I admit to missing part of Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night. However, what I did see left me totally unimpressed, especially watching Pence and Ryan pop up and applaud so often they acted like trained monkeys. (That may be petty, but it was really overdone!)
In an effort to avoid any further sniping, let’s get to the crux of what Trump was saying and what it actually meant. Seriously, there weren’t a lot of surprises aside from his attempt to project a more positive message. Unfortunately, style is not nearly as important as substance. And as far as substance is concerned, he ducked, bobbed and weaved or just outright ignored it. Probably for good reason, because the substance is not going to be particularly palatable for most Americans.
It’s important to understand the realities that affect how things work in our government, at all levels, especially these days. The 1% who have the most wealth (and consequently the most power) pour millions of dollars directly and through Political Action Committees into electing mostly conservative Republicans representatives, senators and presidents. They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an agenda that works for them and only them. It’s easy for them to extoll free enterprise and rolling back government regulations, and talk about affordable healthcare in terms of competition and ending entitlements, because it puts more money in their pockets and takes it out of ours.
According to an article in The Nation, “The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the population, in a [December 2015] report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) …
“The concentration of wealth at the top isn’t the result of some sort of organic process. The top one-10th of 1 percent of American households controlled about 7 percent of the nation’s wealth in the mid-1970s. By 2000, their share had grown to about 15 percent, and today it’s well over 20 percent. Those at the very top didn’t become three times as smart or lucky or good-looking in the intervening years. They’ve benefited from changes in things like trade policy, the tax code, and collective-bargaining rules—all policy changes they’ve used their wealth to champion.”
Even worse, Trump has served to distract us from the economic issues by attacking immigrants, rescinding Federal support of equality for transgender students in schools, and fostering a mean-spirited rise in racial and ethnic prejudice as part of a nationalistic policy.
So the challenge for Democrats is to not become just the party of “NO” like the Republicans during President’s Obama’s administration. It is time, however, for the Democratic party to come up with realistic options that do not compromise our values while addressing the needs and concerns of all Americans.
First and foremost, we need to address the wealth and income inequality situation by making sure that those who make the most pay their FAIR share to support the country that allowed them to make so much money. Much has been made about tax cuts for the wealthy spurring investments in companies which in turn produces more higher paying jobs as the money trickles down. Sorry, but that has not worked worth a damn so far. It’s better to put that money in consumers’ hands first, because demand stimulates production rather than the other way around.
Supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, and some form of universal, affordable healthcare, along with lower taxes, factor into increasing disposable income among the middle and lower classes. Plus, making improvements in the quality of public education and lowering the cost of post-high school college and vocational education are critical elements in creating the skilled workforce of the future. And, we must assure equality for all in employment, housing and public accommodation regardless of religion, race, sex/gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s simple … we must be a nation of equals and respect those who not exactly like us. Our differences are what make us a stronger nation.
In the same vein, we need to change how we treat the 1% with stricter campaign finance laws, no income cutoffs for social security and medicare taxes, and fewer overall tax breaks. Now, I do suggest, for those who invest in start-up companies and select other business opportunities, that we offer them targeted tax breaks that reward them for contributing to specific growth. We should also maintain strict regulation of the financial industry, because 2008 taught us that they cannot be trusted to act wisely without oversight.
Finally, as far as environmental and safety regulations are concerned, we should establish a bipartisan commission of experts in various fields to examine regulations with an eye to making them more efficient in achieving their purpose in protecting people and the environment. that should also help make them most cost-effective, although that is not the primary focus.
This is hardly a comprehensive list of things we need to do, but it should be a good start for conversation. Now is the time to get engaged and participate in shaping our future by determining party platforms and encouraging people to run for office who support those platforms.
The revolution rests with each of us. Get involved!
Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the old ways and help new ideas grow!by