But there is more to it. Chris Murphy, the Senator from Connecticut whose name is now increasingly invoked in 2020 conversations, lamented to me that Democratic messaging has become mired in identify politics that “we have made the mistake of thinking constituency groups care only about ‘their issues.’ We talk to women about reproductive rights and African-Americans about police brutality. Those are important issues, but they all care about other things.” The Democratic economic message has “become soft,” Murphy lamented, before noting that the party needs to aggressively promise more jobs, more growth, and more opportunity for the middle class. Tim Ryan, the outspoken representative from Ohio, frequently espouses this message as well. To be successful, Democrats need to return to core pocketbook issues: how to create middle class jobs, how to spur economic development, how to help the nation’s 2 million small businesses.
But Ryan’s outcry is otherwise in danger of being lost amid the daily, if not hourly, verbal warfare that dominates cable news and social media, and thus permeates national organizations’ calls to arms. Without a more specific, focused economic message, the Democratic Party will run the risk of becoming a blue-water party, confined to the coasts and largely irrelevant to broad swaths of the country.