How to regain the blue collar, working class, small business contractors, unions, law & order advocates, first-responders, uniformed services, military and moderate-right of center sectors of society
That’s a mouthful and a tall order but here’s how to do it:
Talking points and strategies:
Become Tough-Love Democrats
- Firmly establish yourselves as tough-love democrats.
- Define TOUGH (this doesn’t mean you have to be MEAN)
- Zero tolerance for violent crime and repeat offenders. The message of lock ’em up and throw away the key should be crystal clear. Who could be against this?
- Make sure it’s clear that non-violent offenders and persons driven by addictions to commit crimes should not be included in this batch.
- Let’s stop the “catch and release” approach to persons suffering from addictions and emotional disturbances and replace it with a policy of “treat and release with rigorous follow up”.
- Mandated therapy on a mandatory schedule should replace the current mantra of writing up a report and sending afflicted persons on their way only to repeat this lunacy on a subsequent day. If a person presents a harm/hazard to themselves or society, there should be no reason why we can not track and trace them. Recovery coaches are currently deployed at some hospitals to empathize with and coax overdose patients to seek rehabilitation (this is the LOVE portion of the tough-love equation). I suggest adding a mandated element to this (i.e., tough part of tough-love) to require extended treatment for them. If you are brought to the hospital for an overdose, you do not get discharged until you are enrolled in a rehab program (24/7, full supervision) that gets you clean and gets you to the root cause of your addiction. Why not apply the same mandated supervised/therapeutic regime for gunshot victims when the shooting incident is just the tip of a much uglier issue (gang violence, drug war, etc.).
- Based upon documentation of criminal behavior (whether you are a wife-beater, rapist, pedophile, hate monger or road rage maniac), we need to know your whereabouts and be assured that you are actively participating in recovery from your addictions and afflictions.
- For the downright violent and purely evil criminals, permanent incarceration with no chance of seeing the light of day should be the order of the day. Democrats should lead with this “Law & Order” stance based on the old principle of “hate the sin but love the sinner”.
- Define LOVE
- Provide the very basics of food-clothing-shelter and medical care to survive. Nothing fancy here. Who could be against this ? (except for the most callous of persons). Food: soup kitchen basics to prevent starvation. Clothing: warm clothes in winter to prevent from freezing and good shoes to get from point A to point B. Shelter: a cot to sleep on and a roof over head. In sum: 3 hots and a cot as the saying goes. As for medical care, if you are sick, you need to be treated and isolated as needed (especially with a pandemic underway). As noted above, this is the formula for SURVIVING, it’s up to the individual if he/she wants to launch beyond these basics to THRIVING
- TOUGH: Basics of survival (food-clothing-shelter-health) require that recipients of services must take steps to address the reasons that they need these emergency, basic services in the first place. For example, if you are receiving medical care related to your smoking, you need to take mitigation steps. Likewise, if obesity is your issue, a healthy diet and appropriate exercise regime must be prescribed. Mandate mental/emotional therapy and fund mental health counseling so there is no excuse to avoid counselling if behavioral/emotional issues are the underlying reasons why you need assistance with the basics of life (food, clothing, shelter, etc.). In sum, get TOUGH by treating the causes rather than just the symptoms. When do you have a persons undivided attention? It’s when they need food-clothing-shelter or when they are in a hospital recovering from an overdose. In sum, treat’em when you got’em especially if they are frequent fliers receiving services.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) can be a vehicle or tough-love societal change that parties of all persuasions can support:
- If everybody age 18+ who was NOT receiving SSI/SSDI were to receive $1,000/month, think of how much simpler our social support network (aka, bureaucracy) would be. Gone would be the days of the ridiculous cat & mouse game of hiding income. Gone would be the days of bureaucratic entanglement qualifying for benefits, re-certifying for benefits, adapting to ever changing program regulations and requirements. Advocates for less government would support the $1,000/month formula since they would appreciate the simplicity and expediency of UBI. Equally important, these beneficiaries would gain a sense of self-sufficiency and self-determination with nobody telling others how and where to spend the money. Libertarian’s and a sizable proportion of the Tea Party members might support this strategy and philosophy. Gone would be the demoralizing days of waiting in line at the social services/welfare department, something that the recipients of services/benefits would certainly appreciate.
- The UBI model with its across the board payment formula avoids the quagmire created by targeting programs and resources which inevitably engenders animosities between the “haves” who qualified for programs vs. the “have nots” who did not qualify. Furthermore, there can be no accusation of discrimination if everybody is benefiting.
