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Democrats: Don’t Poison the Well

Don Rose 9 May 2019 No Comment

In about 14 months there will be one winner and twenty-some losers, most with large disappointed followings. It’s then incumbent on all of us who want regime change to leave our disappointment behind and get behind the winner, whomever she or he might be, because there is not one of the twenty-some running who is not far superior to the incumbent and presumed GOP re-election candidate.

   I’ve said it before and will continue to remind us all in the course of the next 14 months, no circular firing squads, no demonization of the competitors–and especially of their adherents.

   That doesn’t mean don’t criticize candidates. I don’t like the policies or histories of several of several and will articulate those disagreements, but not in a way that would prevent me from supporting any of them fully and enthusiastically against Donald Trump.

  Politically I’m closer to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but I’m not yet convinced either can win–or have any idea yet who among the others would be the strongest general-election candidate. When I figure it out I’ll fight like hell for him or her without demonizing and totally trashing any of the other contenders.

   The goal is not to poison the well–make any possible winner so unacceptable that you or others will not support him  or her.


  It’s clear that back in 2000 defections from Al Gore–no prize package–elected George W. Bush whose Iraq War set the stage for most of today’s world problems. It’s also a reasonable interpretation of 2016 to say that enough disappointed Bernie supporters didn’t support or vote for Hillary Clinton and by default helped elect Trump. It must not happen again.

  Meanwhile, the take-downs of various contenders is well under way. Columnist Gene Lyons, a Clinton apologist, laid out a case against Sanders that painted him as a Soviet-style Communist sympathizer rather than the benign Scandinavian-style social Democrat he is today.  New York Times Magazine columnist Jay Kaspian Kang recently put down Mayor Pete Buttigieg and his followers as intellectual poseurs. In These Times Magazine has published several legitimate attacks on Joe Biden’s long history. Etc. Etc.

   So it will continue to go, but the rage must stop when a winner emerges–quite possibly as the result of a convention battle because the primaries and caucuses didn’t give us a clear winner.

   One more caution: I saw a dangerous trend in the Chicago mayoral race where some supporters of one side trashed not only the opponent but her followers. For example, one self-appointed arbiter of all things progressive trolled progressive backers of Lori Lightfoot on social media, rhetorically  stripping them (me included) of their left-wing credentials. Another declared Lightfoot voters would have “blood on their hands” if some cop killed another unarmed African American.

   This kind of stupidity changes no minds but does make it difficult to work together later on common causes such as defeating Trump. Remember, Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” comment was self-immolating.

   There is a difference between opponents and enemies. Democratic opponents must eventually come together against a common enemy.

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

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