Walk and Chew Gum: How Democrats Can Use Both Moral and Economic Arguments Come November
The Democrats are doomed!
Like clockwork, this past week presented a number of media outlets echoing a version of the aforementioned statement. Sure, Democrats have flipped nearly 40 seats since Trump was installed 16 months ago but none of that matters. No, what matters for our media friends is doing everything in their power to create drama for this year's midterm elections. Using the consistent sky-is-falling view based largely on the myth of the Democrats' disappearing polling advantage, the media has refused to acknowledge and admit that the blue wave is very real and that it is on pace to generate historic mid-term election losses, the likes of which have not been felt by a Republican president since Gerald Ford in 1974. Rather than admit the Democrats have a very real chance to flip both the House and Senate with a president who is historically unpopular, our media instead is choosing to create mindless narratives about how disjointed and disoriented the Democratic Party seems to be.
This week's hot take included multiple media outlets, in what seems to be a coordinated effort, attempting to portray a Democratic Party in disarray due to a lack of a cohesive economic message. Sites from The Hill to RealClear Politics to PoliticusUSA and everything in between have all expressed this faux belief that Democrats not only don't have a sound economic message but that they will actually lose on the issue to Donald Trump and thus won't be able to continue their historic blue wave. Of course, this idea that the Democrats don't have an economic message is not only blatantly false, but it also fails to take into account the current Democratic Party platform. With that in mind, here's a fun primer for our friends in the media who fail to believe that the Democratic Party has a winning message on the economy.
Being Pro-Health Care is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, supporting the Affordable Care Act, which brought improved health care to over 20 million Americans, is an economic message. By enacting the ACA, Democrats (and only Democrats) passed legislation that was literally designed as insurance reform. Thanks to its passage, those with pre-existing conditions could no longer be denied coverage, women could not be discriminated against, and those under age 25 were able to stay on their parents' plan while they transitioned into the workforce. Having a happy, healthy individual clearly benefits the workforce and it has been argued that the ACA was one of the main drivers behind the steadily decreasing unemployment numbers during the Obama presidency. At the very least, the ACA was directly responsible for the addition of 500,000 new jobs in the healthcare sector, a fact that Democrats can and should echo on the campaign trail.
Being Pro-Women's Health is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, advocating for women to make their own healthcare decisions is an economic argument. Democrats have and continue to be the one party pushing legislation to protect women. This legislation not only includes Democrats' support to protect a woman's right to choose but also advocates for proper sexual education in schools. At the end of the Obama presidency, legal abortion rates were at historic lows, a testament to the work that Democrats did to not only protect Planned Parenthood but also community health clinics. By providing younger women with safe, affordable health care options, the Obama administration was able to achieve record-high graduation rates, in large part due to teenage girls, especially those in low-income communities, having access to both education as well as medical services. Healthy women can be the financial backbone for many families and this is a sound, winning arguments for any Democratic candidate running for office.
Being Pro-DREAMers is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, advocating for 800,000 young men and women to remain in the country is an economic message. Studies have shown that by allowing DREAMers to continue their studies and participation in the American workforce, they would earn $350 billion over the next 10 years. DREAMers are integral to the local economies from New York City to the Rust Belt as they are actually more likely than their native-born peers to have a college degree. Democrats have been champions of the DREAMers and a large part of their advocacy needs to be the aforementioned economic benefit they provide the country. It's a moral argument, yes, but Democrats can and should stress just how beneficial DREAMers are to the American economy at a time when support for these young men and women has been as high as 87% in certain polls.
Being Pro-Education is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, wanting all Americans to have access to higher education and to not be crushed by student debt is an economic message. Congressional Democrats have already introduced bold legislation to make community college free, an idea pioneered by President Obama during his 2015 State of the Union Address. In just over 3 years, 8 states have introduced legislation to enact what became known as President Obama's Promise Program, Maryland's Republican governor has agreed to sign his state's bill into law, and red state Tennessee's tuition-free community college program is set to debut this fall. In addition to Democrats' unwavering support for affordable higher education, they are also the only party to advocate for student loan reform and to advocate against Betsy Devos, who has meticulously worked against student loan forgiveness. The benefits of higher education are innumerable and Democrats would be wise to stress this as part of their economic message.
Being Pro-Environment is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, wanting to protect our planet for future generations is a sound and convincing economic argument. Yes, it is first and foremost a moral argument. However, there is also a strong correlation between the climate and economic prosperity, starting with jobs. Thanks to the Obama administration's strong pro-environment policies, green jobs have increased exponentially including a 123% increase in the solar sector since 2010. Studies have shown that based on current rates, full-time coal energy employees could be absorbed into the solar sector in only 15 years. Wind power actually grew even more than solar power in 2016 and now employs more than 100,000 people. Combined, there are over 800,000 current American workers employed in the renewable energy field. As far as economic messages go, it's a no-brainer for Democrats to continue to stress how important it is that the United States continues its investment in non-renewable energy and Democrats can and should stress their pro-environment views whenever the opportunity arises.
Being Pro-Worker is an Economic Message
Believe it or not, wanting workers to have more money is a pretty obvious economic message. Ever since President Barack Obama advocated for an increased minimum wage at his 2013 State of the Union, Democrats and progressive groups and advocates have been taking the lead in "giving America a raise" as President Obama asked us to do. Already, there exists an impressive list of action taken at the local and state levels, including raises in 18 states and 20 cities starting on January 1st, 2018. Democrats have been at the forefront of these actions, starting with Democratic governors in New York and California creating the first statewide pushes to $15 an hour and Democratic leadership of Seattle becoming the first city to enact its own $15 minimum wage. This is an issue that is slowly becoming bipartisan and it would behoove Democrats to stress how it was their leadership that finally put the issue on the map.
We know that our media cannot fathom how two things can be possible at the same time and thus, are unable to realize how the Democratic platform is actually infused with moral arguments while simultaneously having strong, embedded economic messages as well. Therefore, it will be up to the DNC and all local and statewide candidates to stress how it is that their views on a variety of topics are actually rooted in a strong, economic message. After all, it is the economy, stupid, and the more Democrats can show how their policies help individuals financially and help our country's economy as a whole, the better they will be come November. There is a moral argument to be made on many of these issues, but when push comes to shove, voters primarily care about economic issues. If Democrats can frame their arguments in a combined, cohesive moral and economic framework, they will be hard to beat in November.
Even if our media tells us otherwise.
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