, a group of sensible Americans and I drafted a series of 10 policy directives designed to help move the country forward. From term limits to the economy and the War on Terror, we hammered out agreements that reflect Democratic values while working to find common ground with Republicans.
No matter the covenant’s particulars, it’s time for a national rebellion of concerned Democrats. Officials like Pelosi have become unresponsive and tone deaf, pushing failed schemes like “A Better Deal” when what American voters want is better leadership.
It’s time that Democrats give voters what they deserve.
Bryan Dean Wright is a former CIA ops officer and member of the Democratic Party. He contributes on issues of politics, national security, and the economy. Follow him on Twitter @BryanDeanWright.