Monday, July 23, 2018

People Make the Country Go Round

Although Trump had a bad week that started with a disastrous summit with Putin and ended with a damning tape of Michael Cohen having a conversation with him about paying a Playboy model to keep quiet about her and Trump's affair (made by Cohen himself), Democrats took more steps toward Whig-like extinction.  Despite generic polls showing a preference for Democratic congressional candidates in the midterm elections, there is no sign of a "blue wave" that is going to sweep the Republicans out of control of the House and Senate.  Quite the contrary: Democrats are losing support among constituencies they need for the midterms (such as blue-collar voters), whole states are under the grip of Republican machines (such as Scott Walker's Wisconsin), the economy is doing just well enough to lull people into a false sense of satisfaction with their pathetically low wages (Trump has a 50 percent approval rating on the economy according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll), and the Democrats are presently being torn apart by a rift between moderates and progressives (I can't think of something to write in parentheses this time).    
But the Democratic Party seems to be - seems to be, that's just it - turning the corner.  Their "A Better Deal" slogan having crashed and burned, Democrats offered a new slogan: "For the People."  As in government for the people, the sort Abraham Lincoln envisioned in the Gettysburg Address.  They plan to include this slogan in their comments and stump speeches to remind the voters that all is not well in Trump's America, and that they, the Democrats, will offer action on improving health care, spending more money on infrastructure, and ending Republican corruption.  Note that the name of a certain country that stretches from the Gulf of Finland to the Bering Strait is not being mentioned.  That's because the Democrats uncharacteristically know better.  Not only are Republicans likely to rush to the polls in Trump's defense if Democrats go after the Russia issue, progressives in the Democratic base regard Russia as a red herring.  They wouldn't stand for Russophobia during the Cold War and they still won't tolerate it in the post-Soviet era.   
"We have 110 days from right now until Election Day and we will be spending the month of August in our home districts and we wanted to make sure we are singing from the same song sheet on the three top issues," explained Democratic Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois (above), co-chair of House Democrats' messaging committee. 
In a way, this is a vindication for former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, whose Win Back Your State PAC has been emphasizing the same strategy the geniuses in the Democratic establishment have suddenly embraced (not a bad slogan, "For the People," but what took them so long?).  He's out there, somewhere - probably Florida right now - working under the radar screen and helping state and local Democrats espouse a message the Democrats should have enunciated long ago.  And he's been listening to the same people - the people whom the Democrats should remember were their raison d'ĂȘtre in the first place - that the Democratic establishmentarians have, up to now, only said they are for.
O'Malley (above) has been leading an effort to revitalize the Democratic Party with few followers, having been taken with such little seriousness by Democratic leaders.  If Democrats at least take back the House (the Senate is gone, thanks to staggered terms and Democratic senators up for re-election in Republican states), it may give him greatly needed support for a possible 2020 presidential campaign, assuming Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez doesn't steal the credit for him.  But if the Democratic Party doesn't win any power whatsoever, be it in Washington or state capitals, it won't be O'Malley's fault.  Refusing to acknowledge a party loyalist's best efforts to help the party is far worse than that party loyalist failing after trying his best with little help from anyone.
And if the Democrats blow this election, O'Malley should stop following a Whiggish group that so obviously wants nothing to do with him and start leading . . . a new party.

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