A former Obama White House official is expressing concern that the Democrat Party has not yet made a case for why its voters should turn out for the 2022 midterm elections.
Virginia-based Democrat strategist Nick Rathod, who served as deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs in former President Barack Obama’s administration, spoke with Breitbart News in an interview about how ongoing stalemates in Washington surrounding Democrat agenda items will ultimately serve to hurt the party in federal and state elections next year.
Rathod provided an inside glimpse into what he described as “frustrations” about unpassed items, such as the For the People Act and President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, as well as messaging areas where the Democrat Party needs to improve if it wants to be able to be able to compete with Republicans.
“I think Biden’s done a good job with responding to COVID, but we have to actually legislate now and produce results, and this is where some of the frustrations are happening,” he said.
Democrats currently have complete control of Washington following the 2020 election; however, they are barely hanging on to their House majority by four votes and flipped the Senate only in that the chamber is now split 50–50 and Vice President Kamala Harris is responsible for breaking ties. These narrow margins have caused several big promises from Biden to descend into negotiation netherworld, where Congress’s most far-left members refuse to budge on certain bill provisions and moderates dash their fellow Democrats’ dreams by bucking party lines.
“When voters hand you the keys back, you’re going to have to do something with it, and I think if we don’t, that’s going to have serious implications down ballot,” Rathod said.
Asked if he is concerned about the Democrats’ prospects for the midterms, Rathod replied, “Yes.”
“Historically there tends to be this kind of back and forth after a presidential election, so history is not necessarily on our side,” he continued. “I do think that people are looking for results from the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress, and we’re going to have to produce something. I think the COVID response is very good, and that’s a very strong thing to run on, but beyond that, I think people are looking for results there. I do think that Democrats need to do a better job of communicating our vision and why a reelection for us would be strong, and I haven’t seen that case being made.”
Rathod also believes Democrats directing their attention toward former President Donald Trump is ineffective.
Trump, who has maintained influence within the Republican Party in part through the numerous endorsements he has steadily been granting to next year’s candidates, remains an attack weapon for Democrats.
For instance, in November’s race for Virginia governor — a race that has often served as a bellwether for the subsequent year’s midterms — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has aggressively attempted to tie his opponent, Glenn Youngkin (R), to the former president.
“A vote for Youngkin is a vote for Trump,” McAuliffe wrote on May 20. “Glenn Youngkin is running because of Trump. I’m running because of you,” he wrote on June 9. As recently as Monday afternoon, McAuliffe called Youngkin a “Trump-backed extremist.”
While he did not mention McAuliffe specifically, Rathod cautioned against such rhetoric. “There’s still a lot of focus right now on Trump and that type of thing, and I just don’t think that that’s a useful frame anymore,” he said. “I think we need to be proactive and sort of share our vision for the country and make the argument for why our policies are better, not just because Donald Trump will win or whatever the argument is. I think we continue to stay in the frame of Trump, and if we do that, we’re going to lose our argument. I’m concerned because those things are currently happening and we need to break out of that in order to fully make the case to the American people.”
Rathod, a Virginia resident who has worked in the political realm for two decades, is also zoned in on state elections. Republicans have control of the governorship in 27 states and control of the legislature in 30 states. He noted the repercussions Democrats at the federal level will face because of their lack of control at the state-level, specifically in terms of redistricting, which is slated to happen later this year.
“The way I view power in the country is that it does emanate out of the states,” he said. “If you control the states, you control redistricting, and when you have that, then you have the ability to draw congressional lines and that type of thing, and we saw again, like in 2010 when the Republicans were able to take control of many, many legislatures. They flipped 700 legislative seats that cycle, and when they were able to do that, they controlled Congress for a decade.”
He added that candidates for high offices such as those of governor, senator, and president have on countless occasions ascended from state politics. “If you don’t invest there, and if you’re not sort of seating and building that bench, it does have implications federally.”
Giving credit to the Republican Party, Rathod observed that it has “done such a good job of building an infrastructure to support elections, communications, policymaking, developing a real pipeline for candidates, and that type of thing, and Democrats just don’t have that kind of robust infrastructure in the states to do that.”
He concluded, “So while we’re also focused federally, it would be smart I think for Democrats to really invest at the state level on party building, on grassroots organizing, on being able to communicate things in a way that really makes the case for why Democratic policies would be beneficial to voters and people, and those things currently I think are not being done well by the left at all.”
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