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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Study: Democrats Can Win by Emphasizing Working Class Issues

From Democracy Corps:

A sweeping nationwide study of working class voters shows Democrats can gain at the ballot box by emphasizing popular economic policies that help families thrive and make big corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.

The interim findings, released at a critical juncture in the Build Back Better legislative debate, result from a cross-racial project of Democracy Corps, Equis Labs, and HIT Strategies, supported by funding from the American Federation of Teachers.

The research points to an effective strategy for President Biden and Democrats to corral voter support and raise enthusiasm and turnout ahead of pivotal midterm elections that could shape the future of the country for decades to come.

Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander voters prioritize, above all, policies that make their families materially better off and tip the balance of power to working people and away from the biggest corporations who call the shots. They are united behind labor protections starting with federal contractors paying $15 an hour; expanding Medicare and maintaining insurance subsidies that lower premiums; the child tax credit; and infrastructure jobs. They prioritize corporations finally paying their fair share of taxes.

“To be successful Democrats need to focus on making families’ lives better through the eyes of the multi-racial working class,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The study shows by creating good jobs and economic mobility we can demonstrate that a better life and a vibrant democracy is both achievable and a bulwark against right-wing authoritarians threatening to tear our country apart.

“This study comes at a crucial moment for Congress and I hope lawmakers take these insights seriously and use them to champion the working class who are sick and tired of being sick and tired and increasingly think their country and its institutions have failed them.”

The group conducted a battleground web survey with all registered voters, concentrating on the white working class (those without a four-year college degree). EquisLabs conducted an online survey with Hispanic registered voters in eleven states, with Texas and Florida heavily represented. HIT Strategies conducted an online survey with Black registered voters in ten battleground states and a mixed-mode survey with Asian and Pacific Islanders in Orange County, CA. The surveys were completed in late July and August.

While racial equity is a top tier issue for Blacks and immigration reform is crucial for key segments of the Hispanic community, they share a desire for working people to have tangible relief and more power at a time when the top one percent has tightened its grip on the nation’s economic levers. “At a time where Black voters are growing impatient with what they perceive as a lack of progress on their top issue priorities, Build Back Better addresses many of their economic concerns with an emphasis on equity that President Biden and Democrats promised during the 2020 election,” said Terrance Woodbury, CEO and founding partner at HIT Strategies.

Stephanie Valencia, Co-Founder of Equis Research and Equis Labs, a polling and innovation hub focused on studying and reaching Latino voters, stated, “What keeps a majority of Latinos on the Democratic side is that they believe Democrats care more about people like them while Republicans favor the rich and big corporations. The danger for Democrats is when that feeling of ‘cares about us’ doesn’t translate into action of ‘delivers for us.’ Whether it is on the economy or immigration, Dems are then open to the attack that they’re taking our votes for granted. To bounce back from the shift we saw in 2020, Democrats are going to need to become the party of action again and deliver results for Latinos that they can feel in their everyday lives.”

“Nationwide, Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters saw a 71 percent increase in turnout in 2020 in part to repudiate the Trump agenda but also to stand for much-needed action on economic and COVID-19 recovery. At this time, AAPI voters in key swing districts in Orange County feel that Democrats aren’t doing enough to address their key issues, and we could see a decline in turnout in 2022. That could be the margin in some of the closest races around the country,” said Roshni Nedungadi, COO and founding partner of HIT Strategies.

One of the most important findings was the discovery that the Democrats’ diverse base and persuadable working class voters have similar priorities for government. A key driver is the popularity of the new expanded Child Tax Credit that is very important to parents and white working class voters under 50 years of age.

Communities remain worried about crime and support messages that favor funding and respecting the police, while also ensuring abusive officers will be held accountable for their actions.

These shared priorities come from recognizing the Democrats’ base is overwhelmingly working class. Fully 70 percent of Black voters in HIT’s battleground survey did not have a four-year degree; even more, 75 percent in EquisLabs’ battleground states. Two-thirds of millennials/Gen Z, 69 percent of unmarried women and 57 percent of white unmarried women also lack a four-year degree.

