Yesterday, the former Democratic president, vice president, attorney general, secretary of state, a Democratic congresswoman, a major Democratic donor, CNN/the former head of the CIA, and Robert De Niro all faced assassination attempts in one of the most ambitious terrorist attacks this country has ever seen. This is how Joe Biden, one of the 2020 front-runners right now, responded to this partisan attack (prior to us learning that he received a pipe bomb).
This amorphous claim of a need for civility on all sides came on the heels of longtime Democratic minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, equivocating “both sides” in an unbelievably tone-deaf tweet after the first bomb was discovered at George Soros' house.
This last generation of Democrats are wholly inept when it comes to combating the rising extremism of the Republican Party. We do not know who tried to assassinate all these high-profile Democratic politicians whom are all frequent targets of Trump's attacks, but it's difficult to see an assassination attempt of longtime conservative boogeyman (and trojan horse for this generation of anti-semites to get their agenda into the mainstream discourse) George Soros and a bunch of major Democratic politicians and think that it's anything other than what it looks like.
Things are getting worse, and they will continue to do so. Trump and the GOP embolden extremists and racists every single day. The last time this many high-level politicians faced assassination attempts was the night that John Wilkes Booth murdered Abraham Lincoln. We are not at a crossroads. That was 2016. We have chosen the darker path, and in order to lift us up out of this malaise, Democrats are going to need to persuade as many people as possible to vote for them.
And they haven't been. Instead of asking why there were more nonvoters than Clinton or Trump voters, the last generation of Democrats prefer to shame those who do not meet the minimum requirement it takes to call yourself an active citizen. Voter apathy is a problem in this country, as there is a significant chunk of folks who simply don't care about trying to take some measure of power over this nation's future. That is frustrating and that impossibly apathetic person should be shamed into voting. But those kinds of people do not make up the biggest chunk of nonvoters, and treating all nonvoters with the same scorn and disdain as frustratingly apathetic people is morally and strategically wrong.
Hell, some people can't even vote at all thanks to our insane election laws. If you got caught with a little weed in high school and did time for it, sorry, in a lot of states, you can't exercise your most fundamental democratic right. Democrats should make voting rights a legislative priority (and many are), then perhaps they could recruit those voters and their friends and family who have been demoralized by a system designed to strip them of any democratic power.
Some people don't see much of a difference between the two parties—and while this is an incorrect assumption, as only one party is kidnapping children and throwing them in cages—it is a legitimate critique of how unappealing the milquetoast centrism of the Democratic old-guard is. Those statements from Biden and Schumer demonstrate that they still don't get it: appeals to some amorphous kind of national civility fall flat in the face of a minority trampling all over everyone's democratic rights. The Democrats must call a spade a spade in order to demonstrate to everyone that they will actually fight for the little guy (instead of shaming them into voting and forcing them to adhere to high D.C. society civility nonsense).
This is the new Democratic Party.
“I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist, I’m simply saying the racists think he’s a racist.”
And just like that, progressive candidate for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, exhumed Republican Ron DeSantis’ soul from his body in front of the entire world. THAT is what gets people energized to vote. Politics isn’t about finding common ground with people who want something completely different from you, it’s about beating them and taking power. If that sounds too brutal to you, keep in mind that many decisions by government are literal matters of life and death for tons of folks less privileged than you (and perhaps even yourself someday).
To tweak a famous Republican’s line, the Republican Party is “paling around” with white supremacists, so Democrats: call their extremism out. Don’t equivocate vandalism with assassination like Chuck Schumer did. Stuff like that is hoity-toity vacuous bullshit and America is sick of this empty civility drama. Losing to Donald freaking Trump should have been a wake-up call to how ineffective Clintonian-era messaging is now, but in the wake of this terrorist attack, it’s clear that the old-guard will never get it.
Which is why it’s time for millennials and our ideological allies to take over politics. If 56% of us vote (which is the amount of us who say we “definitely” will from a recent poll), millennials will become the dominant political force in this country headed into Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020. You want our priorities like student debt relief on the Democratic agenda? Vote in numbers big enough to overtake the Democratic Party and I promise you that will become a central issue in 2020 (and as the largest generation in human history, it’s our duty to do so).
Andrew Gillum is promising voters tangible and popular results from government, like cheaper and guaranteed health care, $1 billion to improve Florida schools while raising corporate taxes to 7.75% in order to pay for it—and voters are clearly responding—as Gillum is currently up about six points in the polls. The longtime Clintonian credo of incrementalist politics that happen to always be friendly to America’s defense contractors, banking, insurance and oil and gas titans is dead. America has big problems, so it’s time to apply some big solutions.
bUt HoW wIlL yOu PaY fOr It?
First off, this question is never asked of military expenditures—and Republicans haven’t paid for a tax cut in half a century—but the government is still here and running. It says so much that when Americans want to spend money on health care and schools that the deficit scolds come out of the woodwork, but they stay silent when it’s about spreading war and destruction or further lining the pockets of billionaires.
The Koch Brothers partially funded a study which found that Medicare for All will save $2 trillion over the current health care system. Deficit scolds have scrutinized that figure and have begun to spread misinformation about what paying for Medicare for All would look like, and many in the mainstream media are taking the bait. Paying for a significant majority of it is actually a lot simpler than you would expect given the vast complexities of health care, as I wrote in my critique of Jake Tapper and CNN not understanding this crucial point:
Introducing something like an employer-side payroll tax equal to the amount we currently contribute to private insurance pays for a huge chunk of Medicare for All. State taxes that currently go towards Medicaid would also be shifted towards a federal single-payer program. Not to mention that administrative costs for Medicare are about 2%, while private healthcare spends around 12% to 18% on administrative costs. We have the most expensive health care system in the world, and there is plenty of fat to be trimmed in order to save money.
America has a $19 trillion annual GDP. That gives us a TON of tax revenue to play with, and we must create a Manhattan Project-style initiative to invest in our future, lest we die on a hostile planet in 20+ years. This country is a brutal place. We subjugate our black and brown brothers and sisters. We do not protect workers one bit. Half the population still does not have anything close to legal, economic or societal equality (and women haven’t even had the right to vote for a century yet). Capital runs roughshod over our economy, and thanks to the Supreme Court’s principle that money equals speech, major capital has more power over our political system than at least half the country. It’s easy to feel hopeless and dismayed about America’s future.
However, when you crunch the numbers, major capital may not have more power over our political system than about two-thirds of the country. We are now finding that nonvoters are attracted to the new wave of Bernie Sanders-style policies, and those nonvoters add up fast when they all pile into the left. The loss to Trump did not jettison the fetid and lukewarm “leaders” at the top of the Democratic Party, but it did embolden a grassroots tsunami of fed up voters and activists coming for their power.
The Republican Party is the central problem in our politics, but the old guard of the Democrats are too, because they refuse to seriously acknowledge the obvious—which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that “Democrats” like Chuck Schumer are on the payroll of typical Republican donors like multinational hedge fund, The Blackstone Group, and maker of bombs that murder children in Yemen, Lockheed Martin. A new wave of candidates like Andrew Gillum are showing the entire country that there is such a thing as a liberal politician who forcefully stands up for the little guy, and while things sure seem bleak right now, there are plenty of rays of sunshine poking through the clouds. We just have to show up and vote on November 6th to help them break through.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.