The Great Democratic Reboot: Why I’m Underwhelmed

So the Great Democratic Reboot was rolled out today. Let me express why I am underwhelmed.

First Mistake. The Reboot was announced with an op ed by Nancy Pelosi in the Washington Post and an op ed by Chuck Schumer in the New York Times.  The CNN story has a photo of Schumer and Pelosi together. I’m not seeing it in many other places.

This would have been a nice time to put some other faces forward, especially faces from Rust Belt or other states that aren’t already solid blue. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio might have been a good choice.  Or how about Al Franken of Minnesota? He’s great on the teevee. I was looking at a list of Democratic senators and realized there are several I’ve never heard speak, ever. Same thing with the House Dems. Isn’t in time for the old guard to let some of the younger people be The Face of the Party?

Instead, we get the same old faces who have spoken for the party since Reconstruction — a senator from New York and a congresswoman from San Francisco. And the Dems need to realize that in red country, people especially hate Pelosi. I acknowledge that isn’t fair to Pelosi, but it is what it is. If you want to reach voters who are not loyal Democrats already, don’t put Pelosi’s face on the message.

Second Mistake. The messengers probably won’t matter, however, because the news is focused on Jared Kushner’s testimony to the Senate investigators today. The Reboot will come and go with most of the nation not noticing.

Third Mistake. The Rollout features three main ideas: One, the Dems commit to creating 10 million full-time, good-paying jobs in the next five years, or I assume in whatever five-year period follows implementation of the Democratic plan to do this. Two, Dems will fight monopolies and big corporate mergers. Three, they pledge to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Excuse me while I yawn. If you have trouble falling asleep, skip the Ambien and just read the Great Democratic Reboot to yourself. It’s non habit forming, I promise.

Now, I’m not saying these are not worthy goals; of course, they are. But to working-class folks this is going to come across as more blah blah blah.

Jeff Stein wrote at Vox:

Not everyone will be thrilled with this strategy. Centrists in the party may worry that this tactic risks making Democrats look like far-left ideologues, and argue that the party lost last fall because its leader was already seen as too far to the left for most voters.

That anyone would consider those three points to be “far left” tells you how out to lunch too many Democrats are.

And those closer to the Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wing of the party will charge that Democrats have still done little to shake their ties to elite donors and should much more firmly embrace universal programs, like a single-payer health care model and free college tuition for all.

I wrote last week why I thought Democrats ought to be making all the noise they can about health care right now. Another shovel-ready issue Dems ought to be talking about is infrastructure.  The Reboot plan does mention infrastructure, but IMO it should be more prominent.

The U.S. is sitting on a $4 trillion infrastructure time bomb, the BBC says, as our roads and bridges and dams and tunnels and the power grid and airports and public transportation systems rot from underfunding and neglect. Why aren’t we putting the nation to work fixing this stuff? This is something tangible and understandable; vague bleats about jobs in a generic sense comes across as empty promises.

Democrats may think they already tried to sell that idea back in 2009, but most people here in red state land heard little about it except that it would cost a lot of money. The big block to the plan, of course, is that it would be a big outlay of tax dollars (although once the bridges have collapsed and the roads are no longer drivable, we’ll end up spending more to rebuild them).  Donald Trump promised an infrastructure plan, but what little he ever trotted out amounted to tax incentives to private companies to fix infrastructure, which frankly makes no sense to me.

Other criticisms I’ve heard about an infrastructure plan is that the nation is short of skilled workers to carry it out. Okay, so train them. Also, all this rebuilding would take many years. Sounds like a feature, not a bug.

Back to health care — it’s criminal that the Dems don’t mention health care in their plans except for prescription drug prices.  And I had read they were going to endorse a $15 / hour minimum wage, but neither Schumer nor Pelosi mentioned that. Cold feet?

There are a lot of other policies I’d like to have seen, like maybe a pledge that next time the financial sector crashes the economy, people will be prosecuted for it. But IMO it’s more effective to pick one or two tangible programs to sell to people than a laundry list of vague intentions.

If Democrats think that just injecting some buzz about a rigged economy into their rhetoric is going win people over — especially with the same old faces delivering the message — I don’t think so.  And they’re going to have to get bolder, and more specific, and be willing to point out Republican failures in starker terms.

