Opinion | Democrats — unify or die


Kent Nishimura | TNS

Democratic presidential hopefuls participate in the sixth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles on Dec. 19, 2019.

By Devi Ruia, Senior Staff Columnist

It’s finally here. The ultimate showdown.

No, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. I’m talking about the Iowa caucuses — which some may say are actually the Super Bowl for political science majors.

The Democratic primary has already gone on for more than a year and we’ve watched many debates and seen several candidates come and go. Now, the Iowa caucuses will kick off the voting process next week. There are some things that Democratic primary voters need to keep in mind during the caucuses and throughout the rest of the primary voting process.

It’s important that Democrats keep their eyes on the prize over the next few months. We must all vote for our first choice candidate in this primary process, but once the voting is over we need to put all of our energy into rallying behind the Democratic nominee. Many people voting in the Democratic primary will not be voting for the candidate that ends up winning the nomination. As disappointing as that may be, the stakes of this election are too high for us to allow that to impact how much we put into organizing for the nominee.

Many people have grown attached to certain candidates and a lot of people have already decided who they are going to vote for. It’s great to see so many people engaging in this primary so enthusiastically, but we have to be careful to not let our enthusiasm for one candidate turn into hatred for other candidates.

As Iowa approaches, candidates are taking more shots at their primary opponents in order to draw distinctions between them. This has resulted in supporters of some of these candidates getting rather divisive online.

Most recently, a faction of Bernie Sanders’ supporters flooded social media with posts calling Elizabeth Warren fake after the two candidates had a disagreement during the January Democratic debate. This is the latest in a long string of various candidates’ supporters attacking other candidates and their supporters online and it may have dangerous consequences for the general election.

According to a poll by Emerson College, 13% of Democratic primary voters say that they will not vote for the Democratic nominee if it is not their chosen candidate. While this number may not seem astronomically high, the 2020 presidential election is going to be a hard fight and Democrats need every voter that they can get. We can’t allow a contentious primary process to kill us in the general election.

Obviously, criticizing another candidate’s record and making sure they are thoroughly vetted is the whole point of the primary process. But we cannot allow criticism to turn voters so against a candidate that they will not vote for them or volunteer for them in the general election. Beating Donald Trump has to be our number one priority.

“Here’s a pledge we should probably all be taking in our little hearts and even in tweets, as the odds are most of us will vote for a candidate who isn’t the nominee,” tweeted former Obama administration speechwriter Jon Lovett, “which is, whatever I would do to help the candidate who inspires me the most, that’s what I’ll do no matter what.”

I’m planning on voting for Elizabeth Warren in the primary — in fact I already have my absentee ballot all filled out and ready to mail. And I won’t be as enthusiastic if I have to vote for some of the other candidates in the general election (sorry Mayor Pete). However, I know that regardless of who the nominee is I will do whatever it takes to get them elected. I will phone bank, register people to vote, knock on doors, donate and even stuff ballot boxes … just kidding, please don’t arrest me.

It’s understandable that it won’t be easy to immediately put aside feelings of ill-will for a nominee that you didn’t vote for. It’s also understandable that you may not have any desire to work as hard for a candidate that doesn’t inspire you as much as your choice did. However, four more years of Trump would be dangerous for our country. In his first term, Trump has given tax cuts to the rich, cut health care programs for the poor and disabled, put children in cages, got rid of gun regulations, destroyed the environment and almost got us into another war.

Another four years of Trump in office would be catastrophic. Democrats can beat Trump, we just need to show up to vote and organize for the Democratic nominee. We need to do this for ourselves, for the most vulnerable in our society and for our country as a whole.

So if Mayor Pete is the nominee I expect all Democrats to do the “High Hopes” dance straight to the polls. If it’s Joe Biden we’re all getting “malarkey” tattoos after finishing up a long day of registering voters. If it’s Amy Klobuchar we all better be prepared to phone bank for her while making corny jokes about all the fundraising Klobuchar was able to do from ex-boyfriends — and of course we must immediately replace forks with combs. If it’s Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders we’re picking up our utensils and eating the rich to fuel us on long canvassing shifts. And if somehow it’s Tulsi Gabbard we’re firing every single pollster and moving to Canada for real this time.

In all seriousness, we must commit to doing whatever it takes to elect the Democratic nominee — no matter who they are. The stakes are too high in this election for us to do anything less.

Devi primarily writes about politics for The Pitt News. Write to her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter for more hot takes @DeviRuia.