While plenty of politicians and pundits have their eyes fixed on the most recent controversies to emerge from President Donald Trump's White House, some Democrats are looking inward.
It's just what Chicago Mayor and former President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel did during Politico's “Off Message” podcast on Tuesday, and his thoughts may come as a harsh blow to those Democrats who think their sole political purpose is to defeat Trump.
Lamenting that Democrats “don't talk about and fight for the middle class like we are,” Emanuel said:
"We believe we're for them, but they don't. If they don't hear we're for them, we've got a problem because we're not going to convince them that they're wrong.
And I think there are certain things that we, as a party, wandered off from as it relates to being a party that fought for hard-working families."
The Chicago mayor bluntly added:
“It's not just for the string of policies. It's also a set of values that respect who they are in their lives. We come off and can come off as a party disdainful of them.”
As to why Emanuel believes this, recent history might provide some clues.
During the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, there seemed to be a never-ending series of photo ops of both Democratic politicians posing with singers, rappers, reality stars and celebrities of all kinds — not exactly an image that screams the idea of fighting for working-class Americans.
There are also more specific examples, from Hillary Clinton's infamous “basket of deplorables” campaign jab to the news that Obama — whose campaign both railed against Wall Street and did gain the support of middle-class voters — will earn $400,000 for an upcoming Wall Street speaking engagement.
Beyond that, however, are some harsh economic realities.
As political commentator and former President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote for the Guardian:
Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and for four of those years had control of both houses of Congress. But in that time they failed to reverse the decline in working-class wages and economic security.
Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.
As Emanuel said Tuesday, Democrats can spend all the time they want “talking to ourselves and persuading ourselves” that they're still the party of working Americans, but it's “not going to be the way you get to a majority.”
In the end, it seems that — regardless of the points they may earn with their base for fiercely opposing Trump — the Democratic Party has some much more deep-seated issues in play.