Fighting for Liberalism

a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties

Merriam-Webster

Liberalism is not dead. But it finds a nemesis in the White House. The only consistently true description of Trump is illiberal; no contemporary president has held such contempt for liberal ethos. For instance, a core tenet of modern liberalism — and modern law — is that one’s wealth, skin color, or gender does not dictate ability to perform a job, an ideal President Bush forwarded at the highest level. Trump’s cabinet has been a direct repudiation of this ideal. There has never been such a stark difference in make-up between transitioning heads of departments; we have gone from the most diverse cabinet ever, to the least in the modern era. Trump’s cabinet holds more wealth than a third of Americans combined. Trump’s hiring is inexplicable without a direct intent to create the richest, whitest, most masculine cabinet. Qualifications be damned. Could any other make one yearn for “binders full of women”? The scariest truth of this example is its mundanity, a single data point obscuring the broader scope of decisions that Trump has undertaken since announcing his candidacy. Decisions underwrote by gut instinct, abrasive masculinity, love for the swamp, contempt for democratic tradition, and disdain for rules. If one believes this nation is better equal under God than ruled by a faux-diety, Trump is noxious to the senses. His presidency will be defined by his illiberalism, his bemoaning of any rule that stands between him and power. America’s long-term fate will be defined by the Democrat’s response.

Since the election, the failures of the liberal party have been falsely diagnosed by those with ink to spill: Condemnation has rained on political correctness, elitism, geographic isolation, feminism, and a platform too far to the right. The contradictory nature of these critiques points to their invalidity, but combined they describe what ails The Left. Liberalism is not unpopular, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote after all. Yet its message is weak. Absent a consistent narrative, factions of the party have developed their own. Op-eds and thought pieces thus wrestle with the messages of factions. There is no unifying message to attack. For example, take Hillary’s campaign slogan, so weak that Joe Biden has already forgotten it. “Stronger Together”, stronger together for what? movements are always stronger together, but togetherness does not define a movement, words and actions do. Citizens crave agency, ideas to defend, ideals to rally around, communities to belong to. Make America Great Again provides a community and a sense of agency, Hillary’s slogan did not. Democracy is messy, and there can be no liberalism without noise, but Hillary consistently failed to control that noise, to define a narrative; surrendering a strong liberal message to the din of scandal and pantomime. She was incapable of speeches that rallied the conversation around core liberal ideals, and despite her years of service failed to articulate her results in power. Perhaps this critique is unfair on Hilary. Politics isn’t fair. Hilary didn’t provide the country or party ideas to rally around. Instead the party and country have bickered. Even classical liberals, those who believe in socially liberal ideals and a smaller government, like Mitt Romney, find themselves disdained. Only Obama and Biden seem to hold consistent and unifying liberal appeal. Democrats and moderates must accept not only presidential failure but state and congressional failure as well. The DNC will see broad reform and many state parties with it. Prudence is needed to ensure that this hammer of change does not swing erratically at Liberal institutions just when they are needed the most. All while Trump takes a hammer to our government. Reform is needed, and most of all a new message needs crafting. For America’s sake, the Democratic party needs reinvigoration.

What’s in a number? Consistent Appeal, no urgency to fix problems

The Opposition

The Republicans are in crisis too, but winning is papering over the cracks in their party. Solidarity, not dissidence will be the order of the day in The GOP. As The Party of Lincoln reckons with a cabinet of racism and oligarchy, Democrats will find themselves a bulwark of sanity, a bulwark in the minority. It is sobering to see a man who made so many explicit racial remarks, who has such disdain for the political constraints necessary to run a diverse nation, be rewarded electorally. Democrat’s abysmal messaging, poor explanations for the necessity and utility of liberal governance, and of course the macabre brilliance of Republicans to swallow principles for party all have their role in crafting this nightmare. There are a few good Senators left in the GOP, who liberals may secretly ally with and should champion in private, a solitary bunch of do-gooders, constitutionalists, and realists. Those who don’t think a snowball disproves climate change, and those who will take political flack to defend the ideals of America. Yet these noble men and women are few and far between, and the media of the right has whipped itself into a frenzy. There is no cavalry coming on the Republican side. Before love for party, must come love for country. Republicans have shirked this responsibility. Democrats cannot do the same.

