Sunday, January 17, 2016

Democratic Debate Wish List

Here are some pleas to the two leading Democratic candidates that I hope--not holding my breath, I'll admit--that they will heed in their debate tonight.
To Hillary Clinton:  Please do not attack free public higher education (of the sort your generation enjoyed) on the basis of not wanting to send Donald Trump's kids to college for free.  Even in our own somewhat dysfunctional tax system, Trump would pay for his own children and those of others to attend university for free.  Sanders' plan is predicated on people of Trump's means paying far more into the system.
Please don't blather about American exceptionalism.  We realize that this is a lot of baloney.  There are many things in the economic and social realm that other countries do more effectively than the U.S.  We are not the only country with a strong democracy--and in fact our democracy is weaker than that of many other countries--and we do not have the right to dictate to other people around the world on the basis of our nationality.
Don't attack Sanders' call for the kind of universal healthcare (for which you advocated twenty years ago) by arguing that it will destroy existing healthcare for people.  If you think it is unlikely to be passed or object to it along ideological grounds, say as much.  But don't pursue disingenuous lines of attack.
Withdraw your stupid and misguided pledge about middle class taxes.  As you know perfectly well, these pledges have turned the GOP into a dangerous force in our politics, and you should not replicate this.  As you also know very well, progressive taxes, even those that affect middle class voters, can actually change into tremendous gains for those citizens if the money is allocated towards things like Pre-K-12 or higher education, towards our bloated healthcare sector, etc.  The role of brainless populist doesn’t suit you...leave that to the Republicans.
Ask your Super-PAC to withdraw gossipy attacks on Sanders' health.  As someone who has been unfairly attacked by right-wing propagandists for your entire political career, you know how this degrades our political process and distracts from the substance you claim to favor in political debate.
Re-think your neo-conservatism.  You and other neo-cons are responsible for the needless deaths of thousands of U.S. citizens and hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.  U.S. imperial interventions around the world seldom make our citizens safe, and often create new threats, both to our own citizens and to the people in those countries where we mount our invasions.  Our imperialism destabilizes the world through the sale of weapons, the backing of dictators, and our refusal to adhere to international rules.  Your support for Israeli and Moroccan colonialism, your backing of murderous drone strikes, and your endorsement of excessive NSA spying encourages people around the world to see the U.S. as a force for ill.
Stop thinking and talking as though "Republicans" are the enemy.  We might find our fellow citizens to hold some abhorrent views, but we should also look for points of connection or think about how dialogue rather than demonization can change those views or create helpful alliances.
To Bernie Sanders: Please give us some sense of how you would create a single-payer healthcare system.  Many voters--most if they heard a good case for it, I wager--would support such a system, but would worry about how it would be created and what the transition from their existing healthcare would look like.  These are valid concerns, and if you can overcome then I think you will find a great deal of support for your idea.
Talk about the social contract.  Remind viewers that before Republicans dismantled or de-funded public institutions, universities were free at the point of entry.  Explain the benefits of each generation paying into the welfare of the generation above or below it on the demographic scale.  Earlier in the campaign it made sense to repeat your talking you need to develop other lines of argumentation.  
Give us some tangible sense of how you will use the movement you are creating to create progressive majorities in Congress or to pressure whatever Congress you would be confronted by in 2017 to pass your legislation.  Explain how you have the capacity to not only strengthen the progressive "base" but bring new voters into the party or movement.
Say something coherent about foreign policy.  Your social democracy should inform your international as well as your domestic policy.  Amateur hour is long over, and isolationism is not enough.  

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