First of all, let’s recap what has gotten Third Way all hot and bothered.
Take, for example, a policy championed by Senator Bernie Sanders and others that is in danger of becoming a top progressive litmus test for Democrats—expanding Social Security benefits for all, regardless of income.
Fuck you. Too late. It’s a good litmus test. And a popular one.
Then there’s this:
Another populist policy would spend $ 15 trillion to create a single-payer, government-run health care system—a massive amount especially when we have just finished the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (which we strongly support). Single-payer would be funded with a large payroll tax increase on all who work, according to the plan offered by Senator Sanders.
Single-payer would be a tax on individuals! Which is totally different than the premiums we all pay now for our insurance, which is totally not like a tax at all. One of them is money used to pay for health care, the other is money used to pay for health care. See? Different!
So with this populist agenda which totally led Democrats to lose the 2008 and 2012 elections, and polls either at majority levels or parity, what oh what can Democrats do to win a thin slice of the American electorate? (The $ 50-100,000 crowd was just 31 percent of voters in 2012.) Well, get ready to be excited beyond all excitement! Get ready to EXPLODE from this insanely motivating agenda! You ready? BRACE YOURSELF!
Launch a Skills Revolution
SHIT, I passed out that was so exciting.
We then call for a skills revolution through the entire learning lifecycle—from age 4 to 64—so that far more Americans possess the skills to get and hold 21st century middle class jobs.
What’s that mean? Education reform of the type that attacks teachers’ unions, an immigration system that prioritizes skilled workers, and holding “colleges accountable” for something or other.
Change the Jobs Equation
MOTHERFUCKER that one gave me palpitations!
That one calls for more trade deals, because that definitely changes the “job equation,” and “modernize the tax code” which is essentially “lowers tax rates.” I’m so fucking pumped with this Republican agenda!
Rewire Compensation to Boost Wealth and Wages
HOLY FUCKING SHIT I need a cigarette after that one, and I don’t even smoke!
This one calls for a “minimum pension of 50 cents” to supplement Social Security, which remember we can’t expand because the olds might have too much money, which is bad when it’s Social Security, but good when its a mandatory pension, which is, uh, kinda what Social Security is. … And no more taxes on businesses! Unless, that is, that extra 50 cents an hour WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?
And how about a minimum wage hike? But just to $ 10-12 depending on where you live! Because an annual income of $ 25,440 is more than enough money for a policy that’s gonna totally win the middle class vote, which is all that matters to Third Way don’t forget!
Look, there’s more. And it’s not all bad. Some of it is positively okay! But the idea that THIS is the agenda that will light a fire and win over the disaffected white middle-class male voters that vote against their interests by voting GOP is a fantasy, and completely ignores the role of class, race, and religion in our country’s current voting patterns.
You don’t get to claim that the Democrats’ current fairness argument is failing to excite voters, then claim that “CHANGE THE JOBS EQUATION” will light up the electorate.
Our current electoral picture is clear: we win when our voters turn out, we lose when they don’t. There are more of us than there are of them, so no matter what Republicans do, if we get our voters to vote, we win. It’s really that simple.
It’s also clear that our voters need to be extra motivated to turn out. Nowadays, that happens more often than not during presidential years, the one exception being when Bush had mangled everything in 2006. And our voters are looking like the exact opposite of Third Way’s board of directors.
Our nation is undergoing massive demographic changes, all of which benefit the Democrats. Yet this entire report, a supposed blueprint on how Democrats can win more elections, doesn’t even mention the words “Latino” or “Hispanic” or “African American.” The only mention of women has to do with their role in the workforce (which is genuinely good stuff), but nothing about reproductive rights or other concerns outside the workplace.
It’s probably fitting that Third Way’s view of the world is shaped by Wall Street’s concerns—money and people that look like them. But the GOP, for all its purported “pro-business” bullshit actually built its movement based on racial resentment and the bastardization of Christianity. They’re not winning the economic argument, they are obscuring it with smoke and mirrors.
We build our movement by embracing both our shared commonalities as a movement (income inequality, anti-war, civil liberties, the environment, etc), and the concerns specific to our various demographics (black lives matter, immigration, marriage equality, etc). And when you look at all the issues we care about as a movement, fairness binds it all together. That’s what we’re fighting for, and no amount of “Launch a Skills Revolution” bullshit will ever resonate with our base as deeply as fairness.
If you are a Third Way hedge fund manager, then sure, fairness seems like a silly concept. You already got yours! Heck, it’s probably not fair that you don’t have more! But for people who are fighting to survive and trying to thrive in America today, fairness is all they want. They want the same opportunities as everyone else, the same level of safety, the same kind of justice, the same access to our nation’s levers of power and money, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This isn’t hard stuff. Even Donald Trump has figured it out, and he’s a Republican!