Feckless Democrats must learn to stand up to bullies

Deval Patrick made news this weekend when he said on television that the Democratic Party would win elections if they only had more backbone. He is spot on.

The last time around, the flaccid Democrats allowed the Republicans to grab the narrative. They said “Obamacare” so many times and with such scorn that people began to believe that this program, which has done so much for so many Americans, was the bogeyman. It’s simple Propaganda 101. You say it often enough and people begin to believe it, whether it’s true or not.

Look, we have a relatively healthy economy, we are paying down the national debt and we are out of the banking crisis that the Republicans got us into. People are back to work. But the feckless Democrats who were running for office didn’t want Obama anywhere near their elections. As a result, they lost, with the exception of the governor of Connecticut who invited the President in and won. The losers had no counter-message and they were afraid to yell at the top of their lungs, “Look at all the good things this President has done.” Instead, they were literally bullied. It was disgusting.

Of course, there were other factors. It was an off-year election and the Democrats who come out in a presidential election didn’t vote. In the end, people don’t want to elect political cowards. The Democrats should have learned a lesson. They don’t seem to get it and the Republicans who won this round are displaying a political arrogance seldom seen. They are, in a few words, bad winners. But bad winners often get what they deserve. Obama won in two elections and now they are acting like that never happened.

They are defying the president on a reasonable immigration plan. We all have friends and neighbors who are living in fear of their lives and those of their children. We have created a segregated society that is divided between those who are legal and those who are not. The people in the second category can be exploited and that is the new American slavery.

But these folks in Congress who don’t want to find a solution to the immigration problem are alienating all the voting citizens of Hispanic descent in this country. Sooner or later, they will have to pay the political piper. All the gerrymandering in the world won’t save them from this purposeful shaming of an entire community.

Look, this is a very conservative country. I understand it. The middle class has a choice. They can make common cause with those who have less than they do or they can join electoral forces with the One Percenters who own most of the country and who seem unwilling to share. We call these people “aspirationals.” They think that if they play their cards right, they too will make it to the One Percent. They also think they’ll win the lottery. They resent the people below them on the economic ladder receiving anything, including food stamps and some limited welfare benefits.

So how do the Democrats grab the narrative back from the Republicans who have been so successful in grabbing the middle class voters, particularly the middle class voters who are the most dependent on government to provide housing and schools and universities? In effect, The Democrats have allowed the Republicans to divide and conquer. They have been scared to point out that in reality, the interests of the middle class — particularly the lower middle class — are better served by a political alignment with those who have less than they do rather than with the few who have it all and won’t give it up. They have been voting against their own best interests.

In two years, everyone will turn out to vote and that’s when the bullies will be beaten back. Or, as Pete sang, “When will they ever learn?”

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 12/8/14

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