Democrats: New Party of No?

Several years after Obama was first elected, Mitch McConnell was famously quoted as saying:

The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

Democrats now seem to be falling into the same ugly posture.

McConnell’s statement was an ugly and horrible turning point in political discourse in our country. The parties have always been rivals, and yes, politics is messy, and has been and always will be.

McConnell’s statement is against all principles of our government. Democrats cannot just follow suit.

I pledge allegiance

Above all, it seems that our politicians have a fealty to the United States, representing their constituents as well as possible on behalf of the country. This is certainly the mission of the Senate and Executive. What part of “I pledge allegiance to the flag…” and all that did these dirtbags miss in elementary school?

But now, the Democrats are stomping on the grave of the failed attempt to demolish the ACA, and playing the very same game, according to this article in today’s New York Times:

Seeing an opportunity, they say they will not throw Mr. Trump a political life preserver at what they sense could be the first turns of a downward spiral.

I am the first to despair over the policies of the very dysfunctional Republican party and Trump. I believe my progressive views are right, but recognize that there is no binary right and wrong — we all have differing views and ideas. Politics is about finding middle ground, and compromising, and adjusting.

Politics is not about obstructing. Or at least progressive politics is.

There must be something we agree upon

To be sure, there seems to be very little that our polarized politics can agree upon. But isn’t there something to be gained by the Democrats finding a policy … anything that they can agree with Republicans?

For example, it seems plausible that an infrastructure improvement plan is in the realm of both parties’ interests. It might help the economy, and puts jobs where people need them. Surely there’s a small bill that can create some sort of motion that will actually help the country.

But doing nothing is so much easier

The Democrats seem to be finding that McConnell’s despicable strategy is easy and may work just as it did when played against Obama.

Sure, the strategy caused a massive wave of anger that, by the first mid-term elections, wrenched single-party almost-control away from the Democrats. But then what happened in legislatures? Nothing. The only progress were via executive orders which are being undone as fast as they were done.

By the time it was all done, the world was filled with hate, anger, dread, and fury. Not so much on the whole “Hope” front.


Compromise is not an act of weakness, it is an act of governance. It may indeed put the country on a better footing than it would otherwise have been. People might not actually despise government and politicians if they were to, say, accomplish anything generally agreed upon. I know, crazy talk.

Until now, obstruction has been the Machiavellian but extremely effective strategy of the Republicans. Democrats must find a new angle or else they’re obstructionists just like the Republicans were.

To be sure, a party out of power does not have many levers, and perhaps the best they can do is resist and this is a fine strategy for many, perhaps most actions.

Don’t move towards the center (again!)

I am not suggesting that the Democrats “move towards the center”. That line has been drawn, and drawn again, and again each time moving further right until today’s center looks a lot like standard conservative dogma of 20 years ago. Democrats, including Bill Clinton and Obama played right into the conservative hands by being centrists. Every inch given normalized another inch of the alt-right fringe.

Instead, I am suggesting that the Democrats need to find something both parties agree is good for the country and then work to make it happen.

The argument against this is that if the Democrats let the Republicans be at all successful, then the anger needed to flip control at midterm elections will not be there. You know, because the economy will not falter as much and people might be doing better, and all that. That would just be wrong!

There might be several outcomes. The first would be that the Republicans successfully claim victory. The second would be that the Democrats could claim that they were a party of action, even of compromise.

Assuming the legislation is sensible and on common ground of both parties, it would surely have one certain outcome: the country is better off.

Is our anger based on a lack of common ground?

If there’s one thing both sides can agree upon it’s that something is badly broken in our government. Some say we have too much. Others say we have too little. From my view, we have a complete absence — not just “zero progress” but the absence of any governance.

In computer science there’s a concept of Nil, which is different than zero. Nil is the absence of any value.

Democrats, it’s time to listen to Michelle Obama’s “when they go low, we go high” idea. Or else you’ll just perpetuate the madness of our Nil government.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tom Harrison

Tom Harrison

30 Years of Developing Software, 20 Years of Being a Parent, 10 Years of Being Old. (Effective: 2020)