Democrats exploiting mass shootings for political gain have forgotten the lessons of the Wellstone funeral
With President Trump visiting Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas today to pay his respects to the victims of two mass shootings, Democrats are in serious danger of overplaying their hands and alienating the centrist voters who hold the balance in national elections. While the Secret Service will no doubt keep any anti-Trump demonstrators at a distance, such is the vigor of Trump-hatred that there is a strong possibility of ugly words, gestures, and deeds marring the solemn ceremonies.
Passions already are so high that Nicolle Wallace — formerly a Republican strategist for John McCain's presidential campaign, was forced to apologize for saying Trump is calling for "exterminating Latinos." If a political pro can get so carried away, what can one expect from less seasoned activists who may be venting their anger, expressing their Trump Derangement Syndrome during the ceremonies intended to jointly mourn and begin the process of healing?
Democrats should, but probably won't, remember how their political passions seized control of a solemn ceremony of grief seventeen years ago and alienated swing voters, driving Republicans to electoral victory shortly afterward.
When Senator Paul Wellstone and seven others, including his wife and one son, were killed in an airplane crash in northern Minnesota on October 25, 2002, just 11 days before he faced re-election, a massive memorial service was planned for Williams Arena in Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota basketball and hockey venue capable of seating close to 20,000. Vice President Cheney, the presiding officer of the Senate, announced his plan to attend, only to be told by Wellstone's surviving sons that he was not welcome, much as President Trump has been told by some politicians and activists to stay away from El Paso. Cheney, respecting the wishes of the family, did not attend, possibly avoiding some ugliness.
The memorial service degenerated into a political rally, so blatant that the Wellstone staff issued a public apology.
Bill Clinton expresses his mourning with cheers.
But the apology was not enough. Following Minnesota law, Wellstone's name was stricken from the ballot, and then-governor Jesse Ventura appointed former vice president Walter Mondale to stand in as the Democrats' nominee. Most pundits and "experts" expected the popular Mondale to win, but when the votes were counted, Norm Coleman, the GOP nominee, was the victor by a 2-percent margin.
Today, Democrats face a fundamental challenge in controlling their uglier side that Republicans do not: the media do not warn them with critical feedback. With even the former "newspaper of record" allowing Democrat candidates to rewrite its front-page headline, Democrats are like sufferers from the medical condition of "congenital analgesia," also known as "congenital insensitivity to pain" or CIP. Such persons are in grave danger of injury because they have no warning of dangers such as burns taking place.
Even if the memorial services today proceed without any embarrassing disruptions, the political CIP Democrats face, combined with the derangement of many of their partisans, including candidates and elective office–holders, could be the Republicans' secret weapon in winning the White House and Congress in 2020. Just look at the disgraceful, hateful demonstration outside Mitch McConnell's house last night.
This is not how a political party convinces voters to hand it control over the powers of the federal government.