By Ralph Nader
Apart from barely squeezing through the swing states to defeat corrupt, incompetent, lying, corporatist Donald Trump, the Democratic Party had a bad election.
Loaded with nearly twice as much money as the Republican Party, the Democratic Party showed that weak candidates with no robust agendas for people where they live, work, and raise their families, is a losing formula. And lose they did against the worst, cruelest, ignorant, lawbreaking, reality-denying GOP in its 166-year history.
The Democrats failed to win the Senate, despite nearly having twice the number of Senators up for re-election than the Republicans. In addition, the Democratic Party lost seats in the House of Representatives. The Democrats did not flip a single Republican state legislature, leaving the GOP to again gerrymander Congressional and state legislative districts for the next decade!
Will all this lead to serious introspection by the Democratic Party? Don’t bet on it. The GOP tried to learn from their losses in 2012, which led to their big rebound. Already, the Democratic Party is looking for scapegoats, like third party candidates.
Will the leaders of these inexcusable defeats – Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – explain how this happened? Will they take some responsibility and tell the American people why they let their profiteering media consultants spend so much money on tepid, low-impact TV ads at the expense of a massive ground game to give voters personal reasons to get themselves out to vote, beyond Trump? A third of all eligible voters stayed home. Could part of the problem be the 15% commission the consultants receive from TV ad revenues as compared to zero commissions from ground game expenditures?
Can the corporate Democratic leaders respond to inquiries by progressives and the sidelined primary voters of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren? Can they respond to why the living wage, the corporate crime wave, and the GOP blocked stimulus/relief package passed by the Democrats in May (including a $600 a week extension for tens of millions of desperate workers and critical aid to local agencies overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic) were not prominently front and center? Also, why did the Democrats refuse to campaign for full Medicare for All, supported by 70 percent of the American people? The Democrats, as pointed out by political media specialist, Bill Hillsman, did not speak directly to white, blue-collar workers who deserted Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump in 2016.
Moreover, the Democratic Party has a long-standing problem with authenticity. Rhetoric for a large infrastructure jobs program paid for by repealing corporate tax cuts and loopholes is seen as a throwaway line by many voters. Democrats should have explained, at the local level, how determination and integrity could shape the upgrading of our schools, clinics, roads, mass transit systems, waterworks, and other public services, with good-paying jobs.
Meanwhile, the Trumpsters showed their ferocious energy for wannabe, ego-obsessed, dictatorial Donald with more rallies, signs, and door-to-door contacts. The Democrats misread the faulty polls again thinking that the projected huge turnouts were primarily their voters and not also the Trump voters who turned out in greater numbers as well.
Too many Democratic operatives treat Trump with derision and mockery, instead of stressing how his daily lawlessness and serial violations of the Constitution have dismantled the protections for the people and turned the government over to big business to do and grab whatever they want.
Trump openly commits federal crimes (e.g. The Hatch Act, the Anti-Deficiency Act) using federal property, including the White House, for his campaign, spending money illegally, while brazenly defying over a hundred investigative subpoenas from the House of Representatives.
Yet, neither Biden and Obama nor the Democratic Party made these corrupt forms of obstruction of justice, front and center issues. They even ignored Trump’s past criminal assaults of women, whom he has repeatedly degraded.
These many missed, obvious opportunities have consequences. Don’t Trump voters and their families also suffer from frozen minimum wages, from the absence of adequate or any health insurance, from those sky-high drug prices that Trump failed to reduce? He put more toxins in the air and water and allowed more dangerous workplaces. Trump calls endangering people and the planet “deregulation” but what he was really doing is rewarding his corporate paymasters.
Trump just pushes many more buttons than do the Democrats. Why don’t the Democrats promote more unions, more consumer cooperatives, more campaign finance reforms, and more known ways to empower the people directly?
Of course, the Democrats would never argue that the American people, not corporations, should CONTROL what they already OWN such as the public lands, the public airwaves, and the shareholding mutual and pension funds investing their money. The Democrats never even think to demand that U.S. taxpayers get a direct return for trillions of dollars of government research and development that have subsidized the growth of modern industries (from aerospace to computers to agribusiness, biotech, pharma, and more).
While Trump incites street violence and then cries loudly for “law and order,” the Democrats don’t throwback “law and order” for violent, polluting corporate crooks who cheat and harm children, consumers, workers, and communities, as well as rip off government programs like Medicare. Trump has gotten away with defunding the federal corporate crime police big time. Never will the Democrats go after Trump for the bloated, runaway, unaudited military budget and its Empire that are devouring necessities here at home.
The House Democrats refused to keep multiple impeachment pressure (apart from the Ukraine matter) on the Republicans. A national TV audience of the Senate dealing with a dozen of Trump’s impeachable offenses would give even the most ardent Trump supporters pause. (See December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197).
The Democrats let Trump and his lawless Attorney General William Barr get away with all his corrupt, criminal, and unconstitutional actions, which have turned the White House into an ongoing crime scene. And, despite this “rap sheet” Trump came close to winning the Electoral College for a second term!
Next time, the rulers of the Democratic Party should listen to civic groups and advocates and not be so smug and incommunicado. As an example, I’ll refer you to my Eleven Suggestions for turning out the vote, with popular mandates, available to everyone in whole and in part for weeks (See also my latest op-ed in the Louisville Courier-Journal, October 27, 2020).
Now let’s see how many rollbacks and repeals Biden will quickly institute to stop Trump’s devastations and usher in a truly progressive, majoritarian set of long-overdue policies.