Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 Midterm Elections - What To Do?

All elections are important because, as they say, “elections have consequences.” They all do, but it's hard to overstate the importance of the 2018 and 2020. As my brother Bob said yesterday, if the Dems win in 2018 and 2020, we can dismiss Trumpism as an aberration – an important and scary aberration, but an aberration, although with lasting consequences that might take a very long time to fix. If the Dems don't win, however, it's time to think about emigration. He exaggerates, but the sense is right. The ascent of Trump and Trumpian barbarism around the country is the most serious challenge to our way of life in our lifetime. As Bob said, I knew these people were around, but I didn't know there were so many of them. And I would add, and that so many of them are so vile.

In the last instance all politics might be local, but sometimes the national issues and national mood are such that the local elections are run in a national force field. This is clearly such a year.

What is to be done? If the national Democratic Party is to have relevance – if it is to be a continuing viable force – it had better work to make that national force field favorable for Democratic candidates. How can they do that? How about making some good ads? Some direct, unhedged, sincere ads that tell it like it is, that are not so studied to catch this group and that group that they drift into the forgettable mist of identity politics. Some good candidates are already doing that on their own, as with last night's victor in Queens-Bronx, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Time for the national Dems to see if they can emulate their juniors.

So, here's what I'd do. Starting, say, next week, I would have a series of subjects with two or three minute ads for each subject. I would take them on week by week, cumulative, building the case, objective in presentation but pressing and even outraged in tone, and perhaps growing more outraged as each week passes. Forget this group and that – just make the case.

Ad campaign #1 – Taxes. It is a hallmark of us as a nation that we should look out for one another, and be both compassionate and fair. We want to reward those who are successful and not be jealous of their success, but also to provide a strong safety net for the less favored in society, and to provide a chance for every single person who is willing to work hard, to rise. The Republicans don't agree. Don't look at what they say, look at what they've done. Their favor-the-wealthy Tax Deal of 2017 gives $1.5 Trillion in benefits to big businesses and the wealthy. They say it helps everyone. It doesn't. Donald Trump's kids get $100 million extra from this deal. (add a couple of other wealthy recipients here). And you in the 90% of our population? You didn't get much, if anything.

This Tax Atrocity blew up the budget. The Republicans now want to get that money back from the middle class by lowering Social Security payments, making Medicare more expensive, and eliminating health insurance for 20 million people.

If you vote for a Republican, this is what you are voting for. Don't let them sweet talk you to think anything different. Republicans are for the superrich, first, last, and always. They'll tell you otherwise, but they say a lot of things.

Democrats will end this stupid unfairness. Make America Fair Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic.

Ad campaign #2 – Health care. Before the Democrats passed what's known as Obamacare, millions of people went uncovered. If you had a preexisting condition, you often couldn't get health insurance. An illness often led to bankruptcy. Obamacare wasn't perfect, but it enabled 40 million Americans to obtain insurance coverage even if they had a medical condition. The coverage was sometimes too expensive and had terrible deductibles, but the cost was just coming under control and it was improving, when the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress decided to kill it. They couldn't get all of the votes they needed in Congress, so they have done it on the sly, cutting here and cutting there, when you weren't looking, and now 20 million people who had coverage have lost it, and millions more won't have it in the future because the Republicans are against covering people who have something or other, even if it's unlikely to cause trouble. This is scandalous. If you can't afford to pay for health care yourselves, the Republicans figure you should go without it. Thanks, Republicans.

Make America Healthy Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic.

Ad campaign #3 – Foreign affairs and trade. The Greatest Generation who won World War II bequeathed us a rule-based world, led by the West and by America. We have been united in fighting for a strong world of democratic governments who respect human rights and try to get along among ourselves, and to provide a beacon of good life and good government to the world.

Trump has upended that world. He has offended all our friends, and likes best to hang out with dictators. He loves Putin, he loves the Duterte, he loves Erdogan – find an autocrat and chances are he'll be a good friend of Trump. He even tried to deal with North Korea, where the great dealmaker got bamboozled by a 30 year old dictator who uses assassination as a primary tool. Trump boasts that they get along very well. But our friends in Europe and Canada, who have our traditional Western values of fairness and freedom? Trump insults them.

Trump also lays stupid import taxes on the goods of our friends. The result? We pay higher prices for those goods and other countries retaliate so our businesses and our jobs suffer. Trump is pretty stupid when it comes to trade, and we are the ones who suffer as a result.

Make America Friends With Our Friends Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic

Ad campaign #4 – Environment. In the bad old days, smog polluted our cities, our waterways were polluted and unhealthy, one river even caught fire. Since the creation of the EPA, we have gained cleaner water and air for everyone. Trump and the Republicans think our water is too clean and our air too unpolluted. We need more fossil fuels spewing smoke, they say. They say, Let's Make America Dirty Again.

Make America Clean Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic.

OK – you get the drift. Start calling a spade a spade. Make the charges stick. Own the agenda. Other subjects? Human rights and immigration. Women's control of their own bodies. State sponsored child abuse at the border.

And then, in the last few weeks before the election, hit his lying.

Make America Honest Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic.

Then self enrichment and corruption, Zinke and Pruitt and Ivanka's trademarks in China.

Make America Honest Again. Make us proud to be Americans again. Vote Democratic.

And finally, the practice of Democracy. Who's country is it?

The Democratic Party gerontocracy needs to learn from the younger generation to be aggressive in making its points. Let the Right react; so be it. If the Dems don't state the case specifically and forcefully, who will? And without a direct statement of what's wrong and what would be better, of whose country is this anyway, how can you get a mandate?

Budd Shenkin

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