A Party Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

The most dangerous threat to defense against Trump is the internal strife in the Democratic party. Progressives point to the cataclysmic failure of Clinton. Centrists to the unfair, but not wholly inaccurate, comparison of Bernie and Trump. The country must take precedence to this row. There is the queasy possibility that these groups will in-fight and slowly shed members to the allure of Trump’s easy-fixes, populism, xenophobia and calculated divisiveness. Some Democrats, having seen Trump win, are trying to rationalize and internalize his sick ethos. This is foolish, Democrats will soon have a majority of their voters be minorities, the party cannot internalize Trump’s message. Instead, the Democrats need to become a viable alternative to Trump, an obvious distinct movement that is alluring to rally around as Trump’s policies are implemented. This is difficult to get right, too much of the same will lead to the same electoral defeat that Ed Milliband’s Labour faced in England, being the slightly-less-shit option continues the “both parties are the same” narrative. On the other hand, a move towards a Bernie/Warren/Corbyn style leftist party will also fail. The party is composed of many different colors and ethnicities is majority female, and needs electoral appeal in North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, and Florida. A movement wrought by two old white senators from The Northeast, focusing on male-dominated manufacturing jobs, is not going to provide the alternative to Trump. Indeed Sanders is far to the left of the average Democrat economically. A Trump presidency will be defined by divisiveness, failed energy policy, cronyism, blunders and healthcare failure. An opposition message thus will need to appeal to a broad array of people, promoting universal rights, green energy, honest government, and a palatable universal healthcare solution. This broad message cannot be confined by the unmoving ideology of socialism. To the extent hardcore progressives can win elections in their districts the Democrats should encourage them to do so. However, there is no viable leftist ideology that will bring a nationwide solution to the realities of Trump, if there was Feingold and Teachout would be centrist members of a new Democratic leftist caucus, instead of sitting at home.

Different ball games

Crafting a message

Both centrists and progressives will be fighting for five key issues in the coming years: Climate Change, Human Rights/Voter suppression, education, inequality, and healthcare. While Democrats should not neglect foreign policy, they will hold few foreign policy positions with the loss of the Presidency. Thankfully Mattis is qualified, and Tillerson, though concerning to the environment, is unlikely to end humanity with a button push. For the immediate future, Democrat concerns will be at home. For the near future, The Democrats will come up against a two-pronged system: Trump, and a set of hardcore Tea Party Republicans. Given our tenants and the political realities of a tribalistic president and ideological Congress, the message must be succinct, accessible to all, pertinent to the base, and hopeful in a time of darkness. That message should revolve around rights.

A Democrat cares more about the environment, education and people’s rights

You have the right to vote

You have the right to protest

You have the right to education

You have the right to healthcare

You have the right to prosperity

You have the right to worship

You have the right to your body

You have the right to organize

You have the right to safe employment

Your children have the right to this planet

Assertions of rights fit in with the classical liberal ethos the party is inheriting with its more educated voter base and also tie in with the civil rights and unionist elements the party is built on. In an age that will be dominated by a twitter tyrant, these sort of atomic, immovable resolutions anchor the mind against the tempest of political whimsy emanating from the oval. These are not just rhetorical points; they are consistent with the expansion of rights under recent Supreme Courts, particularly The Warren court, that provides the legal basis of modern liberalism. They are rallying points specific for each of the factions in the Democrats, but together describe the coalition, and define what Democrats are for. While there is a difference in the scope, implementation, and tactics between the factions on these issues, they are broadly unifying. In addition, to avoid ever changing purity tests like Corbyn’s the party must define its core values. These values are congruent with the problems of our time, namely: The erosion of trust in the institutions that defend our rights; the election of a party and president that wish to disenfranchise Democrats; the imposition of Protestant values through government edict; and the impending removal of universal healthcare and education. By declaring rights as atomic, as a single phrase, with no flesh or policy description, it allows Democrats to add their own specific policy proposals while providing a clear scorecard of Trump’s infringements. Trump provided a terrifying but appealing emotional landscape for voters to paint their best intentions on. Democrats must respond with an idealistic vision of America, a refuge, an alternative.

