Why are Democrats so ready to surrender this country to Republican rule?
Their endless quest to cancel student debt is no way to galvanize broad-based support in the 2022 midterm elections or beyond. Neither is attacking House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy as “a liar and a traitor,” which Senator Elizabeth Warren did this weekend on CNN.
As pollster Mark Penn warns in The New York Times, “In a rare convergence, America’s voters are not merely unhappy with their political leadership, but awash in fears about economic security, border security, international security, and even physical security. Without a U-turn by the Biden administration, this fear will generate a wave election like those in 1994 and 2010, setting off a chain reaction that could flip the House and the Senate to Republican control in November, and ultimately the presidency in 2024.”
You don’t have to be a pollster to know this. Just talk to friends and relatives. No matter what their political persuasion, worries about where this country is headed are now part of the daily conversation. But instead of taking on the actual matters of concern, and debating them on the merits, Democrats waste their time trying to shame the shamelessly vile McCarthy. As policy, pushing debt relief for one privileged segment of the population has its proponents, but will it win back enough voters across party lines? No. That requires direct engagement on the very issues that Republicans continue to viciously hammer, like immigration, inflation, crime, and the backlash to COVID-19-related mandates.
On that and more, Democrats are MIA. Indeed, if Democrats ran Ukraine, the Russians would be holding court in Kyiv by now. While Republicans launch their missiles of fear, Democrats are surrendering on every front, from the culture wars to the economy and more.
Democrats know exactly what Republicans are doing. But instead of confronting the GOP on hot-button issues, Democrats would rather pretend they don’t matter. As Warren wrote in a New York Times op-ed, “Republicans want to frame the upcoming elections about ‘wokeness,’ cancel culture, and the ‘militant left wing.’ ” Yet rather than engage on that, she wants the party to focus on climate change, corporate corruption, and yes, student debt. That might energize the base. But Democrats can’t agree on the details, and if they did, would it be enough to change the trajectory of midterm elections, or undermine the Trumpism that now defines the Republican party? No.
Democrats have to fight back on the culture war front. Republicans are peering into all of our bedrooms and telling women what to do with their bodies. They are deciding what books all of our children can read. They are punishing Disney for speaking out against a Florida law that limits what can be taught in a classroom. Is that what most Americans want? On this and more, Republicans are the radicals. Yet Democrats don’t want to say that. It took a Democratic state lawmaker from Michigan to rebut the odious allegation that standing up for transgender rights somehow equates to “grooming” children. That clip of Michigan state Senator Mallory McMorrow should do more than go viral. It should inspire Democrats across the country to stand up for what is right, just, and sensible.
The US unemployment rate is 3.6 percent. Yet Democrats have not waged any cogent defense to Republican attacks on the country’s overall economic health, nor rallied behind public health policies designed to help, not hurt, fellow Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, such as masking. Immigration is another subject Democrats prefer to avoid. But if the border is a problem, it’s because Republicans refuse to take up immigration reform.
The House committee investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol may ultimately take down Donald Trump. But it won’t take down the radical right that he empowered. It’s up to Democrats to do that. Attacking McCarthy isn’t enough. Not enough people in this country even know who he is — or care. The case must be made and won not against one loathsome Republican lawmaker, but against the radical ideology the Republican party now represents.
President Biden should be pressing that case. If he can’t or won’t, someone in his party should. For Democrats, surrender should not be such an easy option.