Midterm Election: A Call to Defend Democracy
Putting aside for the moment that I have serious policy disagreements with the current president, I want to focus on a deeper clash over the future of democracy and liberty.
It is normal in a democratic society for some to disagree with a current president on policy positions, because in a democracy sometimes the other side wins. Those out of power struggle but the main focus is on winning back power in the next election.
Except when the current president is governing in ways that threaten the future of elections, democracy, and freedom. Then, two things happen.
First, policy disagreements continue but become more divisive because these are intertwined with deeper concerns about the ill-informed and autocratic way decision making threatens to undermine respect for the rule of law and our democratic traditions.
Similarly, persistent and ungrounded attacks on the free press (and on data-driven problem solving itself), assaults on courts and law enforcement encourage disrespect for institutions essential to a functioning democracy.
Second, the opposition party has a difficult choice. We can focus on policy (because this is what animates most in our coalition, of course) and risk enflaming internal divisions that will prevent us from winning back power. Or we can focus on democracy & freedom, the rule of law & tradition, protecting the functioning of democratic institutions like elections.
In the 2018 midterms we need to focus on the latter. We need to build a coalition of moderates mobilized around a call to defend democracy. This coalition will include Democrats of all stripes as well as moderate Republicans (particularly those formerly known as Reagan Democrats).
The three pillars of this defense are a government that puts American families first by ensuring elections are free & fair, the rule of law is respected, and leaders are expected to be problem solvers who use the best available data to figure out how to rebuild America’s shrinking middle class.
Stein Ringen’s commentary today, Who will Defend Democracy, provides a way to frame foreign policy consistent with, and reinforcing, this approach to the midterm elections.