Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Open Letter to the Clinton Campaign

This year, from Joe Scarborough’s vapid attempt to characterize the working class as “mad at Republicans for not keeping promises to reign in the debt”, to Chuck Todd’s ludicrous assertion that the reason people don’t warm up to Hillary is (mostly) about her inability to show her personal side, I’m struck by just how dumb the political class is about what is going on in America and about what is being thought about by most Americans.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, one sincerely the other more or less fraudulently, are gaining traction because of one key and central theme, specifically the fate of average Americans.  Sanders and Trump are speaking to people’s frustration at having spent 30 years (since Reagan) buying into a myth, and during that time have seen their jobs leave, their wages fall or at best remain flat while costs rise, and the opportunities for their children to get an education and have at least as good a life, if not better, than they have, disappear.   This has come about due to competition with offshore labor, through attacks on the worthiness of work and was justified by/motivated from the idea that profit for the shareholders is first last and always the only thing that must be considered.  They (workers) were promised that by focusing on shareholder return there would be more and better paying jobs than those which left, and so more opportunity.  It has not done been true, not even close.  That idea has failed, and failed miserably.  It has lead to greater inequality as we destroyed overtime pay protections and most importantly cut taxes at the top end, motivating the very wealthy to seek and succeed in gaining access to a greater share of the profits they would now got to keep rather than see taxed.
The bottom line is this, if Hillary seeks to defeat Trump, a task which should be easy given the man’s enormous flaws, she MUST tap into that anger.  She needs to focus on demonstrating that the DEMOCRATIC PARTY has defended the working class far more than the Republicans, that the Democrats, not Republicans have repeatedly opposed easing restrictions on moving jobs overseas, repeatedly advocated for increasing wages, for making school accessible, making new industries (like renewable energy) the focus of our new manufacturing rather than, as Trump would advocate, reducing wages in stagnant industries so that US goods will be cost competitive with goods produced by impoverished workers in Indonesia, the Philippines or Ghana, so those goods can be sold in the poorest countries to the lowest bidder.  She must stake out the difference between not just her and Trump but Democrats and Republicans in terms of their recent history.  It has been Republicans who pushed the idea that corporate greed was good, even if it cost people jobs.  It has been Republicans who push so-called “right to work” ideas that destroy union protections and Republicans who protected corporations when they declared bankruptcy to shed themselves of pension commitments.  She must also show how her stance defends US worker’s wages and looks to the future rather than simply seeking to chase 3rd world countries down the rabbit hole of ever deflating wages.  Last, she MUST call out the wealthy in this country as having been unfair to those workers, allowing the US infrastructure to crumble, for making US universities to have to make up lost educational support by increasing tuition, and most of all, for not having shared the pain as jobs went offshore.  She must call them out for pocketing trillions, and not paying their share, while the country suffered and suffers.

So, while I find the issue of Trump's contemptuous, demeaning and blatantly sexist treatment of women in his life compelling, in the end it is hardly the only or even most important issue.  As Bill Clinton once said, "It's the economy, stupid."  That's something Trump seems to get more so than does Clinton right now and that has to change or we're going to elect a man to the Presidency who has an orangutan stapled to the top of his head and who has policy proposals to match.

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