How can we win next time?
I do not need to go over the long list of Trump’s transgressions. I take it for granted that he should never have been nominated by the Republicans, and should never have been elected.
I recall however, that when Reagan was elected, and GW Bush later, they won despite sticking to generalities. Not for either of them the detailed policy prescriptions that characterized so many victorious Democratic campaigns in the past. Kennedy was remarked for his mastery of detail, as was Bill Clinton. So it was reasonable to think that this is a winning strategy for a Democrat. Hillary Clinton obviously thought so. But she was defeated. Trump promised to bring jobs back and somehow repeal Obamacare without causing people to lose coverage. He offered no specific details on how he would do these things. People voted for him anyway. Just enough to win.
The Democrats need to run on credible proposals. Still, I think that the Democrats would profit by offering less specificity in their platform for 2018 and 2020. The electorate will not take the time to read white papers, however brilliant they might be.
So, how do we promote Democratic healthcare? We talk about universal coverage. We point out that other democratic countries have it already, in various forms. We promise a bipartisan approach to developing a detailed reform of the health care system with the goal of covering everybody. We criticize the Republicans’ willful sabotage of the insurance markets, the mendacious abandonment of the poor and the sick. We do not commit to any particular plan, whatever it might be.
How do we promote Democratic foreign policy? We speak about a return to respect for American leadership, grossly debased by the policies of the Republicans. We do not commit to any specific policy on immigration or treaties. Let people think about the overall goal of restoring American leadership in foreign affairs. Only the most fanatical right wingers think America is not losing respect worldwide under the Republicans.
How do we promote Democratic tax policy? We speak broadly about a progressive tax system where everybody pays a fair share, where special interest loopholes are closed and tax havens are eliminated, without committing to any particular law.
How do we promote a return to rationality? I think we need to be explicit about it without getting bogged down in detail. It is not enough to point out the irrationality of the Republicans, but candidates need to remember that nobody is going to read the white papers. A return to rationality on climate change, a restoration of respect for science in all areas, says all that we really need to say.
What kind of a candidate do we want? I think we need fresh faces. So I think President Obama’s plan to encourage people to run is right on the mark. We cannot say “Throw the bums out!” with the same old folks running on our side. It is too easy to smear familiar faces.
What do you think about this? I invite you to reply below.