I don’t often read columns by Shaun King.

His column in The NY Daily News came highly recommended, however, by progressive writer Jeff Stein of Vox.com, with whom I first came into contact when he founded and ran The Ithaca Voice.

Stein tweeted that King’s column a “must read” on the need to reform the Democratic Party:


The King column was The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular:


Stein highlighted this portion of the column:

At a time when Donald Trump is the least liked President ever measured at this point in his first term, the Democratic Party has found a way to be even less liked than him. This is how Donald Trump wins a second term. This is how congressional Republicans win the next midterm elections. This is how conservatives not only maintain their current power from coast to coast, but also expand it.

The Democratic Party is deeply unpopular – period. It’s a fact. Don’t look away. Don’t call me a Bernie Bro. It’s a problem that must be seriously addressed.

Now you’ve got my attention. The lamentations of progressives gets me every time.

The King column was based on a recent Suffolk University – USA Today poll, as summarized by King:

A troubling new poll was just released showing that the Democratic Party is significantly less popular than both Donald Trump and Mike Pence. My gut tells me that Democrats will ignore this poll, or blame it on bad polling, and continue down the same course they are currently on: being funded by lobbyists and the 1%, straddling the fence or outright ignoring many of most inspirational issues of the time, and blaming Bernie Sanders for why they aren’t in power right now….

This new poll from Suffolk University illustrates just how that’s possible. Here are the base results of the poll with favorable/unfavorable ratings.

  • Pence: 47%/35%
  • Trump: 45%/47%
  • GOP: 37%/48%
  • Media: 37%/50%
  • Dem Party: 36%/52%
  • Hillary: 35%/55%
  • Congress: 26%/52%

In other words, the Democratic Party has a favorability rating 11 points lower than Pence, nine points lower than Trump, and even one point lower than the GOP.

Their unfavorable rating is 17 points worse than Pence, five points worse than Trump, and four points worse than the GOP.

This is a disaster.

Here are some of the stats from the poll tables (pdf):


(Aside, who is the person who has never heard of Hillary Clinton or the Republican Party, and the three people who’ve never heard of the US Congress?)

King’s answer to the problem is for Democrats to move even harder to the left to bring the Bernie-base into the party:

But let me break it to you – the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. Virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now is fueled by people outside of the Democratic Party establishment and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular.

Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, are fueling the fight for a $15 minimum wage, fighting back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fighting to end fracking, fighting to remove lobbyist money from politics, fighting to end senseless wars and international violence, fighting for universal healthcare, fighting for the legalization of marijuana, fighting for free college tuition, fighting against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. But mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues have deep networks, energized volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

Obviously, the Democratic Party has not yet healed from the stunning losses of the past several years which have left Democrats “basically extinct” in the South and out of power in a majority of state legislatures and governorships.



The failed attempt to elevate Keith Ellison to DNC Chair both reflected and exacerbated that divide in the party.

The Democratic Party establishment knows that going farther to the left will be the coup de grâce for the party in the essential swing states and among independent voters. Yet the base wants what the base wants, and what the base wants is a more severe push to the left.

I certainly don’t have an answer for Democrats, and if I did I wouldn’t tell them. They are going to have to figure it out on their own.

In the meantime, I’m just going to sit back and watch the further implosion.


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