Day 21: The “Dangerous” Democrats

The backbone of Republican rhetoric is that Democrats are dangerous. Republicans claim the Democratic party is filled with people who are going to destroy what you depend on and take it away.  It is nearer to the truth to say that Democrats want to give more to ordinary Americans. They want to lift up ordinary citizens and commit government to their general well-being.  That is what makes Democrats so “dangerous.”

Republicans don’t want you to vote your interests.  They assail reasonable, equitable, policy goals as somehow subversive, un-American.  Too good to be true.

The Democrats want to give you something. The Republicans want to demonize that aspiration; they have been doing it for years, acting as though, in the richest nation on the planet, there isn’t enough to go around.  Republicans want you to believe in scarcity, in the hardship that will follow if the government tries to “lift all boats,” even as the tide has crested to record highs for the nation’s most wealthy.  Two days ago, the Federal Reserve released data showing that the wealth of the fifty richest Americans is roughly equal to that of half of the population.  That’s right: just fifty people have as much wealth as the poorest 165 million Americans, combined.

Republicans want you to believe that the Democrats’ more generous vision for America is dangerous.  They want you to believe that the US can’t afford to a system of universal health care, that it’s too much to hope for coverage that continues when you lose your job.  They want you to believe that efforts to ensure that you can see a doctor more easily and cheaply will harm you: that you will be harmed, your freedom destroyed, if American policy so much as ventures that way.

Republicans want you to believe the US can’t afford to have a thriving economy while mitigating climate change.  They want you to believe that protecting vital natural resources is going to leave you broke or unemployed.  Trump has rolled back every protection he can, adding pollutants to the water you drink and the air you breathe.  The truth is that going green will safeguard your community, your health and your property while creating a gravy train of new and socially meaningful jobs.

Trump is a master at demonizing the Democrats, repeating lies about Biden over and over again, such as that Biden wants to defund the police and get rid of fracking.  Trump groundlessly claims Biden’s recovery plans will destroy the economy, whereas Moody Analytics says that Biden’s plans are far superior to Trump’s, that they will promote a faster economic recovery while creating an estimated 7 million jobs.

So don’t believe the Republicans. Let yourself believe in a better, fairer, and more vibrant America.  Vote for the “dangerous Democrats.”  It’s better for America, and it’s better for you.

Image: “The Ring of Thanks”
from this source.

 

Day 49: The People Without A Party

The national struggle to defeat Donald Trump in November is going forward amid an exodus from the Republican Party and a paradoxical crisis in the two-party system.  The paradox is that, even as the parties and their candidates raise more and more money and draw the battle lines between one another more sharply, they excite more animus and aversion in the population at large.  It’s hard to be mindful of the huge swath of the American population that is withdrawn and disenchanted, unaffiliated and uncertain, especially given the hype that keeps Democrats and Republicans ever before our eyes.

This hype inadvertently sustains Trump’s power, a president whose popularity ratings are shockingly low relative to every other modern president.  Trump’s “base”– the amoral and low-information voters who continue to approve of him–lacks the geographic spread to prevail.  Meanwhile, legions of prominent and rank-and-file Republicans have either left the party, gone silent, or endorsed Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

The pool of voters available to put Biden in the White House is unusually large.  Let’s remember this as we work to get out the vote against Trump.  Innumerable voters besides those who are Democrat want Trump to go.

The millions of people currently without a party are something like “a silent majority.”  They do not need to be convinced to join a party: they only need to be persuaded to vote once for Biden and, by ending Trump’s disastrous presidency, save what’s left of our Constitutional system.  For that matter, the Senate Republicans (with the exception of the noble Mitt Romney) have so failed in their duties to the Constitution and the nation that the voters must try to depose them, too.

Image: Albert Levering’s “Republican Voters Revolt” (1910),
from this source.

The Costs of an Unresponsive Politics

A team of Democrats and a team of Republicans playing basketball.

This is the very picture of American politics: two parties playing for points, often in view of spectators, in an environment closed off from the ordinary world.

Individual lawmakers lack the autonomy that statesmen enjoyed in earlier times.  Most officials today are suited up for a game of party supremacy.  For its sake, they have lumped themselves together in the cadres of two warring tribes.  Personal stardom is the goal, but unfortunately it’s attainable only by playing on one of these powerful teams.  Fitting in with the pros is far more important to every politician than being true to the amateurish fans and mentors who gave them their start at playing back home.

The leading class in the US has gradually broken free of its traditional dependence on ordinary voters and local institutions.  It’s no longer necessary to be personally known and liked, no longer essential to win the approval of veteran politicians to get in the game.  Politicians no longer need friends.  They can rise with the help of consultants.  Using what is essentially a corporate model, they look for seed money, then hire and recruit and posture their way into office.  It’s a grueling, strenuous affair, impossible without the right coaches, communications people, and above all statisticians.  Using data and a bunch of sociological stereotypes, modern American politicians strive to make the right plays and garner the support needed to stay on in the brightly lit arena.

So it happens that local constituencies have very little influence over their ostensible “representatives.”  Their powers are amazingly puny when it comes to reining in politicians who forget about the people’s needs.  Once in power, officials who like it there can harvest money from sympathetic backers and use the media to project the right image back to their harried, perplexed, or complacent base.  As long as they do nothing objectionable, they may stay put longer than their achievements warrant.

George F. Will has rightly observed that there are two types of politician: the type that seeks office in order to do something, and the type that seeks office in order to be something.  In the tumultuous weeks of the impeachment and since, we’ve seen that the latter type of politician prevails.  As the Republicans, in particular, make an ever more desperate effort to maintain power and ignore inconvenient demands, the game drags on, as if it will produce what the nation needs.

Image: from this source.


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