Top-down versus bottom-up – how President Trump won the election

An article in the Daily Beast gave me pause for thought.

It is difficult to overstate just how enraged state Democratic activists and leaders are with Organizing for Action (OFA), the political and community-organizing army that grew out of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

The nonprofit, which functions as a sort of parallel-Democratic National Committee, was founded to mobilize Democratic voters and supporters in defense of President Obama’s, and the Democratic Party’s, agenda. Instead, the organization has drawn the intense ire, both public and private, of grassroots organizers and state parties that are convinced that OFA inadvertently helped decimate Democrats at the state and local level, while Republicans cemented historic levels of power and Donald J. Trump actually became leader of the free world.

These intra-party tensions aren’t going away, especially now that OFA “relaunched” itself last week to protect the Affordable Care Act, boost turnout at congressional townhalls, and train grassroots organizers gearing up for the Trump era.

“This is some GRADE A Bullshit right here,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, wrote in a private Democratic-listserv email obtained by The Daily Beast.

. . .

The decimation of the Democratic Party during, and leading up to, the Age of Trump is not, however, any single organization’s fault. The DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign raised many times more money than OFA for the 2016 cycle, and that didn’t stop President Trump, either.

To the defeated and angry liberal activists and operatives, OFA is just one of several “devils”—one that is emblematic of large-scale institutional problems.

“We’ve seen over the last eight-plus years a deterioration of permanent state infrastructure,” one red-state Democratic operative, who requested anonymity, said. “And OFA built an alternative infrastructure that was very top-down. OFA’s actions were wasteful, duplicative, and it made no sense… There were these tensions on the ground that we saw that all over the country. Local officials felt tossed aside. A lot of these red states were abandoned. The OFA model was never a 50-state strategy—it was about the president’s agenda.”

. . .

“I don’t know what the mission is with the new OFA, what the purpose is supposed to be,” Jaime Harrison told The Daily Beast. “There are a lot of these various [outside] groups… and if having all these other groups means diminishing the impact of state parties, that’s where I have a problem. We need to figure out the best path forward. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean a world without OFA, but… we have to focus on rebuilding the party across the board, not just focusing on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

There’s more at the link.

When you think about it, that’s the opposite of how President Trump won the 2016 elections.  He didn’t have a top-down structure at all – in fact, he defeated every candidate put up by the Republican Party’s top-down structure.  He mobilized the grass-roots, the ‘forgotten people’ that both political parties ignored.  He’s still doing that.  If you look at the opinion polls, for all that the press and the ‘establishment’ fulminate against him, try to undermine him, and seek to put obstacles in his path at every turn, he maintains a better-than-50% approval rating.  That’s because the grass-roots know that he came out of their ranks, with their votes;  and he’s cemented their loyalty by doing, in his first few weeks in office, precisely what he promised them he’d do.

Indeed, the efforts by the ‘establishment’ to stop the President’s program in its tracks, and overturn his executive actions, are merely confirming to the grass-roots why they voted for him.  He’s doing what they want.  The ‘establishment’ is trying to stop it.  Therefore, the ‘establishment’ is against the grass-roots, and must be destroyed.  That’s their mood right now, and that’s why they’re not being turned off by the deluge of negative propaganda in which the ‘establishment’ is seeking to drown President Trump.

If the Democratic Party wants to regain the White House – much less the House and Senate – it had better wake up and smell the grass-roots coffee.  It’s already lost a lot of support from union households, a foundational element of its constituency.  As Mark McDermott (himself a Democrat) put it, ‘The Democratic Party is losing the working class‘.  If that takes root, it’ll be out of power for generations.

Top-down just won’t cut it with the grass-roots or the working class.  It has to be bottom-up . . . or you’ll forfeit their support.  OFA – a top-down organization if ever there was one – hasn’t figured that out yet.



  1. We blue Dog Democrats were long ago forced out except in rural pockets. We could stay in the "big tent" if we sat in the back, kept our mouths shut, and our wallets open. Similar to the evangelicals and the Republican party circa 1970's.

    President Trump would make a fine 1980 Democrat IMO.

  2. This fits in nicely with my theory that the election can be best understood as "The grass roots of both parties wanted something other than business as usual. The Republican establishment failed to stop Trump, and the Democrat establishment did stop Sanders. Then the arty establishment that insisted n business as usual lost the general election."

    The question is, will the Democrat rank and file manage to wrest control from the Democrat establishment, or will they get distracted by anti-Trump 'resistance' bullsh*t? The way things are going, the Democrats are beclouding themselves and Trump is headed for a landslide in 2020, but it's early days.

  3. President Trump won the election because he was able and willing to finance his own campaign, and because he believes in the United States as a sovereign independent nation. But for those two facts, he would have lost. Even though he spent significantly less on his campaign than any other major party candidate in recent history, he did not get enough donations from The Deplorables to successfully fund it. And none of the major GOP donors gave him a damn penny because, after all, they are all Rove Republican maggots. One World Government lovers, one and all. The other end of the same steaming turd as Cankles and the Faggeaux in Chief.

    And have you noted that, even though they were able to pass six bills while that Faggeaux in Chief was pResident, they are not now able to even get ONE through??? Wonder why that is? They knew that Barry Sotero would not sign any of them, so they didn't have to worry about the results. Just a typical Rove Republican ploy to get more campaign funds. Damn every one of them straight to hell where they belong.

  4. The Dim party has been a top down organization for my entire life. They simply fed the "grassroots" a lot of manure to keep them thinking they were actually running things. The party of Jefferson and Jackson has been dead for more than a century.

  5. Here in the UK we had a referendum last year as to whether or not Britain should remain in the EU. The Leave-the-EU side won in the largest voter turn-out the country has ever seen.
    The Remainers cannot accept this simple fact and are trying everything they can to derail Brexit (British exit from the EU). Now Tony Blair has entered the fray and has called for a second referendum "as people might have changed their mind".
    This man is so detested here in Britain that he should be careful what he wishes for. If a second referendum was to be held, the Brexiteers would win by a landslide. All the scaremongering and FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) which comandeered the headlines in the MSM came to naught. In fact, the country is improving.
    The Establishment and their running-dogs, the socialist-tainted MSM cannot understand the simple fact that the British People want to disconnect from the EU. It is whe working man and working woman who have turned around and raised two fingers to the Estblishment and who, by the way, are cheering on President Trump from the sidelines!

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