This Is No Time to Get Testy Among Democrats

June 18, 2019

Trump to Announce His Reelection Campaign Tonight: Defeating Him Requires Us All to Be Grownups

By Al Giordano

Donald Trump will announce his reelection campaign tonight on the heels of statements that he deserves not only a second term – but also an illegal third term (something Nancy Pelosi hinted weeks ago that he would eventually do).

Despite the very real threat of a Trump reelection we’re seeing more and more sniping between supporters of various Democratic 2020 hopefuls. That’s uncool and cooler heads need to step in and call it what it is: divisive, self-destructive and narcissistic bullshit.

Sure, there is still bad blood from 2016 and its result and there’s a cottage industry of blame assignment for it between supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton – yes, it’s an actual capitalist business enterprise (some of it claiming to be anti-capitalist!) in which some media organizations are fomenting the divide to drive subscriptions, social media attention and monthly Patreon payments – and that has continued throughout and probably will continue but it’s isolated and widely seen for what it is (and it’s also causing Sanders to be co-branded with 2016 by his own supporters in a way that is dragging him down, which should show everyone else’s supporters how counterproductive it is).

I’m not saying, not at all, that we were wrong to be polarized by the 2016 battle. I regret nothing because we were right. I’m not going to ever be that guy who makes a media stunt out of saying I was wrong. But 2020 is a different field of candidates with even more at stake and we know now what we didn’t know then about where that Democratic civil war got us. That’s what maturity is: learning from the trials and errors we’ve lived and doing better the next time.

But when, for example, some supporters of Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are openly shooting at each other (as one who adores both of them I find the snipers on either side extremely disappointing, because you, of all people, have to be better than that if you want others to rally around your candidate when she catches fire as one of them very may well: that one will then need the other’s supporters to win the nomination), or others are saying that if Joe Biden is the nominee they will refuse to vote Democratic, that’s the kind of crap that defined the worst of 2016 – the “if it doesn’t go my way I’ll walk so succumb to my emotional blackmail” tantrum never has worked and never will (just remember how much you hated it the last time) – and we’re all still living with the consequences of that kind of behavior. Don’t be that idiot.

It’s concerning because how the Democratic nominee emerges from the convention is going to be more important than who that person is to the much hallowed and misunderstood concept of “electability.” And the person you dislike today, who rubs you the wrong way, may end up the last one standing between the nomination and the one you hate even more! Funny how that works but in a field with 20-plus candidates in which none of them have better than a 20 percent shot at the nomination do the math and understand that means there is an 80 percent chance that your choice or mine or anyone else’s isn’t going to get there. We each have to prepare our selves to “settle” for someone who might not be as great as our own favorite but will still be far preferable to Donald Trump in power.

And frankly, among the group of candidates most likely to emerge because they have the combination of support, resources, smarts and ability to weave a coalition of enough sectors of a diverse party to win the nomination, the distance between their positions on the issues is miniscule compared to what unites them.

Joe Biden is leading in polls in part because he is seen as imperfect and many rank-and-file Democrats fear the quest for “perfection” among party activists because they are living today with its consequences. Democratic voters have already shown us and told pollsters that they don’t really care if Biden is old fashioned and out of step or awkward on gender matters, his policy positions on those issues are acceptable to them and similar to everyone else’s. Nor do they care about Elizabeth Warren’s belief in what her parents told her about her heritage, the polls have asked that question and only a tiny percentage hold that against her. They’re not bothered that Kamala Harris was a tough on crime law woman or that she used to enforce anti-truancy laws. They don’t care that Beto O’Rourke is a white male. Wake up. They don’t care even if you do! They don’t even care if you or I have historically been critical of Bernie Sanders: He won’t get the nomination but if he does I will support him and you should too. (I’m not losing any sleep over the slim probabilities of that happening.) A very small percentage of voters care about any of the “negatives” that partisans of rival candidates are raising about any of these folks, and one of them – or someone very much like each of them – is likely to be the nominee. And all attempts to tear any of them down over petty differences are going to fail. Each of them will lose only because someone else runs a better campaign.

The harm, however, will be in how these attacks rarify the air and foment rancor between natural allies in the Democratic coalition. That’s what happened in 2016 and we’re still being harmed by its ongoing consequences. There is no lesson from 2016 that is greater or more urgent to learn than that one.

So you don’t like – fill in the blank, Biden, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, O’Rourke, Sanders, Booker, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Castro, or anyone else – nobody cares who you hate. If you love one candidate more than others we do care more about that and want to be motivated to share that view not by dragging down rival candidates but by lifting up the right one.

I’m not saying, Rodney King style, “can’t we all get along?” because we’re Democrats, we can’t all get along!

But we can be grownups and acknowledge that working in a coalition means not getting every single thing each of us wants in order to get what we need. And those of us who are grownups have to step in when others are tearing each other down and remind them that we don’t care, we’ll support either their candidate or the one they hate in order to beat Trump. Is that really so hard? If it is too hard then we’re not ready to organize and win. And right now I’m only looking for those who are ready. It’s with you that we can and will accomplish that and more.

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