The Democrats’ far-left “Squad” squandered a huge opportunity this week to take the high road.
Imagine if they had reached out to President Donald Trump and to the nation, rather than using their press conference Monday to score political points.
Imagine if Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) — who kicked off the presser by calling the president “the occupant” of the White House — had invited Trump to visit her district and sit down with her constituents to hear their views.
Imagine if Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — who used the presser to recite, on live television, every profane phrase Trump has been accused of uttering — had used the opportunity to admit that she, too, had used language that offended some Americans, and to apologize.
Imagine if she had acknowledged the tolerance of the American people instead of claiming “every single person who is brown and black at some point in their life in this country” had been abused.
Imagine if Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) had used the press conference to propose working together with the president on issues of mutual interest — such as peace in the Middle East — rather than calling for his impeachment (which failed miserably in a Wednesday vote).
And imagine if Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) had challenged the president to work with her on her ambitious policies rather than declaring that he “operates in complete bad faith.”
If they had done so, they would have seized the moral high ground, and Trump would have had to follow their lead.
Somehow, the Squad could not bring themselves to do that.
Their party leaders deserve some of the blame. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set a terrible example on Sunday when she said Trump’s tweets about the “Squad” meant that he wanted to “make America white again.”
That wasn’t merely an attack on the president: it was also an attack on his supporters. Pelosi also explicitly injected race into a conversation, making rational debate difficult.
Pelosi’s response was also ungrateful. Trump had defended her last Friday from exactly the same bogus charges of racism. AOC’s argument against Pelosi was that she had “singled out … women of color” simply by attacking the four of them. There are many other “women of color” in Congress.
When Trump told reporters that Pelosi is not a racist, that was an opening to restore bipartisanship. She rejected that overture, setting the tone for her whole caucus.
But the “Squad” still could have behaved differently. The fact that they chose outrage over reconciliation reflects two realities.
One is that the new crop of “democratic socialist” candidates are not just fresh faces, but highly-trained political operatives carrying out an agenda. They have been coached not to explain, not to apologize, and not to do anything that would give the other side a way out of the confrontation.
They want to hold onto race as a political cudgel. Their political organization, the “Justice Democrats,” specifically targets white incumbents for removal. They will continue turning up the heat.
The other reality is that Americans have lost touch with the language and the tactics of the civil rights movement. Our popular culture and our universities downplay reformers like Dr. King in favor of more radical, supposedly more authentic political heroes.
Omar quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the press conference, but completely rejects his example, if she even understands it. Dr. King succeeded because even though he fought hard for what he wanted to achieve, he tried to appeal to the common humanity of those with whom he disagreed. He used rifts as an chance to achieve results.
Now, progress depends on the Squad’s defeat.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.