As delicious as it is to watch the Republican Party floundering in the wake of Trump scandals and their own incompetence, Democrats are making a grave mistake if they just stand by gleefully watching the fiasco.
With conservatives on the ropes because of their cruel budget, widely despised health plan, and other missteps, Democrats should seize the moment to counterpunch. They should be aggressively laying out their own agenda for the nation, contrasting their positions with Republicans, and helping voters visualize how much better life would be under Democratic governance. They should be telling Americans what their budget would look like and how they would fix health care.
Of course, their proposals will go nowhere, but they wouldn’t be meaningless. By loudly announcing a coordinated, detailed plan of action to help average Americans, Democrats would accomplish several things. They would:
- Present a stark and eye-opening contrast between their reasonable and compassionate proposals and the heartless GOP alternatives
- Show strength and a willingness to lead
- Further embarrass conservatives and paint them as weak and ineffectual
- Help provide a desperately needed identity for the Democratic Party
- Start setting a compelling agenda for 2018 and softening up swing voters
Some cautious Democrats may reasonably argue: “When Republicans are busy shooting themselves in both feet, why should we stick our heads up and give them another target? Let’s lay low and let conservatives continue to be their own worst enemy.”
In normal times that position might make sense, but these are not normal times. Conservatives have never been more vulnerable. One of the biggest reasons for the Democrats’ catastrophic loss in 2016 was that they had no coherent message and no real identity as a party. With the crucial 2018 midterms already approaching, voters need to know who Democrats are and what they stand for.
Americans today are desperate for leadership. Democrats should give them some.