Home | About | Donate

Dear Democrats, You Just Don’t Have a Clue, Do You?

Dear Democrats, You Just Don’t Have a Clue, Do You?

Published on
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Miami Herald

Edit Views Dear Democrats, You Just Don’t Have a Clue, Do You?

You often seem terrified of alienating voters who do not embrace you, while discounting those — such as immigrants, African Americans, LGBTQ and, yes, progressive whites — who do.

"Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base — especially since the political left is having itself a moment unlike anything we’ve seen in almost 50 years." (Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images)

"Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base — especially since the political left is having itself a moment unlike anything we’ve seen in almost 50 years." (Photo: Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images)

Dear Democrats:

That was no government shutdown. It was a long weekend. It was a snow day.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no fan of shuttering the federal government as a tactic of political negotiation. In the first place, it inflicts hardship on the people you’re sworn to serve. In the second place, it confirms the U.S. Capitol building as the world’s most majestic day care center.

Shutting down the government is almost always the wrong thing to do. But as my pastor likes to say, if you’re going to do wrong, at least do wrong right.

You, on the other hand, did wrong wrong, making yourselves look feckless, spineless and brainless in the process. You’d said you would not vote to fund the government until the GOP acted to save young immigrants brought illegally to this country as children — DREAMers — from deportation. Three days later, you folded like a baby stroller, accepting a deal in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed only his “intention” to take up the legislation you want.

Repeating for emphasis: his “intention.”

So suddenly, we’re supposed to buy that McConnell — the same McConnell who brazenly stole a Supreme Court seat from you — is a stand-up guy? Meantime, you’re out there trying to pass off this lump of congealed chicken fat as the Hope Diamond.

As in Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisting that because of the shutdown, you won “the potential for momentum.” CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin nearly sprained her jaw keeping a straight face.

Who can blame her? After all, the truth is closer to what GOP Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina told Politico: “We gave them nothing.” For that matter, it’s even closer to what Denzel Washington said in “Malcolm X:” “You been had! You been took! You been hoodwinked!”

Say what you will about them, but if you woke the average GOP lawmaker up at 2 a.m. and asked what he believes, he would spout, as if on a recorded loop, the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-abortion creed so attractive to the mostly white, predominantly older and disproportionately male slice of the electorate that votes for them.

Could you do that? I think not.

Someone said on Twitter the other day that the Republicans are petrified of their base — and you are, too. There’s painful truth in that. Indeed, the Washington Post reported that you folded because you feared alienating voters in “conservative, largely white battleground states.” You often seem terrified of alienating voters who do not embrace you, while discounting those — such as immigrants, African Americans, LGBTQ and, yes, progressive whites — who do.

Got to dance with the one who brung ya, the saying goes. Yet you often seem intent on dancing with anyone but.

Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base — especially since the political left is having itself a moment unlike anything we’ve seen in almost 50 years. People are marching and raising money. Upstarts are running for office. The left is galvanized by a fierce new energy.

A few years ago, the far right rode a wave just like this — i.e., the tea party — into power. The GOP establishment never saw it coming. Will you?

I’m no political strategist, so I will not offer strategic advice. But I will note that strategy becomes easier once you settle in your own mind who you are, what you believe and what, exactly, you will fight for. Millions of us wonder.

Get back to us when you know.

© 2018 Miami Herald

Leonard Pitts Jr.

Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novel, Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday in the Miami Herald. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was published in 2009.

More in:

Frankly, you could stand to be more petrified of your own base

Why? They don’t have to. The “base” always votes for them.


Even if they see it coming, they will be obstreperous because the dems. are so corrupt that what they fear is not their base, but their political, power base!


Good for YOU, Leonard.
But, frankly, though you are right, you are a little late.
• Not only could you have published similar remarks EARLiER, and in fact ENCOURAGING a different stance by Schumer & friends in the FIRST place, BUT …
• You & others should have recognized and denounced OUT LOUD this retrograde and collusive oligarchic defensive positioning by the Democratic Party that’s been going on … for YEARS!
• Get upset with the Dems — sure!
— But they have not fought for any true people-centered agenda for as long as I can remember … and I’m 71!

In FACT, let’s get REAL here. elitist, power-hungry Democrats and their friends — No, their FUNDERS — did all in their power to DEFEAT — No, DESTROY — the first inklings of a people’s agenda since F.D. Roosevelt’s New Deal when they took all their tricks and rules to toss out the supporters behind the would-be winning platform of Bernie Sanders and friends. DNC-Dems put in every measure they could to eliminate anything resembling people’s wishes or a people’s party!
— and they TRASHED the rules of democracy in order to DO so. To THEM such “rules” are meaningless, what counts is power and means, just like the Republicans.
THAT is why they are just one half of a Duopoly, supporting the very same oligarchs.
• The CITIZENRY — so often proclaimed in song & story — count for little, they’re just expected to follow the Rules handed down to them by the unelected Powerful.

