Nearly two years after their own standard bearers, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, decried the state of the nation under President Barack Obama, top strategists are calling on Democrats to stop the bad-mouthing and take credit for the wins under their presidents.

“In a lot of ways, our party has to rediscover its history and talk about that history. The Democrats are the party of the common person, common man, common woman,” said Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder.

“This is the party that came up with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act. That’s a history that people need to know about, it’s a history that the Democratic Party should run on, and connect itself to, and come up with 21st century solutions for the issues that we have to confront,” added Holder, who is eyeing a 2020 presidential bid.

“On balance,” said Simon Rosenberg, who heads the New Democratic Network, NDN, and the New Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, “the Democrats have been a better party.”

While Holder was venting frustration after a campaign that saw Sanders and Clinton suggest Obama hadn’t done enough to fix the country, Rosenberg is on a crusade to get the Democrats back to bragging about their achievements and to present voters in 2018 and 2020 with an agenda based on those victories.

He said the Sanders-Clinton narrative that the country was in bad shape “was false then and it is false now.”

Rosenberg has been traveling the country and huddling with top Washington Democrats with a fact-filled presentation titled, “On Patriotism and Optimism – Thoughts on the Future of America's Center-Left.

It makes the case that the nation, under Bill Clinton and Obama, did much better than under George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, or Donald Trump.

His charts tell a positive story:

  • Under the GOP presidents, 5.1 million net jobs were created. Under the two Democrats, 34 million jobs were created.
  • Under the Republicans, the deficit rose. Under the two Democrats, it fell.
  • Under the Bushes, income fell. Under Clinton and Obama, it rose.
  • And under Obama, crime fell.

But since party leaders are more focused on Trump than their agenda, voters have forgotten that past or even that Obama handed Trump the keys to a pretty good economy. “We have a lot of work to do to own our success," Rosenberg said.

To do that, he is calling on Democrats to draw up an election agenda, somewhat like the 1994 GOP Contract with America, that offers three to four policies the party will implement if it wins control of the House or Senate or both. He called it a “Do List.”

And most importantly, said the former Bill Clinton aide, it must come from the heart.

“We need to lock the pollsters in the closet in 2018 and speak more about our values, about our vision and make arguments about where we want to take the country,” he said.

“We can aggressively make our case while connecting it to the success we’ve had governing. If the country doesn’t believe that Barack Obama did a good job, then there isn’t really a reason to vote for Democrats. So, I do think that we have to make it clear that when the country has trusted us with power, we’ve done well by them twice in a row and that if you give us power again that we are going to stay consistent with the kind of success we saw under Clinton and Obama,” he said.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at