The 240-187 House vote Tuesday night to approve a resolution titled “Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress” was justified and necessary to hold the president accountable for his unacceptable attack on four Democratic House members who are all women of color.
But the vote only amounts to a slap on the wrist for the president’s tweet Sunday and subsequent comments against the four congresswomen, which I consider racist.
What Democrats in Congress and across the nation – including all of my party’s presidential contenders – need to focus on now is making Trump a one-term president. That means spending less time quarreling with each other and taking extreme positions, and more time reaching out to independents and moderate Republicans to make the case for electing a Democratic president in 2020.
Trump has no one to blame but himself for the House resolution.
The president’s tweet that prompted the House rebuke said: “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world … viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how….”
Although Trump did not name them in his tweet, it was clear who he was talking about – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. All four are U.S. citizens. Omar was born in Somalia and the other three congresswomen were born in the U.S.
Why do I and so many other people consider the Trump tweet racist?
Because an American citizen is an American citizen, regardless of national origin, ethnicity or race. Sadly, some white people in our country still look at some non-white people and consider them the “other” – not true Americans.
This view is, frankly, anti-American as well as racist. Whether your origins are in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America or as a Native American, if you are an American citizen you are equal to all your fellow citizens.
And it doesn’t matter if your ancestors came here hundreds of years ago or if you are a naturalized citizen. In the same way, your religion has no bearing on equal status as an American citizen.
Unfortunate as Trump’s attack on the four congresswomen – known as the Squad – was, he managed to unite Democrats behind the four and at least temporarily halt the internal squabbling between moderates and those on the far left like members of the Squad.
The president could have attacked the congresswomen based on their policy positions and controversial statements on a number of issues, and would have been much smarter to do so. Instead, his racist attack prompted Democrats to circle the wagons around the four.
But the unity sparked by the Trump tweet is likely only temporary. It appears the Democratic Party is moving further and further left, creating the split with older and more moderate Democrats.
What’s most concerning is that while some far-left positions play well with members of the Democratic base who vote in primaries, the same positions could very well drive independent voters and moderate Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Trump again in 2020.
The leftward tilt of the Democratic Party is apparent in how differently the views of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are being received this year compared to the 2016 presidential primary, when he ran unsuccessfully against Hillary Clinton.
In the last presidential campaign, Sanders’ proposal for a $15 an hour minimum wage and “Medicare-for-all” were considered radical. Now they are considered mainstream, embraced by millions of voters and many Democratic presidential contenders.
But the Democratic presidential candidates seem to be in a competition now to see who can “out- left” other candidates. This has led some to support decriminalizing illegal entry across our border and eliminating private health insurance entirely.
These positions – and others on the far-left edge of the political spectrum – will not be popular with many moderate suburban swing voters who are the key to winning elections. By embracing these positions, it seems that Democrats are confirming Republicans’ accusations that the Democratic Party has moved too far from the mainstream.
So how far left is too left?
Democrats fought and up until recently continued to fight hard for Americans being able to obtain insurance if they had preexisting conditions; something which most Americans support. But when you see Democrats supporting ending private insurance coverage, which the majority of our nation relies on for health coverage, the Democrats end up sounding more like Republicans who say they want to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
And on the controversial issue of immigration, the Democratic presidential candidates who want to make illegal border crossings a civil offense rather than a criminal one are giving Republicans ammunition to claim that the Democratic Party favors open borders – a key GOP talking point designed to appeal to swing voters.
So are Democrats concerned? Of course they are, and they should be. Especially those who ran in the 2018 midterms and flipped seats in largely conservative districts that Trump carried in 2016.
Why is the Democratic Party titling so far to the left?
Many say that Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar bear a large responsibility. They attract heavy news coverage because their positions are so extreme and because the congresswomen know how to use social media and traditional media to get maximum publicity.
As the 2020 elections draw closer, Democrats will have to decide what is more important to them: appealing to far-left activists, or winning elections next year so they can send Trump into retirement and hopefully win majorities in both the House and Senate.
Early polling should be a warning sign to the Democrats: going too far to the left may satisfy their activist base, but could result in defeat at the polls next year.
As a Democrat, I hope the unity sparked by President Trump’s harsh attack on members of the Squad will last and will convince Democrats to take a pragmatic path to victory in 2020.
Leslie Marshall joined Fox News Channel as a contributor in 2009; providing analysis on both political and social issues from a liberal point of view. A nationally syndicated talk host, whose program, “The Leslie Marshall Show” can be heard on radio, stream, “Tune In,” “The Progressive Voices Radio Network,” and “The Armed Forces Radio Network.”