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Politics: Jon Ossoff’s defeat puts Democrats at a turning point

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It’s become cliché to start an article with the definition of insanity. For those that don’t know, it’s doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Unfortunately for those on the left, that might as well be the Democratic Party platform these days. That term? Resist. The resistance. Resist this, resist that. It’s a nice and necessary sentiment but it doesn’t make for a cohesive political platform or an alternative to the status quo. It’s a nice motto, but one that needs to be built upon.

It’s not enough for the Democrats to keep running Wall Street suits and chanting resist. It’s not enough for moral victories while staying the course. If the Democrats have any true plans on doing anything of merit, it’s time they ditch neoliberalism, ditch centrism, ditch campaigning from slogans, ditch Jon Ossoffs and take a hard left turn. Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District election should be a wake-up call that centrism is not a platform that will garner any tangible results.

Democratic Party brass will want to tell you that the Georgia Sixth results are positive for them. After all, it’s been an overwhelmingly strong Republican stronghold ever since Newt Gingrich snagged the district in 1978. No Democrat got even 40% of the vote until Ossoff’s Moral Victory snagged the 47.3% of the vote on Tuesday in a Narrow Defeat to Karen Handel. Well, that’s a patently false pretense and more hope than actual politics. While the Republicans will have held the district for forty years by the time Handel’s term ends, the last two elections held show that the Democrats lost ground in the special election. In November’s general election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton netted 46.8% of the vote. In the special election run-off leading up to Tuesday’s election, Ossoff had 48.1% of the vote.

For all the #Resistance and Not My President, the Democrats didn’t gain any discernable ground in Georgia. They weren’t changing minds, and when push came to shove in the one-versus-one election, the Democrats lost ground. Why? The candidates and the platform. The Democrats continue to trot out uninspiring neoliberal centrist business-first candidates. It’s pure bad politics at this point. The Republicans run as the party of Donald Trump. Watch this video of Karen Handel on Tuesday and tell me I’m wrong:

Whether the Trump administration has something to provide the average person is yet to be determined (I’m not hopeful), at least he promises something to the populace. Democrats run out slogans that amount to “everything we are doing is great,” without a hint of self-reflection. The Democrats don’t need to run on the flawed notion that going right will pull right voters left. They failed to garner interest in the Clinton election and the Ossoff election. Setting aside the fact that the theory is fundamentally flawed (why would Republican-leaning voters go for Republican Light when they could have actual Republican Classic?), they’ve moved to the doorstep of breaking through. The Democrats have gotten close enough for moral victories based solely on rage, but refuse to take the final step.

The final step? Populism. The internet refrain of “Bernie would have won,” stands true. The Democrats instead trot out wholly uninspiring centrist candidates just hoping that a coalition of Never Trumpers, outrage and identity politics will elect the Democratic National Convention’s preferred candidates. The time for that is over; the Third Way has failed. The Democrats need to start focusing on moving left and looping in left-leaning voters if they ever want to stand a chance of winning an election outside of a Blue Stronghold ever again. The Trump Train is strong, and is getting people out to vote. The Democratic platform of “we are not Donald Trump and we hate what he stands for,” only goes so far.

The Democrats need to offer a tangible platform and they need to show an actual backbone. The time of focus grouped suits exclaiming “not our President!” is over. The time for taking a sharp left and picking up voters who are itching to vote for your party. If the Democrats fail to recognize this, they will fail. It’s time to stop trying to lean right to pull voters over the aisle. It’s time to regroup around the left and pull in voters left of center before they abandon and write of the party entirely. The time for Jon Ossoff, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer is over. It’s time for the left to start embracing the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyns of the world, even if their politics don’t perfectly align with the focus-grouped DNC ideals. If the Democrats don’t do this, they will be ostensibly defunct as a viable party in American politics.

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