A big hoopla is trending — especially throughout conservative media — over a video showing former Democratic National Committee Chair and one-time presidential candidate Howard Dean telling a group at a Congressional fundraiser “Republicans aren’t Americans” and they should “stay away from our country!”
You know…I love it. First of all, this isn’t all that scandalous. We’ve heard much the same and worse from Republicans. “Taking our country back” is almost a formal platform position from the GOP after all. And what is Dean really doing? He is getting his crowd riled up. Who cares? Really.
Well, unfortunately, Republicans care and they are not known today for their balanced intellect or deep reasoning skills. It’s just enough that they care that matters, and therein lies the rub, as they say.
Precisely because Republicans are not going to be balanced and reasonable about what they argue, it is always a problem when Democrats give them something to sound bite. The problem for Democrats isn’t really the substance of what Dean said, it is the fact that Republicans will make an issue of it.
Republicans don’t have solid policy arguments to assert and their constituency appears to be absolutely fine with that. This is no longer a thinking person’s party — except perhaps in the dark lairs of the puppet masters — so giving the people, specifically their people, something to slather about is all they need. That’s the problem.
Dean makes his comments in the context of voter rights, by the way, something about which most Democrats at a Congressional rally will already have an understanding. Out of context, Dean sounds like he is saying Republicans don’t believe in the right to vote, which isn’t entirely true, but it isn’t entirely false either. Creating obstacles to voting, which is indeed what many Republicans support, isn’t exactly the same as prohibiting voting. There is a real issue to be discussed here, but it isn’t going to be discussed intelligently as a result of this “outrage.”
And so the solution?
Any thoughtful solution will fall upon deaf ears, but it is likely best to take the high road anyway, politely tell the opposition that they are making a mountain out of a molehill, and then tell them to go plant their whiny anti-American asses in the Ukraine with their chum Putin!
Go, Howard, Go!
Seriously, we hear this crap all the time from Republicans. It is all they have to talk about … so don’t give them a reason to talk about it.
A simple “Hey look, like you, Howard Dean wants to save America, and this is why…” might go a long way to deflecting the hysteria and redirecting the issue to the real issues. (Think martial arts.) Whatever the case, Democrats have to avoid scuffles worthy of a school yard without curling up in a ball and looking weak.
Take the issue away from Republicans. The best way to do that is to find a way to own the so-called “faux pas” in the context of the issues that matter most to both Democrats and Americans as a whole. In short, explain it, don’t let go, and keep explaining it.
I would take up the GOP on the matter of voting and democracy, by the way.
As a post script, while searching for Dean’s speech, it has been nearly impossible to find any post that is not from a conservative blog or news source referencing this story. Look at my links below. That tells you a lot about where this story is trending and why. To quote the wise sage Barney Fife, “Nip it in the bud!”