Democrats must create a broad coalition to overcome Supreme Court setbacks

Democrats must create a coalition that spans the political spectrum — a coalition that includes Independents and even Republicans repulsed by what their party has become

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The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

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The Supreme Court’s recent rulings — in Dobbs, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, et al. v. Bruen, and West Virginia, et al v. EPA — have made it clear that the battleground for the fights for safe abortions, gun safety and saving the environment must now move from the judicial to the legislative. And that means that Democrats must concentrate on making political alliances and end our focus on identity politics and the constant critiquing of our political, racial and cultural differences. 

There is only one path out of the hellscape that Donald Trump and the Supreme Court have created: Democrats must create a coalition that spans the political spectrum — a coalition that includes Independents and even Republicans repulsed by what their party has become, to wit: a toxic blend of the religious right, White supremacists, Q Anon conspiracists, and members of the Cult of Trump. 

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There are tens of millions of non-Democrats — many of them former Republicans who fear the ideologically driven impulses of the left, just as much as Democrats fear the religious right and the MAGA cult — and they are begging us for a “sensible middle.” 

These independents and Republicans love America not just for jingoistic reasons but because of its aspirational values: They have little tolerance for those who loudly denigrate and condemn America for its imperfections. They support the removal of Confederate statues but not the removal of statues of the Founding Fathers and the renaming of schools bearing Abraham Lincoln’s name. They understand that we’re a nation of immigrants but believe that no nation can survive open borders. And they recoil each time they see someone canceled or condemned for something they once wrote or said, or said inarticulately, or had taken out of context. These voters stranded in the middle understand the need for all Americans to do more when it comes to issues of race, class and gender, but they are unwilling to be labeled accomplices to racism, classism, or sexism. 

To reach this middle and bring about a viable coalition, the Democrats’ messaging has to be consistent — across the party, from Biden to Bernie to AOC — and they need to say one thing above all others clearly, constantly, and loudly: 

”We need to save our democracy.” 

Every other issue, no matter how important, has to be framed as a subset of the fight to save our democracy: The radical right’s assault on a woman’s right to her own bodily determination and the Supreme Court’s striking down of laws that promote Gun Safety must be framed as being part and parcel of the right’s undermining of our democracy. And they should be advocated for only within that larger context. 

That’s the only way Democrats can create a coalition that can soundly defeat today’s Republican Party. And that means making compromises.

No Democratic candidate should ever again proclaim support for “a woman’s right to abortion on demand.” It must be about, “Making sure women have access to safe, legal abortions, within realistic time limits.”

And no Democratic candidate should ever utter the words “gun control.” The fight now is about “gun safety” and “common sense gun laws.” For now, that means fighting for the most achievable significant reforms, and accepting incremental changes that over time will expand the definition of “common sense laws.”

Words matter. As do actions. And that means that the Boomers need to get off the Democratic political stage. ASAP.

No matter how much one may admire Nancy Pelosi’s political acumen and her ability to raise funds, the Democratic Party should not be run and represented by a bunch of octogenarians and septuagenarians. The inability of Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, et al to voluntarily cede their leadership, if not their seats, the way Washington ceded his in 1796, is a tragedy.  (Didn’t any of them see “Hamilton”?)  They need to shake the hands of their successors and together say:

“We need to save our democracy.”

Younger, charismatic, articulate and moderate Democrats — whose No. 1 priority is energizing voters and building alliances, wherever they can — those are the Democrats who must become the face and heart and soul of our party. 

Democrats need to find younger candidates who can smartly — in their speeches and writings and videos and social media feeds — leverage the issues of gun violence, abortion, and the other extreme rulings of this court, not just as single issues but as a body of proof that this country is being ruled by a minority of right-wing ideologues who are dismantling the foundations of the great American experiment, and actively supporting our descent into authoritarianism. And these younger candidates must do so with an open hand that reaches out to the middle of our body politic. 

And when Democrats make compromises or alliances with other politicians and organizations, the left can’t chastise them because those alliances don’t pass a purity test. At this point, it’s not about purity, it’s about politics. 

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That means that the educated left’s under-40s need to stop constantly forming circular firing squads and promoting internecine revolts based on their sense of morality, whether that’s inside progressive political advocacy groups, foundations, school boards or private companies. We cannot fight a war on a thousand fronts — and the left’s internecine battles trifle when compared with the stakes of our current political peril.

The educated left’s under-40s need to channel their indignation into positive action, rather than moral outrage, and run for office, or work on a political campaign that speaks to the middle. Their only other option is a further descent into authoritarianism. 

Thanks to Trump and a packed Supreme Court, our only hope for progressive change is through the legislative process. And that means electing local, state and national office holders whose stated goal is: “We need to save our democracy!“  Those elected leaders are our only chance left to steer our ship of state on a different course from the one plotted by the Far Right minority, who currently have a death grip on the tiller.

If the left isn’t willing or is unable to make alliances and compromises, we will never get out of this hellscape. We will soon have a civil war unbounded by geography and unencumbered by uniforms. And both Democrats and the left will have helped our Republican adversaries author our demise. 

We need to save our democracy.

Douglas Alden is a journalist, author and television producer who began his career covering politics for ABC News. Much of his work can be seen at www.Alden.Media

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