I hear people complaining about the Democratic Party, about how its message has been lost in the “resist Trump” furor. Americans in the middle - who, as always, are numerous - hear the loud “No’s”, but don’t know, as was the case with the Republicans' endless "No's" during the Obama administration, what alternative the Democrats stand for.
The Democrats have made some mistakes. They’ve played political games and manipulated elections. In the 2016 primary race, they got caught doing it to Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton. When Wikileaks made that public, the Dems lost a whole lot of credibility with those folks in the middle. I admit, I was shaken by it myself, and I’ve been a registered Democrat since I turned 18, a fairly long time ago.
Some in the party point their fingers at the Republicans and the alleged collusion with Russia to get Trump elected. They have every right to do so; from what we’ve learned, it looks like the Wikileaks bombshell may well have been a part of that Russian interference. Still, that doesn’t excuse the Dems from their own machinations to make the choice for the people. In an election so focused on “insiders vs. outsiders”, Bernie just might have had a better chance to win than Hillary did.
So, okay. Political games are played on both sides. At least the Dems’ games - those that have come to light, anyway - have had only American players.
That said, there’s still the question of “What do the Democrats stand for?”
Over our country’s history, the political message of both parties has changed. After all, as the Republicans are so quick to point out (almost as quickly as they invoke the name “Reagan”), theirs is the party Abraham Lincoln called his own. That seems ironic in light of current Republican policies.
Since the Great Depression, however, the Democrats have been the champions of the working people of America. Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” policies brought our economy out of the worst financial crisis in our history. So far.
Workers unions forced corporate entities to share some of their wealth with the people who created that wealth, and in the process, created the Middle Class. The Democratic party was there with them, supporting the right of every American to a living wage and safe working conditions. The laws creating the 40-hour work week and time-and-a-half for overtime (not to mention countless other advances) came directly from this relationship of government and workers.
The Republican Party uses its powers of persuasion to vilify those unions - using non-union workers’ jealousy to drive a wedge into the Middle Class and convince people that the unions are the problem, rather than the solution - in order to take away the workers’ power to bargain with their bosses.
Programs that help to care for workers who’ve reached the end of their careers, like Social Security - which Republicans insist on calling “entitlements” even though every worker pays into the system his or her entire working life - came from the Democratic Party. The program is in trouble only because of decisions made by politicians to use our money elsewhere.
Health care in America is so costly that many Americans die for want of insurance. The Obama administration went further toward helping to fix that problem than any other - passing the Affordable Care Act, which allowed millions of people to acquire the means to care for their families’ illness and injuries. The Republicans, rather than find ways to fix its problems so that even more Americans have insurance, have relentlessly worked to repeal it, or failing that to neglect its support so severely that it dies.
The Republican Party may have been the Party of Lincoln, but the Democrats have been, and continue to be, the party of civil rights. What good is Emancipation without equality? Look around, and show me even one Republican-backed program to assure that all American minorities share in the American Dream. If you find one that isn’t a sham, you have better eyesight than mine.
Education is a necessity in a democracy. People need to understand the challenges we face in order to be responsible citizens who have some chance of voting in their own best interest, rather than those of the best liar. Public education is under siege, higher education is becoming so expensive that the burden of debt is crushing those who aspire to become the assets America needs in the fast-changing world in which we must live and compete with other nations.
The air we breathe and the water we drink are getting dirtier at a faster pace than in decades, thanks to the Republicans’ repeal of the many protections Democrats fought to make law. Environmental protection has been crippled so that corporations can increase their profits, profits that don’t “trickle down” to the average American. Trickle-down economics depends on the benevolence of those at the top. Look at the wealth-share charts from economists if you need more proof of the lack of benevolence at the top.
Democrats need to remember those things today. To speak out about taxing people according to what they take from the system. About the power of collective bargaining for all American workers, about Medicaid for all, about protecting the rights of the working-people, the people of color, the people of whatever gender or sexual orientation, about helping every American to get a good education so that everyone can participate in the greatest form of government ever to arise on this planet.
That’s a short summary of what the Democrats stand for. It’s a message we've been "gently urging" lately, trying to maintain a polite environment that, unfortunately, doesn't exist in today's polarized politics. Our reluctance to fight for our morals makes us weak in the face of the onslaught from the Right.
Our message is the American people's message. It needs us to shout it at every newscast microphone, on every street corner, in every discussion in every home, club, and gathering. With the repeal of Net Neutrality, I predict that grassroots efforts like the one that got Obama elected will be more difficult to pull off. That's another reason we need to take off the kid gloves.
It’s the only way to counter the opposition’s misinformation campaign. That, and pointing out and debunking the lies they tell. So many of us see that sort of thing as taking the “low road”; but what’s so low about fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way?