More Democrats Should Resist Left’s Attack on Democratic Norms


Once, I held the Democratic Party in high esteem, inspired by the legacies of the Kennedys and Franklin Delano Roosevelt—remarkable, albeit flawed, leaders who reshaped America in the twentieth century. Growing up in the 1990s, Bill Clinton seemed to encapsulate the essence of those influential Democrats.

That admiration drove me to seek a position in the Clinton White House, even if it was just in its final months amidst the Supreme Court battle between Al Gore and George W. Bush and the West Wing’s growing cynicism (who recalls the missing “Ws” from White House keyboards?). My dedication to the party didn’t wane; I continued to campaign for Democrats, including supporting Joe Biden in 2020.

However, living and working in the real world has shown me the detrimental impact the Democratic Party has had on America during Biden’s tenure, and it’s only deteriorating further. Take, for example, the recent prosecution of former President Trump and the unprecedented guilty verdict against him.

Numerous commentators have already highlighted the threat this guilty verdict poses to America. It stands as a historic act of political vengeance, setting a perilous precedent for a nation once a model of impartial constitutional governance. The verdict also exposes a biased legal process, with many involved in the Trump prosecution likely anticipating an overturned conviction on appeal. They might be correct.

Yet, that changes nothing. The objective of prosecuting Trump was singular: to label him a “convicted felon,” providing Biden with a justification to avoid debating him or enduring the trials of a campaign. This strategy mirrors the tactics used during the 2020 lockdowns and Covid-19 paranoia when Democrats used the pandemic to curtail political campaigns and keep Biden out of the public eye.

My disillusionment with Biden began then and has only deepened. Biden’s administration has executed every action that Democrats accused Trump of potentially doing to destabilize democracy: targeting political adversaries, suppressing dissent, undermining families, and perpetuating endless foreign conflicts. If Biden secures a second term, it will likely worsen.

This doesn’t imply any newfound affection for Trump. Despite the significant support he received after the verdict, I worry he might revert to being an establishment Republican, as he was during his first term. My concern extends to his lack of intellectual curiosity and discipline necessary for governing in a crisis.

Recall that the initial Covid paranoia occurred under Trump’s watch. These extraordinary times demand exceptional leadership, and I have serious doubts about Trump’s ability to offer that, partly because I question whether he possesses the humility to collaborate with those attempting to imprison him, something crucial for America’s recovery from this toxic climate.

In that light, I disagree with the notion that Republicans should retaliate against Democrats by prosecuting high-ranking officials for their misdeeds, as the pollster Mark Penn noted. Republicans initiated this approach in the 1990s by leveraging Clinton’s controversial personal life to justify questionable legal actions against a president they couldn’t defeat electorally.

Responding to this misconduct doesn’t mean retaliating against Democrats but rather denying them the votes they assume they deserve. That might mean voting for Trump, or perhaps for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Cornel West. Or, it might mean refraining from voting for president (which I don’t advocate but understand).

However, don’t expect things to improve by supporting Biden. They won’t. This issue transcends Trump, just as the Monica Lewinsky impeachment transcended Clinton. It revolves around power—specifically, denying Americans a fair platform to discuss issues and determine the country’s direction, similar to how the DNC deprived Democrats of a fair primary campaign.

Mark Penn, to his credit, is among the few Democrats who have publicly opposed both the Clinton and Trump legal battles. Good for him. My friend RFK, Jr., is another. Include my name on that list.

Let’s convey a message to all in power: America faces genuine problems. We need genuine solutions. And if Trump—or RFK or anyone else—wants to participate in the discussion of those issues, we should allow them to, regardless of personal sentiments.

Scott J. Street
Scott J. Street
Contributor. Scott Street is a Democratic lawyer and consultant in Los Angeles. He regularly writes about legal and political issues.

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