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Our Culture Inchoate: The Party Should Not Be Binary #9

Updated: Oct 19, 2019

A fictional pro-life democratic congresswoman from New Jersey stands her ground in the face of intra-party adversaries. Campaign Dinner Speech.


TORRES (T): Thank you for giving me time tonight, and I know that with six of us speaking together we need to hustle this along. I appreciate the support, or at least indulgence, of fellow democrats to include me in this forum. I do get a lot of negative press outside my district. With a few days of campaigning before election day I am in a real dogfight, and our mutual support is crucial to turning the House back to Blue!


T: Three topics, if I may. First, the man we love to not love… Donny Trump. I could never support him. I’m a democrat. I know he is pro-life, at least has been for five or six years, which is fine if it is sincere in his heart, but his stand in this and other issues is only a political calculation. He has sacrificed nothing to make it.

I see politics like this: of 100 people, 45 will vote for the democrat, and 45 will vote for the republican. This is a consistent model, and get-out-the-vote efforts target these fairly reliable numbers.

But it’s the middle 10 percent who runs the country. They run our businesses, our towns, our councils. They coach kids and volunteer at the food bank, they go to work everyday and hope they’ll make it home in one piece. The middle 10 percent check on their neighbors after storms, watch each other’s kids cross streets, sacrifice, and pray just like reliable democratic and republican voters… but they do not see themselves as partisan.

Most people believe they are in that middle 10 percent. But the numbers don’t support that notion. And here we are. A woman ran for president in 2016 and should have won in a walk. She had more money, was more serious on issues, had been a political insider and expert on these issues for over a generation, and had the media behind her… the same media that created her opponent.

But she didn’t sell the middle 10 percent in the right states. Say what you will about Trump, good old Donny, a man who always manages to find a personal insult in every discussion, whose bark is thunderous to himself but whose bite lacks intellectual teeth, who is morally indefensible, a really icky old man; well, he hit the 10 percent hard.

So did President Obama in ’08 and ’12. Look at the demographics. The people who elected Mr. Obama twice, a fraction of that middle 10 percent, went for Donny. Same people. Not all of them, certainly, but enough of them. In our generation we have seen two huge examples of this: Florida in 2000, and the election of 2016. Every vote counts.

Let’s make sure we put a check on Donny. Make the House blue on Tuesday.

Second, identity and party politics in and of itself.

When we identify with one group only, in a serious context, we contribute to class envy and animosity. It’s one thing to march in a St Paddy’s Day parade and wear green, but it’s quite another thing to exclude people from other general activities because they’re not Irish. Or Latino. Or straight, or female. It’s great to embrace all comers to a cause, but to create “allies or else” is destructive, intimidating of free speech, and counter-productive. You can’t have diversity without inclusion. That’s why it’s called a party, not an army. may have political adversaries in America, but we should be political enemies.

Now some causes or clubs or what-have-you require some form of assimilation – but not outright rejection. Churches require it and are protected by our Constitution. But to exclude some in the belief that “we are better than you and don’t want your presence” is wrong, wrong, wrong. So is being deliberately disruptive, mob-like, and uncivil. Just as abusive. Just as immoral. Just as un-American. Just as wrong.

Politics is mostly a 50 meter target: necessary to hit first, even easy it's so close, but sometimes failing to acknowledge the farther targets that pose a threat. Even existential ones. I think we should not get wrapped up in commenting on the day to day too much… it clouds judgment.

Party politics should not be binary, not be black and white with no gray area. A political party corrals ideas and interests and should bring people together. Both parties recruit. The trick is getting people to consider going against their idea of the moment in order to preserve their interests now and in the future… and in their children’s future

Third and last: Our nation does not need a lecturer in chief, or even a moralizer. We need effective execution of well-debated and thought out legislation, with judicial discretion of the unintended and unanticipated. People, good citizens, need freedom to act and have confidence in the laws that govern all.

Our debate has devolved in shouting matches exacerbated by the media. What we need, and I am happy to state, is a constitutional convention. Bring the state leadership together and debate it all: term limits, gerrymandering, senate composition, the electoral college, and yes, the Bill of Rights. I suspect we will find more common ground than ever. We may decide that what we have is pretty darn good and not change a thing.

My time is up. Thank you for having me here. Grab your friends and neighbors and vote. To those who live in the 16th, please vote for me, for a democratic House, and for the civility we know we can aspire to. Thank you!

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