Part 2: An Ethos in our Reality

Sessions and Expanded Rights

In an administration defined by the erosion of rights, Trumps most threatening appointment is Attorney General Sessions. An existential threat to modern American minorities and liberals, who will likely do everything in his power to drain those groups of rights and freedom. His heartwarming record includes voting against The Violence Against Women Act, something that even Alabama’s other Senator did not do:

Senate votes for Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization in 2013, purple is split, blue is yay

Senator Sessions once called the ACLU “un-American and communist” for “trying to force civil rights down the throats of people.” In response to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage, Sessions said that it was: “part of a continuing effort to secularize” the country “by force and intimidation.” He concluded: “[W]hether these progressive victories are transient, or permanent, depends on us.” This particular utterance is particularly scary on account of its disregard of The Constitution. The effort to secularize the state can be traced to the first line of the first amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" passed in 1791. A legal argument can be made that the Supreme court ruling was a judicial overreach, that the rights of gay marriage should have been passed by the legislator. This is not Sessions’ argument. His argument instead ignores the first line of the first amendment to the constitution. Secularization is a basic tenant of our system of government since it was founded. If our future Attorney General ignores the first line of the Bill of Rights, the enforcement of basic Constitutional rights is at peril, let alone rights passed by law since JFK. Sessions is the prime example of why Liberals must rally around rights. Many of the rights and norms we expect from our government are not enumerated in The Constitution, and instead come from laws and judicial opinions written in the last fifty years. Laws and rulings that the executive has discretion enforcing. The scariest and darkest possibilities of a Trump presidency include the rolling back of the expansion of personal rights, through selective application of The Constitution. Enumerating non-Constitutional rights as a rhetorical rallying point is imperative for defending against their erosion by Attorney General Sessions.

Environmental Rights

Threats also abound at the EPA, where the Trump transition team is staging a full-on ideological purge. There will be no rational debate with a Trump presidency, in his view if someone contradicts his interests, no matter what the truth is, the individual should be purged. This tactic played out over time is a simple system, meant to instill loyalty to Trump, and mass-fear in Democrats. It will take conscious thought to resist this tactic. Used to the system of government that we have always known, some Democrats have tried to beg or reason, a pointless task against a government that sees liberalism as unpatriotic. Instead, Democrats must be as belligerent as their GOP counterparts have been the last eight years, particularly in court. Court action dovetails nicely with a rhetorical strategy of enumerated rights, when Democrats take strategic stands in court they will appeal to rights enumerated in case law. Rights can be won in court, and provide a very tangible showing of what Republican policy is taking from the average voter. Americans must defend their disenfranchisements before a court of law. If issues are only contested in the court of public opinion, voters will be making relative comparisons after things have gotten worse, not absolute comparisons to their rights today. This includes the rights of clean air and water not enumerated in our Constitution, but in our case law.

In the specific case of the Federal EPA defending these rights is hard. Democrats can say that it is our children’s right to live on a planet not completely destroyed due to climate change, but when the head of environmental policy actively ignores and manipulates data to enrich oil and gas companies this becomes damage that can’t be undone. However, the Supreme Court has decreed that the EPA has the right to regulate carbon emissions, and a dramatic reversal in Obama policy will be contestable in court. Still, the economics of burning fossil fuels will give an immediate boost to consumption and GDP while kicking the costs of consumption down the road, something that is quite popular with the electorate. Perhaps the only silver lining of the election was the modest amount of power Liberal polices gained at a state level. Combined with Democrats power to limit car emissions through the California Air Review Board, there is some bulwark against Pruitt’s transgressions. Not a large one though. It’ll be down to blue states to protect their air and water resources and rhetorically point to the failures to defend these resources by Republicans in other states, as we have seen in Flint, Corpus Christi, and North Carolina.

