Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on fellow Democrats to "embrace government; not run away from it" today at a press conference at The National Press Club in Washington, DC.
"As 2014 began," Schumer explained, "the parties were in stalemate. But, when government failed to deliver on a string of non-economic issues– the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges, the mishandling of the surge in border crossers, ineptitude at the VA and the government’s initial handling of the Ebola threat – people lost faith in the government’s ability to work, and then blamed the incumbent governing party, the Democrats, creating a Republican wave."
"In order to win in 2016," Schumer continued, "Democrats must embrace government; not run away from it."
Why is Schumer so sure that more government programs are the best message for Democrats in 2016?
"Ultimately, the public knows in its gut that a strong and active government is the only way to reverse the middle class decline and help revive the American Dream," Schumer claimed.
Unfortunately for Schumer, the exit polls from the last three elections show that a majority of Americans, even the majority of Americans that reelected President Obama in 2012, do not believe that more government is the way to get America back on track.
Yes, in 2008, the electorate that elected Obama in a landslide also said that the federal government should "do more" (51%-43%). But in 2010, 56% of voters said government was "doing too much" and just 38% said it should do more. Voters in 2014 also said government was doing too much by a 54% to 41% margin. Even in 2012, when voters gave Obama a 51% to 47% margin, those very same voters also said government was doing too much 51% to 43%.
There simply is no evidence that the American people's "gut" wants more government.
Instead, after more than six years of relentless government growth under Obama, a full 75% of Americans are "dissatisfied" with "the way things are going in the nation today."
Schumer did get one thing right.
"One simple fact illustrates how stark this division is today," Schumer said. "The most conservative Senate Democrat, probably Joe Manchin, still believes more in government than the most liberal Senate Republican, Susan Collins. The belief in government – its size, its role, and its possibilities – is really what undergirds our politics and fundamentally divides our parties."
Schumer is right: Democrats want to expand the size and scope of the federal government at every turn, while conservatives want to shrink it.
Schumer believes that there is no agenda capable of both shrinking government and helping average Americans.
He is wrong.