Should Democrats Move Far Left and Mirror the Far Right Republican Party?
Should Democrats Move Far Left and Mirror the Far Right Republican Party?
The Republican party steadily moved much farther to the Right after the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama. The Democrats then passed several significant pieces of legislation in the first two years of the Obama administration. The 2010 Affordable Health Care act was the most prominent piece of legislation enacted during this period.
The far Right elements of the Republican party were furious over the passage of that Act and created the Tea Party faction in response to it. Their political energy was immense and the establishment leaders of the Republicans rode this wave to political landslides in the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections.
The 2012 election saw President Obama hold on to power but by a significantly smaller margin. The surge of this Tea Party element culminated with the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016.
Democrats have been scrambling to find answers and new policies in response to that election debacle. They have been winning many special elections in the past year and a half but poll numbers have been narrowing lately. It seems that their political fortunes have been rising or falling only in conjunction with President Trump's poll numbers and public antics.
Recent Democratic primaries have revealed a new trend though not yet a wave within the party. Some candidates have been running as Democratic Socialists and have been faring quite well. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's victory in New York over a House of Representatives establishment leader was the most notable development in this regard.
Will this nascent trend within the Democratic party continue and grow? If so, what will a new Democratic party look like? I will try to answer these questions and more within this Hub.
Finally I will also give you my take on how I feel this drama should unfold as well as what messages the Democratic party should be giving to the American people. It is high time that the Democrats begin acting and not just reacting on the political stage.
Let me begin by stating that this trend of far Left leaning candidates winning Democratic primaries has only barely begun. More often than not these candidates have lost their primaries. The second prominent victory for this group beyond Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was former NAACP president Ben Jealous winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Maryland.
It is also important to note that most political movements start small, suffer losses, persevere, and then break out into victories. The likelihood that this movement will grow and succeed is bolstered by the stark absence of any institutional Democratic message beyond opposing President Trump at every turn.
Another factor that could help to strengthen this Democratic socialist movement is its direct contrast to the Tea Party movement and its messaging. The primary Tea Party messages during the Obama administration were its anti-spending and anti-budget deficits platform.
Anti-immigration stances developed later on for the Tea Party. Evil enemies, perceived or real, became like catnip to this group. Donald Trump fueled this anger with his endorsement and magnification of the "birther" movement that questioned President Obama's citizenship.
Trump recognized that this Tea Party group had built President Obama into a huge enemy for them. He ran with this and became their hero and champion. They actually had no idea what his political views or policies were but that did not matter. The Tea Party now had a leader who was unabashedly loud and abrasive as well as willing to pander to their fears.
I have just written this brief history of the relationship between the Tea Party and Donald Trump to highlight both the positives and the negatives of these political movements and viewpoints. This is especially true of the more extreme movements or those based on personalities.
My belief is that this Democratic socialist movement will grow within the Democratic party. Its energy and efforts to include all groups while not demonizing others will attract a wide array of voters and this is a welcome message.
The historic amount of female candidates with the vast majority running as Democrats will help to fuel the Democratic socialist movement while also bolstering voter turnout. Minority groups have also greatly increased their ranks of candidates this election cycle. All of this is very encouraging for Democratic prospects. That is as long as their message remains a positive one.
It appears to me that this new wave of Democratic socialists primarily concentrate on tax and spending policies that will help to aid all economic groups but primarily the lower and middle classes. These policies include rescinding the latest tax cuts and even raising them on the wealthy and corporations.
Universal healthcare via medicare expansion for all and student debt relief are among their primary policy goals. These economic platforms mirror the Tea Party of 2010 though they move spending in exactly the opposite direction.
They also attempt to address many Trump administration policies that they consider to be especially disturbing. One area that they are most seriously focused on is the Trump administration policy of vigorously detaining and deporting immigrants who are seeking asylum from their despotic countries.
Many of these asylum seekers have had their families separated as well as their young children removed and isolated from them. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic socialists have been calling for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished because of these actions.
They are advocating this position because ICE has been the primary federal agency that has enforced this Trump administration immigration policy. I believe this stance is a symbol of their opposition to this Trump administration policy. I will deal with this subject later but I believe they are targeting the weapon not the perpetrators who are the President and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The main themes of these new Democratic socialists aim at spreading the wealth and benefits of American society while also protecting everyone from the excesses of capitalism. Many of these protections involve implementing stronger regulations on business to protect Americans from fraud as well as the harming of our environment.
