Dear Editor, so the party-out-of-power in Congress, and just about everywhere else, has decided to re-brand itself. Again. The emphasis is on economics. This is a mistake. Those who voted red in the last national election are not going to vote blue in the next. The so-called “center” does not exist. If there remain any moderates in America, there are not enough to sway an election. The Democrats’ message to our country needs to focus on civil rights, including gender rights, social and environmental justice, and protecting our natural resources. These are things that might resonate with those who did not vote in the last election, or who voted for neither major party candidate in the general. There will be plenty of opportunity to weave in economic components, but if the progressive agenda gets bogged down in non-starters like a $15 minimum wage, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Again. Might as well take on the gun lobby.
The 2016 election did not go the way it went because of economic issues. We want to think it did because it is sickening to imagine our fellow Americans as being vulnerable to a message of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance. Well, some of them are. We who hope for better need to come up with an opposing narrative that is affirming, positive, and inclusive. Fast.
Since 1980, economically disenfranchised Americans have voted for an agenda of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. Why would that change now? Since 1980, the mantra of conservative politicians has been one of making government smaller and less expensive. It never happens when they are in power, but it’s a message that keeps working. A segment of voters continues to swallow this lie because they like the unstated part of the agenda: appealing to some by not speaking out against racism, sexism, and religious intolerance. These ugly characteristics do not personally apply to most political conservatives, but tolerating them as necessary social collateral damage does. No reason to expect this to change, either. It has worked too well for too long. Yes, it’s painful to look at this side of political success, but we must; it has grown legs like it’s not had in recent times.
Another bad idea surfacing on the left is the that of impeaching the president. The U.S. House of Representatives would have to initiate that. Hah. More important, progressives do not want a President Pence pushing the same radical-right agenda, while giving it an air of legitimacy. Yes, we must hold everyone in the administration accountable for their actions, but let’s not give the illusion of functional governance by removing the Tweeter-in-Chief. Not until there’s more to find him guilty of than being a bad president. I do not wish to add to the voices of the fevered minds who fan the flames of polarization and division in our country. But some of us on the left need to act as though we care about winning some elections.