Local Issues, National Impact

The beauty of a Federal system is that power is distributed throughout the fifty states, and liberal policy actually gained traction at a local level in this election. Despite losing The New Hampshire and Vermont gubernatorial elections the Republicans voted into office in those states are both socially liberal, and neither state really has a large share of billionaires, so inequality is not the primary concern in these states. The Liberal issues that need to be fought in those two states are climate change and voter ID laws. Northeast Climate Change policy actually seems to have enough steam to not be hampered by these elections, a proposed connection to Canada’s Hydro-power is liked by New Hampshire Governor Sununu for pro-business reasons. However, New Hampshire’s state government is now totally controlled by Republicans which will make removing the state from the region’s nine state cap-and-trade program easier. This regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI) has effectively put a tax of $4.50 on every ton of CO2 emitted for 2016 (the rate is actually an auction of CO2 emissions). The proceeds from that tax then go into funding green energy and efficiency programs. Sununu has stated that he will leave RGGI, with the caveat “if other states leave too”. This is concerning, if New Hampshire leaves RGGI as New Jersey did, then other states may follow suit. Perhaps the most imperative step an environmentalist can take is contact Sununu and urge him to stay in RGGI and green-light Hydro-pass. If Sununu stays in RGGI, then the market for coal in the Northeast remains tepid and adding New Jersey back into RGGI if Democrats win 2017's election will kill coal outside of Pennsylvania in the Northeast. Most coal in the Northeast comes from Pennsylvania, and if power plants that burn coal in the states immediately bordering Pennsylvania close, then Pennsylvania will be forced to look further and further afield to sell coal, a grim fact for its coal industry given rising shipping costs for coal.

Down but not out

Further south, Liberals continue to pick up steam and will hold the Governorship and Attorney General’s seat in North Carolina. They have also gained the majority of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. These are big gains in a true purple state, given lackluster results elsewhere. They are especially big gains since North Carolina is one of the biggest battlegrounds for voter-id disenfranchisement and gerrymandering. Gaining the Governorship, Attorney General and Supreme Court will likely help combat this issue, but the General Assembly still has the ability to pass whatever law it wants in North Carolina, and did so, reducing the power of the Governorship substantially just before Cooper took power. That being said, North Carolina is likely to be forced to hold special elections for state seats after racial gerrymandering of districts was struck down. Cooper’s victory is particularly pleasing since he will now have the bully pulpit to address voter suppression in North Carolina, an issue that is engulfing the state as Republicans try to suppress the black vote there so obliquely that it has lead to weekly protests. If the court order holds, both the mid-Atlantic states of Virginia and North Carolina will be having elections this year, with Virginia’s election also deciding Governor as well as state house. About twenty percent of both states electorate is black, so maintaining control of these two swing states would substantially help mitigate voter suppression efforts and effects.

From States to Cities

It is also important to note the city-centric power of Democrats. Democrat support has been urbanizing, a fact that both protects and hampers efforts to protect American rights. Democrats have a lot of local support — and institutions — that Trump does not control. However this also pins Democrats in, as Republican legislation can drain funds from cities, and Trump can use Federal agents to harass Democrats and minorities more effectively in denser environments. As Trump agitates racial lines within the cities, it will become increasingly difficult for Democrats to defend people’s rights. Calls for “Law and Order” will increase. Given that Chicago is already crime-plagued, and New York already has a famous feud between its Mayor and Police Chief, these battles will become bitter, and could possibly pull whites towards Trump if a message of equality is not resolutely defended, and broadly shown to work. It will take a lot of skill, luck, and patience to maintain the cities. New York is likely the easiest of these to manage. Liberal, swarming with city paid cops, and diverse, it voted 80 percent Clinton outside of Staten Island and has elections to return a progressive Mayor this year. Still the insane pressure of state level debt, mostly concentrated in blue states, will certainly take its toll under a Trump presidency. Federal outlays, will disproportionately attack liberal institutions and people, and financial burdens will begin to compound. It is at this point that a list of predetermined rights keeps rhetoric and policy anchored around what is important. In the political brawl of a budget cut, or the fire of a Federal onslaught, both citizens and politicians must know what’s at stake, and what is most important to maintain. By enumerating rights that are implied or fuzzy, you demarcate what is critical.

