Some discerning Democrats are at last telling the party chiefs that the party has no message to take to the hustings next year. That may be a misreading of the stars, Nancy Pelosi’s horoscope and Chuck Schumer’s tea leaves.
The problem for the Democrats, clear to everyone with battered ears and weary eyes, is that the Democrats have too many messages, and none of them good. That’s why they’ve been skunked in a series of special elections held to fill House seats vacated by members moving on to bigger things in the Trump administration.
Some of the Democratic messages, which have been dispatched with such sound and fury are that “straight” folks and particularly straight white men, are so bad they’re not entitled to rights, civil or otherwise. Cops are all bad because they’ve set out to wipe out black folks, and therefore it’s OK to kill as many cops as possible.
Free speech is cool, and everyone should be able to say anything, anywhere, as long as it’s approved by the liberal canon, except that it’s not cool to say “liberal” anymore because somebody stunk up the word and all the liberals are now “progressives.” It’s OK to attack someone who says anything that would upset a college sophomore because sophomores deserve space where they are not likely to meet anyone with a different point of view. Isn’t that guaranteed in the Constitution?
It’s certainly in the Democratic catechism that there’s no such thing as a Muslim terrorist, and besides, radical Islamic terrorism is a myth (you could ask Hillary), and Muslims wouldn’t be terrorists if they were not oppressed by Jews and Christians in the West. You could ask Bernie Sanders, who wants to bar believing Christians from holding public office.
The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, and it’s incumbent on every good citizen to look under the bed tonight and if they find Vladimir Putin there call the FBI and ask for Robert Mueller. Republicans are excluded from looking and reporting because they knew he was there all the time, and probably put him there.
An important Democratic message is that a woman has the right to choose when and whether she has an abortion, but she doesn’t have the right to choose not to have one. Democrats spread the word that Planned Parenthood has a right to the public till to support its baby body-parts industry. Democrats support the right of Earth to adjust its temperature to within a fraction of a degree by doing whatever it takes, and to punish anyone who objects by making him watch without interruption 25 hours of Al Gore’s documentaries on global warming unless the United Nations determines that this is cruel and unusual punishment.
Democrats support the right to choose gender without resorting to biology (and no fair peeking into your underwear for a clue). Democrats recognize as the most precious right of a man the right to take a leak wherever he wants to, so long as he puts the toilet seat down on leaving, subject to United Nations inspection.
Unfortunately, these passionately held messages have not caught on with enough Americans, and there ought to be a law to require belief, as there surely will be if next year’s congressional elections are fair and free of Russian interference.
The frustration of some Democrats who actually want to win elections next year instead of continuing to rant about how evil Donald Trump may be, has become so great that they’re telling their afflicted to knock off the Russia talk. “We can’t just talk about Russia, because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking about Russia, Putin, or about Michael Flynn,” complains Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids’ college, what their energy bill looks like.
“If we don’t talk more about what they’re interested in than how we’re so angry with Donald Trump, then we’re never going to win elections.”
Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, another frustrated Democrat, agrees. He’s running for governor next year and he tells The Hill, the Capitol Hill daily, how disillusioned he is with his party colleagues. “I did a 22-county tour, and [the Russia investigation] is something nobody is focused on.”
The frustration level is so high in rarefied Democratic ranks that CNN, the cable-TV network that has led the Democratic charge against Mr. Trump, has decided to cool the Russia hysteria. Directors and correspondents have been told not to report “any content involving Russia” before clearing it with a vice president of the network, with no exceptions.
Imagine that. An entire TV network scared straight. It’s enough to drive CNN to something current and really important, like the story of the missing Malaysian airliner.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.