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Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor: The Democrats' political pandering

| Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, 8:33 p.m.
Summer Lee, left, of Swissvale, and Sara Innamorato, of Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, each won Democratic primary races for state House seats.
Summer Lee, left, of Swissvale, and Sara Innamorato, of Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, each won Democratic primary races for state House seats.

Political parties pander, period. All parties do it. Politicians do it. I spent 2016 urging Republicans to be wary of Donald Trump for president because I feared that the man lacked serious political principles. Trump supporters were furious with me. Many still are.

So, dear reader, I come to this with some credibility for what I’m about to level at the Democrats.

What I’m seeing from Democrats in their election strategy for 2018 is shameless in its pandering to voters. It isn’t a matter of one candidate running for one particular office and shaping himself (or herself) according to the political winds. Rather, the Democrats en masse are changing their political colors from district to district, man to man, woman to woman, in a terribly cynical manner. As a case in point, look at what’s happening here in Western Pennsylvania.

In my recent columns for the Trib, I wrote about the success of literal Democratic Socialist of America (DSA) candidates being recruited by the Democratic Party. These are actual DSA members, tried and true socialists, and they’re running and defeating traditional Democrats like the two Costas (Paul and Dom). I’m referring to local DSA members Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato, who are on their way to the State House as elected socialists — actually, formally, as elected “Democrats.” The same is true on the national scale for Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But look at how the Democrats change their skins as they head into more conservative districts. Look at the challengers to two conservative Republican congressmen — two men of genuine conservative principles: Mike Kelly and Keith Rothus. They are being challenged by, respectively, Ron DiNicola and Conor Lamb.

I had never heard of DiNicola until someone showed up at my doorstep last week handing out literature for him and the entire Democratic ticket. I could’ve mistaken DiNicola for John F. Kennedy.

Check out DiNicola’s profile. It’s just like Lamb’s, who the Democrats nabbed to win the Tim Murphy seat in a Republican and overwhelmingly pro-Trump district. DiNicola was a Marine, a boxer, son of Italian immigrants — went to Harvard on the GI Bill, then Georgetown Law. As a lawyer, DiNicola is said to have represented Muhammed Ali for 30 years. Lamb has a similar profile: Marine, Irish Catholic, Central Catholic High School, then U Penn Law.

I watched DiNicola’s ads on local cable television. The first words across the screen are “the Fighting Marine.”

What’s next, Democrats? Resurrecting the corpse of Harry Truman?

So, the Democrats find guys like DiNicola and Lamb to try to win conservative districts like those of congressmen Kelly and Rothfus. And then, on a dime, they flip the switch and run literal socialists like Ocasio-Cortez and Lee and Innamorato in their left-leaning city districts. They’re doing this nationwide. I could give example after example from numerous states.

I ask the Democratic Party: Have you no principles?

Actually, the party has one unmistakable principle, or I should say purpose: to win and secure power. And then, above all, Democrats hope to achieve the ultimate purpose of impeaching Trump.

It would be a shame if that objective came at the expense of losing genuinely principled and purposeful congressmen like Kelly and Rothfus.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

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