Now THESE are the reasons to complain about the Democrats: long-standing (very long, indeed) behavior that betrays the American People and our Constitution.
• We need TRUE, functional, electoral representatives that support our rights and needs!
— Complaining about Party B caving in on a deal with Party A … is just far too little, far too late.


We have a party in charge that is actively seeking to restructure the FBI on a specifically partisan basis and you people are bitching over a funding shutdown that secured CHIP funding and a vote in the Senate over DACA. Paul Ryan was never going to budge, he hates government, and Republicans set the congressional agenda. Wow.


No, the Democratic Party does seem clueless, not unlike the infamous ‘let them eat cake’ from the French Revolution.

What type of person, no matter their political stripe, thinks it a good idea to put your country, or city, or town up for sale - to bid it out to ‘foreign financial interests’, which have no other motive than the enrichment of their shareholder class?

“The Economy” of mainstream economics is not an economy at all - it is moneyed interests period.

‘The rich get rich and the poor get poorer’ - in a nutshell - that is the economy of today and yesterday.

We need a real economy - a la Herman Daly and Brian Czech of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy, of David Korten and many more… Lester Brown, Edward O. Wilson, Noam Chomsky, Lord Martin Rees… James Kunstler, the Limits to Growth group from MIT, the Planetary Boundaries group from Scandinavia.


Oh, hell yes!

Brilliant commentary, advocate22 . . . gets me, at 67, fired up like I did for Bernie.

Hell yes!


I look at that photo and wonder how long these same vile criminals have been in their positions, when in the ideal world (there I go again!) they would have been fired long ago for ineptitude.

Even here in ‘progressive’ Oregon, where our congressional delegation is overwhelmingly Democrats, some have been in office for 30 years or more now.

They’re not public servants, it’s a career.

To paraphrase Sam Cooke’s classic, it’s time . . . way past time, when . . . change gonna come.



Isn’t that something? They hate government, but they work for the government! Duh!


I think you missed the point of my comments … quite completely.

We do not have ANY current party in charge that defends DEMOCRACY in the United States!
— We spend BILLIONS on arms to supposedly fight “terrorists” who threaten our democracy … when our “Security Teams” are incapable of seeing the greatest threats to democracy and the Constitution … are the two big parties and their sponsors … RIGHT HERE!

When you open your eyes do you see what is going on around us??


Sure, it sucks the majority of Democrats voted for the huge defense budget, etc., but we are seeing a party argue for the complete realignment of law enforcement institutions on a strictly partisan basis. That hasn’t been done in the way we are seeing it in, well, not sure when.

As a fellow Oregonian, I will never understand how Greg Walden keeps getting re-elected . The same Greg Walden who helped write the bill to keep millions from getting affordable health care.


Our local dyed in the wool Democratic Party partisans are banking on young voters “growing up”, code for voting for lesser evil candidates.

Do any CD readers think this is NOT a risky strategy ?


Endless apology from the endless apologist.

1 Like

IF (I shout IF!) the “blue wave” materializes in November, it will turn Green by 2020. Blue can go the way of the Know-Nothings.

1 Like

You’re talking to a committed LOTE voter, advocate22.

Well meaning, but an enabler of the kabuki show. Somehow under the impression that the Democrats have been voted into irrelevance because they’re too liberal. Still mired in the politics of 1980.


One thing that seems clear is that the Democratic potential candidates for president are moving left. All but Amy Kobluchar voted to keep the shutdown going. Meanwhile the Democrats did get CHIP funding so at least that can be put aside. What remains is finding some way to compromise on DACA. Frankly I cannot think of what a compromise would look like but the Republicans have to give their base something, and the base wants all undocumented immigrants deported regardless of the circumstances on how they got here and the Democrat’s base wants all the Dreamers to remain if they want to. If there is no compromise I would expect we will see a long shutdown eventually.

Classic DNC. Fake left, move right. People still fall for it?


Fewer and fewer are falling for it.

And that Democratic wave in 2018 is starting to look iffy.

The Dems obviously made their choice: The voters they’re after are suburban moderates. They’ll either take lefties for granted or willingly write off them off. But that taking them for granted ploy isn’t paying off like it used to.

Well, sometimes coalitions are just too big.


Ah, did you say the same thing about Hatfield or Packwood? Susan and Kirk are pretty fresh.
Smaller states tend to understand the importance of seniority and committee assignments.
DeFazio does a great job representing SW Oregon, etc. You’d rather have Crazy Art?

1 Like