Dump The Failing, Toxic Democratic Party Brand And Start Over
In order to win elections, GOP opponents will need both a new a new political agenda and a new party name.
by David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)
What Red-State People Think Democrats Stand For
Let’s step back a year or two.
Pretend that you’re a middle-manager in paper company in a town of about a hundred thousand people in North Carolina, or you’re a CPA in Oklahoma City, or you’re a sales representative for an auto-parts supplier in Ohio, or you own a garage-door installation and repair business in a town of about fifty thousand people in Colorado.
You’re struggling to pay your bills. Your health insurance premium just went up by twenty percent. Your car was recently broken into or the house down the street was burglarized. You haven’t had a raise in two years.
You turn on the news night after night and here’s what you see:
- A story is about the Democrats demanding that the North Carolina legislature repeal a law dealing with bathroom privileges for transgender people. You don’t know any transgender people. You have only a vague idea what a transgender person is, but the idea makes you more than a little uneasy.
- And bathroom assignments for “weird people” are what the Democrats care about?
- A story that Bernie Sanders wants the government (the taxpayers) to give free college tuition to every kid in America. What’s that going to cost me?
- A story that it’s the third night of rioting because some guy who robbed a mini-mart was shot while fleeing the police.
- A story about a major auto company closing an Ohio plant and moving all the jobs to Mexico.
- A story is about the price of a generic drug that used to cost $20 per month now costs $200 per month.
- A story is about an illegal alien shooting a tourist in San Francisco.
It feels like the country is crumbling all around you. Then there’s a clip of Trump at a rally. He’s going to
- Get rid of the criminals who are coming to America to get welfare and commit crimes.
- Stop American companies from sending American jobs to Mexico
- Lower the price of prescription drugs
- Restore respect for the police who risk their lives to protect honest people from criminals
- Create thousands of good-paying jobs by turning business loose from high taxes and excessive government regulation.
Next, a Hillary Clinton commercial comes on. She says that
- Trump is a terrible person and can’t be trusted to be president, and
- She has a fifteen-point plan for the government to pay part or all of the cost of a college education for every family in America.
I think that if any of those people were asked what the Democratic Party cared about, they would answer:
- Letting men who want to be women use the woman’s bathroom
- Letting people who illegally entered the country stay in the country
- Creating billions of dollars in new taxes to give every kid in America a free college degree in Political Science or English Literature
- Taking the side of criminals against the police.
OK, you think they misunderstood what they heard. You think the democrats’ positions were misrepresented. You think their conclusions are mistaken.
It doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what they think.
So, why are you surprised that they voted Republican?
The Democratic Party’s Brand Is Tainted
On a square mile basis, the Democratic Party is uncompetitive in at least 50% of the surface area of the United States.
Fairly or unfairly, at least 40% of American voters think the Democratic Party’s brand, its commonly perceived principles, are: political correctness, welfare, big government, open borders, and high taxes.
When a political party’s brand falls that badly out of sync with a material percentage of the voters, the party loses the ability to govern.
For at least forty percent of the American population the word “democrat” on a ballot is as toxic as the words “contains GMOs, sugar, pork and gluten” on a food-product label.
What’s The Democratic Party’s Message Today?
The leftmost segment of the Democratic Party wants the party to go hard left and double-down on higher taxes, more government entitlement programs, and an even stronger concentration on gender tolerance and abortion protection.
The remainder of the party seems to have no coherent philosophy or program beyond “The Republicans Are Wrong” and “We Are The Nice People.”
You can’t sell Fords with the message that “Chevys are bad cars” and neither can you sell them with the message, “Ford is a nice company.”
What Can The Democratic Party Do?
Every political movement has to strike a balance between its philosophical purity and winning elections.
At some point the Democratic Party has to decide if it’s going to double down on its current message that it’s top priorities are:
- social liberalism, and
- government-funded entitlement programs
and relegate itself to the role of a perpetually-complaining minority in much of the country, or change its message to one that will enable it to elect candidates almost everywhere.
If the Democratic Party wants to be competitive everywhere it will need an issue list, a message, a Brand Identity that is generally acceptable to the approximately 65% of the voters in the middle, and it will have to back away from its now toxic brand name.
In much of the country candidates cannot win under the “Democrat” label. People opposing Republican candidates will need a new brand.
If you oppose the Republican’s Rich-Get-Richer policies, if you don’t believe in “trickle-down” economics, if you don’t believe that corporations should be set free to do to consumers whatever they can get away with, if you want to rebuild the working class and the middle-class instead of further enriching the upper class, and if you want to get elected to Congress in a suburban or rural area in Indiana or Utah, leastwise in South Carolina or Texas, you will have to run under a new banner, one that will differentiate you from the liberal, political-correctness, tax-and-spend, big-government labels that today are inextricably associated with the Democratic Party in much of the country.
There are all kinds of branding options that could be used but for now, let’s call these opposition-to-GOP candidates “New Democrats” to differentiate them from the Old Democrats whose image and perceived policies are toxic to a large number of voters.
The New Democrats’ Basic Policies
Here’s what I think those centrist, pro working-class and pro middle-class messages could be:
- The principle that people are entitled to a basic standard of living from their work not from their government.
- People who can work but don’t are not entitled to a free ride, but people who can work and do work deserve to be paid enough so that they neither need nor qualify for food stamps.
- A free ride, No. A living wage, Yes.
