The Price is Wrong: The Importance of Engaging in Every Election

Like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, I could not fathom why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee initially appeared to be conceding the April 18 special election to fill the House seat left vacant by the confirmation of former Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services. (Maddow’s strong criticism has apparently motivated the DCCC to step its game up. ) There is no logical reason why the Democratic Party should concede any House or Senate seat; allowing the GOP to cakewalk to victory in Georgia’s 6th Congressional district, which Donald Trump barely won last year, would have been an act of political malpractice.

To effectively concede any seat to the GOP is to aid and abet Trump’s extremism and paranoia. The rise of the right is due to several factors: big money in politics, the right-wing noise machine, voter suppression and, frankly, the Democratic Party not always being ruthless enough, not always being as vicious and as aggressive as the GOP, not always willing to go for the proverbial jugular. As the Massachusetts-based progressive blog Blue Mass Group observes, the Democratic Party has to get its brawl on in the Age of Trump:

Democrats have to start thinking like Republicans. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Especially when real people’s lives are affected by who’s in charge…

I have no freakin’ clue why some establishment Dems are asking the [anti-Trump] protesters to simmer down. Tea Party protests followed by town hall protests convinced many swing state Democrats to abandon President Obama’s agenda, and they lost anyway. It also got the media to argue a groundswell of grassroots opposition was forming. These two things are happening today-only now our side is doing it against theirs. Jason Chaffetz in Utah got this treatment. It also means contesting every special election and hoping to catch a break. Scott Brown did this to us in 2010, [and] we have a golden opportunity to replace two Trump cabinet officials with Democrats today. 20 Districts represented by Republicans voted for Clinton. Some with double digit swings to the left that parallel the double digit swings to Trump in the rust belt. Time to seize the day.

The Democratic Party cannot continue to fight by the rules of the Marquess of Queensberry while the Republican Party fights by the rules of the Marquis de Sade; if a party doesn’t fight ruthlessly for one’s political constituency, that party will effectively abandon its political constituency.

Say what you will about the GOP, but that party has long affirmed the old saw about how one misses 100 percent of the shots one doesn’t take. The Scott Brown example Blue Mass Group cites is key. Brown and his backers believed all along they could win the seat left vacant by the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy in August 2009, despite the widespread assumption that the Democrats would hold easily on to that seat; in a January 2010 special election, Brown shocked the world. (The GOP appears determined to recapture that seat–which Elizabeth Warren won from Brown in 2012–even if their roster of potential candidates is somehwat less than impressive.)

Every election is an opportunity. No election should be conceded. History is indeed written by the winners. Why would Democrats ever want Donald Trump and his minions to compose the final draft?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.