Democrats Are Working Hard to Destroy Their Party
As the GOP divides at the rate of human cells, and a self-destructive President Trump causes his own supporters to question how he can succeed, Democrats have refused to fill the leadership void with a better vision of governance. Instead, they are partnering with the flailing Republicans and their president in failure. Democrats are leaning indulgently on the politics of race and gratuitous opposition to Trump, and they appear content to be the party of sanctuary cities, safe spaces and single-payer health care.
Weeks ago they released an “agenda” designed to offer voters “A Better Deal,” but who would know what’s in it since all they talk about is Trump? Meanwhile, if Trump’s trajectory doesn’t improve, the party may face the weakest, most unpopular president in modern times in 2020 -- but with who? Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are running, or think they are. Why are they being encouraged?
Sounding like a garden-variety conservative, liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked last week on Twitter: “Serious question: What is the Dem party now in addition to anti-Trump? What does it stand for now? Also, who’s leading? #GhostParty.”
The last two weeks have been Trump’s worst in office, yet it seems the lower he sinks, Democratic leaders do likewise. The president’s pathetic and irresponsible response to a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville -- where a protester was mowed down by a driver and killed -- has prompted not only fellow Republicans to criticize Trump but now his own National Economic Council director, Gary Cohn, as well. Still, Democrats went overboard.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on Congress to censure the president for the “repulsiveness of his words and actions,” adding that “every day, the president gives us further evidence of why such a censure is necessary.” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and any potential ties the president and his campaign had to those activities, responded Friday, saying in a Twitter post that he will co-sponsor a censure resolution because Trump “expresses views inimical to our values.” Rep. Jackie Speier, another member of the committee, has called for Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment. Speier tweeted that “POTUS is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger.”
Rep. Keith Ellison, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on CNN Monday that POTUS has “sympathy” for white supremacists. He’s not just a congressman anymore but a party official -- no wonder the DNC’s fundraising is at a record low.
Rep. Maxine Waters, whose late-in-life internet fame recently landed her on “The View,” tweeted the day after Charlottesville that “Trump has made it clear - w/Bannon & Gorka in the WH, & the Klan in the streets, it is now the White Supremacists House. #Charlottesville.” Should Democrats win back the House next year, Waters would be chairman of the Financial Services Committee, an influential voice at the leadership table.
Former Vermont Gov. and DNC Chairman Howard “The Scream” Dean said last week, “If you want to vote for a racist in the White House, then you better vote for Republicans.” The party elder recently declared he would stop contributing to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee because it will consider recruiting pro-life candidates.
After all these years, eight of them during President Obama’s two terms, Pelosi is now calling on the House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove Confederate statues -- which “have always been reprehensible” -- immediately from the halls of Congress “if Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy.” Polling after the events in Charlottesville show that while a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump’s response, 62 percent said monuments to Confederate leaders should remain. Yet these monuments are suddenly a pressing federal issue to national Democrats.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who enjoys great respect across aisle, has gone a step further than his party’s left, saying the statue removal is “not a matter of political correctness,” but “of public safety and homeland security.” This from the man who never made the issue a priority as head of DHS.
While countering Trump is essential -- after all, Republicans are doing the same -- the focus should remain on even more fundamental matters: guarding the Constitution and the separation of powers; stressing facts over falsehoods; preventing a government shutdown that Trump’s lobbying for; defending the right to a free press to hold him accountable; urging him to pay cost-sharing reduction payments under the Affordable Care Act to provide more certainty to the fragile exchanges; and pushing for any bipartisan cooperation possible on health care, tax reform and infrastructure projects. Democrats must leave the fight to stop him and his family from running a kleptocracy, an issue the GOP remains silent on, to outsiders who have filed lawsuits. Leave the statue debate to the states. Leave the questions of his stability to Republicans like Sen. Bob Corker. Leave the Russia investigation to special counsel Robert Mueller. Let the media report on West Wing dysfunction or how much Trump television watches. Democrats should leave all that alone.
Democrats must also decide whether they want President Obama back in the spotlight. Rudderless and leaderless, some party operators long for him swoop in and right the ship, yet they still blame him for sinking it with epic election losses from 2009 to 2016. As they attempt to plot a path forward and regain seats in state legislatures, governorships, the U.S. House and Senate -- and someday the White House -- Democrats need new faces and leaders and can’t lean too heavily on the 44th president. Yet some are calling for him to be a loud voice: “None of the potential Democratic presidential candidates have the visibility or credibility to be effective,” party strategist Brad Bannon told The Hill.
Finally, as Democrats like Reps. Brad Sherman, Al Green and Gwen Moore continue to push for impeachment, party leaders must avoid what Obama’s onetime senior adviser David Axelrod warned would likely be a costly mistake. “Remember: A third of the country supports this president," he said on CNN. "That's a very dangerous road to go down. And if you ever did go down that road, you’re opening a Pandora’s box that will never end."
What’s already in that box is widespread voter disgust. People are turning away from both parties and the pool of gettable voters is shrinking, which means base politics will be less and less effective in the years to come. Democrats must convince voters they take governing more seriously than partisan politics and will focus on economic growth instead of statues, tweets and Russia.
Or they can stay in the minority a lot longer.