As Democrats struggle to keep up the offense on Trump's daily constitutional controversies, they risk ignoring their actual opponents in the next election: Congressional Republicans. In 2018, Trump's name will be no where on the ballot and Democrats are going to be fighting an uphill battle with many vulnerable Senate Democrats defending their seats in some difficult to win swing-states including: Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. They have to win ALL of those states in order to maintain their current numbers in the Senate and they have little chance to make up area elsewhere.
Democrats can't just count on Trump imploding. Despite all the news coverage lambasting GOP leaders for their silence or complicity towards Trump, Republicans largely avoided Trump's negative blowback in 2016. Even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3,000,000 votes, Republicans were able to keep onto their majority in both the House and Senate. Every pollster and election prediction from the Huffington Post, to 538's highly-cited forecast models, to the NY Times' Upshot predicted that the Democrats would regain the majority in the Senate in 2016 and further predicted at least 51 Democratic seats at minimum and up to 55 seats depending on the margin of error. 2016 was supposed to be a good year for Democrats, and much of their political strategy focused on running-up their numbers so they would be prepared for their inevitable drop-off in 2018.
(For the record, NonProphet News predicted before the election that the Democrats would fall short of their majority holding only 48 seats, the exact number they received. Just saying Nate Silver, your number models might be really pretty, but you understand American politics like you are an out-of-touch rich, nerdy white guy— a far leap for you I'm sure).
Democrats will continue to further lose ground in the Senate, especially if Republicans are able to find politically-safe territory by opposing Trump's vulgar language, but upholding his populist policies. The lesson to be learned from Hillary Clinton's electoral loss cannot simply be "anti-Trump", Democrats need to stand-up for change in America- focus in on a single rallying point.
You have to oppose the unbelievably shitty status-quo and do so in a way that builds a diverse and inclusive coalition.
There is a common universal fact that Democrats have been missing, one that impacts every American -regardless of race, age, gender, or who they voted for in the past election: the very true fact that 99% of us are all getting poorer every day.
The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 22 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 11 percent.
But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.
This inequality is not just hitting voters who lean Democratic, it impacts the Republican voters who went for Trump too. If Democrats are looking for a populist message that can fit on a bumper sticker, defeat the Republicans in 2018, and seriously tackle some of American's biggest problems, then repeat after me: "TAX. THE. RICH."
Not only is it smart politics, but in this case, it's necessary to save our economy.
During the past three decades, compensation for CEOs grew 127 times faster than it did for workers. Since 1950, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has increased 1,000 percent, and that is not a typo. CEOs used to earn 30 times the median wage; now they rake in 500 times. Yet no company that I know of has eliminated its senior managers, outsourced them to China, or automated their jobs. Instead, we now have more CEOs and senior executives than ever before. So, too, for financial services workers and technology workers. These folks earn multiples of the median wage, yet we somehow have more and more of them.
The divide between the rich and the poor is growing and the middle class continues to shrink, and many newly poor Americans are looking for someone to blame. Democrats need to realize that they will quickly become extinct if they don't find an enemy to blame for America's woes and luckily the rich are already responsible for most of our economic problems.
The ironic part of income inequality is that is self-defeating and negatively impacts not only the poor and the middle-class, but the rich too. The biggest lie the Republican party continues to tell is that the rich are the job creators, when it reality it has always been the middle-class consumer.
Henry Ford famously raised his workers wages to at-the-time eye staggering $5 a day so that they could afford to buy his cars, and that lesson still applies today. The fastest-growing city in America? Seattle, which was the first city in America to implement a $15 minimum wage which now receives a 74% approval rating within the city while also enjoying robust 4% GDP growth rate while the nation struggles along at a meager 1.2% growth rate.
Democrats are ignoring the basic truth of market-based capitalism: If workers have more money, businesses have more customers. Which makes middle-class consumers, not rich businesspeople, the true job creators. Which means a thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it. The middle class creates us rich people, not the other way around.
Democrats would be smart to energize this economic populist message and run with it, especially in a time where more Americans have been more separated from the rich than ever before.
When (not if) Republicans try and repackage the tax increase on the rich as a tax increase on "small businesses" or "farmers," Democrats need to stay on the offense and scream and yell about the fact that the people they are trying to tax have never interacted with an average American voter. If they ever did meet an average American, it would be beyond awkward for everyone involved.
When I say "TAX. THE. RICH." I am not talking about taxing the rich kid in class, but rather, the plutocrat who was too delicate to even get near the city you live in. That alone, if done right, can do enough to reverse income-inequality in a massive way.
Democrats should not be afraid to demonize these people and make voters realize that there are way, way more of us than there are of them and that WE THE PEOPLE can vote to take their money away. We have that power, it is written in the Constitution. Congress has the ability to levy taxes, and we should target the uber-rich among us whose bank accounts due nothing for the economy but collect commas and dust.
Billionaires like Bill Gates make over 500,000 times the average American's salary, but they do not buy 500,000 the amount of goods and services. He doesn't buy 500,000 times the amount of shirts, or cars, or houses or groceries and cannot consume on the level that 500,000 Americans can. Bill Gates' merely money sits in an excel spreadsheet being under-utilized and separated from the American economy entirely.
Americans in poverty on the other hand are regularly forced to spend more than 100% of their annual yearly income and while being forced further into debt. The simple truth is that living paycheck to paycheck is not only incredibly dangerous for a person's economic and mental stability, but it does little to nothing to benefit the rest of the economy.
If a worker earns $7.25 an hour, which is now the national minimum wage, what proportion of that person’s income do you think ends up in the cash registers of local small businesses? Hardly any. That person is paying rent, ideally going out to get subsistence groceries at Safeway, and, if really lucky, has a bus pass. But he/she’s not going out to eat at restaurants. Not browsing for new clothes. Not buying flowers on Mother’s Day.
By pushing for economic populist ideas such as free college, universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, low-income housing, and food stamps, Democrats can find a common rallying point and an easy answer of how to pay for it— Tax. The.Rich.
During the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders proposed that he could pay for college for every American by putting a tax on stock speculation. Small increases in taxes like that can make revolutionary changes for the poor and middle class to close that wage-gap while raising the entire American economy to a growth rate similar to that of Seattle's.
Name your problem in American and it can be solved by taxing the rich.
Child poverty? Inexcusable and solvable by taxing the rich and providing world class education, universal free lunch programs, childcare, and healthcare all at the cost of Donald Trump and his buddies. Medical debt? Immoral and can be solved by taxing the rich and removing insurance companies away from the equation. Climate Change? Apocalyptic and solvable by taxing the rich and putting a tax on carbon and pollution while putting serious investment in renewable technology.
The middle class is smaller than it has been since the Great Depression and Democrats are acting that the only thing Americans care about are Trump's tweets. They should realize how risky that plan is because Trump isn't on the ballot in 2018 and if they fall flat on their face and give Republicans a supermajority (not an unreal possibility given the difficult map and low turnout during midterm elections), then those Democratic voters might join the party with the pitchforks because this level of inequality is unsustainable and history screams that revolution is what is coming next.