Stanley Greenberg, founder of Democracy Corps with James Carville, said, “I guess, it’s the working class, stupid! They need to be seen. They need to hear we want change. We need to deliver the transformative change before the Congress and level the playing field.”

Download the key findings slides here →

Download the Democracy Corps white working class slides here →

Download the EquisLabs Hispanic working class slides here →

Download the HIT Strategies African American working class slides here →

Download the HIT Strategies AAPI working class slides here →

5 comments on “Study: Democrats Can Win by Emphasizing Working Class Issues

  1. Martin Lawford on

    “The risk of the right weaponizing inflation like they did in the 70s and 80s is also very high.”

    The right did not “weaponize” inflation in the 1970’s. If anyone weaponized inflation, it was the Democratic-run Congress. Both the House and the Senate had Democratic majorities from 1971 to 1981. Until 1981, income tax brackets were not indexed to inflation. Even if you could keep up with inflation, which most people could not, you got an automatic income tax increase even though your real income was no higher. The Democrats not only failed to quell the inflation, which reached double digits, but allowed the automatic inflationary tax increase. Their loss in 1980 of not only the Presidency but twelve Senate seats wasn’t because the right had “weaponized” inflation but because the left had ignored it.

    • Victor on

      Republicans weaponized the energy crisis while opposing any investments in renewables. If Democrats had won that fight back then climate change wouldn’t be an issue now.

  2. Martin Lawford on

    “If you don’t explain the role of the safety net in keeping consumption up (specially during recessions) and wages up (specially for poorer people and subsets like parents with kids) people find it hard to accept compulsory solidarity. ”

    Compulsory solidarity is not solidarity, just compulsion.

    • Victor on

      Some of your comments and interesting and even spot on, but others like this are just right wing talking points. And those right wing talking points are probably more than half of your comments. Are you some sort of Libertarian Democrat?

  3. Victor on

    Democrats still don’t know how to communicate…
    and it is costing us the vaccine wars and congressional progress

    (Skip to the bottom to go straight to solutions)

    A) Democrats are losing the vaccine wars against working class conspiracy theories, including white people but more worryingly among Blacks and Hispanics. Evidence? The very low vaccination rates in minority neighborhoods in New York and Florida. While Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico have some of the highest vaccination rates in the world, Puerto Ricans in the US don’t.

    B) Democrats haven’t taken covid precaution measures seriously enough in policy, but in messaging are hysterical, just like the liberal corporate media. The whole country relies on paper certificates that are easily forged. You can still take a plane without being vaccinated. Government follow up on checking whether employees who haven’t been vaccinated get tested is subpar. Vaccine exemptions are being accepted for flimsy reasons. No financial, civil or criminal penalties have even been discussed for negligent transmission of covid (contrast this to the response to other historical epidemics like HIV). There has been no real quarantine. Democrats were complicit in making the working class the scapegoats for dying during the pandemic with the creation of the discriminatory category of essential workers. There have been no real shutdowns of actually non-essential parts of the economy. From the very beginning of the pandemic people could do stuff like going to the supermarket basically whenever they wanted. There has been no sustained National Guard mobilization to help in essential duties. The list goes on and on.

    C) The left has failed in mobilizing its much discussed cancellation ability against all the anti-vaxxers using the airwaves for disinformation. There has been no pressure on the owners of radio stations in particular, even though they are more important than social media in many communities and for many subgroups.

    D) The issue is no longer vaccine “hesitancy”. The issue is the adoption/internalization of social defiance as a subset of identity. Even if this defiance is historically justified, the natural consequence of this insurgency against the state is already beginning in Republican states that are repealing ALL vaccine mandates.

