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Why Democrats lose

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There’s a meme out there that goes, “How come the Democrats can’t win when the Republicans are so crazy?”

It’s a stupid question; to ask it is a waste of time. The truth is, Democrats can’t win precisely because the Republicans are so crazy.

That Republicans are crazy is beyond debate. They’ve lost their minds, their rationality, their morality, their humanity. They’re about as “Christian” as a doorknob. There’s no reason for Democrats to psychoanalyze ourselves. “What’s wrong with the Party?” we ask. “What’s wrong with me? We should be able to beat these bozos with one hand tied behind our back. If we can’t, it must be because there’s something the matter with us.”

Bull. That kind of thinking leads nowhere, except into a mental swamp of self-doubt and defeatism. At some point, you have to stop beating yourself up and decide what you stand for.

There’s nothing wrong with the Democratic Party. Oh, sure, it may be a little too leftish for some, a little too rightish for others. But that’s true of every political party. That’s the definition of a Big Tent: a party that gives everybody enough of a reason to stay inside, and not bolt.

Democrats stand for all the things America believes in: We’re a party of fairness. We believe in equal rights and equal opportunities for everyone. We believe rich people should share their bounty with those who helped them get there. We may or may not be religious, but we don’t want any one religion to dominate America. We believe in science, not superstition; evolution, not creationism. We believe in a politics of inclusion: we are respectful of others, as we would have others respect us.

Democrats are the Party of the Golden Rule.

So no Democrat should ever question himself about his legitimacy or moral standing. Democrats are moral. We are ethical. There is an unbroken line from the secular idealism of the Founding Fathers to today’s Democratic values.

And yet, we lose election after election. I expect Roy Moore to win in Alabama tomorrow. When and if he does, that will lead to a new round of self-questioning among Democrats. “We’ve lost again. What the hell is wrong with us?”

No, no, no, a thousand times no! There is nothing wrong with you! If Roy Moore wins—whenever a Republican wins, anywhere—it’s not because there’s something wrong with the Democratic Party. It’s literally because Republicans are crazy.

Have you ever worked in a mental institution? I have, back in the Seventies, when I was an educator at Munson State Hospital, in Massachusetts. We don’t use the word “crazy” anymore, and I wouldn’t have used it then, but the resident patients I worked with were certainly very disturbed. Their diagnoses varied, but all were mentally incapacitated, unable to make rational decisions. Left to their own devices, they would have suffered, possibly died, and the hospital would have collapsed. It would have made no sense to try to reason with any of them. Ronald M., one of my charges, was schizophrenic. Were I to provide him with logical arguments why he should brush his teeth, not paw women, not pee his pants, he would not and could not have understood.

The modern Republican Party is like Ronald M. There is something wrong with them. The people who will vote for Roy Moore on Tuesday, and for Donald J. Trump again in 2020 if he’s on the ticket, are mentally deranged. There is no way to get through to them. They’re going to vote Republican because they can’t think straight, in the same way a drug addict can’t think straight. The Democratic Party hasn’t let them, or anyone else, down. Instead, Republicans have lost their minds.

This is the way we should see them, because it’s the way they are. Republicans really belong in Munson State Hospital, or some facility for the criminally insane. The reasons why Republican mental illness is so widespread in America are complicated. Rightwing Christian nonsense is a big part, but not the only one. Limited natural intelligence also plays a part.

Democrats may be on the losing end for quite some time. It’s all right. We should stick to our guns, and understand that we’re right and Republicans are dead wrong. Henry Clay’s remark, “I’d rather be right than President,” is one we should keep in mind. Winning isn’t everything, and we needn’t compromise on our values just to win elections.

It all comes down to how you see History. I believe in what Dr. King said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The operative word is “long.” Democrats may not recover this country for a long time, maybe not in my lifetime. The crazies are gathering strength, getting ready for a big fight, and they’re not going away. But we are moral; we are rational; we are right. We lose elections because Republicans don’t believe in morality or rationality or doing what is right. There’s something seriously wrong with them. Let us never, ever forget that, and let us never doubt why we are Democrats, or apologize for being so.

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