Well, we used to have senators be elected by their states' government, but that got scrapped as there were "too many rich people with too much influence getting in." And we can see how that worked out--now it's too many rich people with too much influence over the ~herds~ getting in! Yes, I'm sure we didn't place limits on direct democracy for any good reason or anything like that. Most of them backed the bill on either aisle because, well. It sounded too politically catchy to dare stand out against: who wants to stand against victims of terrorism? That would make a bad headline! Which could make for a bad election cycle! Avoid at all costs--including ludicrous diplomatic headaches, opening up the legal nightmare of suing states to all sorts of people, figuring out how to balance the resources and who is to be held accountable--so on, so on. It's a tricky soup, as, as you say, a lot of these families were dicked over by the state department's inept approach to foreign policy over the course of sixteen years, and shall continue to be dicked over by the fact that this legislation doesn't open up a magical simple pathway towards comeuppance.
As to the Pepe Memester Supremester, well. My whole political shift to the center--I used to be a fairly strong lefty, though never quite "marx was right"--started when I was researching Gamergate. I never got involved in that shitstorm, and I find its remnants to mostly be annoying self-absorbed people stuck in a perpetual loop of WE DON'T CARE ABOUT THE LWS BUT LOOK AT WHAT THEY JUST DID. But looking into the boldfaced smear job that was done against the group, the way that it's been slandered and misrepresented... and that all of these different mediums were in on it, and how it was bleeding over into 'regular' journalism, with seemingly no one bothering to dig and figure out what anyone's positions were. And whenever someone with at best a passing interest would look into the thing, those were what they'd find. I found it hard to believe that the industry would take such a strong scorched-earth policy with its own consumers, but the Pepe thing reflects a lot from there that illuminates why: the target is long-term. People who look up this shit in the future, who are way too fucking lazy to do any digging, will run into these articles and form their entire opinion about history from them.
The democrats understand that, right now, they have a very strong academic and media hegemony. They don't need to worry about bold-faced lying, like is happening to the poor frog man, because they find they can accept any losses. They're on the back-foot anyway, right now, and likely expect to go into a slight recession (indeed, already have for some time in congressional and judicial regards). So the plan is more, in a decade or so... have people somehow look back at the dems in 2016 as these brave warriors fighting against racists and sexists and anti-semites and so on, so forth. For people who have no idea who the frog is, the articles are going to be all the more they find.
I think the dems, though, are stuck in the past in terms of this strategy: information disseminates much faster than they seem to expect. Indeed, the pushback against the overuse of "sexist" and "racist" shows that the same, old, tired tricks are failing rather handily anymore, and indeed playing into the oppositely bad end (people trying to get away with sexism or racism under guise of "anti-pc"). This is a problem that both parties have, but the Republicans have largely shut up and started to rethink their strategy while the strange orange man yells; the democrats believe, as usual, that they just need to go DEEPER to see some returns.