Gage Skidmore



Democrats Actually Do Have Ideas

I know it’s hard to believe, but when we’re actually in control of Congress and the White House, we do things! There’s currently this weird media narrative that Democrats have no ideas and are simply anti-Trump all the time. The simple truth is that the media fixates on the things they want to talk about, like Trump’s wanton criminality and his belief that he’s a god-king. I’ve seen Democrats propose real ideas and then I’ve seen the media dismiss them with an ambivalent attitude so they can go back to talking about how they don’t exist.

Democrats continue to believe — and have for a long time — in a higher federal minimum wage. As lower-paying jobs are exported and efficiency rises, we cannot afford to continue paying people 1970s wages in 2018. Whether or not you agree that $15/hr. is an appropriate federal minimum wage, we have set a policy target. The GOP doesn’t believe in higher wages via government policy.

Democrats also believe in universal healthcare coverage, even though we differ on how exactly to achieve it and over what timeframe. You’re slowly seeing Democrats coalesce around Medicare-for-All (I think, much like the Fight for 15, this is a good rhetorical goalpost because we always end up well short of the goalposts we set). Instead of attempting (and failing) to tear up the ACA, we want to strengthen it, expand it, and continue to provide more coverage at lower costs. The GOP has no idea what to do on healthcare.

Democrats believe in protecting the environment. Rather than prop up dying coal plants like Dear Leader, we want to invest in clean renewable wind and solar energy. This will also allow us to rebuild our crumbling electrical grid to be smarter and more nimble. Oil sucks. Drilling for oil sucks. Let’s just use windmills and solar panels!

Democrats believe in investing in education. Notably, all of the school walkouts this year have happened in Republican led states. Democrats in Congress are calling for a repeal of the tax cuts on the top 1% to fund school improvements and pay teachers a wage they deserve. It’s laughable that we’re asking teachers to carry firearms to work when we aren’t giving them money to pay for pencils.

Democrats still believe in unions! One of our biggest messaging failures is the fact that twice we have gone to war with the GOP over the coal miners’ pension fund and twice we have won to keep it solvent and keep the coal miners’ paid. It’s unbelievable how we’re smeared as coastal elites who hate the common person when it was the GOP trying to de-fund the coal miners’ pension fund.

Democrats believe in infrastructure! Despite all of the Infrastructure Weeks we’ve had, Trump has done precious little to actually fix our infrastructure. It’s been hollowed out by the lower-taxes-at-all-costs dogma that infected the GOP. Trump once talked about privatizing Air Traffic Controllers and has mused about nationalizing a 5G data network.

Roads, bridges, airports? Out of luck. Democrats want to spend a trillion dollars fixing our country and once again making our infrastructure the envy of the world.

Legalizing cannabis. Democrats believe in this for a bunch of reasons and have actually introduced legislation on it! It’s a huge deal and it’s honestly one of the best tools to fight the opioid crisis. Whether it’s full legalization or just ending the federal prohibition, we are leading the way on this issue.

Public banking! An idea that Bernie Sanders floated in 2016 that Kirsten Gillibrand has picked up lately. Give people who need to borrow money or just have a checking account a public alternative to a for-profit institute like Wells-Fargo.

Jobs guarantees! Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders have both floated the idea of federal jobs guarantees to put pressure on the private sector to pay employees better and offer better benefits.

Common sense gun reforms. Equal protection for women and people of color and the LGBTQ community. A progressive tax system. Reducing the burden of student debt. Criminal justice reform. Ending cash bail. Net Neutrality. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. The DREAM Act. The list goes on and on and on and on.

When you look at the actual gains, policy-wise, that Democrats made from 09–10, it’s pretty staggering. When you look at our wish list of ideas to continue to pursue, it shows that we’re just getting started. Trump has been ineffectual as president, driven mostly by racial animus and his own ego. He’s done plenty of bad things but the idea that there’s any kind of overarching doctrine to them is pretty laughable.

Paul Ryan managed to squeeze through a fiscally irresponsible tax cut bill, failed on all of his other promises, and is now leaving to go join a lobbying firm. Mitch McConnell has rubber-stamped a bunch of revanchist judges, but otherwise I barely remember he exists. The Democrats stand for plenty, and it’s what liberals have stood for generations. It’s a fight for fairness, for equality, for opportunity for all of our citizens (and anyone who believes in the American Dream), not just trust fund brats.

It’s a vision of a 21st Century America, leading the world in energy production, in technological innovation, where our cities and towns, our colleges and trade schools, our government and our private sector, drive the world into the future instead of languishing behind in the past. Just because Democrats don’t get on TV to wax philosophical about the top marginal tax rate being 2.7% higher and what it could mean for our budget problems doesn’t mean we’re out of ideas.