I make no secret of the fact that I hope to see Democrats who stand where Bernie Sanders does take over the Democratic Party—it’s the central reason why I am running for Congress. I also make no secret of the fact that after canvassing door-to-door for Bernie in Iowa and Wisconsin last year, I went back to Iowa in the fall to canvass door-to-door for Hillary Clinton. We need a moral and political revolution in this country that “centrist” Democrats like Hillary have proven themselves unable to lead, but we also need to defeat and then marginalize the gravely serious problem that neofascists like Donald Trump and his enablers represent. As a political party, we Democrats need to find ways of resolving the “left-liberal divide” while remaining united against the neofascists. A recent
by Pete Davis offers some valuable thoughts on how we can do so and where common ground can be found. The article is a good expression of what I have praised elsewhere in this campaign as the virtue of civility.
Davis suggests that we begin by seeking to understand the best points on both sides. I urge you to read his article in full, but here are some key excerpts:
“The lefties’ best insight is that the end-goal of electoral politics is not winning; it is the advancement of certain programs and policies. Party loyalty, the lefties correctly argue, may be good for winning elections, but it does not automatically translate into party leaders advancing party members’ desired causes. As anyone who has watched the conservative ascendancy within the Republican Party over the past decades knows, internal criticism of party leaders — backed by the threat of electoral insurrection — is what makes leaders listen. As Frederick Douglass said: ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.’ This is true not just of tyrannical enemy power, but also the power of leaders whom we happen to admire and respect.”
“The liberals’ best insight is that today’s Republican Party — relative to history and relative to today’s Democratic Party — is an exceptionally dangerous political organization. It denies catastrophic climate change, is an almost-pure vessel for the corporate takeover of public power, has based its electoral coalition on aligning with white ethnic nationalism and authoritarian theocracy, and has instigated disastrous decision after disastrous decision over the past decades, from a war in Iraq that has left tens of thousands dead; to the mass incarceration that has decimated millions of American families; to the appointment of Supreme Court justices who have drastically shrunk the public’s power within the legal system.”
“A productive peace process for the intra-party war would merge these insights, advancing a practice that would help defeat the Republican Party while keeping Democratic leaders on their toes. We could call this practice ‘vigorous critical loyalty.’ Vigorous critical loyalty would work by separating the times for vigorous party loyalty and the times for vigorous internal criticism. A Democrat practicing vigorous critical loyalty would, near the general election or a critical vote in Congress, demonstrate vigorous loyalty to the party, mustering support for the Democratic candidate or bill while holding criticism for later. But during a primary campaign and during ordinary legislative time, a vigorous critical loyalist would fight vigorously for her ideals, unafraid of criticizing party leaders, supporting primary challengers, and advancing outside issue campaigns.”