    E) The embrace of (pseudo evolutionary) social darwinism (implicit on the left, explicit by the right) has far reaching implications. Survival of the fittest is just a front for survival of the wealthiest. It is frustrating that popular culture (specially films and television) have for decades been warning us about this drift, but left wing political culture doesn’t get the message and is unwilling to replicate it. The acceptance of survival of the fittest by the working class almost inevitably leads to support for authoritarianism so that “order can be restored” after the breakdown of society caused by lack of solidarity. Libertarianism is an utopian ideal that can only lead to dystopia.

    F) Popular culture also understands that the combination of plutocratic and theocratic currents that dominates the right is a threat to both personal liberty and collective democracy. Countless dystopian works have resonated with the general public precisely because we know what is in store for liberal democratic civilization if religious and economic elites ever get their way fully.

    G) Democrats (specially cultural elites) need to stop treating Trump as a cause and instead should fully accept him (and of course the majority of Republican politicians) as a consequence of the moral breakdown of mass ideology. Disjointed mass-elite relations lead to systemic breakdowns.

    H) The war between right and left cultural elites backed by different plutocrats drowns out not only the policy interests of the majority but also our (potential) common values. Instead of trying to rebuild mass politics to counter the astroturf strategies of the right, the left is doubling down on following the lead of political advocacy groups without mass memberships. Both right and left are animated by small groups that are too influential in low participation partisan primaries. But the right has been able to capitalize on this more as their groups of racists, plutocrats and theocrats are more motivated to participate politically than most liberal and socialist left wing advocacy groups of voters and as they are better funded.

    I) Democrats are confusing the fact that the left has won almost all of the culture wars, at least in terms of the majority of public opinion (with the partial exceptions of the death penalty and gun control), with the inevitability of on the one hand prevailing in passing legislation and on the other hand also the inevitability of all left wing cultural issues prevailing in popularity over the long term. The Cold War period and the several Red Scares, the Reconstruction period and the several Civil Rights movements, the different iterations of the Women’s rights, LGBT rights, Environmental/Conservationist and Drug Decriminalization/Deprohibition movements and other historical examples disprove Obama’s terrible misrepresentation of MLK’s historically left bending arc of justice quote. Progress can be reversed. The left can be defeated. In fact, it can be repeatedly defeated over the course of many decades. The Cold War in particular should have settled many issues on which the left will probably never win. And yet here we have the Squad and the BLM movement acting as if the period from the 1960s to Reagan never happened. The Congressional Black Caucus in particular should invest a lot more in explaining what their experience with many of the Squads’ attitudes was. The overreach on just a few policy and communication issues can be devastating to the whole Democratic party.

    J) The rise of Hispanics and Asians won’t save Democrats, in fact it may hurt over the medium to long term. The mixed experience of these groups with socialism in their families’ heritage (something that even AOC has talked about) and their complex relationship with anti-racism and in particular anti-Blackness doesn’t necessarily make them reliable left wing allies. If you can’t guarantee low crime rates in their neighborhoods they will turn against ideas like defunding police. If you don’t take seriously the complex effects of immigration on things like labor and education experiences and housing prices they won’t be on the open borders column. If you don’t take into account the reasons for their patriotism (they or their parents left their countries and chose the US for complex, not one-dimensional causes) you won’t be able to get them to endorse your weird “anti-imperialism”.

    K) I agree with the Progressive agenda (with many exceptions about approaches, specially on open borders), but people like Bernie and AOC are not particularly good communicators either. AOC and the Squad have become net drags on the Democratic party. Good ideas about things like economics and racial discrimination get drowned out by over the top postures on foreign affairs and racial relations.

    L) I agree with getting rid of the filibuster (including because it is a rule with no constitutional basis) but progressives haven’t communicated the case for this to the public in a principled way (that the filibuster should either apply to things like tax cuts for the rich or it shouldn’t apply to anything).

