Tough times demand bold Democratic action
Times are tough, so Democrats should resist the temptation to tell voters that things are fine. Democrats need to think big and act boldly, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) suggested in a recent New York Times opinion piece.
Democrats have accomplished much, but voters expect and deserve more. The Biden administration has created millions of jobs and reduced the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. But most Americans still believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction and the president’s job approval rating reflects this harsh reality.
Democrats should tell Americans that the party is tough enough to surmount obstacles, with the help of voters in 2022, to fight for better paying jobs, defend democracy against tyranny at home and abroad and overcome Republican obstruction. That means taking strong stands that will highlight the roadblocks that Republicans throw up to obstruct economic relief, the right to vote and right to abortion access.
The midterm elections are seven months away. That’s lots of time for many twists and turns. Democrats still have an opportunity to get their act together. Here are my suggestions for policy planks in the party platform for the 2022 campaign that would dramatize how tough the party can be.
Fight for better paying jobs
President Biden has done a remarkable job restoring the economy that tanked during former President Trump’s presidency. Since he took office, almost 8 million jobs have returned, and the unemployment rate has dropped from 6.3 percent to 3.6 percent.
But voters want even more. They want their paychecks to catch up with inflation. The math is a lot less complicated than algebra. Through March of this year wages increased by 5.6 percent which is wonderful, but inflation surged by 7.9 percent.
The millions of new jobs are nice but not good enough to support families while gas and grocery prices rise through the roof. Democrats need to keep pushing hard and do everything possible to create good jobs with higher salaries and to push back on corporate greed. Biden’s big and bold Build Back Better bill would have done exactly that. But not a single Republican member of Congress rose to the challenge to support assistance to hard working American families.
The president and congressional Democrats should push an anti-inflation package that provides tax breaks for hard pressed working families, childcare financial assistance for parents and well-paying clean energy jobs.
Reversal of the 2017 Trump tax law, which gave big tax breaks to wealthy Americans and big businesses, would go a long way to paying for the inflation relief package. The administration should also call for the reduction of subsides to the oil industry, which is reaping record profits at the expense of cash-strapped consumers.
Defend democracy here and abroad
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed the ugly rift that is growing between freedom and tyranny at home and abroad. While Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to snuff out democracy in Ukraine, his Republican apologists want to limit freedom of choice and voting rights in the United States.
With the help of the Biden administration and our NATO allies, we are helping the people of a fledgling democracy resist the invasion of their capital Kyiv. Here in the U.S., we successfully resisted an armed invasion of our capitol by a violent right-wing terrorists encouraged and defended by Putin’s puppet, Trump.
The Russian threat to Ukraine persists as does the fight for freedom and democracy here in the United States. Republicans threaten democracy here with restrictions to the right to vote and the limitations on the freedom of women to make choices about their own bodies by aiming to ban abortion access.
Several red states have acted to make it harder for people to vote, meanwhile Trump still hasn’t accepted defeat in a fair and democratic election. Republican governors and legislatures have restricted access to health for women and the Supreme Court may overturn Roe Vs. Wade, which would impose an undue burden and the health and welfare of women everywhere.
The U.S. Department of Justice under Attorney General Merrick Garland must mount aggressive legal challenges to protect freedom, abortion access and democracy in the states.
Call out GOP obstruction
There has been too much attention on Democratic dysfunction and not enough focus on GOP obstruction. Democrats need to change the narrative. Our message should be about the 50 GOP Senate obstructionists and not the two Democratic centrists. Instead of eating our own, we should go after the Republicans in Congress who have blocked Biden’s efforts to rescue the nation from the disastrous polices of Trump.
Biden and congressional Democrats overcame GOP obstruction to improve the health, wealth and wellbeing of Americans soon after Trump left the scene. Every Democratic member of the House and the Senate voted in favor of the COVID-19 relief law, the American Rescue Act. The law provided much needed financial assistance to parents for childcare, police departments to fight crime and for state and local governments to fight COVID-19 and save jobs. Every single Republican member of Congress voted against the lifesaving legislation.
Biden’s big agenda is a tall order. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Democrats must prove to voters that they are brave enough to fight for what is right. The party would win the hearts and minds of voters even if it means losing a battle in Congress.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter: @BradBannon
This piece has been updated.