A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Why did Donald Trump win the presidency? A big reason is that he was willing to take unpopular stances. He criticized the Afghan and Iraq wars in the strongest terms. He attacked Wall Street. He called for closer relations with Russia. Of course, to cite one example, when he became president, Trump willingly embraced Wall Street — no surprise here. Trump is not about consistency. The larger point is that he appeared authentic, or at the very least not tied to traditional politics of the mealymouthed, which involves focus groups and think tanks and polls and triangulation before any policy position is taken.
The Democratic Party has learned nothing from Trump’s success, nor for that matter from Bernie Sanders’s rise. It’s rejecting the energy and popularity of Sanders’s progressive platform for the tired bromides of economic competitiveness, moderate tax increases on the rich, and infrastructure improvements (which Trump has also called for). It’s refusing to critique America’s enervating and endless overseas wars. It’s even refusing to focus on serious social issues (too divisive!), as reported here at Mic Network:
The new [Democratic] agenda will be released under the title, “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.”
According to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, the plan “jettisoned social and foreign policy issues for this exercise, eschewing the identity politics and box-checking that has plagued Democratic campaigns in the past.”
Leaving social justice issues out of the platform is sure to anger many progressives in the party who have been pushing for issues like police brutality, systemic racism and transgender rights to be front-and-center on the Democratic agenda.
Likewise, the absence of any foreign policy agenda is likely to irk the left’s many critics of America’s never-ending wars.
What’s the point of voting for a Democratic Party that refuses to address such vitally important issues? And don’t you just love the unimaginative title of the plan?
A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.
If you have to repeat the word “better” four times, I’m less than convinced that the deal is actually “better.” It sounds like a used car salesman trying to sell a lemon. I’ll give you a better deal on this beat-up Yugo! At a better price, with a better warranty, with better loan payments! Sure … right.
I think I can come up with five “better” titles for the Democrats just off the top of my head. I’ll give it a whirl:
OK. Maybe not number 5. I’m not saying my titles are great — just that they hold some promise of raising ourselves to a higher level. We should be thinking about making a better America, not for skills or jobs or the economy, but for our children. For our and their collective futures. A little idealism, please! The fierce urgency of now!
Where’s the emotional appeal in “better” skills or a “better” job? It’s funny: I don’t recall the Founders talking about skills and jobs. They talked about personal liberty, about freedom, about coming together and raising new hopes. And they didn’t just talk — they acted. Give me liberty or give me death. Now that took guts!
I see no inspiration — and no guts — in the current Democratic Party establishment. And until the party finds some, they will continue to lose.
Copyright 2017 W.J. Astore. First published in Bracing Views.