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writing for godot

Some much better items to put in Democrats' "Better Deal"

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Written by Tom Cantlon   
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 20:34

The Democratic "Better Deal" is weak, and the PR for it is awful. People need concrete steps that they can see will help them.

Democrats have suggested a new council to consider trade infractions. That's wishy-washy. Democrats have not protected workers from trade issues, and this council could end up doing nothing, so that's what people will expect. But, Democratic leaders, if you promise that the moment you have the majority, you will enact the ban on employers with a record of abusing employees from getting government contracts, then bam, you've helped people. Promise you'll complete raising the cut-off wage for hourly-vs-salaried, which allows low-level employees to be worked unlimited hours without overtime pay, and bam, you've helped people. Promise you'll close the loophole that allows old-folks homes to avoid being sued by the old-folks or their families when needed, and bam, you've helped people. Steps like those get the broader message across. You are really going to help people.

Concrete steps! They are the only way you are going to gain you any traction.

Maybe the trade council could do some good, but not as a PR campaign to convince people of some newfound decisiveness.

They also said they want to renegotiate NAFTA. There is a mark on my forehead where my palm smacked it. Maybe they're serious, but why would anyone believe that? NAFTA is as much owned by Democrats as Republicans. Trump perceived the public's dislike for it and criticized it. Now you're going to jump on with a, "me too"? Senator Schumer said, "Our trade laws have shortchanged American workers for far too long, and we Democrats are aiming to change that." Given the history, that invites laughter. If you feel the ground quivering it's just the accumulation of that laughter across the country.

Concrete, and believable. Maybe you will improve NAFTA, but of the many things you could lead with, why choose one that invites disbelief, that invites dismissing this whole new leaf?

Concrete, believable, and nothing that can be spun as "hand-outs". There are things government money can help with, like access to health care, but there are so many steps to offer that cannot be spun that way, there is no need to lead with any of those. Steps like the ones I just mentioned, and ones I have in other pieces, yet I'm ignorant of the long list of concrete steps that could be compiled if we asked the people who work on various economic issues.

And this economic plan needs to be in parallel with the social justice issues. Each piece completes and reinforces the other.

The PR for this has been horrible. As of now, they've announced this in two releases. Each had a few members of Congress on the steps. So what? Did you see it? Probably not. Is your uncle Joe, who voted for Obama, then for Trump, and who is still looking for economic action, aware of it? Not likely. I didn't see the second announcement in the Wall St. Journal. It was on page 10 in the Washington Post. The New York Times noted the plans on how well proposed new agencies would work, and noted how much of their trade ideas repeat Trump's promises. Democratic promises might be stronger, but that's no way to make a PR blockbuster.

Uncle Joe, and those uninspired to vote last time, are going to need a lot of reaching and a lot of convincing to win their votes in 2018. The CEOs who are the good buddies of some of our Democratic leaders, would tell them, about getting this message through, there is no room for excuses, no room for "we tried". The only thing that matters is achieving the goal. If a successful, convincing message does not get through, then voters are going to send some Democrats packing, both in the primaries and the general election.

Who are the CEOs of the Democratic officials, those elected by our votes, those who are the closest thing we have to progressive office holders? We are. You and I. If they need Bernie and Elizabeth to fill a stadium for them, and to set off fireworks to reach the front of the news, if they need every Democratic Representative and Senator together on the Congressional steps to make an impression, do it. The reality is, either you do it, or you go home.

 

See my core piece, The Plan for the Win

 

Tom Cantlon has the interesting challenge of being a left-leaning writer for the paper in a small, right-leaning Western town, in a right-leaning state. He can be reached at comments at TomCantlon dot com.

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