I am a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat!
I never thought I would be saying anything like the above. For months I have criticized, and even mocked, the leadership of the Democratic Party. And rightfully so. What I failed to realize, the real leadership of my party is not ensconced in chair Tom Perez or the staff of the Democratic National Committee. Instead, when called upon in a national crisis, the leadership resides with elected officials and the registered voters. All one needs do is look at two events over the past 12 days during which these de facto leaders demonstrated there is a time for political fun and games and there is a time to get serious.
The first was the coalescing around former vice-president Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee to take on Donald Trump this fall. In just four days, multiple contenders realized there were two options. Continuing to run for the presidency would distribute votes among several alternatives. And by doing so, they would deliver the nomination to a candidate who has the support of approximately 35 percent of primary voters. As soon as the Super Tuesday results came in, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang and Mike Bloomberg, all of whom sought to be the leader of the free world, demonstrated why any one of them is more qualified than the incumbent to hold that title.
If the situation on the Wednesday after Super Tuesday sounds familiar, just imagine if Republican candidates in 2016 had shown half the discipline of their 2020 Democratic counterparts. Donald Trump would be on the 26th floor of Trump Tower plotting his next scam business venture. There is still the likelihood Hillary Clinton would not become the first female president. However, John Kasich or even Ted Cruz would be a quantum improvement over what we have now. Sadly, there was no adult in the room who said, “We know Donald Trump will destroy the Republican Party. What is it going to take to make sure that does not happen?”
And once the Democratic candidates set the stage, the voters took over. Even Bernie Sanders admitted he was losing the electability contest when he related how many potential supporters had told him, “We like your positions on the issues. But we’re voting for Biden.” That is a rational and disciplined decision. The issues will be there in the days and years to come. There is only one chance to deny Trump four more years in the White House. Voters understand it and are sending a clear message to Sanders and others who do not.
The second example of competence is another contrast between my party and the Trumpists who dominate the former Republic Party. Instead of labeling the current health crisis a “media hoax” or shackling experts who understood the potential disaster and what could be done to ameliorate it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled the Democratic congressional leaders together to draft the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Last night she unveiled the 124 page document and called for a House vote within 24 hours.
The Trumpists could not draft a coherent 11 minute address to the nation. And the next 24 hours have been spent clarifying Trump’s words and worrying whether an expansion of Medicaid to cover treatment for poor families might be used for abortions. I may be wrong, but I would be surprised if those senior citizens most at risk during the pandemic are worried if the government is going to pay for them to terminate a pregnancy.
Winston Churchill is credited as being the first person to declare, “Never waste a good crisis.” Never were those words more true. But for what purpose. Democrats are using the coronavirus pandemic to remind Americans that governing matters. That compassion and empathy at the highest levels of government matter. That competence matters. The Trumpists? One more opportunity to dog whistle their base and bail out their donors.
Maybe that’s not as unimaginable as it seems.
For what it’s worth.