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Ralph Nader: Democrats Must Channel FDR and LBJ

Consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader. (Sage Ross / Flickr)

The top Republican politicos must be thinking with adversaries like the Democratic Party, who needs friends. Since 2010 the GOP minority has taken over the majority of state legislatures, Governorships and now the three branches of the federal government.

Polls consistently show most Americans oppose the catastrophic Republican agenda. The American people support raising the frozen federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour; want to protect Obamacare; want law enforcement to punish Wall Street crooks and prevent consumer rip offs; support forming labor unions and protecting labor rights; favor prosecuting the student loan and the for-profit school rackets; want the Republican Party to stop voter suppression and judicial disenfranchisement, and want injured people to have access to the courts. Despite all of these unpopular Republican Party positions, the Republican Party keeps winning.

“With all the winning issues waiting for the Democratic Party to show the voters what it stands for, why is there is hesitation, cowardliness, and obsession with raising money from commercial interests?”

Even in next month’s elections, which are supposed to produce a blue wave of Democratic victories, the polls are tightening. Trumps polls are edging up, in spite of the belligerent loud mouth’s daily foul and lying invectives.

To see the anemic Democrats, watch the debates between the various candidates. A recent debate between Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Republican Josh Hawley, whose office of attorney general is a widely reported mess, is illustrative. Hawley had McCaskill on the defensive regarding the southern border wall. She kept Trumpeting how she has voted for $70 billion for the wall and border security. She did not advance her own immigration policy.

She agreed with Hawley on a GOP ruse, namely a federal reinsurance program for pre-existing conditions, instead of specifically strengthening Obamacare or, better, coming out for a more efficient full Medicare for everyone with free choice of doctor and hospital. She did not challenge Hawley with an explicit minimum wage target or where he stood on lifting poverty and crumbling infrastructure throughout the state. A few Democratic candidates have solidly put forth a “fight for $15 an hour” position. They also need a public works plan and an alternative tax agenda for fairness and job expanding, crucial public investments.

Too often the GOP candidates have the Democratic candidates on the defensive. The Democrats need to respond to the GOP’s cruel and misleading triad of lower taxes (for the super-rich that is), de-regulation (endangering your health and safety) and a strong defense (meaning further bloating the wasteful, redundant military budget and its boomeranging Empire abroad).

The Democrats are always backtracking because they largely have no military or foreign policy differing from the GOP; they have no stand against crony capitalism for corporate welfare, despised by both conservatives and progressives. They will not argue strongly for needed “law and order” regulation to prevent toxics from poisoning your air, water and soil.  They advance no law enforcement plan to protect your consumer dollars and prevent another Wall Street criminal collapse on jobs, savings, and pension funds that would result in another giant taxpayer bailout. Some Congressional Democrats even joined with Republicans this year to weaken the Dodd-Frank law.

In recent months, I have been asking numerous Congressional Democratic groups, such as the House Democratic Caucus and the Democratic National Committee, why the specific, abysmal and cruel Republican votes in Congress are not made into campaign headliners. No response. Why are they not making the stagnant, low wages an emblazoned cause for tens of millions of Americans? Why are they not telling people to go “Vote for a Raise,” –long overdue following years of workers being shortchanged by inflation, being denied raises for productivity advances, and being subjected to wage theft amounting to as much as $50 billion a year?

“America Needs a Raise,” can become a clarion call for getting out the vote and highlighting the vast inequalities of, say Walmarts CEO making $12,000 an hour, plus perks and benefits, while many of his workers sweat away at little more than $11 an hour.

So compromised by campaign cash are most Democratic candidates, excepting the few progressive insurgents, that they are not even rebutting the exaggerated and defective Republican boasts about the economy’s low unemployment rates for Hispanic and Black workers. Millions of workers have dropped out of the labor market, record millions are temps or work short weeks, wages are stagnant, rents higher, and at least a third of Americans are poor.

The Republicans are getting away with their phony sing-song of a robust economy in their political TV ads and debates. Again and again, too few Democrats will not stand for explicit policies that reflect majoritarian opinion and contrast with the plutocratic, big business interests of the Republicans.

With all the winning issues waiting for the Democratic Party to show the voters what it stands for, why is there is hesitation, cowardliness, and obsession with raising money from commercial interests? Moreover, four time losers at the Congressional level and their failed political consultants have refused to step aside and be replaced by fresh, young politicians insistent on defending the country from the worst, cruelest, most corrupt iteration of the Republican Party in history.

Imagine what FDR, Harry Truman, and LBJ would have done with this current crop of grim and greedy Republican corporatists such as super-rich Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who just told the country that cuts in Medicare and social security are necessary due to the deficits he and his GOP created with the giant tax escapes for the rich and big corporations. For starters, old style Democrats would be “raising hell” promoting the omnipresent message that America Needs a Raise!

Ralph Nader / Common Dreams

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