In em­brac­ing Nancy Pelosi, Democrats still aren’t get­ting the mes­sage.

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST -

In case any­one missed it, Elec­tion Day should have been a huge wake-up call for Democrats.

The sur­pris­ing vic­tory of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump was only the half of it. Any so­lace Democrats try to take in Hil­lary Clin­ton’s small pop­u­lar-vote win ought to be con­sid­ered against some hard facts on the ground. In Wash­ing­ton, Repub­li­cans con­trol the House and the Se­nate, and soon the pres­i­dency. Across the coun­try, the GOP main­tained and built upon its ad­van­tage in state leg­is­la­tures and gu­ber­na­to­rial of­fices. Next year, the party will con­trol 32 leg­is­la­tures and find it­self hap­pily rep­re­sented by 33 gov­er­nors.

It’s the kind of dom­i­nance the Grand Old Party hasn’t seen in nearly 100 years.

So it seems odd in­deed that con­gres­sional Democrats de­cided to stand by Nancy Pelosi as they try to re­group. The for­mer House speaker, and mi­nor­ity leader since the Repub­li­can surge of 2010, strikes us as a tar­nished stan­dard bearer.

The San Fran­cis­can — at 76 years old — presents an im­age of past Demo­cratic dom­i­nance and the kind of pro­gres­sive fo­cus on so­cial and civil rights, that although wor­thy and laud­able goals, sent many work­ing-class Democrats and un­af­fil­i­ated vot­ers in the Rust Belt to Don­ald Trump’s pop­ulist camp. Even some union mem­bers de­fected as Democrats be­came more known for fight­ing for trans­gen­der bath­rooms, for ex­am­ple, than the work­ing men and women the party tra­di­tion­ally claimed.

We take heart that at least one of Colorado’s three House mem­bers — Ed Perl­mut­ter of Golden — broke ranks and voted for Tim Ryan, a young con­gress­man from a blue-col­lar dis­trict in Ohio. (Den­ver’s Diana DeGette and Boul­der’s Jared Po­lis have re­mained si­lent about their vote.)

“I just felt we needed a change,” Perl­mut­ter tells us. “I wanted to see some­one from the Mid­west, who was younger, and who was re­ally talk­ing to the hard­work­ing peo­ple in the mid­dle of the coun­try.”

Perl­mut­ter cast his vote hop­ing to re­mind his party that many Amer­i­cans are more con­cerned about feed­ing their fam­i­lies. They’ve seen au­to­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy re­place them. They fear the con­tin­ued march of glob­al­iza­tion. They see the chal­lenges and feel the anx­i­ety.

In a let­ter to col­leagues, Perl­mut­ter noted that the party had more than 60 seats in the House since 2010.

“If you start get­ting off on mar­ginal is­sues, they aren’t the gen­eral things that most peo­ple are think­ing about,” Perl­mut­ter tells us. “We missed that boat, think­ing, ‘Well, every­one knows we’re work­ing for the hard­work­ing peo­ple in the mid­dle,’ but we lost that mes­sage and that vote.”

Colorado’s Democrats fared bet­ter this elec­tion cy­cle than their na­tional coun­ter­parts. Hil­lary Clin­ton bested Trump by 5 per­cent­age points, and Democrats in­creased their lead in the state House, though they lost big bat­tles they pitched against in­cum­bent Repub­li­can U.S. Reps. Mike Coff­man and Scott Tip­ton.

We like checks and bal­ances, and pre­fer a more eq­ui­table bal­ance of power than the one the new year will usher in. To that end, we hope Democrats are able to re-gather their strength. But their choice of Nancy Pelosi doesn’t sug­gest they’re get­ting the mes­sage. They ought to start lis­ten­ing to Ed Perl­mut­ter.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as House mi­nor­ity leader last month, re­ceiv­ing 134 votes to chal­lenger Rep. Tim Ryan’s 63.

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