Doug Jones is the first Democrat to represent Alabama in the Senate in over a generation after defeating alleged child predator Roy Moore. Yet, during his first three months in office, Jones has voted with President Donald Trump more than any other Democrat in the Senate.
On Sunday, Jones explained his philosophy in an interview with George Stephanopolous on This Week.
“I think that has been one of the biggest problems that the Democrats have had over the years is that there’s a perception that we just don’t hear, that we do the things that we want to do and we don’t hear and we don’t listen,” Jones said. “And I think the combination of having those dialogues that we talked about so much in my campaign rather than just monologues is very important going forward in the 2018.”
“Does it also mean, not just opposing President Trump, but finding places where Democrats can work with him?” Stephanopolous asked. Jones responded:
You know, George, last night I was at a play, and a lady came up to me afterwards — we were leaving — and she said, I didn’t vote for you, I voted for the Republican, but I want you to tell everyone they need to work together. That’s a message for Republicans and Democrats. She made a point of saying that to me. And I think that there’s a lot of that out there, not just in Alabama, but from across the country.
This person literally admitted to Jones’ face that she voted for the Republican alleged child predator in the race over the Democrat who was not alleged to be a child predator. Jones’ takeaway from this conversation was that deep down, all of us just want Republicans and Democrats to be more bipartisan. Incredible.
People wanted to maybe see the chaos. I heard the roundtable talking about that with the president’s election. But at the end of the day, they want to see people working together and to get things done. That’s the only way we can progress. It’s the only way we can get some serious-minded legislation going through Congress.
I’m not really sure what “serious-minded legislation” means, but anything resembling good legislation will never be achieved in Paul Ryan’s Congress. The biggest win the Republicans have had so far has been a tax bill which will radically redistribute wealth even further to the top, and the only “bipartisan accomplishment” thus far has been to loosen regulations on Wall Street and make it easier for huge banks to gamble with the economy again. In other words, exactly the kind of things that people in Alabama like, right?
Congress may be polarized, but that’s because America is polarized. That’s where the American public is right now: supremely confident that the other party will screw everything up whenever they get the chance. People like Jones’ friend at the play, for example, might want him to work across the aisle, but that’s because she likes what the other side is doing. Of course she wants Jones to help them out!
Conventional wisdom holds that as a Democrat in an extremely pro-Trump state, this is the kind of thing Jones should be saying in public. But the instinctive need to compromise on as much as possible has long been the Democratic way. In fact, it’s one of the primary reasons that Obamacare doesn’t even have a public option despite the fact that Democrats had overwhelming majorities in 2010.
Compromise should be a last resort. Democrats want to win over the public against a deeply unpopular president and Congress, but that is not going to happen by helping to provide cover for bad policies. It’s going to happen by actually doing the work that’s theoretically required in electoral politics: giving people a reason to vote for you by running on bold proposals to make life tangibly better for as many people as possible (and not being a complete weirdo while doing it), and then giving them a reason to vote for you again by enacting those policies.