Friday, June 9, 2017

Trump’s Unpopular; Democrats Still Have No Platform

Russian hacking of the DNC, and their release of information and disinformation was bad enough, but nothing can compete with the damage a rather blasé, out-of-touch Democratic Party elite leadership has inflicted on itself. They have been handed a president with some of the lowest early-term popularly in polling history (36% approval rating), a man who is the butt of jokes worldwide and generally one who has made the United States a global pariah. While about 22% of the voters, his clinging base, celebrates, nervous GOP candidates facing a 2018 mid-term election are looking over their shoulders. Except when they look, there’s nothing there to challenge them.
Dems are consumed with the “Russian thang,” the potential of impeachment (have you really looked at Mike Pence’s ultra-right wing track record of failed leadership?), railing at the collapse of minority rights – in exchange for reinstating tougher incarceration rates and resuming our nastier private prison system, the repeal of consumer rights, and the implementation of a clearly malevolent immigration policy. But as necessary as these issues are as essential parts of the Democratic platform, they certainly are not particularly high on the priority list for most Americans. But you’d never get that if you watch the James Comey show at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Our withdrawal from the Paris climate change accords, hot news requiring a hot response, elevated to what appeared to be the Dems’ major concern. Of course the trillions of dollars and millions of casualties (deaths and unhealthy lives) from climate change are mission critical, but most Americans are living in fear over almost everything else.
“[A June 2-4 Reuters/Ipsos] opinion poll suggests American voters may not penalize President Donald Trump too harshly for walking away from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, even if they would have preferred he keep the country in the deal.
“The poll found 68 percent of Americans want the United States to lead global efforts to slow climate change, and 72 percent agree ‘that given the amount of greenhouse gases that it produces, the United States should take aggressive action to slow global warming.’... Even so, Americans rank the environment near the bottom of their list of priorities for the country. Only about 4 percent of Americans believe that the ‘environment’ is a bigger issue than healthcare, the economy, terrorism, immigration, education, crime and morality, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows.”, June 6th. Read that again. See impeachment or the Russian thang on that list?
I have been blogging about the failure of the Democratic leadership to acknowledge the most basic of political axioms: “It’s the economy stupid!” We are no longer an upwardly mobile country. Our children, seeing college the way previous generations viewed high school graduation, are saddled with an average of almost $40 thousand of debt based simply on an undergraduate education.
X and Y generation are getting married later, spending less, moving closer to where the jobs are, struggling with housing affordability, getting jobs after low-or-no-pay internships, finding themselves in the gig economy with zero benefits and pretty low prospects for a lifetime of promotions and raises, no longer expecting to being treated loyally by a company where they would work for life. They are replacing expensive car ownership with Uber and Lyft, and since they don’t have much discretionary income, they aren’t able to pay healthcare premiums… living with the “I’m young and healthy” mantra as a psychological cushion.
Job-creating government-funded research is winding down. Guaranteeing affordable education is relegated to past whimsy, we are told no longer affordable in an era of expensive military upgrades and a priority of cutting taxes and regulations for the rich… a job-incenting strategy that has repeatedly failed for decades (no matter the label: supply-side economics, trickle-down theory or releasing the job-creating rich from “unnecessary’ burdens). And instead of direct funding of infrastructure upgrades, Trump’s policies are relying on “privatization” strategies to allow wealthy companies to build roads, bridges, etc. and charge ordinary people tolls for their usage. Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are also in conservative cross-hairs.
For those in the middle or once-well-compensated working class, automation (robots, computerized while collar functions, and artificial intelligence) and globalization are trashing their pay levels and too often their entire working relevancy. For those who do not already own their homes, a huge majority of Americans never will, but rising rents slam them anyway.
It’s not as if experienced politicians don’t get it. Almost-2016 Dem presidential candidate Joe Biden is screaming at Democrats to wake up, consolidate and take advantage of the growing unpopularity of GOP priorities. “Former Vice President Joe Biden questioned the Democratic Party's strategy for targeting middle-class voters, suggesting Sunday [5/28] that Democrats ‘haven't spoken enough to the fears and aspirations to the people we come from.’
“‘Because of the negative campaign that [President Donald] Trump ran, how much did we hear about that guy making 50,000 bucks on an assembly line, [and] the woman — his wife — making $28,000 as a hostess?’ Biden asked a crowd of 1,200 at a campaign rally [in Lyndhurst, New Jersey].
‘They have $78,000, two kids, [are] living in a metropolitan area, and they can hardly make it,’ he said. ‘When was the last time you heard us talk about those people?’”, May 29th.
