Friday, April 22, 2016

What's Missing in This Campaign? The One Big, Big Idea

I'm not knocking Bernie's "bust up the banks," or "all my contributions are $27!" I'm talking something HUGE, and I don't mean Trump's "build a wall and make Mexicans pay for it!" That's a puny distraction for the low-watt bulbs out there. I'm mean HUGE.

Timothy Egan thinks Hillary Clinton's the one to do it. Why? Because Republicans don't really want to do anything, they want to stop doing things or put up walls to stop people from doing things. They don't want the newest, greatest products, they just want to stop China and everyone (supposedly) beating the crap out of us. A real way to do that? Don't look to the GOP.

Egan also thinks Bernie Sanders is an idea man, not a "I TOTALLY KNOW HOW TO DO THAT!" person. He's got a point: He didn't really know exactly how to bust up the banks when asked.

That leaves Hillary, whom Egan points out has a HUGE résumé, tons of experience, and talent. So what's missing? That one big idea:
The big idea is out there, in the bundle of issues in the Democratic campaign and solutions to the economic malaise that troubles Trump supporters. They’re all bits of a new tomorrow, many coming from the Sanders campaign. But the parts are not enough.
Consider the epic changes over the past century that brought lasting good to this country. Social Security and Medicare, allowing millions of Americans to live in dignity, were part one. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of the 1960s, which completed what Abraham Lincoln started with the 13th Amendment, were part two. Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which made the nation’s cities breathable, waterways swimmable and the country more habitable for all living things, were part three. Clinton needs to fashion a part four, attacking inequality with an institutional uplift to the slipping middle class.
Those earlier initiatives were radical changes, the kind of big ideas the public is clamoring for now.
Egan's on to something here. Hillary needs something bigger than herself, something that excites the people to believe government can help again. My preferences have always aligned with jobs at higher wages. What does that entail?
  • Higher minimum wage.
  • A reinvigorated labor movement. Go all in for unionism.
  • Free public education, including childcare and preschool.
  • Adding the public option to Obamacare, forcing insurance companies to get real.
  • Entrepreneurs, ! Fatcat CEOs, no!
And, yes, make the top one percent pay for it in higher taxes -- actually progressive, higher marginal rates down to $250,000 a year.

Someone has to come up with a really good rallying cry, something like BRING BACK THE MIDDLE CLASS!

When was the middle class ascendant? When unions were strong! When did we get most of our labor laws and rights? When unions were strong! When did high-school graduates make enough to retire before you're dead? When unions were strong! Is our country great now because the rich are so much richer? I'd say no!

Enough preaching. If Hillary Clinton wants to regain the trust and enthusiasm of the American voter, go big. Go bold. Hell, that goes for Bernie, too, if only he had a prayer of winning the election.

And don't blame Hillary if she beats Bernie! That's what she's supposed to do. If Bernie can't beat her, he should -- must -- join her.

And remember: patrolling Muslim neighborhoods is not a big idea. Balancing a budget is not a big idea. Patrolling bathrooms is not a big idea.

Note. Bernie's Medicare for all is indeed a big, big idea. The only problem is that it so shakes the established order that, just like Hillarycare in the early 90s, it's easy to get people riled up against it, like "They're going to take my healthcare away!" Just sayin'.

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