Just Beat Trump (with a nod to Jonathan Martin)

January 15, 2019

There is a thought-provoking article in today’s NYTimes that deserves some reaction by Democrats who care whether we win back the Senate and the Presidency in 2020.

Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for the Times and author of the book “End of the Line,” asks the question:  Which is the better strategy to assure that the Democrats win in 2020, concentrate on beating Trump or concentrate on reconciling the wings of the party on policy?

For me, who always thought of himself as a wannabe policy wonk, there is only one choice:  Beat Trump.   Worry about policy differences after you’ve won because unless we defeat Trump can you even have a policy.

This is not the way it should be and I doubt it will be. After all, we don’t belong to an organized political party, we’re Democrats.   But for us centrists who regard compromise and civility as the shaky foundation of our democracy, defeating Trump is just about the only option we have.  The passions on policy are so polarized even within the Democrat party that finding common ground during a Presidential campaign would require more cunning than Sisyphus and result in about the same end.

Why not try to avoid that?   Trump provides so much ammunition and is supported only by a growing minority that he is an easy target except in places where there are too few electoral votes to swing the election.  Concentrate on those states where Trump’s numbers are dropping and forget Oklahoma and Utah.  (Sorry family, but there it is.)

I’d love to see a grand debate on what the Democrat Party stands for, but we seem to have an innate capacity to chew one another up and lose.  We’re up against a single-minded opponent supported by a party that only wants to win by whatever means, including telling those in Congress to vote against anything Obama wants, even if its good for the country.  We don’t have to emulate their strategy; we just have to recognize that there are times when a united frontal attack on a weaken and recognizable enemy is more effective.

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