Alan Zendell, August 2, 2019
In 2016, the Democratic National Committee effectively tilted the Primary playing field to Hillary Clinton’s advantage by controlling the so-called super-delegates. While I would hate to see that misguided abuse of power repeated, the five hours of debates on CNN this week left me hoping current DNC Chairman Thom Perez can control this bunch and set them on the right track. Unless someone does, we’ll wind up with four more years of Donald Trump.
The Democrats need a Moses to rescue them from wandering endlessly in the desert. Get out your stone tablet, hammer and chisel, Thom. It’s time for some new Commandments:
Do not forget who the enemy is. The enemy is Donald Trump, a malignant tumor that is steadily replacing American values with his own sick vision of male white supremacy and privilege. His unique combination of bullying and submissive adoration of adversarial autocrats weakens our country and leaves our allies floundering.
Yesterday alone, he offered tacit approval to Kim Jung Un’s latest round of ballistic missile tests and Xi Jin Ping’s suppression of freedom in Hong Kong. What’s next? Inviting Vladimir Putin to stage a full-scale invasion of Ukraine?
Tell voters why they should vote for you, rather than tearing each other apart. Except for their opening and closing remarks, the candidates spent almost all their time shooting holes in each other, and creating video sound bites that Trump will use against them in the general election.
A few cases in point: Kirsten Gillibrand badgered Joe Biden over the meaning of a thirty-eight year old Op-Ed, implying that he thinks women should stay home and raise children. Has she met Jill Biden? Cory Booker’s cute Kool-Aid remark suggested that Biden is clueless about crime and urban problems. He knows better. And not to be ignored, the very nasty exchange between Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris helped no one.
Rein in your self-interest in pursuit of the greater good. Donald Trump pulled off a shocking primary upset by running the most appallingly negative campaign we’ve ever seen. His lies, insults, and bullying, and his successful appeals to racists and hate groups wrecked the Republican establishment. Trump, the ultimate narcissist, for whom nothing matters but winning, succeeded because he understood that in their own desperate need to win, none of his opponents would support anyone he attacked.
The Democrats will not succeed by emulating Trump. When this week’s debates ended, Americans were sick of the carnage and dismayed by what it portends for the future. A couple of candidates took a step back and said any of the twenty debaters would be better than Trump, but it came off as lip service, as the debates quickly degenerated back into carving each other up. It’s always been fair game in politics to attack the front-runner, but this is a new game. Anyone whose ambition blinds him or herself to the reality that a bloodied primary winner will likely lose to Trump is as bad as Trump.
Do not attack your strongest assets. Among potential Democratic voters, Barack and Michelle Obama are the two most admired individuals in the country, notably in critical battleground states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. They will be formidable assets when the general election campaign heats up. Yet the Democrats spent more time attacking the Obama administration than Trump, because the front-runner they were chasing was Obama’s VP. Anyone who can’t convince voters that they’re the better choice on their own merits, they should drop out.
End the impeachment debate now. Let the Congress do its oversight and investigation. It’s their constitutional responsibility to gather evidence of Donald Trump’s crimes and post it where every voter can see it. But a candidate’s job is to defeat him at the ballot box. Continuing to call for impeachment is a dangerous distraction. There’s virtually no chance of a conviction in the Senate, and even if it were achieved, what’s the point? By the time Trump was impeached, his term would be over.
Don’t be afraid of being right. Listen to Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee, neither of whom spent their energy attacking other Democrats. Warren asked why anyone would go to the trouble and expense of running for president and reaching the debate stage only to argue about what can’t be accomplished. Jay Inslee argued for nothing less than the habitability of our planet, and the risks posed by Trump’s ignorance and self-serving denials.
Warren and Inslee are both right. We need big ideas to fix our system, and we can’t be afraid to fight established paradigms. Donald Trump isn’t afraid to, and the Democrats can’t afford not to.