Tom Nichols, a Never Trumper and professor at the U.S. Naval War College and at the Harvard Extension School, isn’t so sure that 2020 Democrats’ participation in CNN’s recent LGBT town hall was the best idea if they want to defeat President Trump in the general election.
In an op-ed for USA Today, Nichols addressed the Democratic Party and reminded them of a few moments from Thursday’s televised event, including Beto O’Rourke’s call to revoke the tax-exempt status of some religious institutions, Kamala Harris’ exchange with host Chris Cuomo about personal pronouns, and Elizabeth Warren’s quip after a question about traditional marriage.
“You thought it was great. You saw a ringing defense of LGBTQ rights and a reaffirmation of what Democrats stand for,” he said. “I saw it and thought: Are these people insane? Are they trying to lose the election?”
He continued by saying he wouldn’t ask them to betray their principles by changing their views on gay and transgender issues but still argued against having a town hall dedicated to a topic that the Democratic field generally agrees on.
“I’m going to be honest: When it comes to the election of 2020, I don’t care about LGBTQ issues,” he said. “And neither should you — not because these issues are not important, but because there isn’t a single Democratic candidate who is against you on any of this, and not one of them will be worse than Trump.”
He continued, “In fact, I still wonder what the point of a nationally televised LGBTQ town hall was in the first place. To me, it looked like a beauty contest aimed at increasing fund-raising among a wealthy Democratic demographic, but at the risk of alienating the African-American and suburban women who propelled you into the majority in 2018. Did you really need a primary-driven bidding war to see who could be more demonstratively empathetic and accepting?”
Nichols went on to say that if Trump gets reelected next November, then he will blame Democrats for handing him another term.
“If you need an evening-long town hall on LGBTQ issues to ‘motivate’ yourselves, then you’re already doomed,” he said. “I’m sorry, what was the point of all that again? Was the LGBTQ vote in danger of going to the Republicans, and I missed it?”
Lastly, he warned the party against making “the same mistakes you made in 2016” because “if Trump wins again, it’s going to be your fault.” Nichols’ take comes a day after the ratings for CNN’s event came in a distant third behind both Fox News and MSNBC’s programming during the same time slot.