Sunday, August 19, 2018

What Party? Some Democrats Aren't Helping the Cause.

Remember when the two worst words you could post on your Facebook feed was when a group of friends were talking about a party that you weren't invited to and you plaintively asked, "What party?"

I'm starting to feel that way about my party, the Democrats. I'm a registered Democrat and have been since I started voting at age 18. I've supported its mission and values, and even agreed when Democrats and Republicans would agree on something important, even if neither party got everything they asked for in the deal. I've worked the polls as the representative Democrat and even spent 14 hours side-by-side with a Reagan Republican and we had a lovely day chatting and cross-checking voter rolls.

But lately, some Democrats have not represented the party well. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's statement last week that America was never that great is a prime example. I understand what he means; that we have a higher standard of ethical and moral behavior to live up to and we're still working on that. And if he truly believes that, then the good governor should express that sentiment and urge Americans to do better at home and abroad. Instead, he gave a nice gift to the most demagogic person to sit in the White House, and the president took great advantage of it.

What Cuomo should have said was that the present administration was not going to make America great if it continued to allow polluters to pollute more, to relax clean air and water standards, to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans who want to join the military, to give massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, and to subvert American ideals as they relate to immigration and the treatment of children. In short, the focus needs to be on the behavior that he doesn't want to see. Once you start labeling and questioning what on the surface is a broad claim, you're going to get yourself into trouble. And he did.

It's the same with those Democratic representatives and candidates who are calling for President Trump's impeachment. Perhaps the Mueller investigation will uncover an impeachable offense, but to date the president has done nothing that is likely to lead to a broad swath of the electorate to support legal action against him. Democrats are only giving Republicans and Independent voters a reason to see this as more of a partisan issue than one that deserves their support. Plus, it makes Democrats look desperate and churlish.

Donald Trump has tweeted his little heart out, rampaged against immigrants, labeled the press as enemies and has questioned the country's commitment to security in Europe. Despite all of that, a majority of people still do not support him or his agenda, support immigration and believe that we should be solid as a rock when it comes to NATO. Why, then, muddy the waters with impertinent and provocative statements that only give him something to fight against?

Democrats need to channel this anger and frustration into a message that resonates with voters on the issues above and affordable health care. But if the party runs on impeachment and other divisive issues, they will blunt their message and suppress some support that would otherwise come from moderates and independents.

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