Op-Ed: Here's why the Russia scandal will hurt Democrats more than Trump

Op-Ed: Here's why the Russia scandal will hurt Democrats more than Trump
Op-Ed: Here's why the Russia scandal will hurt Democrats more than Trump

Aside from Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Udall and House Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Raul Grijalva, the Democratic Party has been largely MIA on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a crude oil pipeline currently being routed under the longest river in America, which upon its inevitable spill will poison the drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and 18 million others downstream. (Parent company Energy Transfer Partners has had 69 spills between in the last two years.)

Neither Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi nor Elizabeth Warren—who has proudly boasted about her Native American heritage—have led press conferences or town halls on the desecration of Native American lands by DAPL and other big oil companies; the grave threat DAPL poses to clean water; or the brazen conflict of interest President Trump has considering he's personally invested in DAPL.

There's also been crickets from the Democratic Party regarding a predominately minority community in Indiana being lead-poisoned. East Chicago, a poor Latino and African American community built up for decades on top of lead plants, insecticide factories, and other toxic industrialized plants, now has a lead crisis that may prove to be even worse than Flint.

Lead levels in ground soil have been found to be as much as 212 times the EPA's "allowable limit," and despite the EPA in August that there's no issue with the water, the water is now showing toxic lead levels.

Even more egregious than these facts, VP Mike Pence, who was Indiana Governor when these troubling numbers came out, ignored this crisis in a minority community, failing to visit East Chicago and later denying the city's request to declare it an emergency disaster (which his Lt. Governor, and new Governor, Eric Holcomb just granted).

But Pence acted quickly months before East Chicago's crisis became public. In the face of a less severe water contamination issue in 97 percent white Greentown, Indiana. Pence swiftly met with officials and within two months, the problem was fixed.

East Chicago isn't the only lead and water crisis. As Reuters reported, there are 3,000 other municipalities with lead problems.

And that's not to mention that, despite highly questionable EPA proclamations that Flint's water levels are now under the "allowable" lead limit, the city is still embroiled in a crisis, with thousands of residents still suffering through water-related health issues and still unable to safely drink water.

But Democrats flood the media to rail about Russia, making abstract claims it stole the election—which in reality is the Party's safety blanket to avoid dealing with the fact that they've been exposed as public servants for corporations and special interests—while largely ignoring the suffering of the people they claim to represent.

If Democrats continue to exclusively deploy the obsess-over-all-things-Trump strategy, without simultaneously rallying crowds to offer alternative policy prescriptions for a number of issues, or speaking out loudly on behalf of the movements like DAPL or crises' like East Chicago, they'll continue to simply ride the coattails of organic crowds and activism in opposition to Trump.

But Trump will continue to toss crumbs to organized labor, conservative Democrats, and the blue-collar workers that put him in office, keeping them in his voting column.

And the crowd that really matters—at voting booths in November, 2020—will continue to have the choice of President Trump and a party that stands in opposition, but doesn't stand for much of anything else.

Commentary by Jordan Chariton, a political reporter for The Young Turks, reporting on the presidential campaign trail. He can be seen on TYT Politics. Before TYT, Jordan was a reporter for TheWrap and TVNewser. Follow him on Twitter @JordanChariton.

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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