Democrats Have A Platform For 2018 Elections — They Need To Articulate It
Democratic Representative Jackie Speier was on All In with Chris Hayes Thursday night and Hayes asked her, “Does the party need a platform to run on in 2018?” Speier’s reply was the most frustrating answer I could have imagined. Said Speier, “Well we certainly do need a platform to run on in 2018. It cannot be just about opposing the President. And for all the talk, there haven’t been that many jobs created. So, if in fact we can do a robust infrastructure bill, one that the Democrats can embrace, that is not just a public/private partnership, then we will be way ahead of where we have been. But I think focusing on jobs is going to be key.”
Hayes then followed up, asking, “You mean a bill that you would negotiate with the President, you would vote for, and the President would sign?” Speier responded, “Right. Now if in fact what he wants to do is just give a lot of tax credits to those who are just going to build toll roads, that’s not going to cut it for those on the Democratic side.”
I really thought Hayes’ jaw was going to hit the floor when he heard that response, but he did his best to try and bail Speiers out, saying, “But isn’t the sort of lesson of McConnellism, which I think is a brilliant, brilliant insight that he had more than anyone, is that there is no reason to vote for anything ever, unless under duress, for the person who occupies the White House and you are not in his party.”
Speier was entirely flummoxed by this, responding, “The…Well that was certainly his whole campaign effort where he said his whole job was to make sure Obama was not re-elected for a second term. But I do think for us, it is going to be important to look for ways to create jobs and make that — we’re all about a “Better Deal”, better jobs, better wages, better future. And, especially if the President wants to extend his hand and shake on a deal like that, we might be able to move forward.”
I don’t mean to pick on Speiers, who is usually pretty articulate, but her answers were absolutely cringe-worthy. First of all, talking about making an infrastructure deal with the President, regardless of its merits, will do nothing to win over a single Republican voter. And it does nothing but deflate the intensity of the Democratic base. And then, after Hayes bails her out, Speier finally mentions the actual Democratic platform, a “Better Deal”, but only in the most general terms, and finishes it off by once again making a play to work with Trump.
I can’t tell you how frustrating this was as a Democrat. Hayes gave Speiers a softball question about the Democratic platform and she spent most of the time talking about trying to make deals with Trump. NO! NO! And NO again! Hayes’ question, and those like it, are an opportunity to make a 20 or 30 second campaign speech and too many times Democrats fail to take real advantage of the opportunity. It is the repetitive nature of the message that allows it to resonate with the majority of voters who do not follow politics closely.
Republicans are masters at sticking to a script and that’s why they continue to win elections. Democrats are a collection of interests and therefore have more difficult time with a truly cohesive message. But the Democratic party does have a platform for the 2018 election and it is a “Better Deal”. You and I may quibble about the details but we should expect our legislators to quickly and briefly articulate it. And way too often they are unable to do so.
Now, personally, I don’t believe that Democrats will need much of a message beyond opposing Trump in 2018. The election will really be a referendum on his leadership. But a powerful and cohesive message in 2018 is important in order to set up the Democrats up for the 2020 election when they will actually have a chance to implement these plans, which is far more critical. So here, as a public service, is a brief primer for all Democrats in the House and Senate to recite when they are asked about needing something more than just running against Trump in 2018.
“It’s not just opposing Trump in 2018. Republicans have spent the last year pushing two of the most unpopular bills in history and they finally managed to get this horrendous tax bill passed. So it is important to put Democrats in power as a bulwark against Trump and the Republicans who have admitted they are only serving their mega-rich donors and not the American worker or the American people in general. That means protecting and expanding Americans’ well-being, including the ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and reducing the cost of prescription drugs.
But beyond that, Democrats want to restore our transportation networks and provide high-speed broadband to those rural and underserved communities with a real infrastructure plan, not another corporate giveaway like the public-private partnerships the Republicans are proposing.
In addition, Democrats will be restoring more economic and political power to workers with a higher minimum wage, stronger antitrust enforcement, and increased support for child care, all of which will put more money in workers’ pockets, as opposed to the Republicans’ plan to give hundreds of billions to corporations and the already rich, while at the same time lining their own pockets, and hoping that money trickles down to workers.
In general, Democrats will be running to increase the economic and political power of the average American and reduce the power of the plutocrats that the Republican party has openly admitted it serves. That is the Democratic platform for 2018 and you can read more about our ‘Better Deal’ for working Americans online.”
Readers can feel free to make changes, additions, or deletions. Obviously, the answer needs to be short enough to fit in an interview on a show like All In. And talking in general terms about “creating jobs” is not enough. The critical factor is to at least list a few specific, positive programs that Democrats are proposing and denigrate the actions of the Republicans. Articulating your own platform is NOT about making deals with this President or coming up with “bipartisan” solutions. That may get you good press with Fred Hiatt and the editorial page of the Washington Post. But it won’t win any votes, either Republican or Democratic.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on December 30, 2017.