Democrats face some major internal obstacles as the opposition party to President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Party, which have been gathering power since his surprise election win.
The Democratic National Committee won’t get a permanent chair and staff until March, which is more than half of Trump’s first 100 days in office — when he and GOP lawmakers are expected to launch a blitzkrieg attack on outgoing President Barack Obama’s legacy, reported Politico.
Democrats were so certain Hillary Clinton would win that no detailed contingency plan was set up, and that looming leadership vacuum is already hindering their response to the Trump transition.
“It’s a very serious concern,” said Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and 2008 presidential candidate. “I just went on TV twice (Sunday) on Fox and MSNBC on the Cabinet appointments, and I winged it.”
He said the party doesn’t have a game plan at this point, as Trump fills out his Cabinet and attacks the CIA over evidence that Russian hackers aided his presidential campaign.
“You need something right now,” Richardson said. “Trump every day is doing something outrageous. What do we do? Criticize everything he does? Hold back a bit? I know we need to develop an economic message, but that’s long term. We need something now. Most of the Democrats I talk to are down, and they’re asking who’s in charge.”
Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Sherrod Brown have taken the lead in attacking Trump, but Democrats say the party needs a more organized and unified response.
“It’s bigger than his first 100 days,” said Boyd Brown, a South Carolina Democrat. “If Trump controls the message, which he has continued to do and will only do more as the sitting president of the United States, this could snowball into a very big issue for Democrats and independent voters out there.”
“We are totally letting him control the message and control the story,” Boyd continued. “He’s setting traps and we’re taking the bait. Carrier? Prime example. We’ve got him on this Russia deal, but we’ll find a way to mess it up.”
R.T. Rybak, the DNC vice chairman, said the situation is urgent.
“The importance of these first few weeks is illustrated by my memory of the first few months of the Reagan administration, where radical change came so fast that it was difficult for opponents to know where to fight, which battles to pick,” said Rybak. “There’s a need to affect these issues immediately, and there’s also the related issue of how to re-position, how to be the party we need to be.”
One Democrat who frequently appears on TV said others are too timid to speak out against Trump without guidance from party leaders.
“People are afraid to go out there,” the Democrat said.