Let me turn now to the critical question that Democrats face this year and beyond. Should the Democratic party as a whole turn their platforms much more liberal as the Democratic socialists want or should should they retain their current policy stances?
This is not an easy question to answer. As is often the case, my answer lies between these two paths. Upholding the positive goals of both groups while placing a much lower emphasis on negative ones is my guiding solution to this dilemma.
The Democratic party currently is having a difficult time projecting a clear and positive set of policy goals. They know that they vehemently oppose most of the Trump administration policies but they fail to voice positive messages in response to them.
A clear and potent opposition platform is needed to maximize Democratic electoral gains in the November mid-term elections. The Democratic socialists offer this type of positive message but some of their points of emphasis are problematic for many parts of the American electorate.
My take on how the Democrats can synthesize the two messages is to adopt most of the Democratic socialist goals and then advocating for sensible and less extreme steps to begin our way to those goals. This political path makes more sense in my view because many people in this country are still quite susceptible to the traditional Republican charges of socialism or even communism.
One clear illustration of this political path that I am advising for is to reduce the age for Medicare eligibility to 55 from 65. This was a serious proposal made during the Affordable Healthcare negotiations in 2009. It was dismissed at the time because it was deemed too extreme and expensive but its time may have finally arrived.
Medicare is a widely admired social program that successfully covers an ever increasing swath of our population due to the aging of the "baby boom" generation. Why not experiment by extending this program and see if it fares as successfully as it historically has succeeded? Most of America will not see this as socialism and will welcome this increased coverage for many of their aging family members.
This same incremental compromise of action could occur in regards to the immigration issue. The Democratic socialists have been urging for the disbanding of ICE because of the odious Trump administration policies implemented to arrest and deport those seeking asylum here.
It is true that this unit has has been enforcing these laws in draconian and heartless ways. Unfortunately they are only the weapon that Attorney General Sessions uses to carry out his heartless edicts. The Trump administration will most likely only create a new weapon or agency if ICE is abolished.
I believe a more effective and less polarizing policy would be to promise the creation of legislation to outlaw Trump administration policies that separate families and deport asylum seekers without due process.
One other extreme and premature goal is the impeachment of President Trump. No one has been more alarmed and disgusted by his policies than I. His hateful rhetoric has appalled me even more. Impeachment is usually a last resort political action. It cannot and should not be taken lightly.
The Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has been conducting a thorough and wide ranging investigation into Trump administration and campaign collusion with Russia over 2016 election interference. He is also investigating any illegal actions that may have been conducted ancillary to this incident.
Democrats would be well advised to hold up on any impeachment talks or actions until Mueller is finished with his investigation and submits a report and or files charges. They will then have all the pertinent evidence and a much more compelling case to show to the American people.
A premature impeachment would also hamstring the Mueller investigation. The political fallout from the President Bill Clinton impeachment should give the Democrats considerable "food for thought". The American people deemed this impeachment unwarranted by dealing the Republicans serious 1998 mid-term election losses. Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich paid for this political misstep by being forced out as Speaker.
President Donald Trump and his administration have dealt the Democrats a very strong hand heading into the November elections. This is true both on the national scene and in local elections. Mid-term elections are historically good ones for the party out of power and the President has accentuated this trend. His policies and especially his rhetoric have turned off much of the electorate including a large percentage of independents.
The Democrats should not get over confident and over play their electoral hand. The economy is strong which is a head wind that could and should buoy Republican election prospects.
The Democrats need to offer positive policies to the public that will uplift all classes of people. Not just for the wealthy and corporations. They also need to reply to the President's unhinged personal Twitter attacks with positive replies thus portraying themselves in a much brighter light in stark contrast to him.
I believe that Democrats should not advocate for extreme policies in this election cycle but rather for strong steps to much better conditions for all Americans. The president and other Republicans will portray them as dangerous liberals or socialists. This is a tried and true tactic used by Republicans effectively since the President Richard Nixon administration. President Trump will relish going into a frenzy attacking them for these positions.
The vast majority of Americans are getting tired of the petty antics and nasty rhetoric from the President and his spokespeople. They are looking for positive messages that they can clearly see benefiting them but not scaring them. Smaller concrete proposals at this time will show benefits that all can believe in. This will open up the path for wider and deeper proposals that Democratic socialists and even rank and file Democrats will believe in and champion.
Sensible campaigning and then governing will be a clear contrast to this dysfunctional administration. Republicans who bought in to these policies or simply ignored his antics will be shown in sharp contrast to this positive Democratic message. This is the Democratic party that I want to see this election cycle and beyond.