Muftic: What should be the Democratic Party agenda? The long and short of it
May 23, 2017
The news coming from Washington regarding the Russian connection scandal has historic implications and the Democrats are salivating at a chance to turn the House of Representatives from red to blue. The danger for Democrats is that the scandal may drown out other news, and bury Democrat's excellent case to beat Republican House candidates. The case to be made is that the Democrats are the champions of the middle class and the GOP is attacking ordinary Americans' day to day financial survival.
The GOP talked up a middle class game in 2016, but in 2017 they took a hard right turn.
They are quietly undertaking an agenda that hurts middle class pocket books, from yanking away affordable health insurance and making it harder to pay off student loans or to buy a home. It will be up to Democrats to make sure the GOP/Trump agenda does not get passed while voters are looking the other way.
The scandals will play out over time, possibly lasting past 2018 and impacting the elections without the Democrats even hyperventilating. If Democrats make the Russian issue their only focus, they are in danger of drowning out an attempt to position themselves as the advocates of issues that help the middle class. Voters ultimately care most what impacts their lives, and many could view the Russian connection as an issue that does not directly affect them other than crippling the implementation of Trump's domestic agenda.
Whenever the Trump administration and local GOP candidates support a policy that will hurt the middle class, Democrats need to 1) respond quickly 2) point out how it hurts the middle class, and 3) present positive,viable alternatives.
Aside from any unease or disgust with the Russian connection, top of the list of voter concerns is health care, per recent polls. Democrats cannot just be a party of "no." The party must propose a better way to go. It must recognize the Obamacare problems of dwindling insurer participation and high cost of the individual market premiums. It then must propose a fix that maintains affordable access and keeps essential benefits with guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions.
Political reality is that Congressional Democrats alone are powerless to implement any fixes to health care insurance They do not have the majority and cannot pass much without some Republican support Medicare for All right now would be a very hard sell to moderate Republicans. Retaining and repairing Obamacare can be short term way forward. Doing so should not preclude those who advocate continuing a quest down the road for a system that is cheaper for citizens and government and provides more universal and comprehensive coverage. That vision is the longer one.
If the investigations lead to jail time for Trump's associates and even Trump stepping down, the GOP agenda will not go away even if there is a President Pence. The GOP will continue an attempt to upend healthcare insurance, limit civil rights, harm women's health, increase our dirty our air and water, remove consumer protections from financial matters, undermine public education, and make radical, immoral cuts in. The social safety to finance huge tax cuts to the rich. That is the "long of it." The only short term brake on the GOP is if the House majority can go Democratic in 2018.