Mauren: Time to see if Democrats can lead

Columnist Jacob Mauren hopes Democrats can lead the nation with strong leadership. 

Jacob Mauren

Before the results of the Derek Chauvin case, the tension around the nation was building as many feared an innocent verdict or even a hung jury. Should that have happened, civil unrest would almost certainly break out, leaving Democrats in a much tougher position than they were during the protests of last summer. 

Democrats had it easy last round, locked out of every branch of government. They had the luxury of sitting on the sidelines and criticizing every move. And I believe they were right to do so. Last summer saw a complete lack of leadership when the country needed it most. Now, Democrats have won control of both Congress and the presidency and are tasked with guiding the coming emotions in a productive manner rather than stoking flames.

So far, there have been good signs and bad signs. At the time this is being written, President Joe Biden is prepared to address the nation after a verdict is given, a positive change from the previous president’s choice to largely stay silent until tweeting, “When the looting starts the shooting starts.” To the surprise of nobody, the people protesting and being killed by their government did not respond well to these threats from the government. 

But I was disappointed by some of Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments during her recent visit to Minneapolis. While I am glad to see her insert herself into the community to support, listen and empathize, her calls to “get more confrontational” in the face of an innocent verdict can understandably be seen as fanning the flames.

I do not feel I have any ground to tell protestors how to act. These are people whose grandparents grew up seeing photos of Emmett Till, whose parents watched the video of Rodney King and now have watched George Floyd die in HD. It’s a generational anger and frustration I cannot relate to. 

But I will always hold elected officials to a higher standard. When the people’s emotions run high, it is their responsibility to lead that emotion in a more productive direction. The previous president used similar emotion to drag out the worst in people, something that did real damage to our nation. It is now the Democrats’ job to bring out the best in people during these tense times.  

So while I hope for justice and a guilty verdict, I also hope for proper leadership if this does not go as I desire it. We desperately need people that can bring out the best in us and quiet the worst.