- Everyone has the raw talent to perform some job, but first they have to discover what that job is and there has to be a way that they can get the training they need to be able to do it.
- Talent is evenly distributed. Opportunity is not. It’s the government’s job to help workers have the opportunity to get a job where they can use their native talents for productive work.
- It isn’t the government’s job to give you a fish, but if you can’t do it on your own, the government should help you learn how to fish.
- The opportunity to make a fair profit is the engine that drives good business. The ability to make an outrageous profit is the engine that drives bad business.
- Out-of-control corporate insiders are fleecing their own company’s shareholders with outrageous executive payments and bonuses. We need to protect shareholders from corporate insiders by requiring that all large, executive-compensation packages are approved in advance by a majority vote of all of the shareholders.
- Give employers an additional tax deduction equal to half the wages paid to employees who earn less than twice the median household income as an incentive to increase the wages of of the lowest paid workers.
- Impose an excess profits tax on corporate profits that exceed an amount equal to 25% of deductible costs.
- The role of government isn’t to give taxpayer money to the “little guy.” Its role is to protect the little guy from the big guy cheating him out of the money he already has.
The GOP message is:
- You’re on your own.
- Sink or swim.
- The Rich Deserve To Get Richer — The Poor Deserve To Be Poor
- Corporations Get To Do Whatever They Want. Let the buyer beware.
The New Democrats’ message would be:
- A Living Wage For Full-Time Work. Treating Human Beings Fairly Is More Important Than Increasing The Wealth & Power Of Inhuman Corporations.
Old And New Democrats Compared
The Old Democrats want to subsidize low-income workers with government entitlement programs.
The New Democrats want to require employers to pay a wage that is high enough that workers no longer qualify for entitlement programs in the first place, thus reducing taxes and the size and cost of government.
We can and will have lower taxes and a smaller government when employers step up and pay workers a living wage and provide major medical insurance.
— — —
The Old Democrats’ basic philosophy is that when you see a problem have the government create a program to fix it.
The New Democrats’ basic philosophy is that the government’s job is to make private companies fix their own problems and clean up their own messes at their own cost.
— — —
The Old Democrats think that the government should provide free health insurance to every person in America.
The New Democrats think that employers should be required to provide a uniform, standard, major-medical insurance policy to every full-time employee and pass that cost on as part of the price for their products.
— — —
The Old Democrats believe that promoting tolerance of all religious, social, and sexual minorities is the party’s most important job.
The New Democrats believe that social tolerance is important but not as important as rebuilding the working class and middle class. Providing gender-appropriate bathrooms is maybe something they would like to do but it’s way, way down the party’s to-do list.
— — —
The Old Democrats think that the government should provide a free college education to every person in America.
The New Democrats think that the government should provide sliding-scale aptitude testing and career counseling to help people who want to work discover the available jobs they would be most qualified to perform, and then as necessary, it should help those qualified workers get the training need to be able to do those jobs.
— — —
The Old Democrats think that anyone in the world who is under material threat in their own country should be allowed to enter the United States.
The New Democrats think that people who can enrich the American culture or economy should be allowed to enter the United States.
— — —
The Old Democrats think that people who entered the United States without permission should be allowed to stay.
The New Democrats think that there should be a five to ten-year statute of limitations on deporting people who entered the United States without permission.
— — —
The Old Democrats adopted a hands-off policy toward companies moving jobs overseas.
The New Democrats want to make businesses pay a six-figure severance fee to every full-time worker whose job is moved overseas and they want to charge a double-digit tariff on every product manufactured in that new overseas factory that is sought to be imported back into the United States.
— — —
The Old Democrats adopted a hands-off policy on drug patents.
The New Democrats want to change the term of a drug patent from being measured in years to being measured in dollars. Once a patented drug generates a certain amount of U.S. gross sales revenue, the patent expires.
— — —
The Old Democrats adopted a hands-off policy on generic drug prices.
The New Democrats want to impose an excess-profits tax on generic drug sellers’ profits that exceed an amount equal to 25% of its tax-deductible costs.
— — —
The Old Democrats essentially gave up on dealing with pharmaceutical prices.
The New Democrats want pharmaceutical companies to be required to sell their products directly to licensed pharmacies and be required to charge every purchaser the same price for the same quantity, so that if CVS and Kaiser Hospitals both want to buy 1,000,000 doses of Lipitor, Pfizer would be required to sell those 1,000,000 doses directly to those licensed buyers without going through a middleman and to both at the same price.
Of course, the drug companies could pay a subcontractor like Amazon a fee to process orders and physically ship the products.
— — —
Everyone is free to disagree with this list and propose their own. My point is that:
- Old Democrats who want to get elected in Red states need to change their policies, their plans, and their message and become New Democrats, and
- New Democrats need a public, transparent, and open Top Ten To-Do List that is focused on economic policies that will advance the working class and the middle class and reduce the power of large corporations, especially those in the healthcare industry.
The focus needs to be on compensation for work, not entitlement to welfare, and evening the bargaining power of corporations versus that of consumers.
A majority of Americans will not support the philosophy that people are entitled to have things just because they exist.
I believe that a majority of Americans will support the idea that people are entitled to a living wage and medical insurance in exchange for full-time work.
I don’t think that a Democrat has a chance in hell of being elected to Congress from most suburban/rural districts in, for example, Tennessee or Kansas. I think a New Democrat might.
Just throwing that out there.
–David Grace (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)