Have Democrats reached the point where they would rather beat each other’s heads in than defeat Donald Trump? Have they forgotten that the opposition’s first task is to build a broad coalition for change?
Yes, the media love conflict, and the current fights among Democrats—in the House of Representatives and on the presidential campaign trail—are irresistible for us journalists. And so many of Trump’s outrages are treated not as the moral disgraces they are but as campaign strategy. As in: Boy, all that cruelty at the border and his threat to ignore the law and add that citizenship-status question to the census plays great with his base, and isn’t he a genius? Trump has so debased the standards of our politics that we stop noticing how low we have sunk.
But the Democrats’ primary mission right now is precisely to force attention to what those wielding authority—meaning, especially, Trump, but also his enablers in the Republican-led Senate—are doing to our country. They can’t just blame the press for seeing that there is a lot of, well, tension in the House Democratic caucus. Reporters aren’t making up the fact that progressives and moderates often dump on each other. Progressives say moderates aren’t being militant enough against Trump. Moderates say progressives are not attentive enough to the middle-of-the-road voters and districts that gave them their House majority in the first place.
Whatever their disagreements, Democrats are united on many things, starting with seeing the shameful treatment of children in detention facilities as a violation of all that our country says it believes in, and how Trump’s environmental policies are a daily scandal, given the mounting evidence for the damage climate change is doing. I could offer a much longer list, but you get the point.
Perhaps a vile Trump tweet on Sunday will remind Democrats why they should be battling him, not each other. Without naming them, he attacked four first-term Democratic congresswomen—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—for standing up against his cruel border policies. Trump told the four progressives they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” It was despicable thing to say, not to mention typically ill-informed, since all but Omar were born in the United States.