There was a time when the Republican base was our base. Working Class meant "votes Democratic" - every single election. And make no mistake: you win the working class, you win national elections
While I know that the Republicans are using immigrants, abortion, school prayer etc. as political wedges, and that that is despicable, have you ever wondered why that works? It's because the agenda, the issues, of the Democratic Party neglect the priorities of the working class. The Republicans are the only party that seems to be - in fact, in a cynical way is - listening to the working class.
Ok, here's an agenda that I believe the Democrats should be standing for, that I believe will win them elections, reliably.
mftalbot's diary :: ::
1. We stand with workers against bosses. That means we support unions, all the time and loudly. Not just existing unions, but we push, loudly, constantly and publically, for more and more unionization in every sector of the economy - not just manufacturing, but services. Not just auto and steel workers, but call-center employees, bank tellers, EVERYONE who is non-management. The perfect villain: Walmart.
2. We stand with 40 million Americans to get them Publically-financed health care. Every single citizen should be guaranteed health care. Not "tax incentives" to help people buy insurance, or any other scheme the effect of which is to enrich insurance companies and HMOs. Nope. Publically financed health care. This is truly a winning issue, if "liberals" pull their heads out of their asses and get behind it.
3. We stand for a truly progressive income and other tax structures. The tax rate on incomes over $200,000 should be 90 percent (during the Eisenhower administration, it was not considered especially remarkable that the tax rate for equivalent incomes was 95 percent!), and deductions should thin out at that stratospheric income level.
4. We stand with our chronically-poor citizens in calling for a MASSIVE, sustained, and comprehensive jobs training program, so that any resident of these communities will be aptitude-tested, and then trained for, matched with, and placed with companies that need their skills.
5. We stand with every American who is starting out in the job market in calling for a raise, and a big one at that, in the minimum wage. 8 dollars an hour seems about right - and this should be indexed for inflation every sigle fucking year, and also adjusted for the cost of living in more-expensive coastal areas.
6. We stand with our brothers and sisters to the south, in beginning a massive and sustained effort to help Mexico raise its citizens' standard of living to a point that Mexicans emmigrate to the US at the same rate that Americans emigrate to Canada (expain it in exactly those terms, and a lot of people will get on board).
7. We stand with our brothers and sisters in South Central, The South Side of Chicago, East Oakland, etc., in saying that, as a companion program to "4." above, we vow to end the 40-year murder spree terrorizing these places, and we will use the entire resources of our nation to meet this commitment, if necessary. If we have to hire enough cops to post one on on every fucking corner in every ghetto in the country 24 hours a day 7 days a week, then that's what we'll do. "Poor" must never mean "unsafe" again.
Do this, advocate this agenda, and the Repulicans (and quite a few affluent "liberals") will scream bloody murder, call you socialist, make up all kinds of lies, spin the crap out of your positions, etc. This is how we'll know we're winning - they'll be arguing on our terms. And notice, this is NOT "framing" in the Lakoff sense, at least not yet - sure, sales skills are there somewhere in the mix - but selling a wheelbarrow full of entrails as "anatomy lessons for your children" will only take you so far. Selling a valuable product at a reasonable price takes a whole lot less framing to begin with.
When Repulicans start screaming and spinning, you loudly and constantly call them the rich people's party, the advocates for the affluent, that they are. We answer their lies and fearmongering with the truth, and with a chuckle: "It's no wonder Senator Blowhard hates this: his rich friends are screaming bloody murder! Well, a reckoning is coming - they've been ruining this coutry with their greed and selfishness long enough. America is a better coutry than they can possibly imagine, and with your help in November, we're going to start to show them just how much better."
One final thought - a commenter with the handle "Biminicat" over at Daily Kos brought up an interesting, and in my view legitimate, point to me, in response to my suggestion to appeal to the working class and make them our base:
"[in the elections of] 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1960, 1964 half the dem party was racist.
we don't have that option now, nor should we consider that option. Poor people certainly like it when you stand up for their own interests.
sometimes they like it more when you represent their petty prejudices. (see: repug party since civil rights)."
While I agree that the Republicans get mileage out of appealing to prejudices (really, fears) of the (white) working class, it is worth remembering a couple things:
1. The country has changed a lot in 40 years. There is still racism out there, plenty of it in fact, but civil rights, at least in the sense the term was used in the '50s and '60s, is no longer a motivating issue for southern working-class voters like it was then. I think you would find very, very few southern voters of any class who would advocate a return to segregated schools, no voting rights for blacks, separate dining and restroom facilities, etc. There may be some quiet sentiments in that vein, but are they going to vote to restore those things? To put it mildly, I doubt it.
2. More to the point, a party that advocates for the bottom 70% of the income scale recognizes that the bottom 70% includes a (too) large proportion of black voters, latinos, etc. You answer the fear-mongering with, again, the truth: "They are trying to play you [white working class voters] - they want you to believe that we'll be helping blacks and latinos and not you. They are just trying the old southern rich peoples' trick of trying to divide you from your brothers of color, so that neither one of you gets help. I believe in you. I believe in this country. I know that you will reject that cynical ploy, and will work with us so that everyone gets help."
Remember, Democrats, dammit, REMEMBER.