12 thoughts on “The Great Democratic Reboot: Why I’m Underwhelmed

  1. Well, you gotta start somewhere, I guess. I will say that the majority leader in the Senate’s “Democrats suck!” approach to messaging, which is what he seemed to be conveying on TV, sure seems crappy. I say, just say infrastructure and run with it.

  2. Disappointing is what it is. Is the democratic leadership as bad at politics as this shows them to be?

    This plan is nothing more than mealy mouthed incremental BS that means absolutely nothing to the average voter. If they learned anything from 2016, it should have been small bore incremental plans designed to give dem leadership cover when the right attacks and deniability when they bow before their donors are losers with the voters. Now is the time to go big. They’re right to keep it simple and focus on no more than three things, but go big with them!

    Without question the first plank in the platform should be to preserve and improve the ACA and make health care even more affordable and accessible to more Americans, and start with single payer as a way to do that. While it is in the news and on most people’s minds, now is the perfect time to explain to voters the difference between what they have now with the ACA, and what the GOP will take from them. And don’t be afraid to tell the truth: people WILL die if the GOP gets its way, just to give tax cuts to a tiny fraction of the population who won’t need them. The GOP had no problem lying about “death panels;” and yet the dems are afraid to tell the truth when the facts clearly show that people will likely die as a result of what the GOP will do. Absolutely pathetic.

    Second should be an infrastructure plan, and sell it as the beginning of the solution to all those coal jobs lost to market forces driven by automation and renewable energy.

    Third, instead of talking about corporate mergers and acquisitions – the average person won’t understand that and make the connection – why not just say the democrats will commit to funding the SBA and other organizations and work on regulations to promote and support small business creation and family farms?

    Hell, they could run and win on this: protect your right to affordable and accessible health care and stand up for fairness and the rule of law.

  3. Would it be too hard to say something like restore sanity, civility, and real representative democracy to the country.? Too hard stand for merit instead of just inherit?  Too hard to stand for the dignity of all people, not just a select few?  Too hard to aim to put a soul back in the United States? Too hard to utter even a notion like to bring forward and develop great future leaders of this country and the world?  

    Strike one for sure, but at least they showed up at the plate.  

  4. I have the same reaction – all they did was change the packaging. It’s the same ingredients and the same product inside.

    Second and off topic (why Maha hasn’t booted me I’m not sure) Trump went after Sessions for the THIRD time. Trump wants Sessions to resign, probably because Trump thinks he can bully the deputy AG into firing Mueller. Trump is trying not to fire Sessions directly because he’s already built the circumstances for an Obstruction case. If Sessions continues to resist, I think Trump will fire Sessions.

    Note: today’s broadside had to do with not investigating Clinton over e-mails – an investigation which was done and concluded about the time of the election. SO WTF is that about except a) a distraction and b) a bigger push for Sessions to resign.

    If Sessions resigns, his career in politics is over. He resigned from the Senate to take this job. If Trump opposes Sessions, the base will follow. This is not how you build loyalty in the executive branch. The public humiliation of Sessions (who is an ass) for not making DOJ an extension of the West Wing is a throwback to the Nixon era. And a bunch of those guys went to jail for practicing that kind of government. And Nixon didn’t throw them under the bus, he just could not protect them.

    IMO, the pressure on Trump is becoming unmanageable. He’s loosing it.

  5. You’ve hit most of the ways that this is so lame and says “same old, same old”.

    This is at a time when the CEO of Aetna is calling for a debate on single payer. With the GOP failure on healthcare, this is the time to be bold.

    Or when you have progressives running in Trump country who are keenly aware of their countrymen’s concerns and are not afraid to address them.

    Pelosi and Schumer may (or may not) be wizards inside the beltway, but their limited ideas and stale approach is why the Republicans are running the country.

  6. (why Maha hasn’t booted me I’m not sure)

    You’re covered under the group therapy clause in the blog mission statement

  7. Doug… I find myself in an emotional dilemma watching Trump beat up on Sessions. I have no love for either one of them and I’d be more than happy to see Sessions get his lumps…But watching Trump’s public bullying of Sessions is really a major turn off that is damaging to our whole societal structure if people don’t speak out against it. It’s really sad to think that that behavior is acceptable in our nation’s leadership..
    I saw Paulie Ryan making excuses for his lack of courage by saying the president is within his right to fire Sessions.. but didn’t seem notice or comment on the act of someone in governmental power publicly bullying a subordinate.

