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The Democrats’ Sanctimony Crisis

The Democratic Party’s political crisis around President Biden’s fitness for office deepened this week as President Biden once again pledged to stay in the race amidst increasingly vocal calls from prominent Democrats for him to drop out. In a defiant July 8 letter, which he followed with a phone-in to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Biden insisted he’s staying in the race. 

The letter followed an escalating pressure campaign to urge Biden to step aside. On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who is beloved by the Democratic base for being a Trump interrogator, said on Meet the Press, “Given Biden’s incredible record and given Trump’s terrible record he should be mopping the floor with Donald Trump. It should not be even close, and the reason it is close is the president’s age.”

>>>READ: Joe Biden: Car Dealer in Chief

Also, over the weekend, The New York Times, whose editorial board urged Biden to drop out, ran a piece that cited a senior Biden aide who no longer believes Biden has the capacity to defeat Trump. Meanwhile, NBC ran a story reporting that four leading House Democrats had, in a private call, told House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries that Biden should end his bid for a second term. Such call details are not leaked by accident. 

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Time will tell whether Democrats have the fortitude to continue their pressure campaign. What is clear, however, is that whether Biden drops out, stays in and loses in a landslide (as David Axelrod believes) or wins (as Biden believes), Democrats would do themselves, the country, and even Republicans, a favor by engaging in some soul searching. 

One Democrat who has a head start on party analysis is the legendary consultant and Ragin’ Cajin, James Carville. In an exchange with Jonathan Capehart at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Carville blasted his own party’s messaging:

“When you start speaking in a language that people don’t speak, they resent that, and if you start speaking like NPR, you’re going to lose votes,” Carville said, giving the example of asking men on the street in New Orleans, “Hey fellas, how are things in the communities of color today?”

“‘We know what’s best for you, don’t eat hamburgers, don’t watch football, don’t drink beer.’ Guess where our young male number is going? In the toilet, alright? Because Democratic messaging, I’m sorry, is too feminine, it just is,” he said. 

“If you think about Democratic messaging, listen to NPR, read what comes out of there, alright? And you can see it, and I’m sorry, there are too many preachy females in Democratic campaign culture, and we come across to people as judgmental,” Carville responded.

“One of the things that I’ve found out, there are actually people who don’t mind losing elections because it makes them feel better and superior … If you don’t win you don’t have sh–, you’re just running around with talking points. Alright?”

Carville earned the right to chastise his party by helping Bill Clinton win in 1992 with his famous, “It’s the economy, stupid” strategy. At the time, Clinton and Carville fashioned a winning correction against a far left that was out of touch with everyday Americans. Yet, as is the case on the left and right, political corrections tend to metastasize and become political cancers. Winning factions accumulate power, grow complacent and become victims of their success. Today, too many Democrats wrongly assume that Clinton’s (and Obama’s) generational political skills at demonstrating “I feel your pain” empathy and hope conferred upon them moral superiority. 

A party built on a belief that it does not merely have better policies but cares more about environmental stewardship, racial equality and upward mobility is setting itself up for delusional thinking and catastrophically bad decisions. 

>>>READ: A Depressed Viewer’s Guide to the Presidential Debate

You see, when it’s about helping the Good Guys, it’s easy to disregard reality-based analysis and downplay hard and legitimate questions about competence, age and fitness. As Nate Silver at ABC News writes, “In their critiques of coverage of Biden’s age, then, progressive media scolds are like the dog who caught the car. They succeeded in getting the media to frame the issue gingerly … But having caught the car, the critics aren’t sure what to do with it. Because the car was a lemon.” 

Biden’s letter was strange. He attempted to blame his self-inflicted crisis on “elites” when, in reality, elites had finally caught up with voters who had been expressing concerns about his age for months. 

Thoughtful Democrats should recognize the Biden letter for what is: He is demagoguing the demagogues (which may include you). If you don’t like it, stop demagoguing. 

Stop believing you “care” more and start arguing for your policies. That’s a fight principled people on the left and right should welcome and voters deserve.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

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