The Civility Of The DNC

Jim Huffman Dean Emeritus, Lewis & Clark Law School
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After seven years of demonizing republicans, President Obama concluded his state of the union address with a call for civility in our politics. Good for him. Better late than never.

Apparently the Democratic National Committee did not get the message. For reasons that continue to baffle me, I get daily emails from the DNC. Here are a few quotations from today’s missive.

  • “Tonight this crowd [a photo of seven republican candidates for president of the United States appears in the background] will take the stage once more for a serious, substantive conversation about their priorities:”

The colon after priorities lets you know that they are about to spell out those priorities. Are you ready? Here they are:

  • “Building a great big border wall (and making Mexico pay for it)
  • Stopping planned parenthood from providing safe, legal health care
  • Denying the clear, proven science of climate change
  • Keeping the minimum wage as low as possible
  • Spouting total lies about the state of our economy”

The “crowd” said to hold these priorities consists of seven individuals (plus four more apparently not worth demeaning because they are in the second tier). One has suggested a wall paid for by Mexico. The other six (ten) have differing views on immigration, as they do on each of the issues on which the DNC says they speak with one voice. Who is spouting lies?

The DNC message goes on. They even address me by name and invite me to add my name to those who “agree that we can’t let these candidates anywhere near the White House.”

I know. It’s just politics. But isn’t that what the president said we need to do better? Are American voters really more likely to support your cause if you demean and disparage the opposition? Of course republicans do it too. But the president was talking to everyone.  That’s what civility is. Everyone treats everyone else as if they hold their views honestly and without malice toward others.   

No doubt it is presumptuous of me, a registered republican, to suggest what the DNC might have said in today’s message. But here it is.

Tonight the republican candidates for president will discuss their differing views on immigration, federal funding of birth control, climate change, the minimum wage and the state of the economy. If, after listening to their arguments, you agree that none of the candidates will serve our nation as well as any one of the three democratic candidates, add your name to those supporting the democratic party. A donation in any amount will be welcome.

See. Now that isn’t so difficult. And our president could then hold out his own party as a positive example of civility.