12 Nov It’s Time to Move Forward, Democrats
Quite frankly, I am not at all happy with you helping my opponent. Moreover, the substance of the pointed suggestion you gave the Republicans, if followed, would ruin one of the best campaign strategies my side has. That is, we actually like to see Donald Trump trying to control things and want to run against him and everyone who still supports his grievances. It is our strongest chance to gain complete power over the government! Your letter to the opposition was too helpful (to them), and that’s not fair.
To even things up, then, what advice would you give me about how to handle the Trump issue?
Dem O. Crat
Dear Mr./Ms./They Crat,
Like “Mr. and Mrs. R. Party”, your clumsy attempt at anonymity is not going to dissuade us from calling you by your real name: the Democratic Party.
Our advice for you is the same as what we gave the Republicans, basically. The last line of your letter asks “how to handle the Trump issue”. That very question reveals your problem—there really is no Trump issue. Unless your opponents make the mistake of bowing down to the former president and perpetuating his lies (or absurdly nominating him in 2024!), you are going to have to run on the merits. On your our own strengths, not his faults.
We noticed your effort in the recent elections, especially in the Virginia governor race, to paint the Republican candidate as “Donald Trump in khakis.” Well, how did that go for you? You lost. You should be able to understand that it is not a good strategy to continue being solely The Anti-Trump Party, or even the Enemy of the Republicans.*
*Hilary Clinton, a former U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady of the United States, did not win on the basis of being “Not Donald Trump.” Joe Biden pulled that off, but only after President Trump himself had spent four years disgusting suburban voters and other 2016 supporters.
Focusing on Donald Trump is inherently backward looking. You will need to look forward—to a better America.
To accomplish your electoral goals, you need to decide what the positive governing principles of the Democratic Party are. What is your platform? What personal leadership principles have your candidates demonstrated? Simply put, how can your party and its candidates move the country ahead?
You also need to be transparent and honest with your plans. You need to follow laws. You need to show how you will be good stewards of America’s resources, including taxpayer money. Your candidates must show reasonableness and integrity. Those kinds of principles will distinguish your party.
While we are writing, here is another piece of free advice: stop overdoing things. When you are considering proposals for government programs and spending, everything good does not need to cost trillions of dollars. When you are coming up with taxation plans to pay for our national necessities, saying you will make only “billionaires” and “huge corporations” pay their “fair share,” with “no cost” to anyone else, please realize that Americans are not going to believe there is a free lunch.
And when you are tempted to describe every opponent as “just like Trump” (a man you previously compared to Hitler), you would be overplaying your hand. As they say where we come from, pigs eat and hogs get slaughtered. You won one election cycle in 2020 by focusing on Donald Trump. It won’t work again, so stop eating from that trough and move forward, positively. Following principles.
Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics
Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.