Dear Media (especially the morning pundit chattering variety on the television set.) There is nothing wrong with the Democratic Party that Democrats can’t fix. However, never let it be said we’d stop you from endless pontificating on one of your favorite themes: Democrats in Disarray. So, this morning we have yet another segment, this time on MSNBC, about the “Rift” in the Democratic Party. Not that anything in this little rant will deter you from embracing one of your favorite themes, but PLEASE take a couple of thoughts into consideration.
Thought Number One: The Democratic Party is not now, nor has it ever been a monolithic lock step organization and model of political efficiency. There are urban Democrats and rural Democrats; capitalist Democrats and socialist Democrats; able bodied and disabled Democrats; straight and gay Democrats; men and women Democrats; white and African American and Hispanic and whatever Democrats. There are college educated Democrats, and Democrats without high school diplomas. There are Democrats with homes in the suburbs, and Democrats living in mobile home parks. Getting the picture? What all these Democrats have in common is that they care about the other Democrats…and their Republican and Independent neighbors as well. They want everyone to have health insurance; a chance for an education; a secure retirement; equal pay for equal work, and humane laws concerning immigration and gun safety.
So, yes. There will be squabbles about Single Payer health insurance systems versus private insurance models. There will be heated discussions about how many educational services will be provided to whom over what period of time. There will be disagreements about agricultural subsidies and banking regulations. There will be rifts all over the place — it’s called a “healthy civic discourse.” And, the way Democrats squabble with one another it would seem we are among the healthiest civic “discoursers” around.
This may surprise you, dear Media, but this leads to our Second Thought.
Thought Number Two: We like it. We challenge each other. The more Socialist among us challenge those of us of a more Capitalist bent to justify the way we think about financial regulations. The more Capitalist among us challenge our more Socialistic inclined brethren to think in practical terms of how social programs are to be administered and financially supported. The more urban Democrats challenge their agricultural cohorts to think in terms of the needs of city dwellers, while the agriculturally interested Democrats remind the city dwellers that major metropolitan areas don’t have enough cropland to provide sandwich bread for 7 million people.
We may even shriek a bit at one another, hurling the ultimate insult, “You’re not really a Democrat,” about. However, when the chips are down we don’t want anyone turned away from a voting booth for any nefarious reason; we don’t want children separated unnecessarily from their parents; and we certainly don’t want farmers going bankrupt as a result of a silly trade war. We may rail at one another over the details of a health care plan, but we agree that people with pre-existing medical conditions shouldn’t be gouged to pay for health insurance premiums. There are as many different combinations of interests as there are Democrats to express them, and now for our third thought.
Thought Number Three: We are national and local. We have this old fashioned idea that the representatives (from school boards to city councils to county commissions to state legislatures to the halls of Congress) should represent their constituents. We are often amused to find pundits expressing something just short of amazement that candidate Haymaker, a relatively conservative rural Democrat recently won a seat in the State Legislature. Yes? Why not? Haymaker probably represents the needs, aspirations, and politics of — wait for it — his or her constituents. If this doesn’t fit neatly into some national pundit’s nifty theory of national political trends, so be it. It’s not our (Democrats) fault if our candidates and elected officials don’t align precisely with Pauly Pundit’s theoretical framework du jour. Live with it.
Thought Number Four: The Democrats in Disarray thing is getting boring. I know, it’s a convenient hook upon which to hang a story, a handy narrative on which to pad out a few column inches into a full column, BUT please… it’s getting old, stale, and noticeably desiccated. Why, Dear Media, don’t you want to spend yet more time interminably interviewing Trump voters to seek out tiny indications of Buyer’s Remorse? You probably won’t find much there either, any more than you will get eight Democrats in a room to agree upon the specific elements of anything. However, the endless media fascination with “real people,” as if African American urban factory workers are “unreal,” is perilously close to insulting — as in, let’s find some grammatically challenged suitably casually dressed individuals with guns in the back of the pickup cab to interview as if these are “real Americans” to the exclusion of all others — including the college educated, articulate, and middle income individuals living right down the road who may or may not be identified with the same political party.
So, thank you very much members of the Chatterati — but let’s leave the Democrats to it — to their very own loving and sometimes even lovable capacity to crash and bash into each other. However, don’t expect Democrats to be incapable of recognizing when matters at hand have reached crucial moments. We, as Democrats, may be slow to move, slower to move in unison, but when faced with assaults on core principles and values move we do. And will.
See you in November.