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What becomes of America if congressional Democrats fail? | Column
Democrats need to show they are a competent alternative to the Republican insanity.
Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks at a news conference outside his office on Capitol Hill on Oct. 6, 2021.
Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks at a news conference outside his office on Capitol Hill on Oct. 6, 2021. [ ANNA MONEYMAKER | Getty Images North America ]
Published Oct. 19
Updated Oct. 19

It’s time for all Democrats in the U.S. Congress to consider the consequences for America if they fail.

While many argue the process of negotiation, while often messy and frustrating, is a good thing. But, unfortunately, it’s damaged Democrats at a moment when they need to show they are a competent alternative to the Republican insanity.

Alan Cohn
Alan Cohn [ Cohn campaign ]

Democrats, unfairly, get a shorter runway than Republicans. It’s doesn’t matter to Republican voters that Donald Trump is unstable, incompetent, a liar and couldn’t get his infrastructure deal passed.

President Joe Biden was elected under the promise he’s competent, stable, and knows how to get things done.

After four years of chaos and a president who not only didn’t know or care how the legislative process works, Americans overwhelmingly voted for a guy they knew and trusted.

In politics, like in life, however, there are things you can control and things you can’t. It’s not Joe Biden or the Democrats’ fault that the pandemic has lingered because some people have allowed themselves to be deluded into believing being vaccinated against a deadly disease isn’t a good thing.

It’s not Democrats’ fault prices are spiking because of supply chain interruptions from two years of COVID. It’s not the Democrat’s fault Republicans in Congress have pitched their tent with crazy under the assumption it’s the only way to win the majority.

But it’s on the Democrats’ that, so far, they haven’t accepted a win that will mean our roads and highways will be fixed and infrastructure modernized. I don’t fault Democrats for also wanting to fix the potholes middle-income Americans face every day when it comes to childcare, health care and the cost of college. But, I absolutely do fault Sens. Joe Manchin and, in particular Kyrsten Sinema, for not understanding the consequences if neither infrastructure bill passes into law.

The reality is American public opinion is increasingly binary. You’re either strong or not. Competent or not. Effective or not. You get things done or not.

At a moment when Democrats need to be ruthlessly effective and disciplined when it comes to messaging, they are neither.

The consequences, however, could not be graver if they fail to deliver.

Right now, polls are showing Donald Trump with a higher approval than Joe Biden. So, let’s be blunt, another Donald Trump presidency will be the end of the United States of America.

It’s not hyperbole. We’ve seen Trump models himself after his authoritarian friends like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un. We’ve seen his supporters turn the word patriotism into a punch line as they beat police with the American flag. If Americans can be fooled into believing a deranged lie about the election and rationalize away an insurrection where gallows were erected to hang their own vice president, they can do anything.

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Real patriotism is working toward a country that is better, fairer, and more prosperous for everyone.

If Democrats don’t take this opportunity to get it done, they won’t just lose their majority in Congress and the White House. There’s no virtue in being an ideologically pure Congressman Don Quixote, Democrat from La Mancha, dreaming a dream that’s impossible for the moment.

Get a win that fixes our crumbling roads and improves people’s lives, and keep fighting.

This is a moment that history will remember. It’s the moment when the United States gave itself a chance to continue its 245-year effort to form a more perfect union.

Or it’s the end.

There won’t be any coming back from a second season of Donald Trump. If you thought he was vengeful against his perceived enemies last time, you haven’t seen anything yet. If like Mike Pence, you think we’re unfair to focus on one day in January when some good people got a little carried away, you’re a fool.

If you’re a Democrat in Congress and won’t seize this moment to do something good, prove Democrats deserve to lead, and save the country as a result, then you will bear a measure of responsibility for what’s sure to come.

Alan M. Cohn is a Peabody Award-winning journalist, a 2020 Democratic nominee for Congress in Florida’s 15th congressional district and senior adviser at GSR.