Party Outreach and Double Standards

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, April 30, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post is unhappy that Democrats are constantly being asked to reach out to Republicans while nobody asks Republicans to reach out to Democrats. It’s an absolutely ridiculous double standard.” Democrats are, he says, held to have a moral obligation to try to represent all Americans, while Republicans are at most asked to consider the strategic advantages of outreach.

The column is notable for its lack of a single example of anyone, anywhere, who has said Democrats have this moral obligation. I am sure some could be found. It is not hard, either, to find examples of  chin-scratching pundits, to use Waldman’s phrase, who either explicitly or implicitly call on Republicans to move beyond their political base. Within the last few months, the New York Times has run the headline, A President of the People or a President of His People? and the Washington Post has run, Trump is the president of the Republican base — not the country. (All of this stands in contrast with how presidents normally act — or, perhaps, that should be how normal presidents act . . .)

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It is probably true that in recent years pundits have talked more about Democrats’ need to court voters outside their coalition than they have talked about Republicans’ need to do the same thing. But a lot of that discussion has taken place among liberals who were surprised and alarmed that their candidate lost the last presidential election and would like to avoid a repetition of that performance. They have a double standard because they want the Democrats to win.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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