Last December, as the dust from the US election had settled and people were slowly – perhaps worryingly – starting to accept and normalize the results, I wrote a short letter to a prominent Dutch daily (De Volkskrant, which translates to The People’s Paper). De Volkskrant, a centre-left leaning morning newspaper from Amsterdam, had joined the majority of self-respecting newspapers in showing their adversity towards the new found president. In my letter, I wondered whether Democrats had learned from the disastrous election, as many had already done or were going to. I wrote about the Democrats ‘adapting to new voters’ and the Republicans playing a ‘strategic game’ in picking up where the democrats left off, claiming to ‘get to work’ for the beat-down man whom they have so long beaten down. What struck me then, however, was the arrogance and pretentiousness with which Democrats continued to campaign and play their politics. What strikes me now, is that contempt is increasingly becoming their most recognizable trait.
Contempt found its way into the Democratic party during the past election. Of course, some may be justified when opposed by a GOP-candidate who yelled, ranted and contradicted himself at every turn. Slowly, however, the sentiment was becoming part of their brand, evidently pushing the good bits out. One might wonder what happened to the party that once was and to a lesser extent, still is, the party of tolerance and diversity. Besides their values, the Democrats form the only kind of effective opposition against the Republicans – if furthering divisions within the Republican party itself aren’t enough, of course – and as such need the votes of many Americans to truly counter the GOP-controlled parliament.
Sending only a meager message whilst taking the time to wonder why you’re ‘not fifty points ahead’, did not work. Now, don’t get me wrong, some contempt may be justified, but voters notice and voters care – rightly so. It’s time for the Democratic party to strap on its old pair of working boots and regain its place not only as the party for professionals, and the ‘higher-minded’ but as the party for low-income families who struggle in this day and age. It’s time that Democrats show not only what good globalism and internationalism has brought but acknowledge that those developments bring problems too, now that the US’s manufacturing industry has disappeared and its service industry flourished. It’s time for a Democratic party that does not reach and fail in its feeling of superiority over the others, but for a Democratic party that can turn to the majority that so needs them.