It’s no secret that Democrats aren’t happy with the outcome of the fall election, losing about 1,000 races nationwide from the White House to city councils, but their tactics since then aren’t likely to help them or the country.
Western democracies have a long tradition of the “loyal opposition” that offers a counterbalance to the majority party. Our country has benefitted from having two vigorous political parties presenting alternate policy options and questioning each other’s logic. Just as robust competition in the commercial marketplace has led to a higher standard of living, so has philosophical competition in the so-called marketplace of ideas resulted in generally sound policy over this country’s history.
Indeed, Republicans maintained a spirited opposition during their years out of power.
However, Democrats are employing techniques that go beyond mere opposition. They have included marches that flouted images many Americans consider obscene; disrupted congressional town hall meetings and insulted the president’s children, even his little boy.
Unfortunately, there have been some individual Republican supporters who have resorted to similar behavior at times, and it was just as reprehensible then. What is different now is that Democrats appear to have sanctioned such mischief.
Senior members of the party and major elected officials are openly questioning the motives of the president and wildly exaggerated his proposals. Affiliated groups have spurred the marchers and the rowdies at town hall meetings. Party operatives have posted some of the most spurious attacks on social media.
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee elected Saturday up the road in Atlanta, Obama labor secretary Tom Perez, demonstrated that party leaders consciously approve an “in your face” attitude. Indeed, Barack Obama and his chief lieutenants endorsed Perez and worked for his election.
Perez has an agenda, exhibited in his membership in radical groups like CASA de Maryland that prompted senators to question his nomination to the cabinet. While heading the Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights, he believes, according to the department’s inspector general, that the Voting Rights Act doesn’t protect white voters when they are in the minority. He declined to pursue allegations that members of the New Black Panther Party brandished nightsticks to intimidate voters at a Philadelphia polling place.
Sunday, immediately after his election as chairman, he began attacking President Donald Trump on the network talk shows as a “racist” and accused him of sowing “chaos and carnage” – not exactly calming, mature language or conducive to reasoned discussion.
Even Perez isn’t radical enough for some Democratic leaders. Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America, called Perez's election "incredibly disappointing" and said the "resistance will persist ... with or without the leadership of the Democratic National Committee."
True, Trump as a plain-speaking president who’s feeling his way in the early days of his first elective office has presented Democrats with ammunition. Polls show that some Trump voters are feeling twinges of buyers’ remorse after he didn’t tone down his bluster upon entering office.
But Democrats are fumbling the opportunity to sway those who might have some agreement with them. Raucous behavior might attract news coverage, but it doesn’t attract support, at least not among sober, conscientious Americans. Instead, it repels them.
Democrats tried the same techniques during the election, and doing so backfired on them then, driving voters into Trump’s camp. And the same is likely to happen now. Ironically, they could provide the unifying force that emboldens their greatest adversary.