Hold Your Fire, Democrats
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders need to leave the party infighting to the Republicans.
OK. It’s time.
It’s time to prove the legendary Will Rogers wrong when he said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Or to prove, in fact, that the current circular firing squad is the Republican Party and not the Democrats.
After the New York primary, we are at a crucial period in the Democratic race. Sure, we are going to go on until June 7, but the next seven weeks will be crucial in determining whether the Democrats shout at each other or shout at the Republicans. I prefer the latter, thank you.
First of all, there is no need for the Hillary Clinton camp to attack independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and no reason to bait them either. With one week to go before five states decide on April 26, they are in the driver’s seat in this campaign. And there are only a total of five contests during all of May. So work as hard as can be to win the bulk of the primaries on April 26, but don’t have surrogates taking shots at Sanders. No need.
As for Bernie and his supporters, one lesson he has learned from New York and earlier contests is that the more he attacks Clinton, the worse he does. No more attack ads. No more speeches about speeches. No more questioning her “qualifications” or even “judgment.” It simply won’t help the Sanders campaign, and it conflicts with his own message and who he is in this race.
The month of May is important in setting the stage for November. In 2008, Hillary Clinton backed off from the critique of then-Sen. Barack Obama and played out the primaries until June. Bernie should do the same, especially after this week of competing in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.
Not only is it important to make this race about Democrats v. Republicans and the strikingly different visions for the country, it is also important to have a unified party that will win back the Senate and, possibly, even the House in November. In order for the Democrats to build from this primary season, it is critical that they put the back-and-forth of a contentious campaign behind them. Of course, compared to the Republicans this has been a tame contest – beanbag really. But what the Democrats don’t need is a senseless negative barrage of ads or talking heads who take off after each other. The candidates lose, the Democratic Party loses and the chances increase that we lose a much-deserved advantage come November.
The bottom line here is that what Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been talking about for the last year can only be accomplished with a resounding victory in November – not just winning the presidency but electing Democrats up and down the ticket, and especially in the House and the Senate. Getting the things done they have talked about means having the bodies in Congress to deliver the legislation. There is too much at stake now – time to avoid that circular firing squad. Leave that to the Republicans.