    M) When you don’t engage with right wing talking points you also give a pass to the likes of conservative Democratic members of Congress like Manchin and Sinema. Progressives like Bernie and AOC haven’t really engaged with any of the points they have been making about the risks of deficits, inflation, welfare, the bankruptcy of Medicare, crony capitalism, the pace of change, the nature of “universal” programs, etc. That means moderates get to keep the rhetorical upper hand with their actual constituents and there is no inroads with independents and moderate Republicans in their actual states. Progressives should keep in mind that we lost the presidential primaries twice over these same issues and approaches and that progressives haven’t really had any major victories in primaries against moderate Democrats in winnable districts. I like that progressives have been very tactical and smart in congressional negotiations, but this has been despite the underwhelming ability to communicate.

    N) Progressives have failed to confront moderates over the unpopular record of infrastructure investments alone. The Obama experience with the ARRA was neither particularly effective nor particularly popular.

    O) Bernie and Warren moved the needle *inside the Democratic party* long term (at least for the foreseeable future right now), but it is not guaranteed that if Republicans win they won’t undo whatever Democrats approve. The needle inside the Republican party is moving in chaotic directions, with Trump’s “populist” ambiguity making things unclear in the short term to medium term. These new programs will not be corporate giveaways like most of Obamacare was. The risk of the right weaponizing inflation like they did in the 70s and 80s is also very high. The corporate consensus on weaponizing inflation is higher now than for presidents Clinton or Obama. There is also corporate consensus for weaponizing fake worker scarcity in order to crack down on the safety net while still opposing minimum wage increases and favoring open borders.

    P) The corporate media won’t do left wing communication for us. There was elite consensus around attacking Trump, but there is also elite consensus against raising taxes on the rich and corporations and against expanding protections for workers. Can we imagine what presidents Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton would have been subjected to during the Afghanistan pullout? Uncle Biden was destroyed by the media during a few weeks and it has been nonstop since then with the reporting about congressional negotiations. Clinton/Sanders would have an even harder time with those negotiations and the lack of effective messaging would be even more apparent.

    Q) On Afghanistan progressives lost an incredible opportunity to actually confront the establishment elites over an actually unpopular example of anti-imperialism (failed nation building and cultural imperialism). Instead they adopted the usual white savior posture of advocating for internalizing part of the problem by bringing in refugees. They also validated the role of local collaborators in US military imperialism by justifying the basis for selecting some people as refugees over others.

    R) To be effective, Democrats first need to accept that Trump had it pretty well with the economy. It wasn’t because of anything he did (same with Bill Clinton), but voters care about correlation and not causation. Accept that Republicans’ most important electoral advantage is perceptions about the economy and the path forward for Democrats should be pretty clear.

    S) If you don’t explain your economic ideology you are doomed. Left wing economic ideology is counterintuitive and not easy to understand or accept. (The mostly -formally uneducated- working class has a particularly hard time getting this ideology as they haven’t been indoctrinated in college.) Families tighten their budgets during bad times and explaining that government should do the opposite requires sustained communication. The role of the safety net (welfare) is also counterintuitive. If you don’t explain the role of the safety net in keeping consumption up (specially during recessions) and wages up (specially for poorer people and subsets like parents with kids) people find it hard to accept compulsory solidarity. A lot of people think of solidarity as subject to two things, one first solidarity with my own and then the rest, and second solidarity is a matter of personal values and attitudes toward charity and should’t be required maybe at all.

    T) Liberals have won the culture wars, but Libertarians have taken over our language/values for their own purposes. Liberals have argued for personal autonomy so much that it is now hard to justify things like forced vaccination. Defending the notion of a collective good at this point requires reintroducing society to the concept of collective good itself.

    U) There are several strands of pseudo scientific thought on the left (anti-GMO, anti-nuclear for example) under the guise of managing scientific uncertainty that are quite popular across the political spectrum. We have to remember that vaccine exemptions for philosophical beliefs were championed mostly by middle class white liberals (evidenced by the wealthier middle class suburbs in which there have been disease outbreaks for preventable maladies).

