It is frequently said that all politics is local, but elections around the country this year are challenging that notion. Democratic candidates running in typically Republican-held districts have been attempting to sidestep President Trump’s controversial comments and are focusing, instead, on his failed policies. Many believe that national issues—ever present on the voter’s mind—will motivate a higher than usual percentage of Democrats, Independents, and college-educated Republican women to come out and vote.
Tired of Trump’s belligerent behavior and Republican Party complicity in a do-nothing approach to a whole host of contentious issues (healthcare, immigration, gun safety, public education, the environment and infrastructure improvement), voters are fed up. They seek political leaders eager to take a stand on complex issues and who are willing to find solutions through compromise.
As Election Day approaches, the list of grievances against the Trump administration looms ever larger. The trampled-on rights of women and minorities splash across the front pages daily, and the social safety net built over the last 75 years is being torn apart by Republican connivance.
Democrats in Republican strongholds have, traditionally, been uneasy about promoting bold policy initiatives that could be seen as expanding the role of government for fear of alienating right-leaning independents and moderates. Republicans, meanwhile, have campaigned on so-called “old-style” values, fiscal conservatism and patriotism. Eighteen months into Trump’s presidency, we are now keenly aware of the glaring deceit behind these self-characterizations.
A growing portion of Americans, today, want government to do more, not less, to solve the nation’s problems. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 57 percent of the voting public wants government, not private enterprise, to meet the needs of Americans, versus 39 percent who say that government is either incompetent or already doing too much.
As the center of gravity moves, it is Democrats, including a record number of women candidates, who are campaigning to check the excesses of private enterprise and to support public programs that better meet the needs of workers and families, not the rich. Democrats recognize that a free-market economy cannot serve the public interest without significant checks against abuse and corruption. Unless we strengthen our governmental institutions and weed out legislators infected by monied interests, self-serving industrialists will intentionally distort markets, and the problems we face today are bound to get worse.
As the traditional employer/employee relationship is transitioning, it is Democrats that are working to ensure that the free market provides workers living wages and adequate benefits, safe working conditions and a real opportunity to bargain collectively.
In an ever-shifting economy, people are going to be changing jobs more frequently and/or holding multiple jobs at the same time, receiving fewer benefits from their employers. Our social safety net must become responsive to the times, and its Democrats that can be counted on to safeguard healthcare and protect retirement savings and other employment benefits.
Obamacare started to address this changing dynamic, a transferable health insurance that people can rely on as they shift from job to job or leave a job to start a business. Democrats believe that every worker, no matter what he or she does, should be allowed employment protections: a living wage; workers’ compensation; anti-discrimination protections; and the freedom to organize.
The needs of families are changing as well. Sixty-two percent of two-parent households with children under 18 are dual-income. The number of single mothers in the workforce has also grown dramatically. Hence, the need for affordable child care is greater than ever. These families need new rules on paid leave and access to loans, when catastrophic incidents arise.
Most American adults—upwards of 125 million—now work in service industries. Childcare, receptionists, back-office, lawn maintenance, repairmen, food service – I could go on and on - are the future. Most service jobs don’t pay or provide the same benefits as industrial jobs, yet, they are essential for maintaining the needs of a healthy community and a vibrant economy. They must, therefore, provide access to a middle-class lifestyle. Once again, it is the Democrats who are working assiduously to figure out how service industry jobs can provide a decent income and necessary benefits.
A recent analysis by McKinsey and Co. found that, due to automation and the employment of artificial intelligence, one-third of today’s jobs will not exist in 2030. It is the Democrats who are promoting debt-free, lifelong learning. This would provide every American the opportunity to access re-training at any stage of their lives.
But most of all, in order to strengthen our economy and shore up our democracy, government must challenge the unprecedented concentration of wealth and economic power controlled by the very few. Don’t count on Republicans to do that.