Why Republicans Should Never Play Nice with Democrats
Democrats routinely deride Republicans as extremists bent on coarsening the discourse. In January 2014, in the same interview in which he infamously claimed that ISIS was a “jayvee” team, President Obama blamed conservative media for polarizing the country:
The issue has been the inability of my message to penetrate the Republican base so that they feel persuaded that I’m not the caricature that you see on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, but I’m somebody who is interested in solving problems and is pretty practical, and that, actually, a lot of the things we’ve put in place worked better than people might think.
Castigating Republicans as unreasonable rhetoricians interested only in pandering to their base has become the entire Democratic 2014 campaign strategy. If the GOP will not work with Obama because they are cruel and nasty, the logic goes, the only solution is to vote them out of Congress.
It’s not working. One of the reasons it isn’t working: Democrats are truly the party of over-the-top demonization of their opposition. Here are the top five examples from the last few months alone:
Nancy Pelosi Says Republicans Will End Civilization. On Friday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated that Democrats had to retain control of the Senate. Why? Because “civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.” She then claimed that Democrats were not “fear-mongers,” but instead “messengers of hope.”
TV host Bill Maher listened to this with a straight face.
Pelosi Says Republicans Hate Children. In March 2014, Pelosi stated that Republicans hate kids:
I asked a Republican friend why his party remains so opposed to extending the vital lifelines for struggling families and really hungry children. This colleague’s response was telling in its blunt nature and it’s stunning in its honestly. What he said was to the Republican caucus, these people you are talking about are invisible, and the Republican caucus is indifferent to them. Invisible and indifferent. This is just plain wrong.
There are two lies here: first, that Pelosi has any Republican friends, and second, that Republicans hate kids. Given her ardent advocacy for abortion-until-birth, the opposite would seem to be more likely.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz Says Scott Walker Beats Women. The head of the Democratic National Campaign Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), said last week that Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker “has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. But that is reality.” Just to clarify that she wasn’t misspeaking, Wasserman Schultz continued: “What Republican Tea Party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back. It is not going to happen on our watch.” She had no comment on Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy.
Harry Reid Calls Tea Partiers Anarchists. The Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), isn’t the only Democrat to attack Tea Parties – for years, high-ranking Democrats all the way up to the White House have suggested that Tea Partiers are racists and terrorists. In September 2013, Reid called conservatives “anarchists” and “fanatics” for opposing Obamacare.
Steve Israel Calls Republicans Racist. Another meme that has been floating around since the election of the nation’s first black president has been the notion that all opposition to Obama’s agenda is based on his race. The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said back in April that “to a significant extent, the Republican base has elements that are animated by racism, and that’s unfortunate.” His comments followed hard on comments by Nancy Pelosi in which she said Republicans opposed any amnesty because of racism: “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, if it were just you, this would be easy.”
Sadly, Republicans don’t get it: they keep attributing kind motives to their political opponents, even as their political opponents castigate them as evil. That is no way to win an election. While Republican operatives scramble to appeal to minority voters by shifting positions, they seem to ignore the fact that the greatest obstacle to making inroads in minority communities isn’t policy but perception: the widespread perception, pushed by Democrats, that Republicans are racist, sexist, bigoted homophobes. That perception cannot be changed by treating those who slander Republicans with respect and civility.