The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:
The debate last night didn’t seem like much of a game-changer. But maybe Elizabeth Warren’s Social Security proposal, rolled out on the eve of the debate, will actually turn out to be important. It’s exactly the kind of idea a Democrat should be running on in the general election against Trump. Social Security: Popular! Taxing the rich: Popular! Increasing and expanding Social Security benefits: Popular! This one could provide just the contrast a Democrat wants with Trump and should be exceptionally appealing to persuadable working class voters.
Let’s hope if Warren is the nominee she runs on this and not decriminalizing the border and Medicare for All (whether they want it or not). And if Warren isn’t the nominee, whoever it is should take up this idea.
“Democrats have been racing haphazardly to the left, with Warren often in the lead. Some of their ideas, like moving everybody off employer-sponsored insurance and onto a public plan, are toxic to general-election voters. But some ideas have appeal to the left and to swing voters. This is one of them.
Of all the potential soft spots in the Republican party, Social Security is among the most underrated. George W. Bush’s failed pursuit of a privatization scheme in 2005 was a major cause of his political collapse. Conservatives, seeking to deflect blame from their own ideas onto external forces, preferred to blame his response to Hurricane Katrina for his poor polling. But Bush’s polling was dropping like a stone for months before Katrina struck. By July of that year, his plan to change the system was polling 29–62….
The trauma of the 2016 election has left many Trump critics so skeptical of political fundamentals they have failed to discern some basic political realities that allowed Trump to win in the first place. Trump was not a popular candidate, but his opponent was unpopular, too. He neutralized public distrust of his party’s economic agenda by positioning himself to the left on economics, both in substance and style, as an outsider who would threaten insiders and the rich. His failure to keep this promise is a major reason why his polling has stagnated in the low 40s…
Democrats don’t need to cheat to beat [Trump]. But they do need to stop dreaming up blue-sky notions catering to progressive activists and refocus on some ideas with gut-level appeal to persuadable working-class voters. An extra $200 a month in Social Security is just the stuff.”