The unfolding disaster for Democrats right now, with just 63 days until the election, is that their party’s brand is not Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, it’s the violent mob in the streets.
Democrats have only themselves to blame. Too many months of inaction and equivocation about “mostly peaceful protests” have branded them as the party that’s okay with street violence and mob action, as long as it’s in the name of racial justice.
It doesn’t matter what Biden says now. His earlier caveated condemnations of rioting and looting, and his weak statement on the shooting in Portland that blamed the violence on Trump, are too little, too late. And anyway, no one believes him. Instead, the images coming out of Kenosha and Portland and Washington, D.C., have spoken for him. What these images say, loud and clear, is that Democrats think rioting and looting and violence are okay, under the circumstances.
No wonder the Democratic National Convention was conspicuously silent about the riots earlier this month. They know — as we all do — that many of those rioting are part of the Democratic Party’s left-wing base. Biden isn’t about to denounce them. He needs all those suburban white women we’ve seen screaming in the face of cops to show up big on election day.
The recent conventions were instructive in this regard. Most Americans don’t pay much attention to them (ratings for both the RNC and DNC were dismal), but they do seem to be paying attention to the mobs burning down businesses in middle America and accosting people in the streets of Washington, D.C.
For all the pageantry that went into the RNC last week, the images most people will remember will not be President Trump on a stage or the fireworks above the White House. It will be the angry horde pounding on the White House gates and the raging mobs that followed conventiongoers through the streets, screaming in their faces, harassing them, striking one old man in the face, and threatening Sen. Rand Paul and his wife.
Everyone — even The New York Times and The Atlantic, which have been starting to sound the alarm — knows these mobs belong to the Democratic Party. That’s one reason the mainstream media have released no battleground state polls, zero, since the Kenosha riots began on August 23. Given that a Zogby poll last week showed Trump with a 52 percent approval rating, a new high, one can surmise that major media polls right now are showing a decisive shift in Trump’s favor, which is why they’re not releasing them.
Some Democrats — not those in national leadership, but some— get it. Earlier this month, Tennessee state Rep. John DeBerry, Jr., gave a powerful speech in the Tennessee General Assembly denouncing the riots and violence and contrasting today’s political unrest with the peaceful civil rights marches he participated in as a child with his father and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “What we see happening right now, any of us with any common sense, any common sense whatsoever, know that what we see is not peaceful,” he said.
DeBerry is a good example of Democrats’ current predicament. Being pro-life and pro-school choice, he’s not the kind of Democrat the party wants anymore. DeBerry represented a Memphis state House district as a Democrat for 26 years, but in April he was kicked off his party’s primary ballot because he wasn’t “exemplifying the basic Democratic principles,” according to party leaders in Memphis, and will now be running as an independent in the November elections.
Other old-school liberal Democrats are sounding the same warning. Last week Andrew Sullivan described Democrats as walking into a trap as the election devolves into a contest over which party cares about maintaining order and upholding the law. “If one party supports everything I believe in but doesn’t believe in maintaining law and order all the time and everywhere, I’ll back a party that does,” Sullivan wrote. “In that sense, I’m a one-issue voter, because, without order, there is no room for any other issue.”
This isn’t hard to understand, and in a way, it’s amazing that Democrats have painted themselves into a corner like this. Most people hate looting, rioting, and mob action of any kind. Any time a person in a position of power appears to equivocate or excuse these things, it makes people hate them even more — and despise leaders who won’t put an end to it, by force if necessary.
Yet this is precisely what Democrats have been courting since before nationwide riots broke out in May over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Two years ago at a rally protesting Trump’s border policies, Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters declared that God was “on our side” and called on Democrats to harass members of the Trump administration wherever they could be found.
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up,” she said. “And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
Here’s what that looks like in real life:
I dropped Maxine Waters' voiceover on top of clips of leftists targeting and harassing Trump supporters from last night.
They are following her orders. pic.twitter.com/X6xd7RN08F
— Kelb Hull (@CalebJHull) August 28, 2020
If Biden and the Democrats had any sense of what is happening to them right now, they would come out in force and denounce the rioters and looters and condemn the mobs in the streets in unequivocal terms. They would force Waters to retract her June 2018 remarks about harassing Trump officials and enforce a similar discipline on Democratic elected officials across the country who encourage, however tacitly, mob harassment of anyone, Trump official or not.
But they won’t do this for the simple reason that they need those mobs to vote for Biden in November. The mob, in other words, is now a core Democratic constituency. Wouldn’t want to alienate them.