    V) “Not in my back yard” attitudes are as popular on the right as on the left. A lot of people will agree with things like getting people vaccinated or raising taxes, but not when it comes to themselves. This is called the free rider problem.

    W) The working class is not naturally progressive, in fact historically it is as likely to back fascistic dictators than leftist reformers. Of course the middle class also suffers from this problem, but in the current historical context it is the right wing drift of the working class (in the context of the United States, including urban and suburban minorities) that needs urgent attention. The need for sustained communication targeted at working class issues (like its complex relationship with welfare benefits) will not be achieved without an understanding of what those issues are. Even people like AOC are poor vessels for this kind of communication. For working class who are not liberal she comes across as pedantic.

    X) In politics there is no such thing as a self-evident truth.

    Y) In politics the rules of formal rhetorical debate don’t apply. In fact ad hominems and rhetorical fallacies are the daily bread and butter of politics. You will never be able to ban “misinformation” away.

    Z) Media literacy is a problem among all generations, as can be seen with vaccine misinformation. There are no available short or medium term solutions to this, technological or otherwise.

    AA) Democrats have fallen far behind on the social media wars. The right wing dominates Facebook and Youtube. (At least the US doesn’t have the problem of resharing via apps like Whatsapp.) Progressives (sort of) dominate on Twitter, which nobody uses, much less cares about. To further compound the problem, young people (a key Democratic constituency) are moving on to wholly apolitical platforms.

    BB) Generational politics are not so clear cut and Democrats are really at risk of losing generational advantages (can already be seen with Generation X voting patterns and white Millenials).

    What do to about it…Compare and contrast relentlessly

    The How

    1. Yes, I’ve detailed countless examples of Democratic messaging failures, specially by progressives, but effective communication must focus on just a few examples (see below).

    2. Bernie is a good example of message discipline, but an insufficient one. His focus during his first primary run on just a few positive policy ideas was much better than when on his second run he allowed many liberal progressive activists to take focus away from those and to engage on issues where he had no natural advantage (mostly identity ones). He also mostly refused to engage in continuous negative messaging against opponents.

    3. The differentiation between positive and negative messaging is in some ways completely artificial. They actually rely on each other. For example, if a racist candidate attacks your racial record and you just defend yourself on your anti-racist record but fail to point out your opponents racist record, then you are just doing half the messaging job. This is specially important given the tendency of the media to mostly cover negative attacks or at the very least controversial exchanges.

    4. The right is master at gaining earned (unpaid) media via controversial statements. This is how Trump gets $billions in free coverage.

    5. Trump is a much better example of how to keep message discipline while at the same time constantly engaging in all sorts of political attacks and political defenses.

    6. Trump’s success at direct communication and engagement both with the mass public and with elite opposition disproves the partisan Democrat notion that the presidential bully pulpit is mostly irrelevant in politics. What political leaders say matters and how they say and to who matters as well.

    7. Always be on the attack. Almost never apologize, instead deflect. The endless apologizing culture of the left doesn’t work in politics, which is essentially a blood sport between opposing teams.

    8. The left doesn’t seem to understand the notion of teams. Trump proves you can attack (weaker) teammates while still keeping the damage mostly centered on the opposition. He also proves that what matters is to close ranks on the most important elements of your actual legislative agenda (ie tax cuts for the right, even if they are unpopular) while keeping endless rhetorical focus on parts of your agenda on which you actually intend to do less about (ie immigration) because the financial backers of your team (corporations) are against you. Progressives need to learn from this if they want to purge recalcitrant moderates like Sinema in the future.

    9. Trump also proves you can exert fundamental pressure on your party’s philosophy if you focus relentlessly on the unpopular aspects (free trade, deficit spending, war, entitlement reform) and are willing to confront elites/establishments.

