Democrats, more often than not, do not play the game of politics correctly. While Democrats may never adopt the policies of Ronald Reagan, they should follow his golden rule of politics closely. Reagan adamantly instructed his party members to never publicly criticize another Republican. Democrats should, especially this year, live, eat, sleep and die by this rule.
Republicans and other conservatives who criticize President Obama do so for obvious reasons, and they should. Our democracy works because the parties air and debate their differences in public.
But Democrats should never publicly criticize Obama. In a year when so much is on the line, there is no room for criticism of the president from the left.
Criticizing Obama on an issue like taxes is one of the stupidest political mistakes someone can make. But last summer, Democrats lined up to blast their president for abandoning his demand to increase taxes on the wealthy in order to secure tax cuts for the middle class. Representative Pete Stark, Democrat of California, and others accused Obama of not putting up a fight.
For Pete’s sake, Pete! Obama has said he wants to raise taxes on the wealthy more times than I’ve been told Bass Library closed half an hour ago, so clearly he’s in favor of this measure. Do you really think he’s scared of losing your support? Or losing the vote of Oakland? All Stark and other Democrats accomplished by blasting Obama was to make their president and party look weak. You accomplish things by projecting strength; the president cannot look strong when members of his own party undercut him.
On the subject of immigration, several Democrats have recently thrown their party’s leader under the bus. Obama set a record number of deportations of illegal immigrants in 2011, but that fact alone is misleading. Obama has spoken in favor of and has urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in America, their home, and achieve citizenship by going to college or serving in the military.
Representative Louis Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, has gone on the offensive against the president, condemning Obama for breaking up families and not working hard enough to pass the DREAM Act.
Give me a break. Of course Obama understands how important immigration is. His father was from Kenya! His father was able to come to America because of a federal program kept alive by then-Senator John Kennedy that brought Kenyans to study at universities here. Obama understands the importance of immigration to American society, so please, Congressman Gutierrez, cut him a break and help him get the Hispanic vote this fall.
My fellow Democrats, show some love for the president who stood up for you and who is the only person on the planet capable of stopping a Republican-controlled White House. Do you really think President Romney would do more to promote good, sound, liberal policies than Obama? As Joe Biden, my one true love, is fond of saying, “Compare us to the alternative, not the Almighty.”
Consider a Romney presidency. The DREAM Act would have no support from the White House, as Romney has firmly stated he doesn’t support it. The president wouldn’t be concerned with the plight of the poorest Americans. EPA funding would be slashed, and the agency would not treat carbon emissions as pollutants.
Registered Democrats vastly outnumber registered Republicans. There are roughly 71 million registered Democrats and 55 million registered Republicans. That leaves 42 million registered independents. That means that going into every presidential election, Democrats only need one-third of the independent vote to win.
But Democrats don’t win every election. Why? Because a lot of them stay home. If, instead of blasting this president for not being liberal enough, Democrats praised him for his accomplishments, maybe three million more Americans would approve of him, too, and get to the polls this fall. And if that does happen, and Obama wins, I think Democrats will be thrilled to see the president tack left, institute good policy and give Americans a reason to vote Democratic once again.
If all the Democrats in the country supported the president, he would be stronger and have more room to promote the progressive agenda. Surely these same Democrats would prefer that to a self-righteous, self-satisfied sneer that the President hasn’t done enough for the liberal cause. It’s often said that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. It’s time for Democrats to do both.
Jack Schlossberg is a freshman in Trumbull College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.