It was a mistake to embrace Republicans

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To the Editor:

Donald Trump was not, is not, and never will be an anomaly. He is not a joke so much as he is the punchline implicating the entire political project of the U.S. So in attempting to build an identity around opposing Donald Trump, it is important to not get tunnel vision. 

The question is, What was the outcome of browbeating voters to believe “anyone is better than Trump”? Does it mean the opposite is especially competent, empathetic, or effective? In the months before the election, Democrats proudly touted the hundreds of Bush-era Republican politicians among their ranks that announced their support for Biden. That is the power of moderation and compromise!

The result? Nothing but victory! The Democrats won a decisive blue victory and will take back the Senate! Republicans were disgusted by the behavior of Trump and voted with their conscience for Joe Biden! 

Of course, none of these things happened. Biden’s coalition bet heavily on conservatives’ heavy consciences, thinking this would win them their votes. And yet Republicans voted for Trump in even higher numbers than in 2016. The House and Senate will remain divided.

So what political advantage will ever be gained from bringing in Republicans, and especially former Trump staffers, besides a means of self-sabotage? To rehabilitate George W. Bush as a political ally only serves to undermine one’s own morality. For the average person, what better proof is necessary that this is all just a game for the ruling class? Who knows what the new common sense will be in five years? People are tired of being used as pawns in a game of chess that gets set aside, never to be finished.

Democrats will court conservatives without ever truly understanding them. They do not understand that Republicans know how to mobilize their base. Democrats see Trump’s rallies and the loudest, dumbest, most sociopathic hordes, and are scared of the people. They take away the wrong lesson, and believe that the enemy is populism. Meanwhile, the entire liberal political project has grown to revolve around the individual. To all Democrats, ask yourself: Are you willing to fight for a better world, or are you simply willing to let everything fall apart so long as you aren’t personally culpable?

What’s needed is a truly progressive coalition. Progressive candidates and their broadly popular policy proposals were elected and re-elected in this race, while the centrist candidates favored by the party lost. Democrats by and large must be taken to task for a failure of imagination: It’s not Russia, it’s you.

In May, Andrew Cuomo had the gall to say, “I believe that we didn’t lose anyone that we could have saved.” To say this when New York State’s death toll was 27,000 is perverse. Shortly afterward, it rose to 32,000. How true do those words ring now? In response to protests over the killing of George Floyd, Barack Obama should not have written a piece telling people to calm down. Joe Biden should not have suggested that police brutality could be lessened by shooting people in the leg instead of the head.

The reason I may seem to be more critical of Democrats than Republicans is the same reason dogs can be scolded and wolves cannot. It would be useless to try to discipline a wolf. It’s a wild animal, and everything it does is in its nature. A dog is ostensibly trained not to do bad things. So it is not even worth considering the motives of wolves under the assumption that their behavior will always be beyond the pale.

The Republican Party cannot be effectively called out for hypocrisy or fact-checked because they do not believe the things they claim to. They are arguing in bad faith. So why did the Democrats vie for their support? And what will they tell themselves when they continue to in the future?

Thus I have and I will continue to criticize Democrats more harshly than Republicans for the simple fact that Democrats have the capacity to do good though rarely do so. And with Biden in office, there will be no excuse not to for the next four years.

I have been told that after going backwards for so long, it’s nice just staying still. To this justification for Biden, I say it is better to apply pressure the other way. Standing still will lead to being tugged rightward. So we must fight back and demand more! You can accept the nominee and the party line, but for the love of God, don’t let Stockholm syndrome set in. Don’t be fooled by the idea that “next time will be different”!

Either we the people make that our project, or Democratic operatives can continue to appeal to and rely on the consciences of Republicans. I’m sure that will pay off in the future! Just like it did when President Trump left office in 2019 after he was impeached! It paid off in droves to bet on Robert Mueller! Just like when Justice Merrick Garland was installed! Just like when Amy Coney Barrett was successfully stopped from serving on the Supreme Court for the rest of her life! As was Kavanaugh!

It will pay off in the same way the Republicans agreed on the compromises of Obamacare, and it works so well now! Exactly how it won Democrats the Senate in 2018! Just as two decades in Afghanistan have led to nothing but victory.

 

Thorpe Karabees
Chilmark