Fighting the tea party in Congress

Thankfully, two traditionally liberal programs, Social Security and Medicare, won’t be heavily edited by The Republicans in this Congress. The concept of passing major reform to either of those two programs, with only 52 Senators and The median age of Senator Collin’s Maine being 43, seems unlikely. Furthermore, other Republican states are pretty damn old:

Age isn’t just a number

Any cutting of these two programs will, by virtue of their age requirement, disproportionately anger older voters in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Maine and Montana. All of those states have Senate elections in 2018. If the GOP succeeded they’d hurt their own voters, as Republicans skew older, and it would take obscene amounts of legislative time to hash out the details. Finally, the Byrd rule blocks Social Security changes without 60 votes. Still, it would be smart to enumerate the purpose of Social Security: The Right to a minimum retirement.

It is likely Trump will distract with this issue. It is red meat for his GOP allies who he must pacify, and having them waste time on the issue is good for him too. It will highlight the underfunding of Social Security and thus undermine faith in the US Government, a sentiment that plays directly into Donald’s calls for more personal power. Donald will then harvest this political capital to push his agenda. This constant deflection is a hallmark of Trump, he never focuses on one thing, which is why Democrats must draw up a concrete, short, legible guideline of our principles. If the narrative is not controlled by Trump’s manipulations but by rights enumerated by Democrats, the conversation shifts. Republican lust to cut this program negatively affects the support for them with older people, if we can force them to talk about Social Security, instead of devoting time to dividing Democrats, Republicans will be forced to forfeit political capital going into 2018’s Senate elections.

2018 Contested Senate seats

Political diversions aside, the Republicans main aims are for an overall tax cut, skewed towards the one percent, and repealing Obamacare, which disproportionately benefits poorer folks, and is paid for by a levy on the wealthiest American’s capital gains*. Both these proposals dovetail nicely with a narrative that all problems are caused by liberals, poor people, and immigrants. In addition these bills will provide cover for cuts to cities. cutting city funding has been a tactic for Republicans in state houses everywhere. Of Course, plenty of pork will be passed for GOP donors and members of Trump’s cabinet, particularly for military contractors. While there is the possibility that the tax cuts passed aren’t that regressive, the Obamacare repeal will be obscenely plutocratic. Yet Democrats have power in these positions if thet are united.

*capital gains taxes: A tax on the profits the wealthiest make from their investments. Obamacare is funded by a 3.8 percent tax on investment income over $500,000.

James Madison High School, alma mater of The Democrats two most famous sitting Senators

The Schumer Shuffle
Poetically, Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, went to the same high school. Like the caucuses they represent, they come from the same place, but vastly differ where they want to go. This makes little difference voting in the Senate, yet a large one on the speaking circuit. Given the choices we realistically have, Schumer, despite previous deals with Wall Street, will attempt to block the passage of the tax bill demanding rates on the highest earners are maintained. There have been some noises out of the white house that this will be possible, Treasury Secretary and ex-Goldman Sachs banker Mnuchin sees this as electorally necessary to get his tax cuts through the Senate. Bernie will likely vote against it all together. Schumer should come out in opposition with Bernie until a bill palatable to both wings of the party is on the table, namely one that does not benefit the highest earners at all. If none ever appears than Schumer should oppose all the way. Otherwise, we will see a split in the minority, a problem the Republicans never had during the Obama years. The GOP knows the optics of this. This is the danger to our party, that on each issue a compromise is made, the progressives revolt, or, on each that a stand is attempted, the liberals cave. This is why Mnuchin also hints at things like capping mortgage interest deductions which would help Democratic causes a bit. Shaving off mortgage interest deductions for the wealthiest would make mega houses relatively more expensive, hurting higher earners, and saving carbon emissions. Many liberals would vote for this, many progressives would too, but the devil is in the details. This cap would be combined with a tax cut for the wealthiest, leaving the Democrats in an optical bind. Either they are painted as voting against a tax cut or for the rich. Binding the party like this a common tactic, the effect of the tax cut is trivial and unimportant to Mnuchin, but the optics disastrous for a party divided. It is being offered not as a trade or compromise, but as a trojan horse to divide. This is reminiscent of the Bush years, when tax cuts and defense spending put a cruise missile through the deficit, while domestic programs were expanded minimally to push Democrats to fight among themselves for the scraps. If Democrats break rank over these crumbs, the country will suffer the same fate as before. However, if the optics are instead focused on a bill of rights Democrats are defending, then it is the rights, not the specifics of any legislation that will stick in the mind of voters. This sort of narrative tactic was used to devastating effect by Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America.

