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Review: “BRAT” by Charli XCX
Published June 12, 2024

The Democrats need to look themselves in the mirror.

The Democrats appear likely to lose in the midterms. But why?

All of my columns have motivations behind them. My motive for this column, though, is more clear than most. A few weekends ago, I took U.S. Highway 12 from the Twin Cities to my hometown of Willmar, Minn. On the 100-mile trip to and from, I saw a lot of political signs.

The only diversity in the political signs was that some were explicitly anti-Biden or anti-Democrats, while others were only pro-Trump. In other words, there was no diversity; every political sign I saw had one political leaning.

To some that read my columns and live in the Twin Cities area, this is surprising and something they’ve maybe never reckoned with, especially if they don’t interact with conservatives on a semi-regular basis. Some questions they might ask include: Why would someone support Trump? Why would they support Scott Jensen? Why would they hate Joe Biden or, more broadly, the Democratic Party?

Some might say there isn’t a good conservative answer to these questions. But for our democracy to thrive, progressives, liberals and anti-Trumpers need to truly reckon with them.

Voters support Trump, Jensen and others because they feel politically abandoned by the left and mainstream Republicans — people they may have previously voted for. When things aren’t working, voters want change. If they aren’t offered what might be perceived as “good” change, they’ll resort to “bad” change — sometimes to extremists like Trump and Jensen.

But still, progressives and liberals might respond that these arguments don’t suffice; just look at what the Democrats stand for!

To that, I have a rebuttal: what do the Democrats actually stand for?

They stand for the working class! They stand for ensuring all have access to health care! They stand for families! They stand for women’s right to choose!

These problematic responses – all too common from progressives and liberals alike – often come with no reasonable rebuttal from the left. I’m here to offer that.

They stand for the working class!
The last presidential administration to oversee Congress raising the federal minimum wage was the George W. Bush administration in 2007. The last Democratic administration to do so was Bill Clinton’s in 1996. Neoliberal free-trade policies, like Clinton’s NAFTA and Obama’s attempt to pass TPP, also showed how the Democrats have failed to support the working class. To President Biden’s credit, he vowed to be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen”; but where has the action been since then? Has he really shown that he is pro-union?

To truly stand behind the working class, Democrats in Congress should pass the PRO Act, raise the minimum wage, guarantee paid maternity leave, and more.

They stand for ensuring all have access to health care!

President Biden recently tweeted “In America, health care should be a right — not a privilege.” But his words seem to amount to empty promises. As I outlined in my recent health care column, the Democrats seem uninterested in truly fighting to lower costs and ensure that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

If Biden and the Democrats truly meant this all-too-common phrase, they would back it up by coalescing behind either a public option bill (that Biden campaigned on) or a universal, single-payer system.

They stand for families!
The most pro-family policy of my lifetime — the expansion of the Child Tax Credit — expired while the Democrats hold majorities in both houses of Congress, and a Democrat lives in the White House. Need I say more?

They stand for the women’s right to choose!
Many Democrats identify as pro-choice, and Senate Democrats routinely confirm pro-choice judges and justices to federal benches and the Supreme Court. But the fight over abortion rights wouldn’t rely on the courts if the Senate would just pass legislation that codified Roe into law. It’s really that simple: Congress could just pass a law (crazy to suggest, I know) that codifies Roe into law, guaranteeing the women’s right to choose. Once again, the Democrats hold majorities in both houses of Congress, and a Democrat lives in the White House. If they really wanted to guarantee abortion rights, they could do so. So why haven’t they?

Though there are certainly problems with the Republicans — their anti-vaccine stances, election fraud and homophobic and transphobic rhetoric to name a few — the Democrats still remain likely to be shellacked in the midterm elections.

Instead of complaining, it’s important to ask the most important question: why? Why might the Democrats, who supposedly support the working class, ensuring access to health care, families and abortion rights, lose?

It’s because the Democrats have failed to legislate in line with their supposed core beliefs. Instead, they’ve allowed the rich to continue to get richer, while the poor struggle and the middle class shrinks. This all spells electoral disaster for the Democrats, and maybe they deserve it.

And maybe, as my title suggests, the Democrats would do a whole lot better if they just took a nice, long look in the mirror and asked themselves: Are we living up to our core beliefs?

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  • CapnRusty
    Apr 22, 2022 at 1:29 pm

    You bemoan the fact that road signs out in flyover Minnesota lack political diversity, yet the ratio of Progressive professors to Conservative professors at the nation’s colleges is 9 to 1. It’s not that hard to avoid hypocrisy. Just do the research.