The New Trump Republicans vs. The Old Biden Democrats


Leonard Zwelling

         For most of my life, I have been surrounded by Democrats. My parents were Democrats even as Ike kept winning elections in the 1950s. Kennedy and Johnson were both considered successful presidents in the mid-1960s. It was only later in my life that I fully grasped the kind of person Jack Kennedy really was and the failure of Johnson in Vietnam. Of course, all of my fraternity brothers leaned left—civil rights, marijuana and pro-choice.

         Then I matured and realized that perhaps traditional Republican values might be more resonant with my belief system than I would have imagined. Given that my acquisition of a mortgage (1977), a child (1980), and the coming of Ronald Reagan coincided (along with the failed Carter Presidency), perhaps my shift to the right should not have been unexpected. There were a number of mainstream Republicans that I was rooting for like George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole. I think you get the picture. I was a social libertarian, pro-capitalist believer in civil rights, a woman’s right to choose, and lower taxes. I was a “Scoop” Jackson Democrat and a Howard Baker Republican. I probably still am all of those things.

         This brings me to the current state of affairs between the two major political parties which I find both disheartening and confusing.

         The Democrats have just nominated an elderly centrist who many fear is not strong enough to stand up to the leftward tug going on in the party from Warren, Sanders and AOC. I share that concern. I find the leftist agenda unworkable, impractical, and inconsistent with wisely applied gradualism. You simply cannot flip a switch and have Medicare for all. There’s not enough money and it may drive doctors out of the business. Rather a public option must be introduced and compete with private insurance to see if the former is viable. I suspect Mr. Biden believes that, too, but is he capable of fending off the pressure from the lefties in his own party? We shall see.

         The Republicans have it even worse because they have been asked to abandon some of their most precious principles like decency, steadiness, meaningful foreign engagement, and financial responsibility by a president who is frankly a bit loony in his megalomania and a bizarre combination of paranoia and narcissism that makes him frankly dangerous. He thinks he is all that stands between the country and chaos. But he is the chaos.

         Given the leftward tilt of the Democrats and the Trumpward tilt of the GOP, where are normal people supposed to go? Got me! I see promising people on the horizon in both parties from MJ Hagar to Ben Sasse, but these people have got to get both parties back to the center and to their traditional roles while not ripping each other apart in the press. There has got to be a role for civility in American politics but neither AOC nor Mr. Trump seems to represent that strain of American politics.

         If I have one hope for this campaign, it is that Mr. Biden rearticulates traditional conservative Democratic values with caring for the less privileged, concern for our allies, and wariness of our enemies, none of which are character traits of the current administration.

         Mrs. Obama is still right. “When they go low, we go high.” We will see if Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris can stick to the high road. Mr. Trump couldn’t find the high road with Waze.         This is a particularly bleak time in America, but this dark night of our soul will end with the rising sun. I do not think that Joe Biden is that sun, but he may be the rooster calling to a new day on our horizon. Let’s hope

Leonard Zwelling