Bread and Crumbs

Smaller Budget items
There is an issue that on smaller budget items, no bill of rights can defend them, as not every issue can be taken to the people. Thankfully, Bi-partisan support of higher NIH funding is almost guaranteed to stay intact, so worrying about medical research being cut shouldn’t keep you up at night. But a worrying amount will be cut from public transit, housing, and other urban services as Democrats live in cities. As much has been signaled by the appointment of Ben Carson and Elaine Chao to run the departments that most urban funding falls under. Republicans found ways to cut relatively small but vital inner-city services while raising military spending seven percent under Bush, the same will be done this time. As a consequence, it is likely best for Democrats to defend public transit either as part of the infrastructure bargain or as part of a “right to get to work”. Otherwise, as funding is cut, these issues will split the party, as different tribes fight over the resources left. It will be interesting to see if progressives can quietly accept Wonk-ish solutions like value capture to keep funding at a local level and alleviate the spending cut. Yet in an election where the loudest voices were heard the most, this seems desperately unlikely. A crying shame that will accelerate Trump’s plan to divide us, rather than stand against him.

Starting Young

While education is almost entirely a local issue, watch out for Betsy DeVos, who is heading the Republican plan to redistribute public resources to religious and charter schools. In addition, the GOP will likely pour millions into putting vulnerable addicts in faith-based programs under the auspices of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships or perhaps Ben Carson’s HUD. By 2020, more states will be funding religious education with public vouchers. Education is perhaps the most obvious vulnerability of the proponents of equality, the structure of education is fractured across the country, as are the institutions that support it. The most liberal states already use private schools to cut funding to their minority populations, almost as much as states in the deep south:

So much for Progressive Bastions

A coherent fight for public education has been lacking from the Democratic party for years. This will have to be reconsidered. It is the first and foremost goal of any movement, particularly a fascist one, to spread its ideology. Attacks on “politically-correct” Liberal institutions will be numerous. Trump and company will continue the Republican’s decades-long push to undermine places of liberal thought, and character assassinate liberal teachers. This will include public school teachers, public university professors, and even their private counterparts. Hard battles will be fought in every municipality. A better primer can be read here.

The Fight to Save Obamacare

The Obamacare fight is going to be the big one. This will be a Congressional game of chicken. The Republicans have to repeal it, that is all they ever talk about. The Democrats must defend it, it is a core belief of the party platform that medical care is a basic human right. Tragically, the compromise that will likely be reached here is block grants for states to provide subsidies for insurance. The Democrats should not give in to this. Indeed this is an area where Progressives have been proven right, and liberals wrong. Block grants for welfare were a policy directive of the GOP under the Clinton administration, that Democrats agreed to, and the results are clear. They allowed Republican states to discriminate and persecute, both on race and on class. These policies also waste a ton of money: “Reliance on stereotypes rather than evidence when designing these policies has proven wasteful and inefficient, costing Missouri, for example, $336,297 to identify a mere 48 positive tests among nearly 40,000 TANF recipients.” Democrats should not allow healthcare rights to be subject to the same indignity TANF caused. Block granting Obamacare would only serve to further racism in this country, and of course, this is what Trump wants. It is block grant programs like these that fuel the Alt-Right narrative.

