Sunday, November 08, 2020

Some Politically Agnostic


The Washington Post has reported

An angry dispute erupted among House Democrats on Thursday, with centrist members blasting their liberal colleagues during a private conference call for pushing far-left views that cost the party seats in Tuesday’s election that they had worked hard to win two years ago.

The bitter exchange, which lasted more than three hours as members sniped back and forth over tactics and ideology, reflected the extent to which the 2020 campaign exposed simmering tensions in the party....

“We need to not ever use the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. . . . We lost good members because of that,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who narrowly leads in her reelection bid, said heatedly. “If we are classifying Tuesday as a success . . . we will get f---ing torn apart in 2022"....

 “There is no question that that was a huge albatross on the necks of so many of our candidates, who unfortunately went down,” said a lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions. “There has to be a reckoning within our ranks about this because a lot of Justice Democrats don’t give a damn about the Democratic Party. . . . They’re all about purity and orthodoxy, and it is damaging our opportunities.”

Nonetheless, a Pennsylvania Democrat, Conor Lamb, who barely won re-election, stated

Spanberger was talking about something many of us are feeling today: We pay the price for these unprofessional and unrealistic comments about a number of issues, whether it is about the police or shale gas. These issues are too serious for the people we represent to tolerate them being talked about so casually.

In a case of bad timing or unintended irony

“Democrats’ messaging is terrible; it doesn’t resonate,” Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, said in an interview. “When [voters] see the far left that gets all the news media attention, they get scared. They’re very afraid that this will become a supernanny state, and their ability to do things on their own is going to be taken away.”

Supernanny state? One wonders what Representative Schrader would have said if told a mere ten months ago that the next President of the USA would be elected on a platform which included the requirement that all Americans walk around wearing a mask.  Neither Medicare for All nor the Green New Deal can hold a supernanny candle to "I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask."  That man, thankfully, was elected President of the United States of America.

Moreover, the executive director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas, was right when she told the Post reporter "They had one job and they blew it. We need a Democratic Party that stands for something more than just being anti-Trump."

We learn "Chuck Schumer is "pushing for $50K of student debt to eliminated by executive order in Biden's first 100 days."  Luckily, he and Senator Elizabeth Warren had introduced a resolution in September which "asked the president as of 2021, whether it be former Vice President Joe Biden or current President Trump, to 'take executive action to broadly cancel federal student loan debt' as the country faces a pandemic and both a “historic public health and economic crises.” 

This is good policy and good strategy.

It would reduce cynicism about politics. Moreover, it would reduce cynicism of government, which can only redound to the benefit of America's de facto party of government, the Democratic Party, particularly when that is the party in power.

Alternatively, Democrats can take the advice of Spanberger, Schrader, Lamb, and other centrists and take a passive approach, standing for nothing and doing little.

Yet Americans are looking to Democrats to do more than end the pandemic- which eventually will be accomplished primarily by vaccine- but also to make their lives better.  When Democrats relieve the crushing burden of student debt or reduce doctor bills through health care reform significantly bolder than Obamacare, they benefit in another way.

Suddenly, GOP charges that Democrats want to install a "nanny state" or "defund the police" or "give out free stuff" lose their power. They are neutered because things have been accomplished which Democrats can tout rather than being on the defensive about supporting people who believe they are "entitled" or opposing police.

An activist approach would confer an additional benefit. When Joe Biden is unable to make good on his campaign promise to unify a (inevitably) divided country, Democrats can present an alternative vision. It may be a vision of a nation of greater racial justice, better education, fewer climate crises, or of middle class and working class Americans who are not suffering under the crushing burden of debt because of a health emergency. They can actually go on the offensive rather than running scared from every demagogic charge from Republicans about crime, health care, taxes, the environment, or simply needing help from other Americans.

And because if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything.



 




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