Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why I Don't Talk Much About the Democratic Candidates

Bernie, Hillary, and Martin, all with decent policies and executive experience.

I find I spend more time tearing down the GOP clown-car occupants than building up my side, the Democratic candidates. That tendency has its pitfalls, mainly that I sound negative and hostile, when I could sound more upbeat touting my side's positive policies.

It's true and I wish it weren't so. Still, I know I'll spend more time tearing down the opposition because, one, they offer so much negative policy space that demands standing up to, and, two, they seemed to be playing out the movie Network in front of our eyes. In other words, their nearly unbridled, demagogic anger feels more dangerous than helpful.

It's difficult to dissect or consider rage, racism, nativism, misogyny, and xenophobia as a policy position. Hating and fearing Muslims is a reaction, not a policy. Wanting to send 12 million Mexicans and Central Americans home is a reaction, not a policy. These reactions are based on rage and resentment, on "Those bastards have stolen our jobs and our peace of mind! Screw 'em!"

As a person of Irish heritage who feels completely home here in America -- as if I belong here as a native right -- it's easy to forget the history of hate and disgust with which the original Irish were greeted in the long migration that began with the Potato famine and extended well into the 20th century. Irish were despised and demeaned for generations. Now we're respected and paak the caar in the Haavaad yaad, like it was our birthright. A lot of us Italians, Germans, Scandinavians, Poles, Asians, and Slavs feel the same way. It's our country, for chrissakes.

Now the Republicans have ended the open embrace with a "this time it's different, this time it's the damned Muslims and Mexicans and Central Americans, and they're not like us! One will kill you at your Christmas party, and the other will steal your job when your back is turned. Send them home and lock the door behind them!"

I could go through issue after issue, and, see, I'm back to haranguing about the GOP again. It's a slippery slope. Talking nice about policy in civil tones as if we remembered the best of what America has to offer gets blurred and run over by the out-of-control freight train that is the Trump/Cruz-dominated campaign, leaving only the hyper-animated, angry, resentful, wildly unbecoming circus that is "policy positioning" on the GOP side.

So enough. All three Democratic candidates, to some degree or another will:
  • maintain a safety net for the least of us that will reduce misery and offer a chance to thrive, with job training, education, and an essential hand up. Even the middle class need such help from time to time, not just the structural poor.
  • improve healthcare systems to a greater or lesser degree.
  • make a go at reducing income and wealth inequality through a mix of educational improvements leading to new employment opportunities, and general support for the working classes (in spite of the Supreme Court destroying unionism, as they're poised to do), along with, yes, the dirty words of income redistribution and more sharply progressive tax rates.
  • attempt to keep our armed services out of overseas conflicts as much as possible. We don't need forever wars, and if we have them, there is something wrong with the policies. More diplomacy, more coalitions, more international agreements, and, frankly, less defense spending and fewer arms sold abroad. Stop arming the Middle East and Africa!
  • commit to spending on infrastructure and alternative energy systems. Obama made a great start with a true commitment to clean, sustainable energy production. Don't shut it down like the GOP would. Build it up. We may yet save the world (it needs saving). And our crumbling infrastructure is bad for business, and rebuilding it is good for jobs, and a boost for our consumer society. Pay them to build and they will come to work, and spend their earnings at the mall and the supermarket.
  • strengthen Medicare and Social Security, and expand them both. They are systems that work and that don't need a redesign! Don't like Obamacare's labyrinthian, confusing, inefficient, intertwined programs that do get all of us more affordable healthcare but could do it so much better? Fine. Kill it and replace it with Medicare for all. Bonus: We'd get to join the community of nations that figured out healthcare for all decades ago.
  • deal with the expense of college. Bernie's the best here with free public university education. Germany does it, and its workforce doesn't suck. Want the best workers in the world? Educate them well to encourage opportunity and innovation. Don't make our children, due to crushing college debt, forego the new house or car that our generation could afford. After all, give them an education, a good job, home ownership and a decent car, and our children will race to Home Depot, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond to furnish those homes. That leads to a burgeoning consumer class, not to mention what sounds like that American Dream we've been talking about (until this generation).
  • end or dampen the exclusionary anti-this, anti-that, anti-them rhetoric and actions against minorities, gays, women, immigrants, and black and brown people in general. The Constitution was designed to give us a safe, vibrant, inclusive, tolerant, open society where we work for the common good, not driven by the need for individual greed and success. At one time or another, we've all been the "other," though whites should know by now that we've defaulted to the catbird seat for too long. Open up to the "other," and soon you'll see that they are just as American as you.
  • work to strengthen, not weaken, existing gun laws and open up research into limiting gun violence, as well as encourage the deployment of gun safety technology, such as smart guns that only registered owners can fire.
  • choose liberal or at least mainstream judges and Supreme Court justices that won't game the system for our wealthy overlords. Only wealthy business owners and low-information, working-class voters think busting labor unions will help America be great again. It was the labor movement that helped America thrive in the 20th century. The working-class and middle-class decline tracks the decline of the labor union movement. If you can't see that, you're condemned to take the scraps the "job-creators" toss you.
There. That's a mouthful of what a center-left, Democratic president would at least aspire to do. I don't think I'm crazy when I say that none of the GOP candidates have anything resembling an upbeat message.

If I could sum up the GOP in a sentence it would be, "After we beat the crap out of them all and toss a bunch of them out of our country, and carpet-bomb our enemies until the sand glows, we'll make America great again by repealing minimum wage laws, crushing unions, cutting education spending, repealing same-sex marriage, and letting religious people deny women access to affordable birth control so they'll have unprotected sex, have more babies so you can deny them abortions because they're such moral failures and then we'll have highly educated, two-parent families with strict moral values that will be so much better than the libtards who wanted clean energy to save the planet, and also cut taxes on the rich again and again until our government is smaller than a breadbox but still sports deficits as far as the eye can see, oh, and a big-ass army!"

Or something like that. Bernie, Hillary, or Martin, any one of them, please.

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