    10. Bernie accomplished the same, as mentioned above, but without the presidency was able to legally accomplish much less. Biden has so far been unwilling to use presidential power in such a transformative way. His use of presidential power has mostly been limited to undoing Trump on some liberal priorities, while refusing more populist policies like student loan forgiveness. Even rhetorically Biden caved on issues like unemployment benefits and stimulus payments. The failure to expand unemployment benefits may be the single factor to lead to an economic downturn for poorer families that may cost Democrats the midterms. His failure to take a populist rhetorical approach to inflation will seal the deal for struggling families.

    The What

    Messaging examples:

    i) Theme: Covid. Take it seriously. See B and C above. There are a lot of things left to do and left to consider.

    Send a big stimulus check to the vaccinated.

    ii) Theme: Democracy. Republicans only accept democracy when they win. They don’t actually believe in democracy, as in the rule of the majority. A republic without democracy is just a dictatorship of the minority in disguise. Republicans not only oppose majority rule, they wish for minority rule. One person, one person must again become a core principle of US democracy.

    Caveat. Democrats must accept elements of federalism, including more representation for smaller states.

    Sub-themes. What to talk about:

    Al Gore didn’t spend the rest of his career attacking George W. Bush. Democrats introduced federal legislation to fix election problems, while Republicans are just obstructing.

    The filibuster is not in the original Constitution and permanently restrains the majority of the Senate and is therefore unconstitutional.

    The Senate, gerrymandered House, Electoral College, unelected Supreme Court, none reflect the will of the majority of the people. At least some reforms are indispensable.

    What not to talk about that much: DC statehood (also be open to retrocession), abolition of the Electoral College (present other ideas for reform like double majority and/or two rounds of voting), abolition of the Senate (present other ideas for reform such as national instead of state senators), prohibiting political gerrymandering (focus more on ranked choice voting and open all party primaries/first round), expansion of the Supreme Court (present a constitutional amendment to fix the number of members and then other legislative reforms).

    Republican ideas to steal: Support term limits. National voter id (to fight against fraud accusations). Reinstate the filibuster on tax decreases.

    What to never talk about: Puerto Rico statehood (if you don’t know why, that is further proof not to talk about it).

    iii) Theme: Jobs, Welfare and Supporting Children. Democrats need to take the Republican argument about job creation being the most important implicit role of government seriously. If you have ever been unemployed (which the college educated professional middle class that monopolizes the Democratic party establishment hasn’t) then you instinctively understand why, and so does the overwhelming majority of the working class.

    Sub-themes. What to talk about:

    Some jobs are more important than quality jobs, specially in the states and districts Republicans are increasingly winning, since they are deindustrializing or rural sparsely populated ones.

    Jobs are more important than healthcare, welfare, unions, race relations, the environment or education (unless you are a teacher because its about your job), even all combined (unless you could never conceive of ever being fired or having trouble immediately finding a job or making ends meet during unemployment, in which case you are incredibly lucky).

    The other thing anywhere near as important as jobs are wages. This is where the minimum wage and other labor benefits come in. We need a new Federal Fair Standards Act that address vacations, sick leave, overtime, etc. But only if you can prove jobs won’t be substantially lost as a result. There is a lot of evidence proving they won’t be, but people won’t know unless you talk about it.

    More jobs with good wages means less need for federal spending. This is the main implicit Republican criticism of Democratic party ideology. It needs a good counter that explains the role envisioned for welfare and for the safety net. Universal programs are welfare, the safety net is those programs for those who can’t work or are temporarily unemployed (Democrats need to understand and be able to explain how they plan to distinguish between these two concepts.)

    What not to talk about that much: Fossil energy workers moving to renewables, instead offer them early retirement or some other form of job *guarantee*. A guarantee as in an immediate job that will pay as well or otherwise early retirement.

    Republican idea to steal: Marriage penalty, but in this case against people who receive welfare. Welfare reform, by addressing the benefits cliff for people who reenter the labor market. Fix the Earned Income Tax Credit so people without children can benefit (seriously, this is as important or more important than the Child Tax Credit). Minimum wages differentiated by region and by urban vs rural.

