I know that Democrats can triumph merely by their winsome smiles and sparkling personalities, but what big-issue items can we prevail with in the midterms?
Iraq: There's no united front here, unless you consider overwhelmingly authorizing billions upon billions of dollars to fund the war without demanding one shred of accountability of the administration, from how the funding is spent to what his exact future plans are for our operations there, to be a united front. Yes, some House Democrats tried to get that accountability, but Democrats also voted in large numbers against the measure. Most leading Democrats subscribe to the Pottery Barn theory - so this issue is a big scratch, unfortunately.
Environmental Issues: Yes, we squeak about these on occasion, but when push comes to shove, it was the Democrats in the Senate who finally allowed our overlords to begin drilling in ANWR. This might have been a win, and an important one, but it was pissed away and dead as a campaign issue forever.
Populism: This might have been promising, given the falling living standards of the middle class. Yet, in this session, the Democrats have openly shared the credit for passing some of the most vicious anti-consumer, pro-business legislation in my lifetime - tort reform and the bankruptcy bill. We can no longer use the message of how big business has become very relevant in our daily lives, like it or not, over the last four and a half years - because our hands are just as dirty. Hell, we're proud of our participation.
The Judiciary: Another potentially fertile issue that's been pissed into the wind. Whatever you think of the compromise, the fact remains that three of the most poisonous nominees for lifetime appointments have been handed over, carte blanche, after excellent cases had been made NOT to confirm these nominees. We can hardly use the issue of ensuring moderation on the federal bench when Owen and Brown were given a free pass. If the Republicans had gone nuclear, this again would have been a short-term disadvantage for long-term gain. Gone.
Economic Policy: Granted, Democrats have been shut out of most economic policy, but one area where we could have had an impact was the endless stream of treasury funds being poured down the Iraq rathole as noted above. We passed this funding - money we don't have - without a whimper, or at least making a public issue over the missing funds that have already melted away into the desert because we're afraid of not being 'supportive of the troops', even when the majority of Americans question this entire misadventure and politically it's not nearly as unsafe as it was even two years ago to start taking a stand. Nope, too afraid, so the huge blank checks to Bush will continue to sap our economy for the rest of our lifetimes. We also are unwilling to be truthful to the American people about the danger of foreign investment floating our debt - can't rock the boat.
So, it's back to:
Our winsome smiles and sparkling personalities: We aren't Republicans and we dislike Bush. We know how far this got us in 2004.
And the final kicker:
Social Security The only issue we have left, diluted somewhat since we helped Bush pass his fiscally irresponsible (ref: Economic Policy) and pro-business (ref: populism) Medicare drug bill. All it's going to take is another Gang of 14, or 10, or 6, to piss this advantage away, also. And it's a potent one - again, the public is on our side overwhelmingly, and it's always been a Democratic strength. If we compromise this, we're finished.
Did I miss anything? I suppose I could discuss how we're becoming a big-tent on reproductive rights now, but I'm too depressed at the moment.
My response: Only one issue needed : Tom Delay - Tom Delay and Tom Delay!
All but five members of the Republican Congressional Caucus have not received money from Delay's ARMPAC, or given to his criminal defense fund. The first and foremost issue needs to be Ethics in Government.
Everything else is irrelevant if you can't trust the people you're electing.
But to be fair, we also need to have a specific strategy to counter their secondary attacks.
Dems need to stop being afraid of the abortion issue and start hammering home the fact that more women are alive and healthy today than would have been if Roe v. Wade hadn't been passed, yet the number of abortions has infact stayed nearly the same since 1973 and today (1.2 Million to 1.3 Million). Don't the lives of future Mother's Count?
We need to address the values issues - and point out that Democrats not only value life, they value a life of quality. They value jobs, they value health-care and child-care for working families. They value commitment and privacy between consenting adults.
Dems value Freedom - Freedom to keep your personal business, personal - rather than part of a corporate or governmental database.
Dems value our Troops - by protecting veterans benefits, and bankrupcy protection when members of the national guard can't afford to pay their bills because they've been stopped-lossed on extended leave from their jobs and families.
We can argue what we're for - by pointing out what we're against, and what the Repubs have failed to do while they've been in power:
Dem are against:
.. Rampant Lobbyist Influence
.. Rampant Corporate Corruption ala Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, Worldcom.
.. Unlimited Defecits
.. Unprovoked War
.. Unsecured Borders and Ports
.. Rampant environmental exploitation
Dems are for:
.. Protecting Personal Privacy
.. Protecting Pension Funds and Social Security
.. Lowering Energy Cost and fostering alternative and hybrid sources
.. Global Cooperation in a Global "War on Terror".
.. Protecting personal liberty
.. Improving the Quality of every American's Life, not just the fact that they are alive.
The big area that Dems lose on is Taxes. Right now, we can't beat the "It's Your Money - you know better what to do with it" argument. So we need a new approach to taxation and government expenditures, I support the idea of letting enough of the Bush tax cuts naturally sunset to cover the deficit - but instead of taking the remainder and simply raising taxes, we should offer an alternative of tax credits and deductions which specifically offset mandatory government spending requirements.
For example if a company gives an American a job, instead of shipping a job overseas, that saves the government money it would spend on unemployment benefits and Medicare - so the company should *keep* that portion of it's current tax cut and have it rolled over into a tax credit or deduction. The tax effect on the company, minus the deficit gap, is essentially the same (assuming they don't continue shipping jobs overseas), but the net result for the government is less spending on support services for out of work people without reducing service quality, (John Kerry proposed a tax-credit of this type during his Presidential Campaign)
During the Clinton Presidency, he proposed a environmental tax credit that would lower taxes for companies that implemented enviromentally friendly processes - this tax cut was blocked by Newt Gingrich. So it appears that there IS a tax cut that Republicans don't like after all.
We need to hammer them with this stuff, and take back the high-ground on taxation and deficit spending. A Democratic President with a Democratic Congress (in 1993) was the only combination that hasn't wasted taxpayer money by the billions and heaped mountains of debt on our children.
Yes, It's Americans' money - and when Americans spend it in a way that HELPS America, and makes government spending unnecessary, we'll make sure they get to keep as much of it as possible - now, and in the future.
But the main issue is Delay and Abramoff. We take them down, and we take back the Congress in 06.