By Ed Heinzelman – Senior Editor at Blogging Blue
“…our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”
An inspiring message from an inspiring American woman, Michelle Obama. And we’ve seen it spread across the country in memes and social media posts and speeches and blogs like this one…quoted by the entire spectrum of politicians and activists from the left…progressives, liberals and Democrats alike. But are we truly living up to the goal that we’ve set?
Over the eight years of President Obama’s administration, the Republicans in the House and Senate honed their image as the Party of No. Immediately after the election of President Trump, the first response from the left was RESIST! By no means am I suggesting that we don’t ‘resist’ the Trump agenda. It is certainly going to harm Americans no matter what the president claims his goal is. But can’t we come up with a positive response? A positive alternative? A positive policy that shows Americans how their health, wellbeing, and safety can be improved instead of individually diminished?
Yes I know the Democrats announced a “Better Deal”. A policy agenda that even the New York Times labelled an ‘anemic restatement of common themes’. It’s apparently withered on the vine since.
The Republicans have tried three times to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act since January. Fortunately a few GOP Senators had the common sense to kill the bills. But it wasn’t until the third attempt that Senator Bernie Sanders proposed his Medicare for All bill. Something he should have had in his back pocket during the primaries since it was a focal point of his campaign. I would have hoped it would have appeared first time round in full detail. Yes I understand it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hades of passing, but we aren’t looking like an opposition party with ideas. I don’t want to be the Party of New version 2.0.
Where was our fix the Affordable Care Act Bill?
And the president has left the door open to participate even if the Republicans in the Congress haven’t. So when do we see the Democratic DACA bill (although while I am putting in the final edits the president has reneged on his original agreement)? Tax Reform is hot in play, you know the biggest tax cut in history bill? Where is the Democratic alternative that will actually provide tax relief to the middle class? You know that Speaker Paul Ryan won’t allow any amendments to his bill.
Not a single person in this country will deny that infrastructure shortcomings are a primary concern. The president ran on upgrades to the infrastructure and related jobs. Where is a Democratic infrastructure program? Come up with one that is growth and remind the nation that the president hasn’t followed through.
One of the places that you would expect us to be truly positive in presenting our agenda is when we are talking to the faithful and asking for contributions. Yet the titles of these solicitations and their general content are aimed at scaring me half to death!
Medicare GUTTED! We WILL Fail. Devastating Setback. Disgusted. They stole WI for Trump! CRUSHING news! SERIOUS damage will be done, Ed!
Hey team, I am on your side. I understand the issues at hand. I understand the need for campaign contributions. I will respond but give me some hope. Give me something positive. Give me something to talk about. No more fear mongering…please.
I have talked to a number of campaign managers and they say these negative asks and scary messages are very effective. I find that rather sad. And I don’t understand why we don’t demand better from our electeds, our candidates, and the organizations that support them.
But it should be easy to provide positive substance in the age of President Trump. His agenda is constantly without specifics, without detail…a novel with chapter titles but no characters and no plot line and no story.
So here we are, the minority in Washington and Madison, out of the White House and the Governor’s Mansion. Where do we go next? The 2016 elections proved that there is a new generation of activists out there…with new ideas…with new energy. Being at the bottom of the well it certainly feels like the right time to change directions…a generational shift.
Where do we go next?
End the internecine spats between the Sanders supporters and the Clinton supporters. Find a common ground and present a unified front. That doesn’t mean giving up your ideals…it really doesn’t. There are plenty of goals that we share that make sense to work together on. Bring the others along as the party grows. The lack of GOP policy wins hasn’t been because of effective Democratic leadership. It’s because of the dysfunction in the Republican ranks. Let’s not be that either.
You can’t make change from the outside. Get involved with the local party and your local candidates. It will take a little effort (surprisingly little) to get into local parties and campaigns and have an effect. It does require some patience and hard work. But get on those committees, attend the meetings, attend the conventions, run for officer positions. If you can’t find a candidate you like, run for office. If you don’t know where to start, ask for some help.
Remember all of those people who we are told felt disenfranchised in the 2016 election cycle? We need to listen to them. What are their real concerns? Jobs? Healthcare? Family sustaining jobs? Decent wages? Clean air and clean water? Affordable education? Lower property taxes? Healthy food choices? Make these our agenda, our policy planks, our goals. Don’t let the policy wonks inside the party distract us with minutiae. And don’t assume we know the answers until we’ve actually listened to the people. We all know that grass roots works so why would we do anything else?
And let’s do what we can to get new faces in public office. What we’ve been doing the past 20 years is becoming less and less effective. It’s time to do something new and do it with new elected officials at all levels of government. The entrenched incumbents don’t know how to do things differently. Push the dinosaurs like myself out of the way (LOL)!
Look to 2020 but don’t overlook 2018 and please please don’t overlook the local odd year elections in between. They are fertile ground to develop candidates, grow experience, and build a ground game that can be scaled up.