By Ralph Nader
With less than two weeks to go before the November 8th congressional elections, the candidates in close races are frantically racing around their districts, dialing for campaign dollars and doing more of the same speechifying and repetitive political ads. “More of the same,” however, may not be enough.
Candidates whose campaigns are stalled and a little stale need to resist late-campaign ditto-heading and freshly propose a compelling future for voters.
In a recent compilation of ideas from twenty-five leading progressive civic leaders and advocates titled “Crushing the GOP, 2022” (https://winningamerica.net/), Democratic campaigners can pick and choose motivating messages and ideas to use in the remaining days before November 8th and in forthcoming elections of 2024.
It is time to present all the families in America with a fulsome commitment to elevate our health, safety, and economic well-being. Elections should be about the future, as well as the near-term. Our children, who can be practical idealists, are our future, and the hope for a just democracy and safe planet.
Astonishingly, the Republicans have been getting away with an astounding variety of cruelties to children. It is almost as if their inbred corporatism keeps them from seeing the children for the big bucks. Republicans are pro-life until children are born. At that point, you’re on your own baby!
The particulars are overt and shameless. Republicans have opposed adequate neonatal care, paid family leave, maternity leave and child care. They have blocked a long-overdue national elevation of the $7.25 frozen minimum wage to $15 an hour. All these issues register large polling majorities. They are the routine social safety nets common in other western countries.
The clenched-jaw opposition by congressional Republicans to programs confronting the violence of fossil-fuel-driven climate disruption gives grim meaning to bought-and-paid-for politicians. They are eagerly refusing to protect our descendants from the oncoming fury of mega-storms, floods, droughts, uncontrollable wildfires and sea level rises. Even the Pentagon thinks the climate crisis is a serious national security threat.
To make matters worse, the Republicans, since 2011, have starved the IRS budget to the point that the present Trump-appointed head of the IRS Charles Rettig estimates about one trillion dollars in taxes a year go uncollected. If Democrats had the FDR, Harry Truman fighting spirit, today they could very accurately accuse the GOP of actively aiding and abetting massive tax evasion.
The GOP pushed for tax giveaways to the super-rich and large corporations in 2017 and huge tax escapes. But they blocked a portion of the tax dollars being invested in pro-children programs.
There’s more. In January, Republicans callously and disgracefully blocked the extension of the $300 a month child tax credit for fifty-eight million children. Until its suspension, this tax credit cut the child poverty level by one-third.
At the same time, Republican-dominated, gerrymandered states have governors and legislatures that refuse to apply for available federal Medicaid funds to provide broader health insurance for the children in their states.
With Trump in the White House, the GOP Congress pushed for more junk food (salt, sugar and fat) in school lunch programs. They also repealed a ban on a pesticide that scientists found to be especially dangerous for very young children.
Democrats have supported pro-children legislation and regulations, and have a reputation going back decades fighting against Republican neglect of safeguarding children. Democrats can connect with parents of fearful tweens and teenagers calling out adults with their plea: “We are children and ‘you’ are not protecting us.” Pin that “you” directly onto the GOP.
It is also not too late for get-out-the-vote campaigning for the tens of millions of midnight shift workers who keep the country running while we are asleep. Workers in hospitals, nursing homes, factories, all-night stores, police stations, firehouses, and emergency repair shops have been overlooked in campaigns. Respecting by name these third-shift occupations and visiting their places of work can give these voters an exhilarating lift in the closing days of campaigns.
There is also still time to go on the offensive against the Republicans who specialize in placing the Democrats on the defensive by invoking cultural and family values. Ridiculous. In 2014 and 2020, I put together 12 Kentucky Values the Republicans regularly reject. The Kentucky Democratic Senatorial candidates refused to embrace this message, even though the state’s leading paper, the Louisville Courier-Journalpublished my article titled “Ky. values vs. McConnell.” Most of these “values” resonate with people everywhere in America. (See: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/10/24/ralph-nader-ky-values-vs-mcconnell/17846981/).
To the Democratic candidates – Tim Ryan, John Fetterman, Mandela Barnes, Beto O’Rourke, Catherine Cortez Masto, Maggie Hassan, Raphael Warnock, Patty Murray, Mike Franken and others in House and Senate races that should not be close – I say, go directly on the offensive against the most lawless, corrupt, repressive GOP in history that creates Anxiety, Dread, and Fear for families desperately trying every day to make ends meet.
Make the final stretch drive a luminous comparison of how the lives and livelihoods of most people, of most workers and children, would be better under the Democratic Party than under the chronically lying Republican Party of Big Business Greed over People.