10/15/2014 11:25 am ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

When Democrats Unite, We Win


We talk a lot about the Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court opened up the money spigot for campaigns. Many believed it was going to give an incredible advantage to the Republican Party. It turned out that didn't quite happen. Nevertheless it was an outrageous decision and more money in politics is definitely not a good thing.

Democrats have always known that the key to winning is getting out large numbers of voters. That means energizing women, minorities, and the young who tend to vote Democratic but often aren't the voters who come out for every election. They came out in big numbers in recent presidential elections, which is why Democrats won. The African American community voted for President Obama in huge numbers in 2008 and 2012 and young voters were excited by his "hope and change" slogan in 2008. They weren't as energized in 2012 when they realized making change is slower than they hoped and requires hard work.

Since 2008 the president has accomplished some great things. He turned around an economy that was going off a cliff when he took office. He signed the Affordable Care Act that administrations, both Republican and Democratic, had been trying to pass for decades. Many older Americans remember it was an idea first supported by the now very right-wing Heritage Foundation when it was still a more legitimate organization.

The Republican Party is now heading off a cliff of its own. If it continues its current direction, it will find it nearly impossible to win the presidency for decades. Last week I heard one of their no-taxes-ever gurus, Grover Norquist. He is a fast talker, which is partially responsible for his success with his sleight-of-hand version of politics. While I find most of his views absurd, one area of agreement is that today no one can confuse our two main political parties. They are heading in totally opposite directions. We agree that means voting Party today is more important than it ever was.

Recently the Washington Post did a story on how Democrats, mostly but not exclusively in southern states, don't want to campaign with the president. While understandable in local political terms, what it means for his presidency is that it is even more important for Democrats to ensure wins for all their candidates, especially for the ones he personally endorses. We need to unite behind those candidates first because they are good, and second to show our strong support for the president.

One place to do that is in the mayor's race in the District of Columbia. Muriel Bowser has gained the support of a wide range of people and groups, from the SEIU and firefighters to the Chamber of Commerce -- an unusual combination to say the least. They, as well as former Mayor Anthony Williams, the LGBT Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Emily's List and countless others, have said they believe that Muriel Bowser will make a good mayor. Then last week President Barack Obama added his name to that already impressive list of supporters.

That support should be a clear signal to Democrats that the time has come to stop the squabbling and unite behind Muriel Bowser for mayor. But it was more than that. It was a request from the President to an electorate that has consistently stood with him to make a statement of support for him and the principles of the Democratic Party of which he is the leader. No election is ever held in a vacuum, and certainly not the one for mayor of the nation's capital.

Being a Democrat still does stand for something. We are the party fighting for equal rights for minorities, women and the LGBT community. We are the party fighting for affordable health care; to protect social security and Medicare; for living wage jobs and for equal pay for equal work for women. Democrats want to enact immigration reform and ensure that every American has an equal opportunity to vote. When Democrats are elected up and down the spectrum -- including president, Congress, governors, mayors and state legislators -- we make a statement about what we want our nation to stand for. This mid-term election will also make a statement about our continued support for Barack Obama.

The world is far from a perfect place. Many, including myself, have differed with the president on a host of issues and felt he didn't move fast enough on some. But those things represent far less than the beliefs we hold in common and recognition of what he has accomplished.

Democrats need to stop the in-fighting among ourselves and unite at least long enough to elect our candidates to office in these mid-term elections. We know even an imperfect Democrat, and no one is perfect, is a better choice than turning our country over to the current Republican Party, which is controlled by a vocal group of right-wing zealots.