  8. McCain could have been a hero.
    Instead, he was his usual ZERO!

    The man who never earned a dollar unless it came from the US government; and the worthless scumbag who never paid a single penny for health care – including the recent blood clot operation, and the coming treatment for brain cancer – decided to side with the Republican “Death Panel Bill.

    I knew it was a fool’s wish, hoping that he’d come out and say no to Trump-Don’t-Care.
    After all, without really great coverage, very few other 80 year-olds could afford to have these procedures.
    But no.
    He remained true to form: A man who loves to play a political version of Hamlet, who sits on Sunday news tries to display his inner turmoi.
    A turmail for show only. He ALWAYS sides with his GOP death squad.

    I don’t wish death on anyone, but maybe it would have been better if he died in Vietnam the hero who refused early release from the Vietnamese POW Camp – preferring to stay with all of the other POW’s, including those not related to US Navy Admirals.

    Sorry, but if I never hear his name again, I won’t miss a fucking thing.
    FUCK HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Swami – I have no fondness for Sessions either. The problem is Trump’s reasons for trying to push Sessions out. There was no virtue is Sessions recusing himself. It was self-preservation. He was caught “not remembering” a meeting with he same Russian player that Flynn and Kushner had so much trouble with. (maybe the Russian ambassador has one of those flashy thingies like they used in Men-in-Black whenever they had to induce amnesia.)

    Trump thinks the DOJ is his personal hit squad. It’s not just that Trump wishes Sessions had buffered for him – he’s gonna fire Sessions for NOT buffering for him. This isn’t just revenge – it is to replace sessions with someone more pliable. Muller will suddenly be out of a job and all the information impounded.

    The Senate and the House voted to clip Trumps wings re relaxing sanctions. The margins mean they could override a veto. Putin will not be happy. If Congress has taken the matches away from Trump once, will they do it again? If Trump becomes useless to Putin, will Putin throw Trump under the bus? I’m not thinking pee-pee tapes. I’m talking about evidence that will put Trump in prison til he dies.

  10. I certainly don’t care for Sessions. However, I wonder what he is thinking in refusing to resign. Is it just stubbornness, does he have something on Trump and is daring him to fire him, or does he just want to stay there long enough to get his changes made? Or something else that I can’t think of? I do like the idea of Trump becoming increasingly frustrated and angry. He will eventually lose it and do something that will finish him off. He is not used to not getting his way.

  11. Muller will suddenly be out of a job and all the information impounded.
    I suspect that Mueller knows enough to sink an anchor into the investigation so that if he gets the boot the investigation will continue at least in aspects that will lead to Trump’s eventual downfall. Much like Comey did to insure that Trump couldn’t just kill the investigation in one fell swoop. Sally Yates and Preet Barrarra both took similar stands in forcing Trump to fire them rather than to just roll over. That might seem like an insignificant gesture in the big picture but it adds weight to the overall picture of Trump trying to stop or impede an investigation. Obstructing Justice.
    If he fires Sessions there’ll be no misunderstanding of why he did it. It will have nothing to do with Session’s job performance. If Sessions was smart, and if he can, he should look for any tidbit of potentially criminal activity coming from the Trump organization and launch a parallel investigation branched off of, but separate of Muller’s investigation to insure that Trump pays a price.
    Sessions loves his job and he’s had a lifelong dream of becoming the AG. And now Trump has him in a very vulnerable position and is abusing him like he’s a girl in the typing pool who desperately needs her job for survival.. In a sense you could even say it’s a perverted form of sexual harassment because Session’s is getting screwed for not putting out the investigation.

  12. Back, for a minute, to the pretty pathetic national-Dem reboot: in case any of y’all are looking for a pol deserving of a few bucks, may I suggest you look into our (Texas) D candidate for Cruz’ seat, Beto O’Rourke? For one thing, in the House D Caucus, Beto voted for Ryan over Pelosi for Minority Leader because of just this kind of over-the-hill, lame “leadership”. For another, Beto’s unequivocally supporting single-payer. This from an e-mail from Beto yesterday: “Here’s what I’m for. Every single American can see a doctor. Reduce total health care spending. Save lives and just be good to each other… Universal health care for ALL Americans is a core part of our platform.”

    I’d vote for the ghost of Scoop Jackson against Cruz, but lucky us, we’ve got an honest-to-Pete good D candidate this time.

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