The Bulwark published a response to the Democratic positions offered in the first debates June 26, 2019. Here they are:
• In the course of two hours, various Democratic candidates for president argued for:
#` • Confiscatory tax rates
#2 • Abolishing private health insurance
#3 • Completely unfettered abortion, with no restrictions whatsoever
#4 • Either the buyback or outright confiscation of legally-owned guns
#5 • Reducing illegal immigration to a civil offense
#6 • Letting the Taliban live in peace
Briefly, #1 few economists or historians dismiss the notion that tax rates in the U.S. are destroying the middle class and creating unearned wealth for a small number of people and that this is a typical trend in declining societies: the accumulation of wealth in a few hands who then use that power to continue the downward spin. The actual producers (not those who make money off money) owe their success to the taxes and work of countless people; we live in a society, not a dog-eat-dog jungle.
#2 Most people who want universal health care mean just that: health care for everybody, unmitigated by the needs of millionaire and billionaire investors to extend the length of their yachts or build a third vacation home. If the wealthy can afford those ostentatious displays of wealth, fine; the danger is in displays of power that ruin the lives of less powerful, less wealthy people. Those who want to restrict health care to those who can afford it are saying that those who cannot afford are worthless anyway, so why bother feeding and clothing them or ministering to their health needs. The details of how we reform health care without disrupting to a disadvantageous degree the business of health care and health insurance remains to be worked out, but I would remind once more those who will fight tooth and claw for financial advantage in providing health to our people, they are our people, all of them and you DO live in a society, not a dog-eat-dog jungle.
#3 Medical, not religious, considerations should prevail in the abortion arena. Modern medicine presents challenges to moral and ethical systems, no doubt. I read in the early seventies a book on the topic predicting many of the dilemmas we face today. For liberals, the issue is one of access, i.e. the wealthy will impose restrictions on the reproductive rights of women but go by the back door for their own wives and daughters, providing them with safe abortions. Overriding all the abortion and other reproductive issues like contraception is the suspicion that there lurks the old patriarchal system of male dominance and that that is the fundamental (pun intended) purpose of controlling women’s reproductive capacity.
#4 Personally, I think a buy-back program just might reduce gun deaths, especially suicides. Lots of gun owners will sell their guns to get drug money. A licensing program might exclude others. A comedian suggested selling guns at current cost but charging exorbitant amounts for the ammunition. Anti-regulation activists like to find the sputterings of hysterical anti-gun activists who think all guns are evil, etc. Very few people feel that way; they just wonder how many high-velocity rounds from an automatic weapon does it take to bring down a deer? The Texas Tower murderer showed that one determined killer, even without automatic weapons, could kill mass numbers. He had gone for psychiatric help. Having worked in a psychiatric clinic, I must say I am appalled by the naivete of so-called public intellectuals and pundits over who can be identified as mentally ill and what can be done. Given the reluctance of society to pay for psychological and psychiatric care, the idea that we can screen out possibly dangerous people and isolate them is absurd. The real issue is those fanatics who wants plenty of military weapons to defend their homes against the monkey-hordes intent on raping their blonde wives. Fantasy and fear plays a huge role in the resistance to an attempt to stem the flow of cheap guns into poor neighborhoods, into the hands of minors, into the hands of criminals, into the hands of outright crazy people, and into the hands of people with a history of suicide attempts. Those are a few that occur to me, but since many of the “Obama is going to confiscate your gun” people, are uninterested in saving the lives of suicidal people and young kids caught up in gang violence, those seeking the regulation of military weapons will always face hysterical opposition.
#5 Border control is never watertight. Borders are porous and all of us living on or near the border know that. One guy who loved Pat Buchanan disagreed with him on one of his positions: the border. Why? Because he lived on the border and knew how it worked. Here is another topic where fantasy, fear and ignorance are the chief operators. Ignorance of just who comes here and why and how, fear of certain types of people who come here and fantasy about who those types are what they do. Put a few thousand Norwegian kids in those concentration camps (look it up) on the border and see how fast they’ll be adjudicated and sent on to relatives and other caretakers. It would be wonderful if we could send back everyone whose immigrant ancestors go back just 2 generations (I’d be one of them); just watch the proof of contributions to society offered to prevent extradition, and then watch current immigrants offer the same proof. The movie, “A Day Without A Mexican” spoofed the whole idea of ridding ourselves of “aliens.”