- UBI would also benefit the bureaucrats. At first blush, it might appear that bureaucrats would be out of a job since they wouldn’t be needed to administer social service programs. Although there might be some workforce shrinkage (which the advocates of small government. less government would applaud), many of these employees could be redirected to be counselors (financial, life skill, peer mediators, therapist, etc.). Persons previously enrolled in programs could be provided encouragement to make the most of their $1,000/month allotment. Deep down, most former bureaucrats would find this much more rewarding than the pencil-pushing, form completing program implementation drudgery of program based service delivery. If they really preferred the bureaucratic format over the holistic, client centered format of the UBI, maybe they should be exiting the profession anyways. Many of these “former bureaucrats” could be transitioned to more productive roles which will be necessitated by the movement to revamp criminal justice, community policing and violence mitigation. Maybe they could be moved from behind their desks to the streets where they could ride with the cops and intervene on the scene where persons are in crisis and their social services expertise could best be utilized. In sum, the tandem combination of UBI and “outside of the box” tough-love messaging by Democrats could create some odd bedfellows. Conservatives would love the practicality and frugality. Progressives would love the kinder, gentler, holistic approach to community policing. Now that’s a formula for bringing into the Democrat tent those segments of our society that have strayed away.
- Before leaving the topic of UBI, I have to share an observation that I had during my morning commute to work. I was heading south on I-95 behind a flatbed truck which displayed a huge TRUMP banner. If I had the chance to chat with the driver, I would have asked how he felt about getting $1,000/month thru the UBI. I would ask him how would he spend his time and what goals would he pursue if the $1,000/month freed him up to pursue his dreams. I would also gently remind him that in the not-to-distant future all trucks would be self-driven and trucking jobs would evaporate. I would avoid mentioning UBI was supported by both the democratic party presidential candidate Andrew Yang and by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for fear that he may not be impressed by this or might even be turned off by knowing this. My sense is that this trucker (like so many other persons who feel aggrieved and financially strapped) could buy into the UBI economic argument which happens to have democrat progressive origins.
The following is a wrap-up listing of suggestions concerning how the Democrats can better position themselves to get themselves out of the liberal, big-spending, big government perceptual corner that they have been painted into:
- Relentless enforcement of crimes of violence. Put the focus on the perpetrator rather than getting bogged down in the gun rights/restrictions quagmire. Be tough on crime vigorously pursuing both violent criminals and white collar criminals. Bernie Madoff the Ponzi schemer, pharmaceutical price gougers, wall street bandits, and insurance/medicare fraudsters can share their prison cell with the rapists and shooters. Law and order should apply to all criminals from the local mugger who steals the pocket book to the corporate raider who steals your pension.
- Relentless enforcement cutting wasteful spending and calling out absurd expenditures. Strict adherence to the risk/reward equation. If the costs exceed the benefits, do not proceed. Taking the Affordable Health Care (ACA) as an example: Call out any situations where a person has been harmed by the ACA and identify exactly how they have been harmed. Did they loose their house because of ACA? Did they loose their business because of the ACA? How can such a person be made whole? If a Democrat could assist such a person, they have made a friend in the voting booth. Chopping off financial fat and finding practical solutions will win over fiscal conservatives.
- Relentless avoidance of any foreign entanglements where the mission is not clear and the risk/rewards do not justify involvement.
- Relentless advocacy of self-determination and self-sufficiency. Less regulation and more innovation. If people had more choice about their schools and more control over their neighborhoods, they would feel better about themselves. If feeling good can be attributed to Democrat’s, this spells voting victories.
- Maybe we should consider a community digital wall where documented (not fake news) incidents of waste and abuse could be routinely highlighted. Call out the pharmaceutical price gougers, the welfare cheats, Medicare/Medicaid fraudsters, corporate/political incidents of corruption, and insurance horror stories, just to name a few. The Democrats could use this wall to identify and champion the populist causes of smaller government and cleaner government, thereby shedding the image of Democrats as the “tax-spend-regulate” party.
As with most of my blogs, I try to conclude by summing up how I have come to some of these conclusions and suggestions, so here goes:
- Years of working in the public sector as a community organizer, planner, administrator in the fields of community development, redevelopment, and economic development have brought me to the conclusion that we spend way too much time, money and energy treating the symptoms of problems rather that tackling the causes. We live in the world where we hope that good results will come from our time, money and efforts. We try to turn cities around with trash clean ups, garden plantings, decorative street signage. These are all good and noble undertakings but they never get to the core reason that the city deteriorated in the first place.
- Years of working as a mall cop on weekends seeing the same kids get kicked out of the mall for shoplifting, fighting, and being boisterous and belligerent. Replace the “catch & release syndrome” with a “mandated therapeutic meetings with both the parents/guardians and the youths getting to the root cause of their angst”.
- Years of working in the mental health and addiction fields, I have met wonderful clients (many of whom I prefer to consider as friends rather than the label of clients). What frustrates me is the fact that the tough-love approach is not consistently applied or allowed. Self-determination is important and must be respected but recurring episodes with no measurable improvement ultimately is of no help to either the person or the society. Without addressing this issue (as with so many vexing societal issues), it seems like we only nibble at the peripheral symptoms without getting to root causes. We fail to take charge of situations in the most cost-effective, time/energy effective manor.
One thought on “A Tutorial For Democrats”
Greg, This is very tough-provoking and timely. Thank you for the thinking that went into writing it.