The biggest issue facing Democrats as they head toward the 2018 midterm elections and their quest to retake both the House of Representatives and the Senate is to identify what Democrats are for and not just against. The search is for a rallying issue, so to speak.
The difficulty is that it is sometimes a bit challenging to distinguish the two especially when dealing with such a destructive force as the CONmander-in-Chief.
There are a couple of good places to start, however. First, simply look at all of the Obama Administration actions that have been, item by item, undone by the current administration. Re-entering the Paris Climate Accord since we are the only nation, and I said only nation thanks to Trump, who is not a signatory is one easy issue to adopt for Democrats. Climate change, by the way, is real, and not being part of the solution implies we are part of the problem. Current efforts to roll back automobile emission standards are a prime example.
Rescinding President Obama's executive order on DACA, Deferred Actions on Childhood Arrivals, only served to create an unnecessary crisis. How this issue will ultimately be addressed remains to be seen, but it is likely that it will leave casualties no matter how it is addressed, if at all.
Rescinding an absolute mountain of environmental regulations on such issues as clean water, clean air, and so on serve only to put our health and our environment at risk. The current president took great pride in pointing to that mountain of regulations when he gloated over the number of regulations he canceled. What he didn't do is indicate the nature of any single regulation in that mountain. Granted, it is unlikely he even read just one of those regulations since his goal was to decrease the number regardless of any impact on our health and well-being.
Then there is eliminating the Obamacare's individual mandate which is estimated to result in some 13 million individuals losing healthcare coverage. Like anything else, if you want to kill a program the most effective way to do it is to kill the funding. As is the case with any type of insurance, the larger the pool of people paying in, the lower the premiums. Eliminating the individual mandate cuts off a crucial funding source.
The list of reversals of Obama administration actions by the current president goes well beyond the items mentioned here, but should not be the only source for Democrats to look to in crafting a winning message. Democrats need more than simply undoing what was undone by the incompetent in the White House no matter how massive an endeavor that will prove to be.
Democrats should also look at the Constitution for their messaging as this current president has so blatantly trampled on so many of the guiding principles of that document. Is there any doubt that this president confused the powers of the president with those of a dictator, having no understanding of the concept of the Separation of Powers, the three co-equal branches of government, the requirement of checks and balances to make each branch responsible to each other?
The fact that this president has been able to turn Congress into a gaggle of spineless geese is somewhat impressive while even more disturbing and in need of correcting. Yes, there is an important message here to be sure.
There is more, much more, in looking at the Constitution. How about freedom of religion? The First Amendment to the Constitution requires that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” It does not give anyone the right to impose their own religious beliefs on others and it does not create a Christian state. Rather, the founding fathers made it a point that this nation was founded on the principle of “the separation of church and state” AND yes, Virginia, there is no “War on Christmas!”
While on the First Amendment, Democrats may want to consider as part of their overall messaging the need for a free and independent press after this president's relentless attacks on the press as a means to undermine its credibility with the public. The constant barrage of “fake news” accusations hurled at the press coming from an administration whose false claims are daily if not hourly is ironic to say the least.
The false claims are obviously intended to create a distraction from the investigations into the meddling of Russia in our elections and the possible coordination of members of the administration with Russia thereby necessitating an associated cover-up of that coordination. A free and independent press is crucial to getting the full story out to the public; impugning the credibility of the press is the primary tactic the administration seems to feel will enable them to cast doubt on the expected findings of the investigations.
Let us not forget another segment of the First Amendment, the portion dealing with free speech and the right to assemble peaceably. The current president fully supported the right of the Iranian people to protest their government while condemning the right of NFL players to peaceably protest police actions against African Americans – no, the protests were never against the flag. How about Democrats taking up the issue of supporting the First Amendment rights for all Americans?
How about jumping to the Second Amendment and including sensible gun restrictions in the Democrat messaging? As Justice Scalia so notably stated in his majority opinion in the Heller Case of 2008, there is no preclusion in the Second Amendment preventing the government from placing some reasonable restrictions on the use and ownership of firearms. There is plenty of room to include gun safety in the Democrat messaging.
Those are only two of the 27 amendments and I haven't even mentioned stronger controls to enforce the emoluments clause of the Constitution addressed in Article I, Section 9 which prohibits profiting from the holding of office such as any potential profits by this president from his D.C. hotel. Maryland's own attorney general, Brian Frosh, is moving forward with his suit on that very issue, an issue well suited for inclusion in Democrat messaging.
While we are on the Constitution, let us not forget the Declaration of Independence and the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Does universal healthcare not fall under the right to life?
Well, Democrats, between the undoing of this president's undoing of the previous administration's doing and this president's complete disregard for our Constitution, finding suitable messaging for 2018 and 2020 should not be difficult especially if you add to this exhaustive list women's equality, the protection of voting rights and adherence to the rule of law.
However, we must also not forget the recent victory of Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania which made abundantly clear the need for Democrats to be responsive to the issues of a particular constituency and not be hamstrung by the ideology of the party in general. A combination of a strong focus on local concerns while also presenting a broader perspective on such far-reaching issues as the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society or healthcare is a right for all and not a privilege for the wealthy may be the formula for successful messaging come 2018 and 2020.