We need to learn from the right in order to defeat it
Democrats must strive to take Republican talking points as Republicans do, which is not seriously at all.
The White House released predictions this week that the budget deficit will burst over $1 trillion by 2019, nearly matching the deficits hit during the worst of the Great Recession as America continues a record financial expansion that began in Obama’s first term and not let up since.
The White House OMB now projects the deficit will rocket to $890B this year and top $1T through 2021.
cc, uh, Larry Kudlow. pic.twitter.com/feaKaLWbPa
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) July 18, 2018
This news of rampant fiscal imbalance resulted in ZERO Tea Party rallies. And this has shocked no one, not even the people who once pretended the Tea Party had nothing to do with race.
Now that the world’s worst birther is president, making the point that racism was a central motive of the Tea Party movement may seem unnecessary. As I pointed out in USA TODAY this week, no president in a century has given more aid and comfort to white supremacists than Donald Trump.
But there are two important lessons we cannot forget because history keeps repeating itself and it’s bound to happen again if Democrats can overcome the four-headed hydra of gerrymandering, big money, voter suppression, and hacking to take back power.
First, the media will always imbue anything the right does with good faith and spin critiques from the left as conspiracy theory.
The notion that the Tea Party was a non-partisan effort that leapt up out of fears of deficit and over-regulation of banks during the worst fiscal crisis of this millennium was readily accepted by the press. The racism bubbling over in the inappropriate rage against Obama was often dismissed or ignored. Mainstream thinkers wanted to believe the rage on behalf of corporations and rich people wasn’t racially motivated because the agenda — slicing government and setting business free to rein — was their own. This same phenomenon was repeated in 2015-2016 as Trump’s obvious racism, like his indebtedness to Putin, was treated as an unserious critique as the press went out of their way to legitimize the concerns of Trump voters without unpacking the rage at demographic change firing up the movement.
Next, Democrats should use the deficit in the exact same way Republicans do.
Democrats have become the party responsible for cutting the deficit after Republicans explode it. They should feel no such responsibility once they regain power. Instead they should care as little about the deficit as Paul Ryan actually does. This means, bring it up only when it’s convenient. For instance, when supporting policies that will promote economic equality emphasize the genuine deficit reduction they also promote. When you call for repealing Trump’s tax cuts for the rich and big corporations, call out the deficit. Same for promoting new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires or a financial transaction tax on Wall Street. Then when promoting programs like free college — which we could have paid for THREE TIMES OVER with just the deficit increase from 2017 to 2018 — or expanding Medicare, use the best line of BS Republicans ever came up with: IT WILL PAY FOR ITSELF. This promise is far more true for programs that promote child care or housing assistance than it will ever be for tax cuts for the rich.
Republicans have proven adept at turning their greatest failures and most appalling weaknesses into strengths. Democrats need to become as immune as the right is to critiques from its opponents and seize on the rhetorical tools the right as developed to sell policies that are not only popular, but good.