If you believe prominent Democrats, the bruising and battering they took in 2017 is already in the distant past. Midterm elections loom in the future, just 10 months away, and optimistic Dems are eyeing an unbelievable uphill battle — flipping both the House and Senate, winning long-red governorships and securing the reins in state legislatures, which will control a 2021 redistricting that will dictate the political landscape for the next decade.

It is not simply a once-in-a-generation opportunity, but a critical moment for a Democratic Party that seems woefully underprepared for the monumental fight ahead. It’s indisputable that current poll numbers and historical precedent fall on their side. It’s also true that fresh off the passage of a deeply unpopular tax overhaul, Dems have amassed an arsenal of stumping points and barbed criticisms in this first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

However, the single issue imperiling these Democratic midterm dreams is a (longstanding) failure of their own doing — namely, the lack of a universal message.

“Too many Americans don’t know what we stand for,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–NY) said in July, while unveiling a new agenda dubbed “A Better Deal.”

There is staggering truth in this admission.

As this new year dawns, Democratic leadership seems content to rely on the general unhappiness of the American voter. They are quick to point out the basement-dwelling polling numbers of President Trump. They rail against the president’s dangerous Twitter diplomacy. There is only one unifying figure within the Democratic Party, and it’s Donald J. Trump — and that is a colossal problem.

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