How the Democrats Can Win Back the White House in 2020.
Democrats Fail in 2016
The shocking election of President Donald Trump represents one of the Democratic Party's greatest political and communication failures in modern history. In addition to fielding a flawed candidate in Hillary Clinton, Democrats failed to connect with American voters. They failed to articulate a positive vision for America's future and failed to offer solutions for America's working class. Instead of providing a party platform that appealed to regular Americans, the Democrats decided to let wave after wave of negative Donald Trump publicity sweep over them. Democrats decided they didn't need a message and that Trump's own words would doom him.
Struggling Americans connected more with Trump's message of making America great again and "draining the swamp". Americans got tired of elites in the media and elsewhere continuously telling they were stupid for not recognizing lies and not understanding larger truths. Turns out, Americans mostly want to have positive economic conditions in their lives and to be left alone.
Democrats need a platform that conveys a positive message and communicates with regular Americans in a way that connects with them and appeals to their core values. If they do that, they can dominate the American political landscape for years to come.
Here is that platform.
Does anyone recall Hillary Clinton mentioning the importance of faith once during her entire campaign?
Faith matters to a lot of people in this country. For the most part, conservatives believe that liberals are immoral and support immorality. In many cases, conservatives believe that liberals are anti-Christian.
It is vital for Democrats to explain how their faith drives their decisions. Personally, I'm not religious. I also believe that religion drives a lot of bad decision-making. However, Democrats alienate a huge segment of the population by pitting religion against logic, religion against science. Democrats need to show that religion does not need to be incompatible with either and that liberalism is most closely associated with the morals upon which Christianity (and other religions) is based.
The ideal Democratic candidate for President in 2020 will talk consistently about how his or her faith shapes decision-making. The candidate should make a habit of giving short speeches after attending church.
Just take a brief look at an electoral map and tell me what most of the red states have in common? That's right: a large number of people who live in rural areas for whom agriculture and agricultural policy is an important issue.
There is lots to be learned from these areas.
These are working class people. These are people who subsist every day by things produced by their own, hard work. They grow their own food. They have lots of tools. They make and build a lot of stuff around their house. They know how to do things. These people are survivors and proud of what they've accomplished.
The concerns of rural America have largely been ignored for the last decade. it's not that hard to show appreciation for hard work, especially when a lot of it feeds this country. Having a coherent agricultural policy coupled with a commitment to moral leadership based on shared religious values, will go a long way toward creating Democratic voters in these rural states.
Support for the 2nd Amendment
Remember that agricultural policy? Know what a lot of those people own? That's right, guns. And mostly they don't own them for protection, though that's part of it. They own them for hunting. When you talk about taking away their guns, you're talking about taking away a way of life.
Gun control is a losing issue for Democrats if it's couched in a way that can be portrayed as limiting gun ownership and gun rights.
If you're the candidate who's going to "take our guns away", you're going to lose. The United States will never approve of stringent gun control laws. There's too much history with guns to make it happen.
In fact, what Democrats needs is a pro-gun candidate. Encouraging everyone to purchase a gun for personal protection may be the only thing that can produce meaningful advancement on reasonable gun control. The Democratic base needs to be strongly encouraged to purchase guns. African-Americans, women, latinos, muslims.
Many pro-gun groups tout the importance of personal protection. They also tend to be afraid of minority groups. If they see that these minority groups are starting to purchase guns to protect themselves, they'll start to realize the insanity of a wild wild west world where all conflicts are decided by gun shots.
It's all good if white people have the guns. When others have all the guns, the GOP will start to call for gun control. But Democrats will never get anywhere calling for gun control in this country.
Conventional political wisdom is that Democrats raise taxes and Republicans lower taxes since Democrats increase government spending and Republicans decrease government spending. This narrative needs to be changed since it's largely untrue. At least since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have dramatically increased government spending and grown the national debt. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor in America has widened. Both political parties, Democrats and Republicans, are in the back pockets of corporations and the very wealthy.
Without alienating business, Democrats need to adopt a narrative and policies that make them the champions of the middle class and the working class. Their tax policies need to benefit those two groups. The amazing thing about such policies, economically, is that when the working class and the middle class have more money, they spend it, and business thrives.
One way to appeal to a broad spectrum of political interests is to create a national sales tax and reduce federal income taxes, particularly on the middle class and working class. A national sales tax where staple items were taxed much less and luxury items much more would benefit working class people while people with more money, who also consume more, would pay more tax based mostly on their purchasing behaviors.
Democrats need to be the party to make government smaller and more efficient. Since it is true that red states tend to be the ones to take more funding from the federal government, that's ideally the place to start making cuts.
It might surprise Republicans to know that most Democrats don't like big government either. What we tend to disagree on is how the government works and who it works for. Republicans tend to favor a government that benefits the wealthy and big business while Democrats want a government that works for the poor.
What we can all agree on is that the federal government needs to stop being so dominated by special interests. Government needs to stop being a free-for-all where our tax dollars are overspent on every politician's pet project. It would be much more beneficial for money to be dispersed by the federal government to the states and let people figure out how to spend on a more local level.
Class, Race, and Discrimination
Traditionally, Democrats have had tunnel vision when it comes to race. If they want to succeed as a party, they will need to change that because they need to appeal to minority groups and working class white people at the same time.
Many white, working class people do feel legitimately left out of most discussions regarding socioeconomic issues and that doesn't make them racists. However, if you're part of a struggling social class and all the news about struggling social classes consists of news about non-white groups, it's hard not to feel bitter.
It's also true that the government has a very difficult time applying fixes to problems of racial discrimination without doing a poor job and making people mad. Yet, while it's legitimate to think that hiring the best person for any job is the obvious right thing to do, it's also true that social science tells us that, for lack of a better description, white men generally hire other white men, women are hired at lower pay than men, and that white people hire other white people before they hire black people and that discrimination is rampant in our society. The government has chosen reverse discrimination and quotas as the fix and applied them in a general way that doesn't seem well done.
How do we deal with all these difficult issues? We have to engage people honestly and discuss our successes as well as our failures. It's a complex issue with complex answers and trying to find a one size fits all solution probably isn't the answer.
My mother raised me to understand a woman's choice to have an abortion by explaining that the only people who will suffer if abortion is illegal are poor people. You see, contrary to what many argue, abortion is not about the moral issue of killing something that would otherwise eventually be alive, it's about making sure that poor women have the same access to safe medical procedures as everyone else. If abortion is rendered illegal, then poor women will go to the back alleys and die. All other women will be on flights to Mexico and Canada to get their safe abortions. That's the issue.
That said, somehow Democrats have to engage this issue differently because third-trimester abortions, though exceedingly rare, make most Americans sick. It's basically the idea that a woman would abort a viable fetus. While third trimester abortions that are required due to medical issues should remain legal, Democrats do have to engage the moral quandry of the possibility that a woman would have an abortion the day before her due date out of convenience or because she simply didn't want the baby anymore. There is a legitimate moral and ethical argument to be made against allowing that. Democrats need to assure America that they are against that type of abortion and prove it.
Of course, debating abortion, like debating gun control, is a slippery slope to those who support abortion and support the right to own guns. It's an ironic comparison, but true.