On the left, people are fighting for single payer health care. On the right, people are fighting to audaciously rob the poor to pay the rich. If you’re not doing something big right now, what the fuck are you doing?
Look at this tweet by Our President. Better than almost anything in recent memory, this sums up the unbridled audacity of the Republican party’s program for America. This statement is the exact opposite of the truth. But it is a lie delivered with such vigor that millions of Americans, busy with survival, cannot help but shrug and assume that it makes sense somehow. The fact that the President of the United States—the de facto head of the Republican Party, whether they like it or not—feels free to offer up such a bold lie as his preferred messaging strategy for the rich shows, at least, that he and his party are unafraid to forge ahead with a plan that will cut taxes on the very rich at the expense of everyone else, during a time when budgets will doubtless be stretched due to these national emergencies. They are so unafraid, in fact, that they are willing to use these national emergencies as part of their sales pitch for the very plan that is the opposite of what we would rationally need to do at this time.
They don’t give a fuck. They’re going for it. And they are in charge.
Boldness. Imagine what it would accomplish if coupled with actual good ideas. Imagine the bold self-assurance of Donald Trump and Paul Ryan telling Americans that we must cut taxes on the very rich, during a time of historically high inequality, because of hurricanes—put to use for proposals that would actually help people. The act of boldly proposing sweeping, radical, good ideas is almost completely foreign to the Democratic party, but it has been working well for the Republicans for decades. It is also why Bernie Sanders is the single most popular politician in America. And despite the fact that the “Third Way” centrist faction which has mostly controlled the Democratic party for years dismisses such boldness as ill-advised, Bernie’s approach is demonstrably more successful: his fellow Democrats in Congress have begun flocking to support it, reading, at last, the writing on the wall. (The writing on the wall reads, “WE HATE THE SYSTEM. -THE PUBLIC.”)
Single payer health care falls into the category of obviously good ideas that were long dismissed as impossible by the political consultant class. Giving up on good ideas because political consultants say they’re impossible has long been the greatest failing of the Democratic party. Democrats are supposed to the progressives. They are supposed to bring about social progress. Instead they have acted like scared kittens, seeking always to triangulate and co-opt the opposition’s positions and run to the middle. This strategy has failed, both morally and in terms of political power. The exact opposite strategy, wielded by the right, has gotten us President Donald Trump and a steady accumulation of economic power in an ever smaller number of hands. There is no triangulating left to do. Democrats can only fight boldness with boldness.
Health care for all? Yes. Higher taxes on the rich? Yes. Wealth redistribution? Yes. Smashing tech monopolies? Yes. Dismantling institutional racism? Yes. Stop protecting the strongest and wealthiest members of society and start protecting the poorest and most vulnerable. Take power and wealth away from those that have accumulated so much that they are undermining our democracy. This will not be popular with the donor class. This will not be popular with the people who can buy TV ad campaigns and fund their own PACs. But it will be popular with the people who need help—the majority of people. It is not hard to figure out what needs to be done to address our domestic problems right now. That’s the easy party. The hard part is for Democrats to stop acting like Democrats and to be fucking proud of making progress.
If you are an elected Democrat: Why are you doing this? Why did you become a politician? Is it so that you could say things that are not just cowardly but wrong, like “My understanding is, the cost of single-payer is enormous,” as Dianne Feinstein said? Or was it to help people? Helping people is the only acceptable reason to be a Democratic elected official. Will you spend your entire career telling yourself that you must moderate for political reasons now because success is just around the corner? It’s not! You make your own success, or you keep losing. You demand what you want, or you get what they give you. You are bold, or you live always at the mercy of people who are. Bold ideas only become politically popular because of the work of bold people who are willing to fight for them before they are popular. Good ideas are good no matter what your consultant says.
The proper response to a small number of rich people systematically robbing the rest of us is not to suggest that they rob us slightly less. The proper response is to take their shit so they can’t hurt us any more. Democrats, I’m afraid that—no matter how much we might both wish it were not true—this job is up to you.
Attack. Attack. Attack!