Mid-term elections this November in the U.S. The noise from the centre-left office-holders, activists, and the media classes all summer has been
(a) Security in the form of accusations that our President is Putin’s stooge,
(b) Resisting the appointment of a second Supreme Court Justice,
(c) Open borders in calls for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be abolished
Yet House Democratic leadership plan a “broad economic message” expressed in the slogan “FOR THE PEOPLE.”
No. I am not joking.
(i) (a) Security and (c) Immigration are centre-right Republican issues, issues that mobilize Republican base voters, and not Democratic voters. The security issue articulated as Russian conspiracy has failed to divide Trump from Trump’s base of support if that was the intention.
(ii) With respect to (b) the appointment of a second supreme court justice is a fait accompli at this point.
(iii) “For the people”–which sounds like a reprise of “for the children,” a phrase centre-righters use to parody centre-left policy sentiment–expresses with precision the anodyne themes of social solidarity and equality. House Democrats behind their podiums, in their town halls, and in their advertising will attach their “for the people” formula to repeated and varied calls for health care and prescription drug cost relief, infrastructure spending, and in denunciations of Republican selfishness and corruption. These are not new ideas. And these are not the issues that drive news cycles.
(iv) The problem with “for the people” is two fold. First, events and especially the noisy messaging attached to events have primed urban minority voting blocs and swing voters in affluent blue suburbs along the prosperous coasts–the Democratic party base–for expressions of outrage and demonstrations of “#resistance” in whatever form, and not for price relief for prescription drugs or new light commuter rail projects, activity that reduces to incremental and technical reforms. And, second, it is inconsistent with the messaging heard all summer so far, messaging that has followed almost exclusively the harrowing adventures of U.S. President Donald J. Trump.
(v) So the problem for House Democrats is not their slogan whether in form or in content. The problem is not that the message contradicts their own agenda as realized in their messaging so far this summer, though it does, the problem is that the Democrats are not in control of their own agenda. The content of all their messaging is Trump. The focus of all their energies is Trump. For better or worse it is Trump who drives the agenda; it is Trump who begins every conversation and sets the terms of every debate.
Draw your own conclusions however tenuous or remote.
g.v. wilkes iv