Aaron Manuel   

 

In the previous issue of the Argus, John Barrett submitted “An Open Letter to Democrats” in which he berated the struggling Democrat party for failing to define itself except in opposition to Donald Trump. I found the column to be very perceptive, but there are a couple of things I could clarify to Mr. Barrett.

The Democrats’ single-minded, simplistic opposition is not, as Mr. Barrett seems to suppose, a strategic choice, not even a bad strategic choice. Rather, the Democrats have become the anti-Trump party because they have no other option. In both the economic and social realms, Democrat policies have become hopelessly outmatched. Let’s briefly analyze.

First, economics. The fact is that Democrats tend to lose to Republicans on economic issues. Whether this is due to left-wing economics being inferior or a result of public perception is not a topic I wish to discuss here. Simply put, the middle class (the primary voting base) would rather hear about lower taxes and fewer regulations than welfare and redistributive economics. Those doing moderately well don’t tend to cast their vote based on hatred of the rich.

It doesn’t help that some prominent Democrats are now openly calling for socialism, which gives the typical voter a mental picture of Soviet gulags. Granted, there are some Democrats (Joe Biden comes to mind) who are calling for a return to center-left economics and emphasis on the working family. Mr. Barrett also seems to imply such an approach in his column, for which I salute him. That strategy might put Democrats on a fair playing field with Republicans, but it won’t likely win elections on its own.

The other realm, the social, is where Democrats have traditionally been strong. Avid support for civil rights and societal equality has given Democrats a steady stream of political capital. Unfortunately, that fuel is running thin. Despite what the media would have you believe, America is not very racially divided, nor very racist. Obviously, racist individuals are still around, but the type of racism that government action can cure, the type that gives Democrat politicians a reason to hold office, is rapidly dwindling.

Thus, the average voter has little reason to vote for Democrats on economic nor on social grounds. Instead, Democrats increasingly resort to emotional appeals, painting the opposing side as evil psychopaths bent on destroying everything. I’m sure the public will just blindly accept that the motivation of repealing Obamacare is to make poor people die of illness. Wink, wink. These increasingly shrill accusations have the effect of driving everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders, such as yours truly, away.

And this is where I must cross swords with Mr. Barrett. In his column, he exhibits the very attitude which he criticizes in others. About a third of his supposed “letter to Democrats” consists of withered insults hurled at Trump and George W Bush, which he tries and fails to make relevant. He falls into the very trap that his column identifies, bashing Republicans instead of proposing the new direction Democrats desperately need. Unless he has specific policy changes in mind, Mr. Barrett’s criticism will do nothing to help his flagging party.