A task force of political organizers and research analysts crafted a post-mortem document after the 2016 Presidential Election entitled: "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis." My guest today is Pia Gallegos, an Albuquerque, NM, civil rights attorney and Democratic Party ward chair who was involved in crafting a portion of this report.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Pia. Many of our readers won't be familiar with this project: "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis." Can you offer some background before we dive in?
Pia Gallegos: In the wake of the November 2016 election, the DNC (Democratic National Committee) chose not to do a public analysis of the internal causes of the loss of the presidential election. There could be causes of the election loss beyond the control of the Democratic Party (such as Russia, FBI director Comey, misogyny of some voters, etc). However, the Autopsy Report, written by a team of activists including Democratic Party activists, focuses on some of our party's most crucial failures and opportunities for the future.
JB: Great start, Pia. And you were involved in the crafting of at least part of this document. Let's start at the beginning. What were diagnosed as the party's failures?
PG: The Democratic Party failed to adequately address the increasing disparity of wealth and economic anxiety and despair in this country. It failed to take a clear stand in favor of the working class. Instead of consistently talking about health care as a right of all Americans, the Autopsy reports how presidential nominee Hillary Clinton talked of "expanding" the Affordable Care Act, and employ needless modifiers before "health care" such as "access to" or "affordable." Instead of proposing free public college, Clinton proposed a student loan abatement for potential "entrepreneurs" and a series of other convoluted, means-tested "solutions." This vacillation on basic economic rights allowed Trump to be successful in his huckster appeals to anti-free market sentiment, such as "draining the swamp" and anti-NAFTA.
JB: What else was diagnosed as a party failure?
PG: The Democratic Party failed to allocate sufficient resources to outreach in communities of color and "failed to craft policies that speak to the material inequality imposed on people of color," in the words of the Autopsy Report.
During the 2008 election for Obama, the Democratic Party's share of African-American voter turnout was at 66.6%. But in 2016, the black voter turnout rate dipped to its lowest levels since 2000, at 59.6%.
Support for the Democratic ticket among Latino voters rose to 71 percent in 2012 but in 2016, only 66% of Latinos voted for Clinton. And this is despite Trump calling Mexican immigrants rapists and placing a border wall at the center of his platform.
Election year 2016 was the perfect time to pour resources into outreach to voters of color and solidify the gains of the DP from the Obama year. Instead, the Autopsy Report notes that the party squandered its foothold among people of color.
JB: How did that happen?