It's More Important to Replace Trump Than to Elect any Specific Democratic Candidate
As Democrats in Iowa begin the nomination process tomorrow, it would be wise for everyone to remember that the goal is to replace Donald Trump with a President who actually cares about [and has some competency in] issues such as health care reform, foreign relations, voting rights, education and the environment. Which candidate Democratic voters ultimately select is less important than their commitment to supporting the eventual nominee and regaining the White House.
During the debates and in their campaigns each candidate has worked to distinguish themselves from the competition with detailed plans to expand our access to a college education and quality health care, among many other things. And based on those plans, we have labeled some of them, such as Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar, as moderates, and branded Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as progressives. That's fine, but in the end their administrations would be quite similar because of the realities of Washington politics and Constitutional restraints.
America is probably moving from a center-right to a center-left nation as Boomers retire and Millenials take the reins of power, but we aren't going to be embracing Swedish style socialism any time soon, nor could we afford it without substantial tax increases on both the upper and middle classes. Moreover, any major policy changes need congressional approval and the Senate will still be stacked against progressive reforms even if Democrats pick up a few seats this Fall. That is not to say that a Democrat in the White House won't make a difference, they will, just not the earthquake some hope for and others fear.
Here is what you can expect, no matter which Democrat is elected:
1. First, and this is probably enough to get you out to vote, no matter which Democratic candidate you select, they will get up each morning with the desire to better the lives of average Americans, they will base policy on facts and evidence, rather than conspiracy theories and bigotry, and they won't bribe foreign leaders to interfere in our elections.
2. No matter who you choose, "Medicare for All" isn't coming any time soon because the majority of the middle class receive partially or fully subsidized, tax-free health insurance from their employer and they want to keep it. However, all the Democratic candidates would thwart Republican efforts to gut Obamacare and Medicaid, and each would push through plans to expand the Affordable Care Act with a "public option" to provide greater access to health care for millions of Americans.
3. All the Democratic candidates would pursue a rational foreign policy aligned more with our long-time allies such as France, Germany and the UK. Every one of them would rejoin the Paris Climate agreement and find a way to reinstate [perhaps with a few modifications] the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama. And a Democratic president would pivot back to a more neutral position between Israel and the Palestinians, consider human rights in formulating foreign policy, and thwart Vladimir Putin's efforts to meddle in our elections.
4. Perhaps the biggest change a Democrat in the White House would make would be on the environment. As mentioned above, a Democratic administration would rejoin the Paris climate accord and take a leadership role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally. And every candidate would roll-back Trump administration executive orders that threaten our air and water quality. The director of the EPA would again be a watchdog rather than a lapdog to the coal and chemical industries.
5. Regarding immigration, all of the Democratic candidates would protect the "Dreamers" and despite all the political obstacles, work to pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented residents who have raised families and worked here for years.
6. Raising taxes is always difficult politically, but after Donald Trump's unpopular and economically foolish tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy in 2017, all the Democratic candidates have embraced some revenue enhancements. However, the political reality is that no matter which candidate you select, tax increases will be modest. A Democratic president could probably get a small package of increases passed including a partial roll-back of the corporate cuts, a small increase to the capital gains tax rate and a return to a 40% tax bracket for income earned above $300.000 or so.
And each of the Democratic candidates would nominate progressive federal judges, protect Medicare and Social Security, formulate policies to expand access to a college education, and back further reforms to the criminal justice system.
The central point is that voters shouldn't get so caught up in the Joe or Bernie [or Amy or Elizabeth] contest that they lose sight of what's at stake in November. Debating the minutia of these important issues is useful, but those relatively small policy differences pale in comparison to the damage that Donald Trump could do with four more years. So, starting tomorrow, go out and vote for your favorite, but once the nomination is clinched, put aside the rancor and get behind [fully and enthusiastically] the nominee. Donald Trump will do everything he can to divide Democrats during the nomination process because he knows that is the only way he can win in November.
By: Don Lam