Democrats ask why millions of Americans repudiated their party in favor of repugnant and divisive Donald Trump. Could the answer be an equally divisive Democratic Party? Columnist Jonah Goldberg makes the point that, “alternating between parties that want to unify a vast and diverse country under ‘one best way’ is a recipe for perpetual strife.” The Democratic Party would do well to listen. The far-right wing requires eradication, and progressive reform requires broad support, but the path to that end is not through the left’s shortsighted alienation of moderate and conservative voters.
Democrats must stop:
Claiming the moral imperative. Historically, one side defining good for its own purposes and assigning evil to the opposition has led to social violence. The inflexible “right makes might” of Dems minimizes opportunity for compromise.
Ignoring the Constitution. When Trump won, leftists rampaged the streets, randomly destroying innocent citizens’ property. Democrats began impeachment immediately. They touted eliminating the Electoral College and packing the Supreme Court and Senate. If leftists resort to violence whenever unhappy with electoral results, and if the Democratic Party alters timeworn American institutions to guarantee its own political supremacy, citizens who respect peace and democracy will resist.
Being divisive, elitist, and hypocritical. The right didn’t elect Donald Trump, the left did. Hillary Clinton called millions of voters “deplorables.” Democrats everywhere cheered her statement. Conservatives were callously called Trumpies. Some were intimidated in the workplace, even fired. Moderates perceive such leftist tactics as threatening, humiliating, and arrogant toward those with differing viewpoints, leaving them resentful of the party and its agenda.
Being partisan in the press. Did CNN dedicate the same coverage to the Obama administration’s treatment of families at the Mexican border that it did to the Trump administration for the same behaviors? The scope of challenges to questionable policies shouldn’t be determined by political party. Many don’t seek the news for political preferences of editors and columnists. We desire nonpartisan analysis of events. Single perspective news outlets limit the perspective of citizens and foster intolerant outlooks.
Lumping conservatives in with supremacist right-wingers. As some Dems have suggested, is anyone who supports Donald Trump a racist? Are Black people who support him traitors? Are women who voted for him insensitive to rape and sexism? If Republican voters can be generically demonized, then so much for the freedom of citizens to decide which party they favor. Can one not detest Donald Trump, but fear the liberal agenda more? Generalizing racist and other discriminatory intent over political preferences only decreases the opportunity for collaboration.
Importing voters. Humane treatment at the border and making refugee homelands less violent must happen. Can America economically or culturally sustain millions of impoverished immigrants? The Democratic Party’s failure to sponsor reasonable immigration reform fuels perceptions that the left wants uncontrolled immigration to offset the loss of voters disillusioned with its agenda. Americans fear how much factions in the Democratic Party might change America.
Democrats must begin:
Policing your own ranks. Cease throwing diversionary blame at the other side. Accept partial responsibility for the divisiveness in the country. Admit the failures of urban Democratic administrations to meaningfully elevate the impoverished in their cities. Acknowledge corruption in Democratic-led cities.
Practicing democracy. The intolerance of the left to opposing thought smacks tyrannical. Single party dominance and democracy never coexist. Single parties always fracture, except in totalitarian states. Mr. Trump failed to separate himself from incorrigible, violent rightists, frightening and alienating many moderates. Will the Democratic Party separate itself from incorrigible, violent leftist change agents? How many voters turned away from the party because of that element.
Respecting national institutions. Accept that progressive reform can occur without extremism. Disavow violence and destruction whoever commits it. Work within the constitutional process rather than dismantle the electoral, judicial, and senatorial institutions to guarantee the electability of Democrats and the success of party initiatives.
Donald Trump will soon be gone. If the Democrats are smart, he will not return in four years. With their excuse for gridlock-governing erased, the Democratic Party should appeal to the broad base of Americans. Restricting opinions the party will entertain won’t accomplish that. Moderate, invitational dialogue might. Preachings and practices attributed to the Democrats by the right may be apocryphal. Liberal behaviors must serve to dispatch those perceptions in moderates, not reinforce them! Millions did not vote Democratic, despite a severe distaste for Donald Trump, because the Democratic Party’s public behavior has too frequently been violent, divisive, hypocritical and threatening.
Mediate, and bring us back, or don’t and revitalize the right.
Ronald P. Boone (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a retired executive director of Baltimore County Public Schools.