Sunday, December 4, 2016

Challenge to Democratic Party: Why Should I Care?

In its typical tone-deaf fashion, days after "Giving Tuesday," when we were all exhausted from being hammered by requests for donations by hundreds of worthy causes, I got an email from the South Carolina Democratic Party asking for -- not $3, not $5 -- a $25 donation.

The accompanying message, which I scanned rather than read, included the words "whites only."  It contained the terrifying idea that Henry McMaster would be our new governor soon, as though he might be worse than Nikki Haley.  Basically, the message was, "Scary things are happening, so give us money."

Meanwhile, on another absurd front, SCDP Chair Jamie Harrison, who kept popping up on MSNBC before the SC primaries and then disappeared during the general election, has resurfaced in order to seek the position of -- and I can't believe I am saying this -- Chair of the Democratic National Committee.  When asked why he feels he is qualified, we hear all about how he came up in politics.  Nothing about anything important that is going on right now.  Not to mention, why he should be considered given the sad state of Democratic politics in South Carolina under his watch.

This is what the SCDP is missing:

Voters can't possibly understand the complexities of the dirty games being played in politics (and I try, I really do).  We don't have the time to follow bills being introduced on a state or national level, much less sort out the meaning behind the bills.  Or where they come from.  They don't know the candidates or office holders, really.

What people know about politics is in the headlines.  And if it is too dense, they dismiss it.  Which pretty much describes the success of the republican party.  They, and their current leader, have been able to reframe issues and point voters in any direction they choose, just by using simple and stark phrases.  Remember the threatened "death panels" from Obamacare?  How about "death taxes," leading us all to believe that after we die, the government would take all our hard-earned money from our children?  Trump turned it into an obscene art form, boiling down the essence of his opponents to easy-to-remember memes like "lying Ted" and "crooked Hillary."

If the SCDP, or the DNC for that matter, want to get voters involved, they need to do two things:  educate themselves about the bills that are being written, and then educate the voters in a way that is meaningful to us.

For weeks, we have been hearing about the "emoluments clause" of the constitution.  Don't feel bad if you don't know what it means, even though you've heard it in the news a zillion times.  It has no meaning to us.  The first thing the republicans would do if they wanted voters to pay attention to the emoluments clause is:  rename it.  Turn it into a catchy, solid, simple phrase that is full of emotional meaning.  "Gifts for favors" conveys the idea more simply, but it doesn't have the emotional punch.  So I posted the idea on Facebook and Twitter, in the hope that others more clever than I will come up with the phrase that will let everybody know that the Trump family is planning on wheeling and dealing with corporate and world leaders while he is president so that he can increase his power and fortune.  In other words, reaping emoluments.

And let's take a look at Congress.  Just this week, to great fanfare about the new bipartisanship, the grandiose "21st Century Cures Act" passed the House, 392-26.  I heard it was to honor Joe Biden and his work to fund cancer research in the name of his son.  Even so, this was highly suspicious.  It took a little research, but not too much, to find that Elizabeth Warren in the Senate, had spoken in opposition to this bill.  Apparently, the pharmaceutical industry is going to make out like bandits from its passage.  Listen to Senator Warren:

You may be wondering a few years from now why we haven't cured cancer.  This is a clue.

And on the subject of Elizabeth Warren, Congress has set its sights on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she designed in order to curb overpricing and fraud in financial services, like in those credit cards we all carry.  Along with that, they plan on deregulating the banking industry further by cutting back if not eliminating the Dodd-Frank Act and the Volcker Rule, which were intended to prevent the financial chaos and destruction of the 2008 Recession, you know, where people lost their houses because big banks were allowed to gamble them away.  And this bill is called -- are you ready for it? -- the Financial Choice Act.

Feeling the need to further mask their true intent, the House this week passed a bill that moved forward tsunami research AND tweak -- deregulate -- Dodd-Frank:

H.Res.934 - Providing for consideration of the Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 34) to authorize and strengthen the tsunami detection, forecast, warning, research, and mitigation program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and for other purposes, and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 6392) to amend the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to specify when bank holding companies may be subject to certain enhanced supervision, and for other purposes.

Now this is something we might pay attention to.

If the Democratic Party, both state and national, were to send out alerts whenever an explosive bill comes to the floor and tell us 1) what it means and 2) why it matters, and in actual easy to understand English, we all might become more invested in seeing our interests served.

And yet.  All we get are scary images of Henry McMaster taking over for Nikki Haley.  Or vague threats of what a Trump presidency will do to our country.

Y'all got to do better, Democratic Party.  Because nobody is hearing you.  And sending out a fund raising email three days after Giving Tuesday trying to get us to cough up another $25 without giving us a solid reason is proof that you aren't hearing us.


  1. I think "venal" is the word you're looking for. How about "Venal Donald." That might work. The Trumpsters would probably have to look it up, but hey, here's to a little education stimulus.

  2. Another issue is that the linguistic part of our brains is structured for short, pithy, repetitive phrases as well as rhyme and rhythm, which is why songs are so easy to remember. Here's an article on how Trump tapped into that subconscious preference.

  3. Agnes, you are on point as usual. Emoluments are BRIBES, plain and simple. Donald is the master of taking and giving them, whenever and wherever to his best advantage. SNOOKERED are the voters who are putting their trust and hope in him. We need to divide up the issues and then volunteer to watch them as legislation takes shape. There are many good watch dog orgs we can trust and reinterpret for the masses as we think is necessary. I now pay attention to Climate Reality Project and National Low Income Housing Coalition. Others I know learn from Gun reform watch dogs, etc. We need to watch Finance industry machine--Congress voted to "tweak Dodd Frank" this week. Biggest banks will not be controlled. Hope we can create our own Think Tank to follow the money--it's where Donald's Action Is. Our state party needs to be about recruiting and logistically supporting the most solid candidates we can stand up. It was a travesty that Thomas Dixon was out on his own as the unopposed Democratic candidate for US Senate. Where was Jaime in that fight?