Opinion: - It didn’t have to happen!

By Dan Schmitt | November 26, 2014 | OK, I admit I’m a disappointed Democrat! The disappointment isn’t because many Democratic cand...

By Dan Schmitt | November 26, 2014 |

OK, I admit I’m a disappointed Democrat! The disappointment isn’t because many Democratic candidates were drubbed in the recent election or because many who did win won by the skin of their teeth. No, I’m disappointed because the poor Democratic showing was mostly self-induced.

Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve come to expect Republican candidates, members of the party of NO NEW IDEAS, to lack substance. But this election, Democratic candidates were intent on matching their opponents’ cacophony of nothingness. Democratic candidates did poorly because they failed to articulate Democratic Party principles and the reasoned defense of those principles that would have resonated with voters.

Take for example the campaign for the California Seventh Congressional District pitting Congressman Ami Bera against Doug Ose. According to the attack television ads produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Doug Ose went to Washington back in the early 2000s and got rich being a Congressman. Utter nonsense! Businessman Ose is wealthy indeed, but his economic status has nothing to do with his years in Congress.

Economics was the hot election issue, and both Bera and Ose had their talking points about building the economy and the Middle Class. Neither candidate, however, offered any new ideas on how that would occur, but Ose did spend lots of money on ads touting his business experience and the 30-year Republican mantra that “lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy would stimulate the economy”, AKA the trickle-down theory.

If the staff and organizations supporting Bera had known a little history about Ose’s congressional record, they might have jumped on his claim with a message like: “Doug Ose claims to know how to rev up the economy and build the Middle Class. Well, the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding says otherwise. During the Bush Administration, Congressman Ose voted for the 2001 tax cut, the largest in American history, and the 2003 tax cut.

And how did those tax cuts work, you might ask? Well the answer is, it depends. If you were a corporation (remember, a corporation is a person!), a corporate executive, or a pretty wealthy person like Doug Ose, you made out like a bandit because most of the tax cuts went to them. Middle Class families got a pittance. Take for example the pay for corporate CEO’s. During the 1970s, the average chief executives at 102 major companies were paid roughly 40 times an average full-time worker’s pay.  A few years after those tax cuts, it increased to 367 times the pay of the average worker.  And Middle Class families got their pittance!

How about the economy in general, you might also ask? Did it grow because of the tax cuts?  Well, not really. The eight years of the Bush administration saw the lowest GDP growth of any administration since the end of World War II. So much for tax cuts stimulating the economy, and so much for Doug Ose’s ideas!”     

Both sides talked about the proposed federal minimum wage increase.  Bera thought it was a good idea; Ose, like most Republicans, took the opposite stance claiming it would hurt businesses and the economy. Once again, if Bera and other Democratic candidates had gone beyond their talking point and actually supported it with historical evidence, it might have resonated with the electorate.  Heck, they might have tried this: “Doug Ose is against raising the federal minimum wage because he says it’ll hurt the economy. Well, history says differently. Back in 1914, Henry Ford, a pretty good businessman in his own right, did something revolutionary – he doubled his workers’ wages to $5 per day. His intentions were not altruistic; Ford wanted to keep his rank and file workers, and he wanted his workers to earn enough to buy his automobiles!  And, how did that work? Ford Motor Corporation workers soon enjoyed the highest Middle Class standard of living of the time. If Costco today can afford to provide its workers with a solid Middle Class wage and still turn a decent profit, so can Walmart and McDonalds.”

The dearth of substantive ideas doomed the Democratic candidates. Either they lacked the necessary knowledge to articulate the principles that have served the party and our country well over the past century, or they lacked the backbone to espouse those principles.  The 2014 election is history.  It’s time to look towards 2016.  Here are a couple ideas to ponder for any Democrat thinking of running in two years and all those staffers who will be there to help get their candidate elected.

1.  Stop bleating nonsense. Let that be the strategy of the Republicans. Don’t treat the electorate as a bunch of idiots. Discuss sound economic principles like the living wage and the importance of workers, once again, becoming economic stakeholders on par with the stockholders and CEO’s. And give us reasoned thinking that support those principles. 

2.  Spend less time working your phones and crunching numbers, especially now that the 2014 election is over. Spend more time gaining the necessary knowledge to build a credible campaign that will resonate with voters.  Gain at least some of that knowledge by reading books?  Let me suggest a couple that will enhance the understanding of important economic issues and the history behind them: The Crash Course: The Unsustainable Future of Our Economy, Energy, and Environment by Chris Martenson and Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick Smith.

Democratic candidates must arm themselves with knowledge and have the backbone to trumpet that knowledge.  Now is the time to begin.

Dan Schmitt is a retired educator, baseball coach and resides in Wilton, Calif. 

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Warren Buffet said...

I would presume the core of your Party, the unionized public-sector and "elite" liberals, probably turned out in typical numbers. But the "swing" Democrats who can tilt elections to your Party's favor (i.e. the recipients of redistributed income who relish the handouts), probably turned out in dismal numbers because there were no major entitlement giveaways on this ballot. I would be worried that the recent giveaways have been at the expense of the squeezed middle-class (a large part of your base), and now they will now become the swing vote for 2016. Stop digging in the pockets of the middle class and maybe you will get your power back!

Samuel L. Jackson said...

With all due respect Warren, if we don't spend the money on such frivolous things such as education or crumbling infrastructure, where would you like the money spent? More military spending? I already know what you are going to say - less spending and lower taxes for the extreme wealthy through such goodies as lower capital gains taxes. That works great for that sliver of the population where capital gains taxes, i.e., hedge fund manager and investment bankers make up the majority of their pay. As for reducing spending, good luck with that . Regardless if our President is D or R, once they get in, they spend, spend, spend. That is political and human nature. Just look at our own city government if you want proof, but I digress.

Now tell me, whats in your wallet?

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