It isn’t enough to point out that Trump is a fraud, serial liar and failure. We Dems need to cohere on a new New Deal.
By Frank Cullen
The Trump-Pence-Bannon White House in particular and the GOP in general are stuck in the mess they’ve created. Never in recent history have the Democrats had a stronger hand to play as the 2018 and 2020 elections approach. But who and where is Democratic leadership?
Disgust, dismay and rage with Trump, the Tea Party, the GOP-controlled Congress and gerrymandered, vote-suppressing statehouses excites the Progressive base, but it doesn’t convert all those citizens who voted for Obama-Biden in 2012, but pull the levers for Trump-Pence in 2016. Why aren’t Democrats articulating coherent proposals about the core issues needed to win back Democrats whose disgust and dismay are focused on job insecurity and wages?
Winning back workers in dead-end industries like coal mining, whose rage is fueled by the unsettling displacement of an industrial economy by knowledge technology — a revolution for which two older generations of Americans have largely been unprepared.
It isn’t enough to point out that Trump is a fraud, serial liar and failure. We Dems need to cohere on a new New Deal. To do that, we need Democratic policies that materially benefit Americans and promotes safe and sensible global policies.
Piecemeal doesn’t usually satisfy voters, but absent a Franklin Delano Roosevelt who could rouse a nation into grand ambition, modern Congresses and Senates nibble at the edges of issues hoping to satisfy both sides of issues. Few elected officials have the capacity to comprehend the intricacies or foresee the impact of massive change on the vast range of domestic and global issues.
So politicians balance demands from activist constituents, whose interests span many issues, with advice from single-issue lobbyists who argue with data that support their causes. Constituents or lobbyists, either force can defeat a politician’s bid for reelection. Classic case at hand: Single-payer universal healthcare versus insurance industry-managed healthcare.
Progressives and alt-right-wingers contend on most issues, but matters are settled on the middle-ground of America — if the voters like and trust the advocates. Again, the question: where are The Great Planners and Persuaders of the Democratic Party?
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer doesn’t register favorably west of the Hudson; nor does former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi persuade east of the Sierra Nevada and west of Appalachia. Both are effective legislative leaders, but we Dems (and all Americans) need leaders with wide appeal.
Trump won in 2016 because Hilary’s campaign lost. HRC is no longer a factor in elective politics having lost twice. (One William Jennings Bryan was enough.) Obama has moved on with his and his family’s life, observing the courtesy that most of his predecessors followed by restraining from criticizing his successor.
The Dem’s defeat this year in five special elections thus far in 2017 (two more to be fought on Aug. 15) proves that the new team at the DNC is as inept as the last bunch that led them to defeat through four national elections (2010-2016).
There are today, however, three smart popular leaders who know how to win elections and could take the first steps to guide the Democratic Party back to its majority status.
(1.) Bernie Sanders proved his cross-party popularity in 2016 despite the blunting opposition of the DNC.
(2.) In 2008, ex-Gov Howard Dean (then DNC Chair) led the Democratic Party to capture the presidency, the Senate and the House in 2008.
(3.) Ex-Veep and ex-Senate great, Joe Biden provably won the 2012 election for Obama by campaigning in and winning the Midwest — the very states Hilary lost in 2016.
Those three smart and honest pols need to confer and devise an over-arching policy of honesty, competence, safety and prosperity by convening an opposition council to the Trump-Pence-Ryan-McConnell-Tea Party.
There is a wealth of smarts among the rising generation of Dem leaders in the Senate, House and state governments: Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Chris Murphy, Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, Patty Murray, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Al Franken, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono; members of Congress like Jan Schakowsky, Ted Lieu, Mark Pocan, Jim McGovern and Ben Ray Lujan; governors like Jerry Brown, Jay Inslee and Kate Brown; attorney generals like Eric Schneiderman and Hector Balderas.
Some civilian former advisers, especially economists, should be included, economists Steve Ratner and Richard Parker, and alumni from State (such as Nicholas Burns) and Defense (like Gen. Wesley Clark). They could form teams that reflect the Cabinet and counter the potentially disastrous policies of Trump-Pence, issue-by-issue, proposal-by-proposal instead of just wailing and wringing our hands like most of us, including this writer.
Frank Cullen is an author and the founding director for the ABQ Film Club and the American Vaudeville Museum Collections at the University of Arizona-Tucson. He lives in Edgewood, New Mexico.