What Democrats Can Learn From the Republican Party


Haileigh Steffen

The way the Democratic party plays the political game is costing them elections. And the only way to win is to rip it all up.

Noah Pavelich, Tech Editor

After reading that headline you might be asking yourself: What would the Democrats even need to learn from the Republican party? Joe Biden was just elected president, the house remained in control, and the Senate is within striking distance.

While all that is true, this election was a lot closer for a lot longer than what most people wanted. The fact that it was that close for that long is why the Democrats need to change their political strategy.

The phrase “when they go low, we go high,” was said by former first lady Michelle Obama at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. That phrase was meant to show that no matter how low trump went Hillary would never stray from the high road. That phrase was and still is quoted as a baseline for how Democrats can win elections. But in reality, it will cost the Democrats elections.

That saying is fundamentally flawed for multiple reasons, the main reason being that it implies the opponent hits below the belt first. that the other person will go low first. The main reason why it is flawed is that that exact phrase was, in a sense, the root of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton never really left the high road to hit back at Trump. While I understand the reasoning behind her strategy there is an unsettling amount of the American population who are inherently misogynistic and therefore if she went after Trump she would only hurt her own campaign. 

I believe that if Hilary were to have left her high road and properly gone after Trump on his ego and his hate speech she could have made the case to not vote for Trump. But she stuck to the safe high road and only went after Trump where it was the safest. At the end of the day, Clinton focused on shaping her own political identity, not on reshaping that of Trump’s.

The 2016 election is a perfect example of why the phrase “when they go low, we go high” is irrelevant in the era of Trump. Like I said before, the notion that a candidate must always stick to the high road no matter the opposition will lead to the Republican party nominating more Trumpian figures to be their candidate. Why? If you want to win an election, you don’t have to say why you should be president. All you have to say is why the other person shouldn’t.

That leads me to why Joe Biden was one of the best picks the DNC had to go up against Trump. Ultimately, whether you like Joe Biden or not, he was one of the top 3 picks for the presidential race. He never backed down from a fight with Trump. He was quick on his feet and he could overshadow Trump in a debate. Joe Biden’s campaign either knowingly or unknowingly beat Trump at his own game, winning more states than Trump did in the 2016 presidential race.

Overall, there are many reasons why I don’t like the phrase, “when they go low, we go high.” However, the main reason why is that it makes the candidate think that they always need to stick to the high road. While this can work well in some races, the decision of how to run a campaign comes down to 3 things. 1) Who is the candidate? Have they held office before? What are their views on key issues? 2) Who are they running against? And last but not least, 3) How is the other candidate running their campaign? 

If you’re Obama running against Mitt Romney in 2012, it would be suicidal to attack his character or go after him on his lifestyle. However, if you’re Hillary Clinton in 2016, it would equally as dumb to not go after Trump on his character and treatment of other people. Each race is different and if your opponent is sticking to the high road you should too. But if they’re going to burn the whole thing down then the only way to win is to fight fire with fire.