Instead, the Democrats should push for a simple up and down vote on Obamacare. If the Republicans want to repeal it, let them. For too long Democrats have let Republicans win every game of chicken. Obamacare provides a chance for Schumer to show his pedigree. On issues like eliminating the employer mandate for companies with fifty employees or more, or multi-state exchanges, The Democrats should have no qualms removing them(the goal is coverage, whether it comes from an employer or an exchange is irrelevant). These are stipulations that make sense and save money and give Republicans a PR lifeboat. However, compromise on things like the capital gain tax on high earners that pays for Obamacare, or block grants is a no-go. Obamacare is the cornerstone of guaranteed medical coverage in this country, and block grants will open it up to racial discrimination. Furthermore, Republicans can’t repeal and then replace with a Federal funding model, as that is just the foundation of continuing towards single payer, so block grants are really the only thing to fight. Their only goal is racial discrimination, and to lower the tax bills of the wealthiest. Hopefully here is where liberals and progressives can find common ground. A united front against the ludicrousness of cutting healthcare in the richest country on earth. It fits perfectly into the message of liberalism, rights for all, not just those who can afford them. If centrists hold ground on this, the dual caucuses will be able to broaden their common ground, passing more wonkish things at a local level to protect services in cities, and using the oratory graft of the progressives to plead for the defense of civil liberties. Obama-care is the bastard child of the high calling of universal healthcare and MIT policy wonks. If the dual caucus cannot defend its bastard son, it will not be able to defend that which falls more squarely into one or the other’s camp.

WSJ numbers, aren’t they pretty?

The technicals of Obamacare defense and elections

when it comes to Obamacare, thankfully, there is a clock to run out. If Republicans don’t repeal it by this year’s end, medical coverage for 2018 will continue under Obamacare. They would then face the possibility of medicare expansion in Virginia and North Carolina after the 2017 elections. If one of these two swing states are added for 2018 coverage, any repeal will likely have to come after the 2018 elections, as repealing it before would mean millions of people seeing the increased costs for 2019 in early November, days before the 2018 elections. As a consequence Republicans must pass an Obamacare blocking bill by the end of the year, or face the electoral consequence. We know voters have a short memory, but raising health care costs days before the 2018 election is not something people forget. Republicans are well aware of this electoral reality, which is why they want block grants passed this year. It will allow them to expand medical coverage to the south without Obama’s name on it, and discriminate by race. Thus allowing them to come across as heroes with their base. This strategy is the only viable strategy for Republicans to repeal Obamacare, it is not a coincidence that Medicaid has not been expanded by any Republican in the confederacy. The fight here is in fact not over the cost of medical coverage, but the right to discriminate against who gets it, and to give tax cuts to the wealthiest. Being party to block grants is a sin the Democrats can’t undo, even if the money works out the same. It is about race and cash, and every trick in the book must be played to stop it from coming true. Otherwise, the Democrats cannot honestly push a message of a government inclusive of everyone, and will continue to lose operational stability.

Rights Worth Fighting for
Sifting through the technicals of Obamacare, or EPA policy is boring, but doing so highlights what is at stake. From Obamacare to taxes, to funding for inner cities, to the cutting of public education, it becomes clear that what Conservatives are after isn’t, as Paul Ryan brands it, “A Better Way” but a way to conserve rights for the few at the expense of the many. There is a reason that Obamacare has not been expanded by Republicans in states with high black populations, there is a reason Betsy DeVos wants to divert public funds to rich kids flight schools, there is a reason conservatives deny Climate Change. All Liberal policy prescriptions come from a moral and economic basis that we are created equal, with certain inalienable rights. Policies that threaten the relative advantage of a chosen few. Democrats cannot lose sight of their modern selfs, not a communist collective, not another political arm of corporate donors, but a defender and expander of inalienable rights in a competitive but fair society. They should start by enumerating them, and then follow through.