Progressives demonstrated strength in Democratic primaries around the nation Tuesday, including with the defeat of the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joe Crowley, in the 14th Congressional District in New York City. A 28-year-old self-identified Democratic Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, scored a stunning upset over Crowley, 56, who was first elected to the House in 1998.
Most notably at the gubernatorial level, former NAACP President and progressive leader Ben Jealous secured the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland. And progressive Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado won the Democratic nomination for governor there, continuing his bid to become the nation’s first elected gay governor.
These results are an early indicator of the strategies and priorities that both parties will utilize in the November elections.
For the Republicans, President Trump’s continued involvement and influence in his party’s primaries seems to outline the role he will have over the next four months.
A backdrop of divisive rhetoric from both Democrats and Republicans is becoming increasingly prominent and woven directly in with their campaigns.
The president’s endorsement and rally Monday in South Carolina on behalf of Gov. Henry McMaster helped the incumbent consolidate his lead over political outsider, John Warren, in the Republican gubernatorial primary and avoid what would have been an embarrassing upset.
On the left, Tuesday’s results will embolden the loudest voices in the Democratic Party as they promote their exceedingly extreme agenda, including Medicare-for-all, guaranteed jobs by the federal government, and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as more protests and public resistance.
All the while, a backdrop of divisive rhetoric from both Democrats and Republicans is becoming increasingly prominent and woven directly in with their campaigns.
President Trump has long been known to use vulgar words and inflammatory rhetoric to describe those with whom he feuds. This tactic has encouraged his supporters to act in a similar fashion.
The most recent experiences of journalists being berated and threatened by the president’s supporters at the rally in South Carolina Monday for McMaster is evidence of this fact.
Trish Regan of Fox Business commented on the occurrence saying: "I say this because I'm very concerned about the state in which we now live, where there is a complete and total lack of civility.”
While inflammatory behavior plays well to the president’s base, the type of message it promotes does more damage to our nation and our democracy as we approach November.
Recently, it’s become clear that some Democrats have gotten a taste for this irresponsible rhetoric, too.
This past week, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., dangerously called for the public harassment and intimidation of Trump administration officials, stopping just short of violence, if Democratic supporters encounter these officials in public.
Days prior, a restaurant in Virginia made national headlines for discriminating against White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when the owner asked Sanders to leave because the owner and members of her staff were opposed to President Trump’s policies.
Some Democrats, like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, have called out the abhorrent rhetoric and behavior coming from a few of their fellow party members. However, many still do not see the problem that this type of dialogue causes – or seem to forget that a little more than a year ago, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot by an angry gunman and nearly lost his life.
The fact that both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty of the same bad behavior underscores the fact that something must be done to restore decency and civility in our political discourse. More importantly, the fact that members of both parties think this is acceptable is even more abhorrent.
With Trump supporters threatening reporters at political rallies, we do not need Democrats following suit.
For a democracy to function properly, we must see our political opponents not as sworn enemies, but as fellow Americans. While we may disagree on some issues, we must recognize that ultimately, we are all working for the American people. Rhetoric like that which has been espoused does the exact opposite.
It has been years since Congress has worked in a bipartisan manner. This new normal does not benefit Americans and it needs to end.
Moreover, I must emphasize that this new strain of intolerance coming from the Democrats is not just bad for the Democrats chances of taking back Congress next fall – it is bad for the country’s moral health.
During the Trump presidency, Democrats have consistently found success when they offer a reasoned alternative to President Trump’s imprudent, impetuous style. This was most evident with the victories of Democrats Conor Lamb in the race for a House seat in southwestern Pennsylvania and Doug Jones in the race for a Senate seat in Alabama.
When Democrats attempt to emulate the bad behavior of President Trump, they end up alienating moderates and falling further behind.
For Democrats to be successful, they need to recall former first lady Michelle Obama’s advice of “when they go low, we go high,” focus on issues that the American people need solutions to, and be the party that brings much needed civility back to Washington.