Anyone who runs for political office has a certain amount of ego. Even if you are running for precinct committeeperson, you have enough self-confidence to believe that you are better than the person currently in that spot. So, anyone running for the highest office in the land is likely to rank themselves high up on the food chain.
This past week during the CNN presidential debates, we got our first real looks at the Democratic candidates in relation to each other. Sadly, former President Barack Obama got it right when he predicted that the Democratic candidates will kill each other off in a circular firing squad. Every candidate reveled in trying to shoot lethal daggers into other candidates. Anyone who was a point or two ahead of a candidate in the polls was fair game, with the main whipping boy being former Vice President Joe Biden. It was dog eat dog, no holds barred.
In the wake of the two mass shootings this weekend, all the Democratic candidates came out and condemned the violence and made the usual calls for gun control legislation. They offered their sympathy to the victims and their families and promised what they would do if elected.
We heard the broken record of offers of prayers and condolences from the White House and the deafening silence from every elected official around the nation who has sold his or her soul to the NRA. And we can all rest assured that Moscow Mitch will make sure that there will never be constructive gun control legislation as long as he is in charge of the U.S. Senate.
Maybe it is time for the two dozen Democratic candidates to bury their collective egos and the hatchets that they are using to kill each other off and come together for the sake of democracy as we know it and the future of our nation. The mud they are slinging at each other is only being stored by the Trump campaign to be recycled and used in attack ads against the ultimate Democratic nominee — who ever that might be.
I know it’s a crazy idea and is about as likely to happen as Donald Trump admitting that he’s a racist, but the Democratic National Committee should bring all the candidates into one room and decide who is best able to defeat Donald Trump. Then unite behind one person in order to win in November 2020. Each of the 20+ campaigns is spending millions and will continue to spend millions of dollars on individual campaigns — money that could be put to better use in one concerted effort to defeat Trump. Each camp is creating their own team, and when their guy or gal loses, they are likely to take their ball and go home. Democrats seldom solidify after a nasty primary fight.
In the debates last week, it was clear that half the folks on the stage were on their last leg. Running may have been good for their resumes and possibly put them in line for a cabinet position or a shot at another office, but at least half of them will not make it to the next round of debates.
The eyes of the Democratic party should be on the ultimate prize — defeating Donald Trump. His racist tweets, nativism and downright bigotry are bringing out everything that is evil in the country. The MAGA hat-wearing folks are openly taking them off and exchanging them for the KKK robes they have in the back of their closets.
When innocent black people in Charleston, South Carolina, can’t have a prayer meeting or deeply religious Jews in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, can’t worship on a Saturday morning and Mexicans in El Paso, Texas, can’t go shopping without being shot and killed, there is something seriously wrong with the country, and Trump’s vision of America is at the heart of the problem.
After picking a Democratic nominee, the also-rans should spend their time supporting the nominee, raising money, registering people to vote and making sure that they do vote. In my mind that gives them political capital for their next run, whether it be for president or another office.
Americans must do what Puerto Ricans did last month when they got pissed off at their governor. They got out and demonstrated. They took to the streets. They let their voices be heard. Americans can’t sit home and continue to be couch potatoes and simply complain about what is happening in Washington. If black folks had done that, we would still be sitting on the back of the bus.
The likelihood of Democrats coming together and picking one person early on and pooling their resources is unlikely. It’s an idea that is too much like right. But when you consider a presidential candidate in the next round, you should get a commitment that if he or she doesn’t win the nomination, they will actively support the ultimate nominee.
We don’t need a repeat of 2016 when you heard sanctimonious Democrats saying things like “I just didn’t like Hillary.” Combine them with the people who threw their votes away on Jill Stein or the Green Party candidate and the Bernie Sanders supporters who never came back to the Democratic fold when their guy lost. These are the people responsible for the Trump presidency just as sure as the people who cast their vote for him.
It’s time for the Democratic Party to unite behind one candidate. We are going to have to work our tails off between now and November 2020 to win. We can’t use up our energy in the primary — like we did when Hillary had to spend time, money and effort to defeat Bernie. Nor can we get overconfident. There can be no repeats of 2016. Four more years of Trump could be the end of the way of life as we know it in America, assuming climate change hasn’t killed off the planet before then or North Korea hasn’t blown us off the map or our economy is destroyed as a result of Trump’s trade wars with China.
C. Ellen Connally is a retired judge of the Cleveland Municipal Court. From 2010 to 2014 she served as the President of the Cuyahoga County Council. An avid reader and student of American history, she serves on the Board of the Ohio History Connection, is currently vice president of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers and Sailors Monument Commission and president of the Cleveland Civil War Round Table. She holds degrees from BGSU, CSU and is all but dissertation for a PhD from the University of Akron.