Opinion writer Matt Miller is a member of the Action Party; he just doesn’t know it yet. His recent column “The Great American Political Gridlock” couldn’t be more spot on. For while Republicans “are detached from reality”, according to Miller, Democrats have a huge “ambition gap.” And he’s exactly right.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being a political junky is watching this dynamic play out continually: Republicans block, Democrats balk. Time and again, the Republican Party shows that it is completely devoid of ideas to solve America’s problems (the few ideas they do have would make things much, much worse: like cutting food stamps), but they get away with it because the Democrats don’t press them with creative solutions of their own. All we hear from the Donkeys is “tax the rich, start new federal programs.”
Meanwhile, America needs action. Bridges and roads are crumbling before our eyes. Schools are axing teachers and other employees due to a lack of funding that is a direct result of austerity policies. Businesses and entrepreneurs are being attacked by patent trolls. And there are still millions of Americans out of work, and those of us that do have a job have seen our wages stagnate while the rich, corporate elite scoop up the profits and launder money in foreign countries so that they can avoid paying taxes (feel free to view past blogs for more on these issues).
But despite these literal, actual crises, the best Republicans can do is hold hearings on Benghazi and the IRS. As for the Democrats, the best they can do is… actually, I have no idea, because other than playing defense against the Republicans (which seems to consume about 95% of their efforts), I haven’t a clue on any proposals Democrats have put forth addressing any of the above issues.
Sure, Obama listed a ton of excellent ideas in his State of the Union Address this year, such as expanded preschool or rebuilding our infrastructure, but since then we haven’t heard anything. Why isn’t he out there touting these ideas? For example, the Republicans are blocking preschool for all U.S. children because they’re opposed to raising cigarette taxes—a losing position if I’ve ever heard one. But I just found out about that today, four months after the speech. Why aren’t the Democrats absolutely hammering the Republicans on this?
Even worse, every single idea Democrats come up with to start a new program aimed at addressing our problems are specifically tied to raising taxes on the very wealthy or closing loopholes on corporations. Do those things probably need to happen? Yes. But when you know both are non-starters for the other party, why demand it, knowing that such legislation is effectively dead on arrival.
Instead, what the President—indeed, any politician—should do is give people options. For example, come out and say “we need to expand preschool for kids. It’s shown to be some of the best money we can spend in terms of improving long term education results. Congress has options. They can: A) increase taxes in ways that don’t hurt the poor or middle class, B) redirect money from another portion of the budget, such as the military, or C) borrow money at current interest rates, which are basically 0%, to pay for it.”
Do the same for K-12 education, and the same for our infrastructure. Then, every politician in our government that’s in favor of those policies should come out and say so, twice every day, and remind everyone each time, of who’s against it.
But they don’t. Instead, Democrats carefully plod down the middle of the road, hedging their bets, refusing to stake out political positions that while popular, may alienate some key demographic of voters in their state or district.
So in the end, when we elect Democrats, we get ineffectual leadership, because even if they have integrity, they lack conviction; conversely, when we elect Republicans, we get full blown corruption, because though they have powerful conviction, they don’t have any integrity—they’ll do what their rich, corporate donors tell them to do, and they’ll do it with gusto.
The American people need someone who represents them—not more people who are worried about the next election. What we need, Matt Miller, is the Action Party.