The Democratic Party can claim a number of major accomplishments for the American people. It’s the party that led the US out of the Great Depression. It’s the party that created Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It stood behind workers in their fight for labor unions. And it passed the Civil Rights Act at the risk of alienating Southern voters.
All of those things took strong leadership.
But in recent years, Democrats in Congress have been content to read the tea leaves (aka public polling) before taking a step.
Following a succession of failed presidential campaigns in the 1970’s and 80’s, the party became hesitant to take strong, principled stands. Certainly, many Democrats have offered support for gay rights and women’s rights. Most have supported labor and jobs initiatives. Democrats have supported education and environmental groups. They have supported government regulation of financial markets, pharmaceuticals, food safety and more.
But Democrats have also allowed Republicans to block presidential appointments and legislation. They have allowed an unelected political operative (Grover Norquist) to dominate economic policy with his no new taxes pledge.They have allowed Republicans and their Tea Party parasites to dominate the political narrative. Worse, like their Republican opponents, too many Democrats have become dependent on large corporations and special interests for campaign donations.
The rare exception to this pattern of weak-kneed governing is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare.
It’s time for Democrats to show they can do more. They need to show they’re willing to take strong, principled stands regardless of the consequences; to push big initiatives such as rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, creating a modern and efficient electrical grid, and creating a modern rail system. Initiatives that would create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and push the US back into a leadership position for decades to come.
It’s time for our Attorney General to prosecute and jail those on Wall Street who crashed our economy by engaging in high stakes gambling with depositors’ money. It’s time for Congress to reform our tax codes and eliminate corporate incentives that send jobs and cash offshore. It’s time to punish those who evade taxes by parking money in the world’s tax havens.
Yes, the GOP-controlled House will likely try to block such initiatives. It shouldn’t matter.
If Democrats show a commitment to do what’s right; if they put the needs of our nation above special interests; if they clearly explain the benefits of their initiatives; if they draw a stark contrast between themselves and the opposition; if they show they are serious about exposing and punishing corruption, they will dominate the political landscape for generations.
Governing should not rely on political polls. I trust the American people to recognize honesty and strength. If our representatives do the right thing, they will almost certainly be re-elected. If they don’t, they deserve to lose.