Kentucky Democratic candidates are petrified of alienating Trump voters. They are sooo careful to not criticize Donald Trump — they won’t even call a blatantly racist Trump tweet what it is… racist. (See U.S. Senate candidate Amy McGrath and gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear.)
What a crippling mistake.
They should have immediately denounced the remarks for what they were.
They have to act like real Democrats, not pandering tools, if they have any hopes of winning.
Denouncing Trump’s racist tweets, comments and rally chants would have given them credibility with their Democratic base instead of eroding it, which is what happened. Their lack of “stones,” as the governor said, means we are talking about how they blew it. Instead, we should be talking about real issues that would help them win elections — such as the need for a livable wage and immediate, profound action on the environment.
Of course, Republicans such as Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell refuse to criticize the leader of their party because, like Trump, they rely on social, cultural clashes to win elections.
Or, they simply are racists. You decide.
The Republicans can’t win by discussing governing issues including fiscal responsibility, economic equality and environmental protections. They rely on culture clashes to fire up their base and make those voters feel like they are the ones under attack. It is an age-old tactic that has worked for many despots.
Democrats need to not be afraid to take a stand on those clashes. But what we get is Beshear calling Trump’s racist tweets “wrong and ugly” but not racist.
McGrath responded to Trump’s comments by tweeting only, “We can’t become numb to these statements. These words are wrong and un-American.”
Ignoring the racism spewing from The White House does not gain them Trump voters.
Their failure to call Trump’s comments racist is political day trading: hedging their bet in hopes of gaining voters.
Let’s play this out just for fun. Let’s pretend they did say: “I believe Trump’s tweets were racist.”
Bevin and McConnell might try to use that against them in a campaign ad. So what?
I have news: McConnell and Bevin are going to paint them as anti-Trump anyway — “too liberal for Kentucky.”
Beshear and McGrath should worry more about the fake news that the GOP Dirty Tricksters will likely create (imagine “recently-surfaced” photographs of Andy, Amy, “The Squad” and George Soros drinking champagne in a hot tub while wearing Mexican flag swimsuits).
The path to victory for these Democrats is offering an alternative to those Trump-Bevin and Trump-McConnell voters who do not defend Trump’s tweets and the racist chanting at that Trump rally. You hear it all the time: “I like what he is doing with the economy, but I do not like his tweets and comments.”
Offer them someone who has the conviction and confidence to run as a genuine person, not a coached-up politician.
Look what happened to Alison Lundergan Grimes when she refused to say that she voted for President Barack Obama. Admitting that she voted for Obama would not have killed her campaign. Lacking the confidence and authenticity as a Democrat made her look foolish to everyone.
Finally, even if running as a progressive Democrat in a red state is a losing battle, there is another, more important consideration — integrity. Racism must be exposed whenever it appears.
When the president of the United States shows he prefers being the leader of a white nationalist party over being president of the whole country, it is imperative that he be roundly repudiated.
In other words, winning the fight against racism and bigotry is more important than winning any election — but the choice should not be an either-or. It should be a both. •