When I think of the relentless, bare-knuckle approach Republicans take with politics and compare it to the often squishy-soft, Bambi style of the Democrats, I am reminded of the colloquial saying often heard in the lyrics of pop culture music “go gangsta or go home!” Republicans whole-heartedly embrace that sentiment and salivate at the prospect of destroying, I.e., “go gangsta,” anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their agenda. Case in point: On January 20, 2009, the very day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, Republican congressional leaders, including future House Speaker Paul Ryan, met at a Washington steakhouse for the sole purpose of plotting the destruction of America’s economy. The senior GOP members planned to bring Congress to a standstill, pledging to obstruct and block President Obama on all legislation.
This dirty dozen group of Republicans cynically reasoned if the U.S. economy totally collapsed under Obama, voters would view him as a failure—thus paving the way to their return to power. Never mind that the economy was already hemorrhaging 750,000 jobs per month and that countless Americans would be hurt. The GOP plays for keeps folks! Democrats, on the other hand, seem content to just keep playing nice.
With less than two months before the man who ran the most vindictive, willfully ignorant and verifiably racist campaign takes office, democrats—including party stalwarts such as recently elected Minority Leader Nanci Pelosi—are bending over backwards to find ways to work with the incoming administration. They, and other Democrats, are reportedly seriously considering supporting agenda items such as Trump’s bogus infrastructure plan. It’s a scheme that analysts say calls for a public-private partnership in which Trump’s cronies receive tax credits and other incentives to build projects that would be privately owned. Not surprisingly, analysts say the plan would do little to rebuild bridges and roads in urban cities, but instead would represent a stunning $85 billion after-tax profit for Trump’s buddy contractors — all underwritten by taxpayers.
From what we’ve heard of Trump’s plans to gut Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare, it’s already clear that Democrats must do everything in their power to block his agenda. This is not to say that Democrats should follow the dark, cynical Republican strategy of burning the village to save it, but working in league with a contemptible administration shouldn’t be an option either.
Democrats need to understand that by working with Trump, they are in essence normalizing him, and affirming his reprehensible politics of race, white supremacy and white nationalism.
Party members also need to understand that young progressives are tired of the same old ideas being pushed by the the same faces. Progressives, millennials and millions of democratic voters are tired of half measures and small bore politics. They want the whole enchilada—affordable college tuition, and a minimum wage that’s more than just a step above starvation, and affordable healthcare for all. They want strong, bold leaders who don’t pander or cower to the bullies that run rampart in the Trump team.
Democrats should never try to emulate Republicans. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t assess the new landscape of national electoral politics ushered in by Trump and adjust our strategies to that new reality of 24 hour news cycles, spin masters, crisis brand messaging, outright lies and false promises. All of this strongly suggests that Democrats need to seriously borrow a page out of the GOP playbook, and “go gangsta,” that is, do everything in our power to make sure Donald Trump is a one termer, rather than capitulate and make the Trump form of bigotry the new norm. If we don’t, we will be going “home” for sure.