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John Kasich and Colin Powell Make Controversial Appearance At Democratic National Convention

PBS NewsHour Youtube Screenshot

At the Democratic National Convention, Republicans have found a sizable seat at the table.

The biggest headlines out of the virtual Democratic National Convention have been plaudits for Michelle Obama’s speech and more than a handful of awkward viral moments.

But viewers of the Convention and progressives might have been confused to see several prominent Republicans including former Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Cindy McCain get speaking time.

Some commentators on the left flank of the Democratic Party have expressed concern about the Biden campaign platforming right-wing voices. However, left-wing leaders have held their nose up in favor of uniting the party behind the Biden election bid.

While the pull of defecting Republican voices is unknown, what is certain is that Republicans who even mildly oppose Trump have now seen a potential political maneuver to repair their reputation in the event of a Biden victory.

Troubled Political Pasts

More notable than Powell or Kasich’s sway with the modern moderate voter, is what they represent when contrasted with the more progressive, younger push within the Democratic Party.

John Kasich signed pro-life legislation into law and backed the construction of the Keystone Pipeline while serving as the Governor of Ohio. During his prerecorded speech aired at the DNC on Monday, Kasich assured viewers than Joe Biden would not “turn sharp left”.

Powell has a much more high-profile past, but it should astonish Democratic voters to see the former Secretary of State, who justified the invasion of Iraq and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, held up at their party’s convention.

Powell had previously endorsed President Obama and Hilary Clinton, but he had never spoken at the DNC before.

While liberal pundits praised the Powell coup as a “big deal”, more left-wing voices expressed severe concern about the potential rightward shift of a Biden presidency.

Filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted, “nothing unites our country more than all of us fondly reminiscing about the US bombing, invading, terrorizing, & pillaging Iraq on the basis of lies this man told to the United Nations.”

Not only are Powell and Kasich notably out of touch with the professed positions of the Democratic Party, but they are also wildly far from many of the Party’s younger voters.

According to Pew Research, 70% of 18-29-year-olds believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Young Democrats are also much less supportive of American military intervention with a surprising 55% of Democrats aged 18-29 saying it is acceptable for another nation to become as militarily powerful as the United States.

Not the First

Worry about the Democratic Party rehabilitating Republicans and war criminals is not a new phenomenon and is not limited to the Biden presidency bid.

Whether it be Ellen DeGeneres hanging out with George W. Bush, Hilary Clinton’s soft spot for Henry Kissinger, or Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s “welcoming to the resistance”,  powerful Democrats and liberal elites have worked overtime to run press relations for their former political opponents.

Some will argue the recent inclusion of Republicans at the DNC is a temporary rebuke to President Trump, and worth it to get him out of power.

But it also paves a path for Republicans who have not done much to truly oppose Trump to about-face in the event of a Biden win.

Republican-led PACs supporting Biden do not come without strings attached, and the boundaries of their commitment to weeding out the worst portions of Trumpism have not truly been tested yet.

Whether it is naivete or elite solidarity, the Democratic Party is displaying its lack of understanding about the future trends within the party, or they think they are not relevant enough to a Biden presidency.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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