“Here’s the deal: No matter how you look at the map, the only way Democrats will hold power is to lean on their coalition, and that will have to include more rural white voters across the country. Democrats will never win the majority of those voters. That’s the reality. But the difference between beating 80 to 20 and 72 to 28 is all the difference in the world.
-James Carville Vice
Take a second to think about all the absolutely life-changing events and accomplishments that have happened in your own memory. We’re out of time on climate change, the Republican Party staged a coup on Capitol Hill, a close ally of the former president and current representative from Florida’s 1st congressional district is currently the subject of a sex trafficking investigation, and so, so, so, so, so much more. Where are we talking about this? Where are the songs, the slogans, the stickers that call attention to the evil, corruption and death that poison our too short lives?
During Obama’s last year in office, a Supreme Court justice died in his sleep. Judicial appointments are for life and given by the president, so Obama got to work finding one. However, the Republican Senate told him that whoever he nominated would not confirm it. They would literally not hold a vote. They would not do their job. In cases like this, the traditional democrat says “they go low, we go high”. But what does the high road look like in this situation? Is he waiting for the next president to appoint someone? Or is he appointing someone so completely uncontroversial that there’s no way Republicans will disapprove? Obama did the latter, and the Republicans announced that: 1. They would not hold a vote and 2. If a Democrat won the next election, they would keep the seat vacant for as long as it took for one of the theirs is in power. .
Obama could have, if he had wanted to, bent the rules to like republicans literally just did it and appointed a judge without Senate approval. But, “they go low, we go high”. Obama did exactly that, which in this case was nothing. The following year, the Republican Party won the elections and named one of its own. Shock.
While “taking the high road” in many situations seems like the right thing to do, it’s an empty moral argument entirely concerned with preserving the image and life ambivalence of real working people. We cannot continue. We cannot forgive. Not without reform or, at the very least, change. Republicans have known this for a long time. They don’t care about being portrayed as obstructionists because they claim to be exactly that. They dwell on everything the representatives of the Democratic Party do, no matter how insignificant. Frankly, we should do the same.
There is a double effect if we were to use it on a large scale. First, trust in the Republican Party would deteriorate. The second effect is less direct. Americans, excluding Congress, are not as ideologically opposed as our masters would have us believe. Sure, there are plenty of mean, mean people out there, but according to the Brightline report, for the most part, you and the Republican likely share many of the same beliefs. This means that there is room for distrust of parties.
I know I preach to the choir. If it was a perfect world, the pundits on the left would read this and pull themselves together. However, a change in the way we speak and think starts small. Dwell on failures to act. Bring them into the conversation, into the writing, into the art. Taking the high road only goes so far. While we forget what the Republican Party (and the Democratic Party, but that’s for another piece) has done, the effects of their actions continue to ravage the lives of normal people. Making a Republican realize that much of what he despises is the effect of the actions of Republican pundits and donors is a first step toward building a stronger coalition.
Take, for example, the Sackler family. The owners of Purdue Pharma, with a net worth of $13 billion and the producer of Oxycontin, have pushed the drug into virtually every rural community in America, causing those communities to be destroyed by addiction and overdoses. Every rural voter in America, at the very least, knows someone whose life was ruined by this family. Now I make no accusation corn the family is a huge donor to the Republican Party and last September the family was granted “worldwide immunity” from Judge Robert Drain. Why don’t we focus on that?
The harm that has been done cannot be forgotten. We can’t take the high road and move on. We must linger. We must constantly evoke these evils, especially to those who have forgotten them. But we have to give hope. We need to be clear about our solutions, about the reform process. Without dwelling on errors, they will never be corrected. Without hope, there will never be progress.