The Democratic National Convention offers a deep look into the party’s electoral strategy every four years. The party presents both its policy platform as well as its general ethos. This year, the convention had the task of encouraging voters to choose Joe Biden, who is running for the presidency against the incumbent Donald Trump.
One of the rather unique choices the Democrats made this year was to include several Trump-criticizing Republicans, including John Kasich, former governor of Ohio. Republicans like Kasich are supposedly such moral individuals that they couldn’t sit by and support the Republicans while they put forward such unconscionable candidates as Trump.
In reality, people like Kasich are only put off by Trump on an aesthetic level. Kasich himself was responsible for creating incredibly draconian restrictions on abortions in Ohio. He deployed officers to police the protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. He aided the privatization of prisons in Ohio. He believes all of the vile things Trump and the modern Republican Party do, but offers a sheen of palatability that supposedly redeems him.
The Democrats also chose to roll out Colin Powell, the Republican who made the case for war in Iraq to the U.N. in 2003. There is absolutely no reason to rehabilitate a man with direct responsibility for such a vile act of mass murder. He isn’t even in the Democratic Party! Contrast the Democrats hawkish sentiments with the Republicans’ promise to “end endless wars” (however dubious that promise may be).
Ostensibly, these choices were made to appeal to moderate Republicans who may feel alienated by the supposed rightward shift of the Republican party by Trump. In reality, these moderate Republicans are few and far between, and they probably won’t be convinced with these empty gestures. The motivation of the modern Republican IS the aggressive and politically incorrect attitudes that Trump espouses. Moralizing Republicans-In-Name-Only like Kasich repulse these voters, and they will happily vote against their endorsements.
Even when actual Democrats were allowed to speak, they only repeated the most milquetoast and vague sentiments of progress, without any real proposals for change. Predictably, Joe Biden’s speech was empty of any real policy proposal. In the middle of a devastating pandemic, he couldn’t even bring himself to fully endorsing a public option for healthcare, despite its massive popularity with the Democratic base. The convention also left out many of the most prominent progressive members of the House, giving only 90 seconds for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and not inviting any other “Squad” members. The goal seems to be to present a feckless party whose only real argument is “We’re not Trump.”
The opportunity the Democrats should actually capitalize is the massive block of the electorate who choose not to vote. These voters lose any motivation to vote after seeing both parties have no real policies that would benefit them materially. Of course, these voters would need real material reasons to choose Biden, not vague ideas of the “soul of the nation.”
It’s getting hard to believe the Democratic Party even wants to win. Maintaining their status quo politics and preventing all challenges to the wealthy seem to be their number one priority. If that means losing lay-up elections against deeply unpopular candidates (like Trump), it’s a deal they’re willing to make.