Rahm Emanuel warned Democrats that their extreme positions and left-leaning direction could land President Trump in the White House for another term.
After two terms as mayor of Chicago, the Democrat who served as White House chief of staff to former President Obama, is stepping down and has a reality check for his party, admonishing Democrats that they “will have no one to blame but ourselves” if Trump is reelected in 2020.
Emanuel’s warning about the self-destruction of the Democratic Party was unpacked in a piece he wrote for The Atlantic, titled “How Not to Lose to Donald Trump,” in which he cautioned that their leftward direction gives Trump and Republicans the ammunition they need by calling out the Democrats as socialists.
As former chairman of the Democratic campaign committee and senior advisor in the Clinton White House, Emanuel’s extensive experience as a Democrat gives him a position of hindsight and discernment for his party which he said needs to take a “strategic approach” in the next two years.
“Trump’s going to spend the next two years using the bully pulpit to convince voters that Democrats are big believers in ‘government coercion, domination, and control.’ He’s making a bet that if he labels Democrats ‘socialists’ frequently enough, he’ll be able to drive a wedge that scares swing voters out of the Democratic fold,” Emanuel wrote.
He chided Democrats who have served the president “slow pitches over the plate that allow him to define us on his terms” in the last months as they “ignore Trump’s antics at our own peril.”
Democrats won back the House in midterm elections and have been on a collision course ever since, with the more extreme members and their views taking the spotlight. Controversial views embraced by incoming freshmen as well as those by 2020 contenders have unfolded in key stances such as the Green New Deal, free college tuition, Medicare for all, a proposed 70 percent tax rate on the super wealthy and, most recently, a call to break up Amazon, Facebook and Google.
Progressive darling, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, declared at the South by Southwest conference that “capitalism is irredeemable,” and that in America, “if you don’t have a job, you are left to die.” Sen. Kamala Harris told supporters while campaigning that the way to deal with global warming is not just by working on alleged problems but by changing “human behavior.”
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“Earth to Democrats: Republicans are telling you something when they gleefully schedule votes on proposals like the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, and a 70 percent marginal tax rate,” Emanuel wrote. “When they’re more eager to vote on the Democratic agenda than we are, we should take a step back and ask ourselves whether we’re inadvertently letting the political battle play out on their turf rather than our own. If Trump’s only hope for winning a second term turns on his ability to paint us as socialists, we shouldn’t play to type.”
“A winning 2020 candidate needs three things: authenticity, credibility, and viability,” he explained, going into detail in each area and, in his commentary on viability, noted that Democrats have been backing candidates they think will win while ignoring the fact that they may not hold all of the party’s values.
“Democratic and independent voters are more desperate to win than ever before. They’ll be willing to support a candidate who doesn’t agree with them on every issue—just so long as that candidate is capable of evicting Trump from the White House,” Emanuel wrote. “So the ideological debates often shroud what voters really want — a nominee capable of standing steady and strong as Trump tries to bully his way into an Election Night victory.”
Emanuel concluded with a strong reminder for Democrats who seem to have been hijacked by the new faces and voices steering the party further away from the center.
“As Democrats, our first, second, and third priorities should be to produce a candidate who will appeal to the widest swath of both moderate and progressive voters,” he wrote. “The president’s low approval ratings suggest that, if he wins a second term, Democrats will have no one to blame but ourselves.”
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