Dear Democrats: Please don't ruin this

Dear Democrats: Please don't ruin this
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As a political junkie, I love political moments—conventions, debates, caucuses, campaign rallies and of course election days. I have always been a proud Democrat. I have worked in and out of Democratic politics for 25 years. So when I decided to stop watching the Democratic debates last week because they were counterproductive and frustrating, I could only imagine what the rest of the country was doing.

This shouldn’t be so hard. There is a racist, climate-denying, xenophobic, self-centered, sexual harasser in The White House. Most people I talk to, from Beltway insiders to people on the West Coast, don’t care all that much who the nominee is. They just want someone to beat Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE.

People I talk to all say the same thing: “Sure, all these candidates seem fine, but can they beat Trump?” In a recent Gallup poll, 58 percent of Democrats said they cared about nominating someone who can beat Trump. Just 39 percent want a nominee who cares about the issues they are passionate about.


As a political consultant, I pay a lot of attention to party talking points and campaign slogans. I get it—each candidate thinks he or she can beat Trump. I also know how challenging it is for candidates to differentiate themselves from one other, especially when we suspect primary voters will care much more about electability than about the issues. So when we snipe at each other in public forums, we look like a party that doesn’t know what we stand for.

Last week’s debates did not build my confidence in our party. The candidates seemed like a bunch of bickering children. Watching them reminded me of watching my eight-year-old twins argue over who built a better Lego set.

This last debate also became a referendum on Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaModerate or left of center — which is better for Democrats in 2020? Obama: Countries facing severe effects of climate change offer 'moral call to rest of the world' Democrats' self-inflicted diversity vulnerability MORE, not Donald Trump. And, I get it—Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE is the frontrunner and running on Obama’s record, so it’s reasonable for the other candidates to attack that record, which requires going after President Obama. But is this really how we want to pick a nominee—by insulting a very popular former president?

We have approximately six months until the Iowa caucuses. That gives Democrats more and more time to scream at and talk over each other and commit more gaffes. I can already picture the Trump campaign ads taking soundbites from these debates. And I’m sure dozens of Tweets have already been written in advance that Trump will fire off as soon as we get closer to a nominee.

In all fairness to the Democratic National Committee and the networks that have hosted these debates, it’s hard to corral this many people into a format that makes sense. We don’t want these debates lasting more than two days. (Heck, at this rate, I don’t want them lasting more than two minutes.)


It's a debate, so we need to hear from all the candidates in order to learn the differences among them. But I think these debates are hurting us more than they are helping us.

Interest is dropping quickly. The ratings for the second set of debates were almost half (8.7 million viewers) what they were for the first set of debates (15.3 million viewers).

The Democratic Party does not risk losing someone like me. I will vote for Democrats and volunteer for them. But voters like me do not make a majority. In order to win over independents and undecided voters, Democrats shouldn’t tear down one another. Rather, they should focus on the deplorable record of the most disliked president in history.

Laura Gross is president of Scott Circle Communications and former deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee.