- - Tuesday, July 16, 2019


Democrats need a president like Donald Trump to narrow their increasing internal splits.

Currently, Democrats’ false unity from opposing Mr. Trump obscures their lack of internal cohesion. While vociferously proclaiming the solution to all of America’s problems is Mr. Trump’s departure, theirs would only increase. Today’s Democrats need nothing less than a Trump-like presidency — Republican or Democrat — to enforce the unity they can no longer muster.

Identity-group politics comes at a high price: Your broader identity. This has happened to today’s Democrats, who have cultivated a myriad of separate group identities but lack an overarching one to unite them. They have reverse-engineered America’s moto into “from one into many.”
The deleterious effect of this reversal recently produced a string of Democratic setbacks in the course of a single week.

In the usually quiet confines of a House committee, Democratic liberals waylaid bipartisan compromise Export-Import Bank legislation. Instead of a perfunctory markup, they demanded an embarrassing do-over — forcing the Democratic chairman to pull the bill months in the making — and go back to the drawing board.

Later the same week, House Democrats split over supplemental funding for the illegal immigration border crisis. Liberals demanded the House reject a Senate compromise and keep negotiating, while moderates simply wanted to pass the Senate product. This time, moderates prevailed, but not before Democrats fractured 129-95 on the issue.

Finally, over two days of the same week, Americans were treated to a spectacle that looked more like Disney’s Hall of Presidents than a presidential debate. It was a veritable ideological ice cream parlor of positions to suit any taste bud on the left side of the palate. The only discernible unifying element was the stage on which they stood — and the president they stood against.

Unquestionably, Mr. Trump has inadvertently aided the Democrats. He has energized them like no politician in their own ranks does. The Sanders enthusiasm from 2016 does not hold a candle to the anti-Trump energy that has propelled them since he took office. That excitement helped win them the House in 2018 — something they likely would never have achieved without Mr. Trump.
Most importantly, though, he has brought them a single purpose: Getting him out of office. The value of that has been incalculable. It is not that the Democrats have no purpose without Mr. Trump, it is that they are overflowing with them: Absence, no; incoherence, yes.

Mr. Trump distills their multitude into one. Or, at least he did. Now as Democrats’ bad week showed, his magic may be fading and even he can no longer weld them into a unified position.

Since his inauguration, Democrats have dreamed that America would elect the antithesis of Mr. Trump and return them to Camelot. But, that is indeed all it is: A dream. The opposite of Mr. Trump would be a Democratic disaster.

Mr. Trump’s primary hallmark is the vast power he has centralized, not just in his administration, but in himself. Democrats pejoratively label him authoritarian … or worse. They have imagined an anti-authoritarian Arthur will emerge from their ranks and pull the sword of the presidency from the stone of the American public.
The frustrating part of Democrats’ fantasy is not an unbeatable Donald Trump — as it once was with Ronald Reagan — but an ungovernable party: Theirs.

Democrats continue to argue that America neither needs nor wants a leader of Mr. Trump’s ilk; what is no longer arguable is that they do — and one of precisely his characteristics.

Without such a centripetal force pushing them into cohesion, the centrifugal force of their multiplicities will cause them to continue to spin out of control.

Provocatively, we can taunt Democrats that they need Mr. Trump. There is some truth to that. However, the full truth runs deeper. Democrats need Donald Trump’s nature — whether in a Republican or a Democratic president. They need order imposed on them because they cannot compose it themselves.

• J.T. Young served in the Office of Management and at the Treasury Department.

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