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writing for godot

The Plan for the Win

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Written by Tom Cantlon   
Saturday, 27 May 2017 14:03

Here is the winning plan for Democrats (or a new progressive party): A unified message from candidates for the House and Senate, similar to the GOP's, 1990s "Contract with America", that would help working people, everyone from low-wage through upper-middle, coast to central to coast, that is not about handouts.

 

Some example policies:

* Companies and CEOs should not be able to fully shed pension obligations through bankruptcy.

* A serious assault on wage theft. It's not just lowest-wage workers. Middle-income people get shorted on overtime, benefits, and other slick ways of cheating.

* Major corporations who distance themselves from both low-wage and mid-level workers by using an employment agency should be just as liable for wrongs as if they were direct employees.

* Employees are being blocked from suing, by forced arbitration clauses. End that.

* Employees are subject to schedule surprises; no work today, or come in instantly. Pay them an on-call fee for that.

* We're going to need serious infrastructure anyway, and not like the GOP's corporate handout, so lead the real thing, creating a lot of jobs.

* Official policy is that when unemployment reaches 4.4% the brakes are put on the economy, supposedly in fear of inflation. Bull. Japan has 2.8% unemployment and almost no inflation. Let unemployment go lower so workers have more leverage.

* Serious prosecution of executives in companies that commit financial crimes. Those crimes occur because of executive decisions or negligence. They should do time.

* Corporations that repeatedly prove they can't be trusted to treat their employees or their customers within the law should be forced to sell to new owners, with any personal profit subject to restitution.

 

Key points to this:

* Lots of things government can fund are important, like food stamps for low wage workers and more help with college costs, but anything that can be spun as a "handout" will be. Don't lead with those. Get candidates elected who care about workers and would-be workers, and they'll support these other issues, as well as issues for those who can't work, like children and the disabled.

* Rights of minorities and gays and other social justice issues should continue to be supported proudly, but in recent years Democratic leadership has failed to offer substantial economic solutions for everyone. What gets to the news are the court fights about social justice. Other people think that's all the party stands for. Economic solutions that help everyone are needed to convince them to return.

* The question of moving further left or further "center" is a fiction. Getting people their pay, their working rights, is not left or center. These are policies everyone can support.

* People don't care about right or left on economics anyway. In the 1950s very conservative Archie Bunker types loved unions for their security and full pay. Tea-partiers love Medicare. Everyone who couldn't get insurance before Obamacare loves their new insurance. If people are convinced a policy will help them, they'll be on board, philosophy be damned.

* Don't be afraid of the impure. People are not saints. Some aren't, and some are weak. It's right to stand for full justice for everyone, but if those for justice, and those for economic self-interest, cannot vote together, nothing will be accomplished. Candidates who stand for justice as well as real economic improvement will win the votes. Then economics and justice can advance.

* Accomplish this, and the groundwork is laid for other issues; the environment, rationale international relations, and more.

* Trump and the GOP make empty promises about creating jobs. This is about more. This is about empowering people in jobs to have good pay and good treatment.

 

If Democratic leadership learns how to cut through the news cycle and convincingly offer these changes, the wild tides of people looking for solutions will roll their way. If they fail this challenge, they should dust off their hiking boots and go find that woods that Hillary knows so painfully well. The fear of losing office is a powerful motive for a new leaf. This, is possible.

 

Tom Cantlon has the interesting challenge of being a left-leaning writer for the paper in a small, right-leaning Western town, in a right-leaning state. He can be reached at comments at TomCantlon dot com.

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