While I would love to see some deus ex machina descend on the Electoral College in its several locations like an angel of the lord (‘tis the season) and get the smug bastards to do their duty and confirm as President the candidate who by far got the most votes, I no longer believe in Santa Claus. But there is perhaps a silver lining.
There have been a lot of post-mortems about how the Democrats lost the election and I hope the they ignore most of them—because they did not lose the election. The polls were not wrong. They predicted about a 2% victory for Hilary Clinton and that’s what she got. The working class did not desert her, unless “working class” only means non-union workers. This was not a failure of the coastal elites. Unless African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are members of the elites. It was, in some ways a minor victory for the rural vote, but that’s just another way of saying the minority used a Constitutional trick to turn the tables. Just because most people live in cities, doesn’t mean their voices don’t count just as much as people who live in the country. Unless you think, like Sarah Palin, that the country is the “real America.” Where does the majority of the population live, then?
The Democrats won fair and square, the old-fashioned way. By getting more votes. Eighty thousand votes in a few rural counties should not be reason enough for the Dems to do a “post-mortem.”
But that doesn’t mean the Democrats can’t learn anything from this experience. The Republicans didn’t learn from Romney’s defeat. They ran the same old playbook: suck up to old white folks and suppress the minorities as much as you can get away with. And except for the electoral fluke, they got beat nearly as bad even with the Russians, the FBI and Jill Stein to help them.
Bernie showed it’s time for something new and by that I mean something old. The worst thing about Hilary Clinton was that she was “establishment.” When I was a kid, that meant a fuddy-duddy Republican. And it still does, only now the Republicans call themselves New Democrats.
It’s time to get back to what made the Democratic Party great, the party of the people. Socialism. Okay, don’t call it that, but do it anyway. Protect Social Security. It never was in trouble anyway. Expand Medicare to all people. Set up paid family leave insurance. Transfer not only college debt but college tuition to a percent of income and make community college tuition free. Expand programs to train skilled workers and fund apprenticeships in trades. Raise the minimum wage. Expand unions. Tax stock trades to create a nest egg against future crashes. And start thinking about Universal Basic Income for everyone cradle to grave. For minors it will be held in trust to be used for day care and universal pre-K. For the less fortunate, it will replace the hodge-podge of social services and since everyone is getting it, no one can complain someone’s getting something you’re not. Young people will have money for a stake, to start a new business or put a down payment on a home. The solidly middle class who may be able to get by without the UBI can invest it in a Social Security Plus system that either provides them with more money during retirement or an earlier retirement if they find themselves downsized. And retirees will have comfort as well as security.
Money is like manure, the saying goes. If you don’t spread it around it piles up and just stinks. Part of the reason for the prosperity of the 50’s and 60’s was that union labor got solid wages and spent that money on homes and kids and cars, etc. They created demand which in turn gave business a reason to invest. Now all the money is going to the top one-percent who already have everything they could possibly want. There is no demand, no reason to invest. Socialism—don’t call it that!—isn’t just good for people. It’s good for business.
The Democrats should get behind that message. Give people a choice. I think I know which side they’ll choose. It’s one they’ve chosen before.