Democratic winning strategy; positive, constructive, message, take the offensive

The time is ripe for Democrats to step into this void of presidential and Congressional action and take charge.

Image Credit: KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

One thing Democrats need to do in the 2020 presidential election is to dramatically change the image they have projected to the American people; an image that portrays them as always being on the defensive, constantly reacting to attacks by Republicans, who seem to know exactly how to keep them off balance, off message.

That kind of reactionary behavior has to stop and stop right now. Democrats took over the House in the last national elections and now have the momentum to gain more control of the government, adding both the Senate and the White House in 2020. So to make that happen they need to take the initiative and refuse to take the Republican bait to engage in petty backbiting.

Americans are sick and tired of watching and listening to continual battles between the two political parties that result in nothing of substance getting done by this Congress. Democrats: don’t waste time criticizing Trump and saying how bad he is; the majority of Americans know he doesn’t belong in the White House.

Identify all the important issues and associated problems that Republicans continue to refuse to address and then show how you would do things entirely differently.

Democrats should exhibit what I would refer to as “controlled” anger, making it clear they are just as angry with what is going on in this country as the people; about how this Congress has not, in the past, done what it should have. Democrats must show that they are determined to change things for the better in order to regain the trust and confidence of the people.

Here’s an example of that kind of controlled anger. Former VP Joe Biden,a likely candidate for the presidency in 2020, during a recent speech to a national firefighters’ association, showed this kind of controlled anger at the cutbacks that are planned to the funding that was appropriated for 911 responders. He sincerely looked very troubled and, said this was a national disgrace, and vowed that he would get this situation straightened out if he became president.

Now, what should Democrats really concentrate on, removing Trump by impeachment or, rather, speaking to the key issues facing America and how to deal with them? Of course, they must do both. The House committees on Oversight, Intelligence, and Judiciary should continue to concentrate sizable efforts on appropriate investigations of Trump and those in his administration that may have violated laws.

The larger body of House and Senate Democrats should use a majority of their time in working on the many problems facing this country and presenting specific ways to solve them, thereby showing the American people that they are just what this country needs during these times of massive partisanship and divisiveness.

For every key issue each Democratic candidate must clearly identify its root causes and then provide positive, concrete solutions. It’s not good enough to simply say that you are for health care for all or attacking the problem of the massive inequity of income between the top 1% and the rest of Americans. That’s not good enough, Americans want specific, viable plans to solve these problems. Candidates, in their presentations, must choose and concentrate on no more than 4 or 5 key issues that are of the greatest concern to Americans.

To a certain extent, while not lapsing into their well known reactionary mode, Democrat candidates must respond to some of the vicious Republican attacks that cannot go unanswered such as:

Republicans attack Democrats as being Socialists. Of course that is an empty accusation but it must be answered. The candidates under attack need to inform Americans that there is nothing wrong with socialism itself. There are numerous definitions of socialism but the one I would advise Democrats to use in discussing this matter is “a system in which there are social functions and programs administered by the government rather than the private sector.”

And guess what? America already has a host of these critically important government-administered functions already in place. We may not know it or we may refuse to accept the fact that America is currently a socialistic/capitalistic country which has in place government-administered functions such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the US. military, and many others that are run by state and local governments such as teachers, police, and firefighters.

There are social democratic governments in Europe proper and Scandinavia in which government socialistic functions and capitalistic economic policies work well together. For example, Germany has many socialistic government functions and also has one of the world’s strongest manufacturing sector.

Republicans say that Medicare for all or some other universal health care systems are far too costly.. Democrats must counter that by pointing out that this is an incorrect assumption. They need to show how the per capita costs of the U.S. healthcare system are 2 to 2-1/2 times more than those of the majority of the other 31 developed nations that have some form of universal health care; and that if the U.S. adopted the same kind of health care our overall costs would be dramatically reduced over time.

Republicans refuse to address the deterioration of the U.S. infrastructure, the heart of America and its commerce. Democrats need to prepare and present a concrete plan for a phased repair and rebuilding program to stop this massive deterioration of the many parts of this infrastructure. This cannot wait, it is an absolute must.

The economy, the massive inequity of income and wealth in America. Show how, in order to make this economy stronger and life better for all Americans, we need tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans whose consumer purchasing power is the fuel that drives this economy. Trickle down economics never works.

Whichever issues Democratic candidates choose to concentrate on they must keep this in mind. Talking in generalities rather than specifics will just fall on deaf ears and judged as being no more than the same old same old. And that will be a fatal mistake for any one of them that dares to try to use such a shallow strategy.

So this should be a wake up call for Democratic candidates. Republicans in Congress have made themselves an endangered species, party members have sold their political souls to this president, their mentor and master, and have no intention of following the will of the American people as the Constitution directs them to do.

These candidates must not gear their message strongly to the left, that will fail. And if their message is designed to appeal mostly to the center, it will fall flat. They have to emphasize that they are trying to do what is right for all Americans if they want to win. This is their best path forward because this is certainly not what the Republican candidates, Trump or others, will do.

The time is ripe for Democrats to step into this void of presidential and Congressional action and take charge; to show the American people that they are more than ready to, once again, take this country in a positive and construction direction; to stop the hemorrhaging of America’s democracy.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.