It is tempting for Democrats to do what the Republicans did to them, just say no to everything. I think the Democrats love their country too much. Instead of opposing everything, Democrats should provide alternatives to Republican policies and demonstrate that it is the Democrats who have the best interests of the public in mind.
The Democrats should first accentuate the basic philosophical differences between the parties. Republicans are the party of the corporations, and they believe that the only function of government should be to help business. That means a strong military and police force to protect corporate assets, and corporate welfare through tax breaks, but little or no regulations. Therefore Republicans believe that government and taxes are bad.
Democrats on the other hand, think that government should be a power to help the people, and to protect the people from the excesses and abuses of the corporations. The corporations without regulation will pollute, create hazardous products, exploit workers, and cheat consumers whenever they can get away with it, because when profits are primary, they can make more by doing harm and cutting corners. While Republicans are the party of management, Democrats are the party of the workers. There are many times more workers than there are managers, so Democrats should win all elections, but the Republicans are masters at manipulating people through emotions which overrule rational self interest.
Donald Trump was able to manipulate people through appealing to their negative stereotypes. He used racial scapegoating to blame loss of jobs on illegal immigration, but he was able to tap into the populist support by promising people normally liberal policies, like jobs from infrastructure investment, and better cheaper universal health care. Republicans in the past were perceived as the party of “Family Values”. With Trump they will now become the party of corruption, racism, bigotry and misogynism.
Democrats should take this opportunity to reclaim the religious vote because they advocate what Jesus preached, charity compassion, tolerance and helping the poor. In the past the religious vote was based on a single issue, abortion. Democrats should show that abortions always decrease under Democratic administrations because they provide education and access to contraceptives. That is much more effective than criminalizing women and their doctors. Thanks to the ACA long acting reversible contraceptives like IUD’s can reduce unplanned pregnancies by 80% and abortions by 75%.
The Republicans have failed on their major effort of destroying the Affordable Care Act. Some of that is because the radical “Freedom Caucus” was not willing to allow any health care at all, but more was due to the outpouring of people in thousands of protests and town hall meetings. The vast majority of people didn’t want their health care, or Planned Parenthood, to go away.
The Republicans are correct that the ACA has a few problems, but it is certainly not in a death spiral. But the Republicans will find ways to make that happen by eliminating subsidies and revenue sources. The Democrats should propose amendments that will make the ACA healthier and more stable. One thing would help would be to propose a non profit public option to provide competition to the one third of the counties that only have one provider, and they should demand the expansion of Medicaid to all fifty states. We could also negotiate better drug prices.
What individual states like Oregon should do, is to utilize section 1332 of the ACA (Waivers for State Innovation). This allows states to craft their own health care plan as long as it meets the minimal standards of the ACA. We should create a Single payer, Medicare for All plan that would be cheaper and more effective than ACA.
The next thing Republicans will work on is “Tax Reform”. For Republicans that means tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Republicans always want more regressive, flat taxes like sales taxes which shift the tax burden from the rich onto the middle class.
Democrats should be ready to counter with more progressive plans of their own and then allow the public to compare the two plans and see which one benefits them the most. Republican plans generally benefit the rich and Democratic plans benefit the poor and middle class more. While Republicans are the party that puts profits over principles, Democrats should be seen as the party of compassion and social justice.
Democrats should educate the public about the damage that income and wealth inequality causes. All of our social problems are made worse. Democrats should work towards reducing inequality by proposing a guaranteed minimum income in exchange for reduction or elimination of welfare programs. We need more progressive policies not less, and the rich need to pay their fair share to decrease inequality. We should propose a Carbon Tax to fight Climate Change and to pay for health care, and we should propose a financial transaction tax of 0.05% to pay for rebuilding our infrastructure and inner cities.
But we should also propose other revenue sources like an Automated Payment Transaction Tax (APTtax). This tax would charge a very small fee every time any money moves from one place to another. An APTtax of just 0.6% could replace all other taxes put together because the amount of trading and speculation is enormous.
Republicans have been pushing a trickle down supply side economics for the last thirty years but it has not worked. Democrats should develop and propose a demand side economic system that gets money to the poor who can then buy things they need and then businesses will expand and hire more people to meet that demand.
The Republicans seem to be obsessed with removing all rules and regulations, regardless of their intent or effectiveness. They seem to concentrate on eliminating any regulations that help the public or protect the environment. Trump has made an executive order requiring that two laws be eliminated for each law enacted. Democrats should use the law to protect vital rules and regulations that protect people. Those rules are there for a reason and should not be arbitrarily eliminated. Every environmental or safety rule will result in the loss of human life. What is the value of those lives? Are cost savings worth killing people? When the Clean Power Act is eliminated it will cost 13,000 innocent lives. Climate change kills thousands each year. Accelerating climate change by pushing the dirtiest fossil fuels will kill millions in the future. How can anyone justify that?
Climate Change is probably the most important issue in the world. Republicans deny that it even exists. Democrats should provide jobs for the unemployed paying for replanting of millions of trees to absorb CO2. Destroying the environment damages everyone. Democrats should advocate the human right to clean air, water and poison free food, and should also point out that animals and trees have a right to exist and have value that is not defined by commercial profits. We should ban clear cutting but allow smaller starburst cuts that leave a decent habitat.
Democrats need to be the defenders of expertise and the best available science. We need more research not less. Democrats need to be seen as moving to the future while Republicans are holding us back so we cannot compete with other nations. Democrats should be seen as the purveyor of the truth and remind the public that Trump and the Republicans can not be trusted. Democrats should continue to demand an independent investigation of any ties to Russia and should demand 20 years of Trump’s tax returns.
Republicans appeal to the uneducated so education is not a priority, but the future of America and it’s democratic institutions depend on an educated public. Our education system is near the bottom of the developed nations. Part of that is that we do not value education. In other nations teachers are paid much more and are respected much more, and as a result are taken from the top of graduating classes. All other nations are also more egalitarian in their educational funding. In this country the poor are condemned to inadequate facilities and inferior teachers because they are dependant on local property taxes for funding. We need to invest more in the poor areas, and give bonuses to attract the best teachers where they are needed the most. When corrected for poverty American schools can compete with Europe. Education, like health care, should be a right and should not be restricted to the rich that can afford high tuition. American students coming out of college are saddled with massive debt, which makes it difficult to settle down, buy a house, start a business and boost the economy. Democrats should propose free college.
Finally on Immigration, Republicans accuse immigrants of being lawless job stealers, but Democrats should point out that immigrants are more law abiding, they work harder, they do better in school and they create more new businesses. They revitalize the country. All of the developed nations have fertility rates that are falling below replacement levels. Only immigration will provide the young working classes that will support the pensions of the retiring baby boomers. Democrats should insist on a comprehensive immigration plan that attracts the best and brightest immigrants and allows the hard working families that have been here for years to stay.