Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Democrats Reclaimed GOP Values and Made Them Better

Democrats seize the optimism that Trump surrendered.

Thanks to Donald Trump, Democrats can now show America that they are the party of family values, business, patriotism, and national pride.

An unintended and, at least for the GOP, unexpected consequence, of having Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president is that the Democrats seem to be poaching themes normally used by the right.

Poaching themes is not unique to the Democrats. I sat dumbfounded as Ivanka Trump, the republican nominee’s daughter, delivered her speech to the screaming, frothing crowd at the RNC.

“As President, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce,” she said. “And he will focus on making quality childcare affordable and accessible for all.”

Wait, what? I thought for sure she’d be pulled from the stage and locked away, but instead the crowd just got frothier as she talked about equal pay, health insurance, student debt, and even empathy and generosity. 

It was seemingly stripped from the DNC platform and because the daughter of a RINO was presenting it, the crowd went nuts.

Ivanka’s speech was an oasis in the midst of a tsunami of ego, hate, destruction, imminent violence, and dire warnings of the inevitable apocalypse.

The usual rhetoric of the GOP was conspicuously missing from the convention, allowing the Democrats to swoop in and call the themes their own.

Patriotism, American greatness, exceptionalism, references to founding documents and even the “shining city on a hill,” have all appeared in speeches at this year’s Democratic National Convention, and Republicans are noticing.

On Wednesday the editor of National Review, Rich Lowry tweeted: “American exceptionalism and greatness, shining city on hill, founding documents, etc--they're trying to take all our stuff.”

Trump, sticking to fear, hate, xenophobia, and racism has left the ripe fruit of family values, American exceptionalism, and patriotism up for grabs. And Democrats grabbed it, massaged it, redefined it, and threw it back, better, stronger, and kinder.

They’ve taken this unique opportunity to show that they’ve always believed the very same things and that these values and beliefs aren’t uniquely republican.

In 2008, self-appointed Tea Party Queen, Sarah Palin and the rest of the right-wing loons, tried to convince the country that there was a “real America” somewhere in the middle of the country and that the evil Democrats on the coasts weren’t part of that America. 

Now, twelve years later, thanks to Trump, Democrats have been able to pick up the discarded baton and claim it as their own.

Michelle Obama’s speech was, at many times, a conversation about family values, but rather than presenting it in tight evangelical Christian moral codes the way Republicans do, Obama emphasized community and togetherness. That family values are about setting a good example and providing a better life for your kids.

It is about leaving something better for our kids. That is how we have always moved this country forward — by all of us coming together on behalf of our children. Volunteering to coach the team, teach the Sunday school class, because they know it takes a village.

Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, made a case for business, which is usually a part of the GOP playbook. They like to argue that a businessman is better suited for running a government because they know how to get things done. As Bloomberg put it, America needs “a problem solver, not a bomb thrower.”

President Obama’s speech was rife with Republican themes, with references to Ronald Reagan and the “city on a hill,” as well as reminders of the founding documents and their importance, offering by their mention praise to American democracy.

Obama wasn’t alone in his mention of the founding documents. Partly because the convention took place in Philadelphia, speaker after speaker mentioned the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence – the latter having been written in Philadelphia.

Since Republicans had left these metaphors on the cutting room floor, Obama was free to sprinkle them liberally throughout his speech without appearing trite or unoriginal.

And then there was Vice President Joe Biden.

We have the finest fighting force in the world. Not only do we have the largest economy in the world, we have the strongest economy in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down. Never!

Many Democrats at the convention and prior to the convention have alluded to America’s implicit greatness and, unlike Trump and his followers, recognize that it’s already great. 

But, until recently, Democrats have been relegated to the quiet job of Patriotic understudies, waiting in the wings for an opportunity to show what they can do. 

That they too can shout U.S.A., U.S.A. That they too can paint their faces red, white, and blue. That they too can show unfettered and unabashed pride in their country.

Biden delivered this message of an already great America in pure unadulterated expression on Wednesday night, offering a full-throated argument for a proud, liberal nationalism specifically offered to the working-class, who have always considered themselves “real Americans.”

Prior to Trump, the Democrats have been relegated to the back seat of patriotism and nationalism. Democrats have had, until now, to argue that they too were patriotic, that they too stood for family, that they too were the party of business, that they too supported veterans, the military, and the police. Values that Republicans have previously managed to claim as their own.

Thanks to Donald Trump, the Democrats can now take the lead. And the Republican party, thanks to Donald Trump, is left with little more than Donald Trump.

Richard Zombeck is a freelance writer, featured blogger at Huffington Post, and co-host of the T&Z Talk Podcast.