The increased partisanship and tribalism in our politics is once again rearing its ugly head. Michigan Democrat Karen Whitsett tested positive for coronavirus in March but thankfully recovered from the disease. She then met with President Trump and thanked him for suggesting hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment, as she believes the drug helped her recover. Now, Detroit Democrats are planning to censure Whitsett for meeting with the President. Detroit’s 13th Congressional District Democrat Party claimed Whitsett broke protocol by meeting with Trump, and 13th District Chairman Jonathan Kinloch said: “At the end of the day, we have political systems.” “We have political parties, and political parties exist for a reason…[representatives] belong to the members and precinct delegates of the Democratic Party.” Whitsett did not anticipate her meeting with Trump to be politicized, saying: “I did not know that saying thank you had a political line…I thought just saying thank you meant ‘thank you.’”
Perhaps she would have been correct in a different era of politics. Today, however, it is not enough to disagree with the other side on policy, but one is expected to oppose everything about the other side. Both sides can engage in this troubling partisanship, but the far-left is leading the charge at the moment by criticizing everything President Trump does. In this case, Detroit Democrats are focusing more on politics and attacking Trump than the actual coronavirus epidemic, a problem which all sides should be trying to solve.
Some Democrats do not engage in these partisan games. To give some examples, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) bucked the trend on Trump’s impeachment by voting ‘present’ and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has sided with Republicans on abortion legislation and voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Democratic Party as a whole though is more bothered by people who say kind things about President Trump than by people such as Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib who make anti-Semitic comments. It is trying to excite far-left voters who despise the President, but risks isolating moderates.
A few Democratic politicians have rebelled against the party due to its hatred of the President. The first notable example of this is Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), who switched to the Republican Party due to the impeachment hearings against Trump. Another politician who did not tow the Democratic line is Representative Vernon Jones, a lifelong Democrat who recently came out in support for President Trump. Jones praised Trump’s handling of the economy and his criminal justice reform. Fellow Democrats in his state of Georgia did not take kindly to Jones’ words. Chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party — state Sen. Nikema Williams — called Jones an “embarrassment”, and Rep. James Beverly said “We’re not sure what was on Vernon’s mind. It’s antithetical to what we believe in.” The Democrats are not bringing in many new voters by imposing such a strict ideology on their members.