#6 Do we still have a foreign policy of telling other countries what kind of government, society and economy to have? We tried that. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and most Latin-American countries. On this topic, simple ignorance of geography goes a long way in explaining why we believe corporate heads who tell us crushing opposition to their predatory practices constitutes a blow for our security. How secure did we make Vietnam (spoiler alert: it is a Communist country now), Iraq, Afghanistan (20 years at war seldom results in victory). What kind of government is best for Lower Slobovia, not what kind of government in Lower Slobovia is best for the U.S. This is all very tricky. We were afraid the Soviets would gain ascendency and dominance all over the world via Communist parties in places like Italy and France and then, after decolonization, in Third World countries. The Democrats were on the defensive after 1949, blamed for the Communist victory in China. For that reason, a sense of “get tough on the Reds” dominated party thinking just like “get tough on crime” dominated in the 90s. In both cases, unintended consequences actually dominated and we are still living with those consequences. Just as with crime, there are other ways to reduce crime than by incarceration and the death penalty (better ways) and other ways to reduce the influence of terrorist groups, the new bogey-man after the demise of the Soviet threat and the domino effect.
The author of this was Last. Charlie Sykes put out a similar list: how Dems could turn victory into defeat. Now Charlie seems to genuinely believe that Trump needs to go along with the sick sycophants around him and in Congress, but there are a few things he either exaggerates or does not understand:
Agree: most Democratic voters are centrist; immigration peeling off into sanctuary cities, etc. though I can’t think of any responsible Dem who is talking about “open border;” staying away from the “socialism” label; abortion as a medical issue and not a religious one takes care of some of the more extreme positions along with avoiding talking about Trump supporters like they are simpletons; focus on military grade weapons re gun control and on measures other than restricting gun rights.
Disagree: What Charlie calls weird are simply opinions among Dems that are outside the mainstream, and Republicans have absolutely no room to talk about weird ideas that are embraced in the silence of Republicans (Rick Perry’s secession, legitimate rape, Confederate symbols as a matter of “heritage”, and on and on – weird and divisive, so look to your own for weird). Diversity = outside the mainstream some times and hanging the weird label on the party as a whole just shows desperation.
Dems don’t promise free stuff – that’s conservative distortion of liberal proposals. In my response to Last I emphasized that we live in a society, not a jungle. Conservatives in America are much too much overtaken by late 19th century ideas of Social Darwinism. We all pay taxes in one way or another and Dems simply point out that if it did work that way, we could have education and health care second to none and if Congress would stop give-away programs to giant corporations, which is socialism for rich people, infrastructure, environmental protection, preparation for climate change, fewer prison inmates, and on and on would be the result. It is the wealthy who want something for nothing (except donations), hand-outs, and special favors.
Reparations are a non-starter, I agree, but the reason is not what Charlie says, that we don’t know how it would work. That is what a reparations commission is for; no one is stupid enough to think that going to White person A and ordering him to hand over a tenth of his check every payday to Black person B will accomplish anything. The fact is, and I am reading about the run-up to Goldwater’s campaign in the early 60s, Whites routinely want nothing to do with Blacks unless it is entertainment and Whites resent an imputation of prejudice to them and Whites see zero connection between what they have and what Blacks lack. So I do agree that reparations talk is going nowhere but it is not because White people just don’t see how it would work; it is because the best plan would not cut the mustard if it gave Blacks anything like the advantages Whites have enjoyed. Believe me, I’ve seen this personally, on an individual level, over and over the last 60 years.
You may have assumed that I subsumed AOC into the socialism issue where I agree with Charlie. Not so. AOC is one Congressperson elected by Democrats and others and her ideas are outside the range of typical ideas held by Democrats. Unlike lock-step, authoritarian Republicans, we Dems like diversity of opinion. I have always been a firm supporter of the free enterprise system but have been labeled radical (at my school I worked at simply b/c I voted Democratic) and a huge surprise for favoring free enterprise and capitalism just because I had liberal ideas on some education issues. Again, the rigidity of conservative and, in the last 30 years, Republican thought. And again, I return to Charlie to ask him to please look at Roy Moore, closet gays, secret deals with Russians, kill-the-sluts-but-save-their-babies-so-we-have-more-inmates-for-our-private-prison-system champions, hiking the Appalachian Trail which is now found between someone’s legs in Argentina, and, never to miss a change to repeat this: legitimate rape type people the Right keeps coming up with. And you are going to put a red, very red, flag on a young woman who was bartending and waitressing a short time ago and is now in Congress asking some of the best and most informed questions of the day? Sure, Charlie, don’t shove her in centrists’ faces but we Dems can’t help it if conservatives are too damn stupid (oops! condescending) to realize we already have socialism and too bigoted to see AOC EMBODIES the American dream