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President Donald Trump gestures as he delivers his first State of the Union address in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol to a joint session of Congress as Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan applaud. (Photo: AP/Pool)

You Would Think It Would Be Impossible to Lose Ground to Trump and the GOP—But You'd Be Wrong

For several weeks Democrats have been slipping in polls, and now they are virtually dead even with Republicans.  Even Trump is getting more popular. 

John Atcheson

Imagine having the good fortune to run against a Party which is systematically screwing the people who voted for it; abandoning science; blatantly lying, dissembling, and deceiving on just about everything; appointing lobbyists, cronies and ideologues for the purpose of eviscerating agencies that enjoy the support of the majority of Americans (after promising to drain the swamp); and basically navigating on an irrational, ad hoc basis with no semblance of a strategic plan. Oh, and toss in a narcissistic, addle-brained thug as its leader. 

Now imagine losing ground in the court of public opinion to these assclowns and risking losing elections to them.

You’ve just conjured up the almost unbelievable “accomplishment “of the Democratic Party.  For several weeks Democrats have been slipping in polls, and now they are virtually dead even with Republicans.  Even Trump is getting more popular.

To see how stunningly inept this is, you have to understand just how much Republicans in general and Trump in particular are doing to hurt their constituents.

Let’s review the bidding, here:

  • Trump’s promise: bring jobs back to coal country. The reality: coal is collapsing faster under Trump. 
  • Trump’s promise: give the middle class a tax cut. The reality: Trump, Ryan and the rest of the Party passed a bill that hurts the middle class and helps the 1 percent.
  • Trump’s promise: protect/strengthen Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The reality: after exploding the deficit, Republicans are taking aim at entitlements  once again. Over the years this is like an old Abbot and Costello routine – deficits are horrible (but only when Democrats are in charge), so we’ll pass tax cuts that create obscene deficits then cut programs Americans overwhelmingly support to deal with the deficits we Republicans created.
  • Trump’s promise: everyone will have health care insurance “… they’ll be beautifully covered …” and it will cost less; we’ll repeal and replace. The reality: the number of uninsured is going up, and the cost of insurance is skyrocketing since Republicans removed the mandate in Obamacare. Basically, they are simply dismantling Obamacare piece by piece with no replacement, and it’s hurting the middle class and the poor.
  • Trump’s promise: let Medicare and Medicaid negotiate to lower drug prices. The reality:he just announced a plan that doesn’t do that, or much of anything else, for that matter.  Not too surprising when you consider that his two Secretaries of Health and Human Services – his first resigned over ethics issues – have or had conflicts of interest due their relationships with drug companies.  One owned a great deal of pharmaceutical stock, the other was employed by the pharmaceutical industry. So much for draining the swamp.

Moreover, his immigration policies are hurting small businesses; his trade war with China would hurt farmers and rural Americans – both strong supporters of his in 2016.  Then there’s the fact that he’s blowing up the Mideast … something the majority of Americans oppose.

This list could go on and on.  But the bottom line is, the big three issues as we approach 2018 are health care, gun control, and the economy—in that order—and Republicans are on the wrong side of all of them.  Even the economy.  For all the good news about unemployment, the rate of job growth was actually higher under Obama, and it has slowed since Trump took over. In fact, there were fewer jobs created in Trump's first year in office than at any time since 2011.

Speaking of jobs, renewable energy is the biggest job creator in the nation and now employs more people than any other single sector globally.  Trump is trying to cut tax credits, and other supports while endangering our domestic renewable industry with his trade maneuvers.  Oh, and he’s trying to jack up fossil fuels at a time when they’re no longer economical in many cases. In short, he’s sabotaging the nation’s biggest job creator so he can support the oil and coal oligarchy.

You’d think it would be just about impossible to lose ground—let alone lose elections—to a collection of plutocratic puppies like this, who have screwed their supporters, served the interests of the oligarchy at the people’s expense, blown up the deficit, and handed the government over to a collection of high-spending, industry shills.

But of course, you’d be wrong.

As I’ve been saying for years now, it’s simply not enough to be against Trump and the Republicans.  Democrats have to be for something, and that something is a progressive agenda if they want to win. Instead, campaigns like Hillary’s are the preferred strategy for the neoliberal Democrats in charge of the Party. Heavily scripted; poll-tested; PAC funded; driven by tactics; vague on values. In short, campaigns that depend upon painting the other guy to be bad, rather than specifying exactly what it is you are in favor of. 

There’s a reason for this.  The neoliberals are beholden to moneyed interests, and so they can only flirt with progressive policies.  That’s why we got Dodd-Frank, a financial “reform” that didn’t touch too-big-to-fail banks, and that didn’t reinstate a Glass-Steagall requirement to prevent banks from playing high-stakes roulette with your money.  That’s why we got job-wrecking trade deals; weak sister climate policies; the “end of welfare as we know it;” FCC rules that give away the store to monopolies; the end of big government … on an on it goes.  It’s why only 37 percent believe the Democrats stand for anything; and finally, it’s why the neoliberal establishment is actively working to purge progressives from the Party.   

And it’s why they’re losing ground and risking losing in 2018 to a gang of incompetent and malevolent tools of the oligarchy. Fortunately, there’s a grass toots rebellion going on within the Party.

Bottom line: Republicans work to shape polls, Democrats are driven by them. The result is a steady drift to the right, an increasingly divided nation, and elections that are controlled by a passionate minority that is motivated by fear, hate, greed, envy, and ignorance, while historically, those seeking progressive and rational candidates chose to stay home.

Let’s hope Tuesday’s primary sends a clear message that even the neoliberals and DLC Democrats can’t ignore.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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