Sunday, January 23, 2022

Can the Democrats Come Back?

I voted for President Ronald Reagan in 1980. That may come as a surprise to many who know me because I am a Democrat, and proud of it. When I was hired to be press secretary to Frank Lautenberg in his first U.S. Senatorial race, I confessed that fact to our campaign manager. That background, I believed then and now, gave me a unique perspective on what we democrats had to do to win over Reagan voters. Frank Lautenberg would go on to be a five-term U.S. Senator from New Jersey.

With recent deregulations hitting home runs on health care, social security, the arts, humanities, clean air and water, science, gun ownership, Planned Parenthood, deregulating banks, and more, it also reduces the business tax rate from 35% to 15%. Warren Buffett, the guru of the securities business, recently admitted that this is a boon to his and other large corporations, who will save millions in reduced taxes.

As of April 27th, President Trump and the GOP have gutted 13 Obama programs. The House GOP have crushed Obamacare and placed Trumpcare in its place, with approximately 24 million people losing coverage. And then, of course, there’s the whole pre-existing conditions debate. Briefly, I’d like to point out that mental disorders are a pre-existing condition that may not be covered in the new Trumpcare, yet the new GOP gun rules state that a mentally unstable person can buy guns. I’m just saying.

House Republicans also voted to repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank Bill, which protected average consumers and families from the overhyped financial contracts like mortgages and credit cards that caused many foreclosures. So far, the U.S. Senate has not voted on either proposal. Like Alice in Wonderland, it’s getting “curiouser and curiouser.”

With all this coming down the pike, Democrats must be scratching their heads on how to take back control of the legislative and executive branches of government. The easiest answer to turn direction from the current administration, we would need more elected democratic officials in Washington. People have overwhelmingly protested and marched. Throughout our country’s history protests and marches have worked to bring change. Like our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) said at Gettysburg, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

According to Roger C. Altman, an investment banker and former Democratic politician, in a March 2017 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, “A true Democratic comeback will be impossible without topto bottom changes.”

So, how to elect Democrats in the coming elections, local, state and national? In 2018, all 435 congressional seats and 33 U.S. Senate seats are up for election. Democrats already are jockeying for support in the 2020 presidential election. In the past national election, most people voted Democratic, as we know, but didn’t carry the states with the needed Electoral College votes. Strategic planning is needed on the part of the Democratic Party to target swing states and states with large electoral votes.

Democrats should look to new and younger candidates, both in Congress and local races, with fresh eyes, smart ideas and confidence in self-government and individual freedom. That’s the “by the people and for the people” catchphrase.

Is there ever a time when the economy is crisis free? In the 1992 election campaign, “it was the economy, stupid.” And, while President Bill Clinton left office with a surplus, we got there again: it’s still the economy, stupid. People need to work, pay their bills and have some security in their retirement. In Frank Lautenberg’s first election, we drilled home that people wanted jobs in New Jersey. I remember doing a campaign commercial with a man who had told me he worked two jobs to keep his head above water. Nothing much has changed in 35 years. Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Republicans over the last eight years maneuvered the boundary lines in congressional districts to favor, who else? Themselves. It’s called gerrymandering. They’re not the only party who redistricted their state in years past. However, in the past eight years, GOP gerrymandering has been extraordinary. Redrawing the lines to concentrate most voters into two districts can send an election to the other dominant party. Divide and conquer. To change that tide, ballot referendums to change the districting is hard work. We’ll see.

The day after super tennis player Serena Williams shockingly lost her bid for a grand slam at the 2015 U.S. Open, Ms. Williams emerged in a television commercial for Dr. Dre’s “Beat” headphones to the “Rise Up” song by Andra Day. The significance of the song comes through the words: “And I’ll rise up, I’ll rise like the day, I’ll rise up, I’ll rise unafraid, I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again…” Democrats, will you rise up? Judy Brenna Marco Island

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