OK, the primary elections are over, and we've passed Labor Day (it's disconcerting how those two have been reversed), and it's now on to the general election.
We Democrats are probably facing anywhere between a severe beating and a serious whuppin' come November. That sort of thing happens on a semi-regular basis, but while we may lose seats statewide and nationally, we cannot let the Republicans set the tone of the political discussion.
Political candidates in general—and Republicans in particular—are like little kids, prone to repeating the same nonsense over and over, hoping to wear down the listener. We can't let that happen. We need to be like that good parent—firm but fair, armed with knowledge and ready to refute (not refudiate) any nugget of b.s. the particular Republican is tossing out into the public forum. We have to stamp out the spread of misinformation at the source, lest it spread and be taken seriously by the dreaded "independent" voter.
For example, if a Republican says, "We need to privatize Social Security," we should say, "Really? Give trillions of dollars to the same people who got us in this mess to begin with—bankers, who salivate at the thought of stealing millions of dollars and would suddenly be given the opportunity to steal millions of millions? Hedge-fund managers, for whom no amount of personal wealth is ever enough? Or Wall Street traders, who drove the economy off a cliff buying and selling instruments that they knew to be worthless?"
Fortunately, the Gabrielle Giffords campaign has jumped all over GOP challenger Jesse Kelly's call for the privatization of Social Security. Privatization is an insane idea. Just imagine the family of four with the two parents working a combined two, three, maybe even four jobs just to stay above water. Now they're going to be asked to manage their retirement accounts? They're going to have to hack their way through an army of scammers, Harvard grads and quick-buck artists (if you'll pardon the multiple redundancies) to try to find an honest person who will look after their money so they don't wake up 40 years down the road and realize that they have nothing with which to retire.
Social Security scares the crap out of Republicans for two big reasons. First off, they'd have to admit that the only safe place for honest people's money to have been in the past two or three years was with the government. They tout capitalism over government, but unfettered capitalism just gave America the old greased pole and didn't even care enough to apply the grease before administering the pole.
More importantly, Social Security is a government program that works. It's a great program that has worked remarkably well for 75 years and should continue to work far into the future. Even the "sky is falling" people have to admit that the program is solvent through at least 2037 (when the first Baby Boomers will be in their early 90s and dropping like flies), and with some tweaking, it can remain solvent indefinitely.
This is a painful truth for people who run for office by running against the government. If one of the largest government programs works this well, perhaps other parts of the government also work. Instead of having to admit that Social Security works, they would rather destroy the program so they can chant their government-is-bad mantra without choking.
Also, don't let them get away with these:
Republican: "I'm a Reagan Republican."
Us: "Is that the Reagan who ran up the highest deficits of any eight-year president in history to that point (only to be outdone later by George W. Bush) or the Reagan who presided over the largest tax increase in American history?"
That second one kills them. The Big Reagan Myth is that he lowered taxes, and tax revenues actually went up as the economy soared. He did cut taxes in 1981, but in 1983, he signed into law the largest non-wartime tax increase (both in terms of total dollars and percentage of GDP) in American history. This is indisputable. Tax revenues increased because taxes went up. And the economy boomed because the double-talking Reagan used ostensibly hated deficit spending to finance his agenda.
Don't let them anoint Reagan as some kind of conservative saint, because he wasn't.
Republican: "Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rodney Glassman is a know-nothing, self-serving spoiled rich kid who has used the family fortune to buy his way into politics."
Us: "OK, we'll give you that one."
Republican: "Obama is a socialist."
Us: "Define 'socialist.'"
I interviewed District 26 House candidate Terri Proud, and she had to have used the word "socialist" 15 times in five minutes. Finally, I asked her to give me a proper definition of socialist or socialism, and thankfully, she just stopped talking. "Socialist" is a powerful political pejorative these days, but most people who use it can't come close to defining it accurately.
My fellow Democrats: They may beat us this November, but we won't let them dumb us down.