With Election Day rapidly approaching there are some small encouraging signs the Democrats only look dead. They have a pulse and a chance—however small–of retaining their Congressional majority in the Senate, though the House of Representatives looks likely to fall to the Republicans.
The Republicans came up with the Pledge to America, something of a “Contract With America-Light.” It’s full of the standard GOP boilerplate about defending the country, cutting taxes and screwing Obama and the Democrats at every turn. At the center of the Pledge’s tiny little heart is a plan to cut $100 billion from the federal budget next year.
Bloomberg.com examined the fine print in the Pledge and suggests the only way to meet their goals means Republicans will slash-and-burn their way through domestic discretionary spending. Naturally, the GOP has declared any cutting of military spending is off-limits and so are the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare (old people like those programs and they vote). The feds are required to make payments on the national debt so that can’t be touched either. All that’s left for the Republicans to go after in the $3.6 trillion federal budget is the less than $500 billion discretionary spending.
If they make good on their plan, federal programs such as Pell Grants, education, Head Start, medical research by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes for Health and money for local law enforcement through Justice Assistance Grants will be targeted by Rep. Paul Ryan, who likely would become chairman of the Budget Committee in a Republican-led House.
“That’s where you get the savings,” Ryan told Bloomberg.com.
You can’t fault the Republicans for…well, acting like Republicans. Making sure the wealthy get their tax cuts and serving the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce and Corporate America is what they do. Repubs present themselves as the party that hates government, but really what they hate is government that doesn’t favor their pet programs and special interest groups like all those defense contractors based in Southern states. Then they like government just fine.
But at least the Republicans are somewhat upfront with their bullshit. What are Democrats promising they will do if they stay in control? Are they going to refine and improve national healthcare? Push cap-and-trade and environmental protections? Move on immigration reform?
Republicans are feeling cocky because their base of voters are fired up and enthusiastic. Democrats are having trouble getting their supports to show any sense of urgency. A poll this week revealed Hispanics overwhelmingly favor Democrats, but aren’t likely to turn out in November. Similar sentiments are expressed by young and Black voters; two groups Democrats desperately need to turn out.
If the Democrats really want to win, they need to offer their supporters an enticement. Screaming at liberals to get fired up isn’t going to get it done.\
The Ice Cream for Everybody plan will.
Look, people respond to positive reinforcement. Promise them something good will be theirs and they’ll love you. Trying to scare them with doom and gloom about what the other side will do if they take over won’t work. People are more likely to cast their votes for you when they are fired up about what you’re offering them.
Everybody likes ice cream. Kids eat their veggies when they know there’s a sweet treat waiting for them. Even those who don’t like ice cream like positive reinforcement. We already know what the Republicans want to do: repeal major parts of healthcare reform, make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent and grease the wheels in 2012 for a Sarah Palin presidency by making Obama’s life miserable.
What is the downside to offering liberals, progressives, labor unions, women, and minorities a reason to come out and vote instead of staying home cost Obama and the Dems? What’s wrong with standing up for a woman’s right to a legal and safe abortion? Take a hard line against Arizona’s heavy-handed immigration laws. Challenge the Republicans by making them choose if they’re going to stand with the big banks or the middle class by calling for a national moratorium on home foreclosures.
Announce a definitive date to wind down the decade-long war in Afghanistan and stick by it. Hammer Republicans for cozying up to the extremist elements of the Tea Party and embracing their extremist, far-right rhetoric and policies. Boast a bit about what’s been accomplished and give voters a reason to believe there’s still a lot more that needs to be done.
In sports the cliché is “Go Big or Go Home.” That’s the choice facing the Democrats. Or they can just offer some ice cream to their presently dissatisfied and disinterested base.
Come on guys. It’s not too late. Stop berating your base and give them a treat. And a reason to keep you in power instead of early retirement.