Instead, the Dems are flooded with sore-loser Hillary Clinton wending her way back into the news, as House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (with a net worth somewhere between $30-$100 million representing one of the richest congressional districts in the land – San Francisco) and Senate Minority Leader, New York’s Chuck Schumer, drill down on the Russia and the climate change thangs – both important but… they are missing the mainstay of fear and loathing within their core constituency.
I cannot overplay the total hatred of this “liberal elite” from displaced workers and their families. Roger Ailes made a fortune for Fox News catering to this powerful segment of America. How powerful? Enough to elect Donald Trump over a candidate who symbolized that liberal elite as well as taking control of both Houses of Congress, most governorships and most state legislatures.
What should the Dems be saying? Well, they certainly do not have to dump the concerns they are articulating, just focus on the elements their voters are telling them they really want to see change.
Jobs, globalization and automation. Enforce anti-dumping laws against unfair foreign competition. Focus on rust-belt and other regional economies where legal globalization has hurt American jobs. Extend unemployment benefits to those areas, add free training programs, incent companies to locate new facilities in those communities and move government infrastructure component manufacturing to those most impacted by automation and globalization. Redouble government-supported scientific research to create the next generations of American jobs, upgrade education, reduce student debt, tax companies with heavy job-displacing automation accordingly… and… most of all, commit $2.9 trillion to direct government construction efforts toward infrastructure upgrades and enhancements over the next decade to create jobs, jobs, jobs. While our federal corporate tax rate needs some adjustment, you certainly cannot cut taxes on the rich and expect life to get better for the rest of us. Stupid. Oh, and we need purge the failed doctrine of supply-side economics forever!!!![i]
Healthcare and Retirement. Guarantee that no American is left uncovered by healthcare. Make it affordable as we slowly segue into a single-payer system over time. Allow states with two or fewer insurance carriers to aggregate with similarly-situated states to provide coverage, competition and choice. Let healthcare exchanges to use their bargaining power to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, allowing imports of such pharmaceuticals from countries with solid inspection and quality standards. Maintain government subsidies to insure affordability but continue the mandate that everyone who works for a living (and their families) obtain coverage. Make sure that pre-existing conditions do not require higher premiums or deductibles and that coverage for big healthcare issues continues. Slowly increase the retirement age for Social Security for those under 50 years of age, over time, to 67.5 and perhaps later, even to 70, but mandate COL increases to track reality.
Military and Safety. Increase expenditures for intelligence, drones, defensive missiles, stealth technology, Special Forces and “smart weapons.” Cut expenditures for archaic technologies like massive aircraft carriers and don’t waste much on nukes (we have more than enough). Start training senior border screeners based on the same physical/psychological characteristics applied by their Israeli counterparts.  Stop antagonizing Muslims to the point where they believe that since the U.S. is attacking them, they have to (a) stop cooperating in finding terrorists and (b) they have to join these nasties just to defend themselves. Outlaw automatic weapons and large magazines, limit gun ownership, require background checks for all guns sales and limit tough enforcement efforts to gun crimes.
Immigration and Morality. Deporting hardened criminals shouldn’t trouble anyone. Understanding that having a humane, business-friendly, policy on undocumented immigrants is good for everyone – from “Dreamers” who are truly Americans to the vast majority of Americans who care about food prices to the positive impact on life-affordability having these workers perform tasks Americans will not do (from stoop labor in agricultural fields to digging ditches in inaccessible areas to working in slaughterhouses). Let the good folks stay. Adjust the laws to fit reality. Reinforce our intolerance of immorality by upping resources aimed at corruption, public and private. Raise our public employment ethical standards and prevent an elected official’s attempt to get those waived.
The Dems can then add their relevant climate change concerns and their commitments to gender, racial, religious and ethnic equality throughout their discussions and platforms. Yet they first have to let voters know how they feel about the issues that trouble most of us right now. And clearly, these climate/equality issues also have serious economic/job-creation components that should be elevated into the public consciousness. Swinging too far left and ignoring what the majority of voters want is an equal non-starter. We’re a nation mostly in the middle. Americans typically become kinder and more generous when their fears are allayed… and it is time that the Democratic Party take notice! Be for something! Not against everything the GOP wants.
I’m Peter Dekom, and if the Democrats cannot figure this out, they should consider disbanding and giving up… officially.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Missing footnote from Peter Dekom:

On June 6th, with more than the necessary 2/3 vote, the GOP-controlled Kansas legislature overrode a budget-increase veto that effectively ended the Governor Sam Brownback’s disastrous 2012 tax reform plan. As Kansas teetered towards insolvency, it was the latest instance of the failure of supply-side, trickle-down economics.