    What to never talk about: General reskilling of workers, unless you have some very bold new ideas. If you are going to talk about reskilling don’t talk so much about older male industrial workers and talk more about younger female mothers wanting to change career or reenter the job market.

    iv. Theme: Inequality, Billionaires and Corporations. Reframe it. Really. The popularity of Democratic arguments is not as clear cut as some polling shows.

    Yes people sort of get pissed off at the billionaire class. But too many people admire either individual billionaires, or the class as a whole, or their companies, or all.

    Giant corporations really are giant job creators. Focus on their quality of jobs and expanding that quality of jobs to struggling smaller businesses.

    The Republicans are the party of small business owners. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Small Business Administration sucks (to begin with it doesn’t actually serve *small* businesses, it only helps medium size ones). Democrats need a completely new small business agenda.

    Same as above with farmers. If Democrats want to be competitive again in rural areas they need an agenda tailored to small and medium farmers, including breaking up farm monopolies and oligopolies. Also, reintroduce stable guaranteed income for actual small farmers.

    When talking about inequality focus more on the unfairness of workers paying 15.3% of their wages on payroll taxes, no matter how much they make (even before income taxes). Then contrast with what corporations and billionaires pay.

    When talking about capital gains and similar taxes counter the double taxation argument by explaining how workers pay payroll taxes and income taxes and then again pay sales taxes on the things they buy and property taxes on their homes.

    Republican idea to steal: Flat taxes. Few deductions, exemptions, etc. Lower taxes on the working class.

    New Idea: A federal law to exempt small businesses from sales taxes. Also, raise sales taxes on internet sales by and via giant corporations. Preempt state income and payroll taxes on the working class if possible. Preempt state and local sales taxes on unprepared food. Reimburse states for lost revenue. Tax ad revenue on Facebook, Google, etc as they are virtual monopolies, use the revenue for the new small business agenda.

    v. Student Loans. No wholesale student loan forgiveness without major reforms in postsecondary education first.

    If Democrats can’t seriously and fairly address why college loans should be forgiven but not, say, car loans (which are mostly also used to get to work), then you will never win the argument. The fact that the federal government is the guarantor is a stupid argument, as the federal government also guarantees home mortgages and nobody is calling for the cancellation of housing loans. This is a plain giveaway to the core Democratic constituencies of younger and college educated voters.

    Some segments of the working class are increasingly suspicious of postsecondary education as a gateway to higher wages.

    Forgiving student loans while not fixing rising college costs is just an invitation for colleges to keep raising tuition. Both the demand and the supply side need to be fixed.

    Forgiveness should be based on the performance of educational institutions. Eventually institutions should lose access to Pell Grants and/or the ability to have federally guaranteed student loans due to consistent poor performance. The educational accreditation process needs serious reforms. The quality of vocational education needs particular attention.

    Access to reskilling for older students who already have a degree should also be part of the discussion.

    vi. Theme: Funding the Police. Significantly increase federal police grants. Seriously. This is the most effective way to get police accountability and also allow for local decreases in policing.

    vii. Theme: Authoritarianism in Latin America. Biden hasn’t devoted any attention to this issue, which is pivotal with Hispanic voters and not only in Florida.

    viii. Theme: Immigration. Allow moderate immigrant groups to shape the Party’s position. This will inevitably lead to focus on comprehensive reform and a rejection of open borders. The Party should repudiate the concept of sanctuaries. The Party wouldn’t tolerate sanctuaries for racism, so why support sanctuaries where the law is not applied evenly. Defunding sanctuary cities should be contingent on passing comprehensive reform.

    ix. Theme: Global warming. Push other countries to make more efforts. Continue supporting nuclear (for at least 30-40 years) and natural gas (at least for 10-20 years) at home and its use abroad. Get other countries to stop using coal within the next 5 years. Focus at home and abroad on electric cars and appliances. Develop a framework for a carbon tax at the border on imported goods just like the European Union is considering. See jobs theme for discussion about retraining fossil industry workers.


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