Monday, January 18, 2016

Frustrating Debate of Democrats

You read all these glowing reviews of debates among Democratic presidential candidates and you get an impression that Democratic Debate is very helpful and educating for American voters.

But in some sense, it is a fraud. Why? The core problem these Democratic candidates not answering is - how would he or she pass the progressive agenda when the Congress is controlled by Republicans? 

The questions I would like debate moderators to ask these Democratic contenders are :

- Do you think Democrats would gain majorities in House and Senate in 2016 elections?

- Do you have any plan to achieve that?

- If it is not feasible for Democrats to control both chambers of Congress, how would you pass your agenda? 

- Will you be ready for veto and executive actions to protect progressive policy achievements in Republican dominated Congress?

The most basic thing the debate on Democratic side ignores is that without Congressional Majorities, there is literally 'no meaning' to the agenda touted by these contenders. When Bernie Sanders reduces everything to 'influence of money in politics'; he is disingenuous. He forgets that despite Wall Street money standing behind Eric Cantor, he was defeated by an ideologue. You can make fun of policy ignorance of Tea Party Members of House as much as you want, but you cannot underestimate the wanton ideological fervor these guys have (yes, mostly these are all white men). After all these are the guys who are ready to risk full credit and faith of Uncle Sam and ready to push the Global Economy into an abyss. 

It is irrelevant and essentially irresponsible to engage in 'inspirational and wonky' debate when it is a political issue of how to advance and protect progressive agenda in GOP dominated Washington. This problem is asymmetrical. Republicans do not have to bother about 'realities of governance'. Not only their brand of politics is fully based on 'reality unhinged' sense of 'no compromise at all' approach of Tea Party Members; those GOP contenders do not have to worry about Congress. Come Republican occupant in White House, the entire Congressional GOP Majority will be aligned and the agenda as sold on the campaign trail will be realized for these Republican contenders.

President Obama is on record saying what he regretted most - inability to work his agenda through Congress. If all those Obama Years have taught us one thing, it is that 'inspirational talk and wonky agenda' would only go so far; you got to get the 'politics right' - win majorities in Congress.[1] If these Democratic contenders are realists then they would argue a convincing case of how would they make incremental progress by working with Republicans and Americans who vote those Republicans. Everything else is blather, dishonesty and cheating of progressives.[2][3]

[1] - If Congressional majorities go through 50 states of this union and those State Houses; these Democratic candidates better show the courage in laying down the foundation for how would they address what ails to our democracy - gerrymandering of districts, enforcement of equal voting rights and voter mobilization. If you don't talk what it takes to win politics - you essentially get into the business of hoodwinking American voters. Who knows, in a partisan worldview may be the presidency of Democratic Party is more important than the presidency of this union.

[2] - This is where American Media is failing mighty. It refuses to question tenets of Democratic Campaign by not highlighting Congressional partisanship realities of Washington and refusal of Democratic contenders to address this need to work with Republicans. Again Republicans do not have to worry. If Democrats want to criticize 'non flexible and rigid' position of Republicans; they better have leaders who would explain how to work in bi-partisan manner. It is true that Hillary Clinton might not be able to articulate or rather might not want to articulate what all sorts of compromises her administration would do to advance the progressive agenda; but 'treating her voters as adults' demand that she explains all these nuances to Democratic base. 

[3] - I understand the case for espousing your agenda. Sure, it is part of campaigning to explain what would you do when you 'rule'. But in absence of 'how you would be able to achieve this agenda legitimately in our given political structure'; it sounds and feels cheating. 

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