The extreme right wing of the Republican party demands purity. If you’re not radically conservative, you’re as bad as a Democrat. They’ve scared the GOP so much that reasonable members of the party are afraid to stand up to them. If it wasn’t for the Electoral College, gerrymandering and voter suppression, they would have destroyed the party by now. If nothing else, they’ve reduced the reputation of the GOP to the point where it’s at the lowest it has ever been.
And in many cases, they’ve lost because of it. Just take Roy Moore for an example. He won the Republican primary over a more moderate Republican after attacking him mercilessly, because the crazy right can’t stand anyone who might compromise. And this led to their ultimate defeat to a liberal Democrat in the general election, in Alabama of all places.
Demanding absolute purity from your candidates, rejecting anyone who isn’t as far to the extreme as you wish, and demonizing any of your own candidates who aren’t perfect is not a winning solution.
And too many Democrats haven’t learned that lesson.
In 2016, I was a Bernie supporter but I spent much time criticizing other Bernie supporters who constantly attacked Hillary, spreading lies and libel from various memes (many of which came straight from the Russians, giggling at how easy it was for us to help them).
What’s wrong with saying, “We have two good candidates here, but I prefer one over the other for these reasons”? Why do we decide that if you’re not completely on our side, you’re the enemy?
That doesn’t mean we can’t criticize our own; it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about their faults and encourage them to change their positions on issues where we disagree. But outright attacks on our own? How does that help us win in the long run?
We’re all on the same team ultimately and while we may disagree on some minor thing, we’re in agreement 80% of the time. Destroying each other and thus allowing the other party to win gives us someone we agree with 0% of the time.
And sometimes, maybe only 60% is all we’re going to get. Some states and districts are so red that we have to have moderates on our side or we’ll never win. Better to have a Democrat in there we agree with 60% of the time than a Republican we agree with 0%.
Ronald Reagan once joked that the 11th Commandment was “Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of any Fellow Republicans.” Maybe Democrats could learn something from the Gipper.