"Somehow, in my lifetime, the Democrats have gone from being the party of the factory floor to the party of the faculty lounge."
-Paul Begala, one of the top strategists who helped elect Bill Clinton, the president who smashed FDR's legacy to bits
We're 180 days out from the midterms-- and in some key politically dysfunctional states, New York and Florida pop into mind most immediately-- candidates don't even where what their districts will look like yet. Pundits and prognosticators are playing their guessing games about which party will come out on top, but until all the districts are drawn, it's all hypothetical numerology.
This morning's Punchbowl News was full of whining from members of the Republican wing of the Democratic Party scared to face the voters... like suburban Blue Dogs Abigail Spanberger (VA) and Josh Gottheimer (NJ), who have been "pressing party leaders in recent days to step up legislative efforts to save their majority." Since neither Spanberger nor Gottheimer believes in the core messages of the Democratic Party, one wonders what legislative efforts they're talking about.
Remember, there are no better personifications of Teresa Tomlinson's messaging about political fear than Spanberger and Gottheimer: "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave. They care less about what you think on the issues than whether you have the moxie to fight for them and the strength of conviction to tell them what you really think." Spanberger and Gottheimer are cowards who are destroying the Democratic Party from within-- like termites.
The Punchbowl crew wrote that "roughly 30 House Democrats have long known the political headwinds are against them this year. Redistricting, inflation, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, an uneven economy are all big problems. Add to that, the fact that the party in power generally loses seats in the midterms. But many of these vulnerable Democrats returned to Washington after a week at home particularly spooked. Their frustrations are running high. They’re worried about a lack of legislative victories in 2022. And they badly want Democratic leaders and committee chairs to push more bills that help address the concerns of everyday Americans... [T]hese Democrats want their leaders to do something to try to reverse the party’s political fortunes before it’s too late." Funny-- it was conservative Democrats from their wing of the party-- particularly corrupt Blue Dogs Kurt Schrader (OR), Ed Case (HI), Stephanie Murphy (FL) and Lou Correa (CA) and corrupt New Dems Scott Peters (CA) and Kathleen Rice (NY)-- who were instrumental in derailing a popular prescription drug bill to substantially lower prices. And, speaking of Schrader, he's the only Democrat left in the House who voted against raising the minimum wage (the other 5 Blue Dog scum having all been defeated last cycle, immediately after their betrayal of the working class).
Josh Gottheimer thinks the Democrats' magic bullet isn't lower drug prices or higher wages or fairer taxes-- God forbid!-- but a Republican bill he is pushing with Florida reactionary John Rutherford (R-FL) to increase funding in small police departments. "The House Democratic leadership has been cool to the proposal, despite a lobbying campaign on the floor this week. Here’s what one Democratic aide told us: 'The bills would completely crack our caucus in half. They might pass with GOP votes, they might not. Leadership isn’t going to put these bills on the floor because of that. Biden has said he wants to increase police funding. The most appropriate way to increase police funding is through the appropriations process. Do the math. The Squad would go ballistic, ripshit.'"
The thing to know about the Frontliners’ frustration is its multifaceted and complicated. Yes, they’re frustrated at Democratic leaders for not pressuring committee chairs more to move legislation that they can take back home and tout to voters. Yes, they’re frustrated with several committee chairs for prioritizing their own agendas or doing too little with just a few precious months before the midterms.
Yes, they’re frustrated with their own Democratic colleagues, some of whom are in safe districts and won’t, in their minds, just hold their nose and vote for bills that could help Democrats hold onto the majority. Yes, they’re frustrated with Biden and the White House for not having a consistent rebuttal to Republican attacks. Sometimes it’s “Putin’s price hike,” lately their target has been GOP Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to raise taxes.
And yes, they’re frustrated with forces largely out of their control, including supply chain disruptions caused by Covid and record prices for gas and groceries.
Yet the reality is that some of these vulnerable Democrats are searching for a “Hail Mary” to save the House Democratic majority. And that’s easier said than done.
The leadership has responded to some of these complaints. The House Agriculture Committee is crafting legislation to address the lack of competition in the meatpacking industry. The Energy and Commerce Committee is working on mental health bills and legislation dealing with the opioid crisis. The House will vote next week on addressing price gouging in the oil industry. House-Senate negotiations on a major package to boost competition with China in high-tech research and manufacturing have finally begun.
“The Frontliners have some individual bills that they’re interested in, and I want to make sure we can get them some success on these bills,” Hoyer told us in an interview. “They’re coming to me frustrated that they can’t get movement on their bills.”
So throwing more money at the police is the answer? How about more money at the police so that they can train their officers or, better yet, fire the racists and fascists on the forces are hire more qualified officers? "The nation has had its share of politically lukewarm Democratic candidates-- structured by the national party for perceived winnability not leadership," wrote Tomlinson. "The key to winning is that you don’t aim to win, you aim to lead. If you lead, the winning takes care of itself-- or at least you move the needle so profoundly you set up the next winner."
Conservatives oppose the whole concept of a livable wage. He strikes at the core of their raison d'être. This morning, as they engage in the Applebee's shareholder action to change the company's policy the barbaric subminimum tipped wage, Patriotic Millionaires wrote to their followers that "The Republican party is adamantly opposed to raising wages for workers almost as a rule, and despite support for this change from a significant majority of Democrats, there is still a small, stubborn group of Democratic Senators who are holding up progress. Eight Democrats in the Senate voted against raising the minimum wage in 2021: Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, Jeanne Shaheen, Kyrsten Sinema, Maggie Hassan, Chris Coons, Tom Carper, and Angus King. They currently refuse to support raising worker wages to $15 an hour, or to even come up with an alternative. These Senators are the major roadblock to raising the federal minimum wage and, for many of them, their issue with raising the wage is they are uncomfortable touching the subminimum tipped wage. Unsurprisingly, many have extremely close relationships with the restaurant industry. In fact, a fundraising coordinator for many of these Senators is married to the chief lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, Sean Kennedy, who actively lobbies to preserve the $2.13 tipped minimum wage. These Senators must change their minds. The country cannot afford a status quo based on cruelty, short-sightedness, and greed. A business model based on those things simply has no place in our modern economy. If we want to move forward into an economy truly built for the 21st century, we must begin by ensuring that every worker is paid fairly for their labor."
They closed with a compelling argument that is likely to go right over the heads of Blue Dog whiners like Abigail Spanberger and Josh Gottheimer: "Southern plantation owners in the 1800s probably thought they were good business people too, but their ability to make a profit through slavery didn’t mean that their business model was morally justified or good for the country. Just as a business model built on slavery had no place in our economy in the 20th century, a business model built on exploitation and human suffering should have no place in an economy built for the 21st century."