Democrats are just not good at this. The circling firing squad routine is damaging everyone on the stage while leaving Donald Trump untouched. Not. Good.— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) February 20, 2020
They should all hold hands and chant in unison: "WE HATE DONALD TRUMP! WE HATE DONALD TRUMP! WE HATE DONALD TRUMP!"
Or sing "Kumbayah." One approach will win both the primaries and the general election about as well as the other.
Let's go back to James Carville, shall we?
The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly.And you know what? He's not wrong. Not, at least, in the context of things like banning fracking. Turns out this is what that fracking question was all about last night:
That’s all I care about. Right now the most important thing is getting this career criminal who’s stealing everything that isn’t nailed down out of the White House. We can’t do anything for anyone if we don’t start there and then acquire more power.
In the most important election of our lives, Sen. @BernieSanders & Rep. @AOC are celebrating a bill that would eliminate thousands of good union jobs in #PA17 & across PA — a state we need to win.— Conor Lamb (@ConorLambPA) February 14, 2020
What are we doing? We are Democrats. Jobs come first. https://t.co/WUomQNQ6v2
What the fuck are we doing? Banning fracking will do what? Get us off oil in 2025? Stop global warming in its tracks? Bring about the long delayed Millennium and Age of Aquarius?
D) None of the above. All it does is piss off people employed by oil mining (there are a LOT of them, although few of them live in NYC or Vermont) and accomplishes nothing except to raise gas prices. My commute is 30 minutes, one way, most of that on freeway at 70 mph. What, I'm gonna walk or ride a bike because gas goes back up to $4 a gallon? No, but it makes my life a lot more expensive. Yeah, I'm votin' for THAT guy!
I learned one indelible lesson in the pulpit: everything really is politics. I came out of seminary dreaming of a revolution in the church (I told myself I didn't, but I lie to myself a lot). I ran straight into the need to build coalitions. I still see myself as an intransigent Thomas More (I've been watching movies/TV shows about the Tudors lately) too convinced of my own rightness and rectitude, and unwilling to admit I was not the Most Important Person In The Room.
Bernie has yet to learn that lesson. AOC needs to catch on quicker.
I'm mindful of LBJ, who never ranted and raved about a revolution or the need to overturn the system and return power to the people, but who was probably the most consequential and even revolutionary president since FDR, and LBJ didn't have a Great Depression to give him a blank check. LBJ's accomplishments are still unappreciated, but he gave us the modern world we enjoy today, from no billboards on federal highways to wildflowers along the same highways, to PBS and Medicare and even the idea that the federal government had a role to play in public education. And still that's scratching the surface. LBJ performed revolutionary acts by using politics, rather than despising it. And he accomplished more by the time he was 61 than Bernie Sanders has accomplished in his whole damned life.
And LBJ never ranted in public like an old man and a deli sending back soup; although he was plenty harsh enough in his own way.
But do Democrats need to do a hate dance on Donald Trump in every debate? Hell, no. They could start by scrapping these stupid debates. The Lovely Wife turned them on last night, saw Elizabeth Warren waving her arm at Michael Bloomberg (as she put it), and turned it off. She didn't need that. Maybe Twitter did, but the rest of us didn't. And frankly, debates are not the place to either show off your political skills (although it's clear now Michael Bloomberg has no such skills at all) or to complain about Donald Trump. Bloomberg is doing a better job of that in his ads.
What do Democrats need to do? Select a candidate and then drive that candidate forward as the best replacement for Donald Trump ever, who we desperately need to replace. Should they be doing that right now? Eh; probably not. November is a long way off, whatever fresh thing you say now will be as stale as old bread and stink like old fish by then. Should they quit holding these stupid debates which are nothing but opportunities for free political advertising (the worst part is every candidate at the end of every debate reminding people they have eponymous websites where you can go to give money, please! Me some too, please, yes?). Debates are no place to debate the guy who isn't there. That's what ads are for. That's what the general campaign is for.
Do we really need a permanent campaign? Because what's what all these "wise old men" are clamoring for. Maybe it's because they don't have anything better to do; but the rest of us do.