The Democratic and Republican Parties as car mechanics

Your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic

Your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic

Every election, plenty of Democrats and Progressives complain about Democratic candidates, saying they’re not progressive or liberal enough, are too tied to corporations or big money, etc. These complainers are comparing the Democratic candidates to some ideal of perfection. That’s the wrong comparison. Democratic candidates are running against flesh-and-blood Republican candidates (and some third party candidates), and one set of candidates will win the elections and decide our fates to a large extent. If your complaining friends still think the two parties are the same, try the car mechanic analogy on them:

The Democrats’ final 2014 election message

Democratic star Elizabeth Warren

Democratic star Elizabeth Warren

The 2014 elections are less than three weeks away. Earlier this year, we called for the Democratic Party to come up with a positive unifying theme for the elections, and suggested “We Have Your Back.” The Democrats never came up with such a theme, although the Democratic Party’s list of accomplishments and values is impressive. Moreover, 2014 is not a presidential election year, and there is no transformative or historical figure running on the Democratic ticket to get Democrats excited. For example, Elizabeth Warren, perhaps the Democratic Party’s biggest star, isn’t up for re-election for years, and you have to live in Kentucky or Texas to vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes or Wendy Davis, respectively.

Are you one of those Progressives who is disappointed in your Democratic leaders? Think they’re the same as the Republicans? Thinking of staying home this Election Day? Think again! Here’s but a brief list of things the Republicans routinely do, try to do, or stand for, in contrast to the Democrats:

Conference call with George Lakoff, Democratic messaging guru

Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff

Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff

Last Tuesday, Democracy For America held a conference call featuring Democratic messaging guru George Lakoff and Nina Turner, current State Senator and Democratic candidate for Secretary of State from Ohio. The subject of the call was how to frame the Democratic Party message for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Republicans suddenly love Big Government

George W. and John McCain share birthday cake in Arizona as Katrina hits New Orleans, 2005

George W. and John McCain share birthday cake in Arizona as Katrina hits New Orleans, 2005

One of the Republican Party’s key tenets — indeed, one of its mantras — for decades has been “smaller government.” Recall Republican President Ronald Reagan‘s 1986 speech, where he stated:

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

In recent weeks, however, Republicans have been calling for all kinds of Big Government:

New York City’s Obama economic boom

Manhattan's High Line trail overlooking new West Side construction

Manhattan’s High Line trail overlooking new West Side construction

A visit to New York City reveals a metropolis transformed by a seemingly unprecedented economic boom. Numerous neighborhoods, such as the areas along the well-planned High Line park, are gentrifying and have become Euro-fashionable, with boutiques to match. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, once home to bearded Hasidic Jews, is now the Mecca of bearded hipsters and young families, and has almost become a pricey parody of itself. Condo skyscrapers are reaching new heights, both physically and in terms of dollars. Restaurants and cafes, many of them quite expensive, are filled night after night. And President Barack Obama deserves a fair share of the credit.

The Smithsonian museums are liberal!

IMG_0565If you visit the Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, D.C. (free admission courtesy of your tax dollars) and have your political antennae extended, you’ll find some refreshingly liberal facts. Among them are:

Using the Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures model for political gain

Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards

Jennifer Lawrence at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards

If you were anywhere near the Internet this past weekend, you read or heard about the Jennifer Lawrence nude photo scandal. Actually, the private photo collections of numerous models, actresses and celebrities, including not just Jennifer Lawrence but also Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and others were hacked, put up online, sent around virally and viewed millilons of times. Putting aside the obvious criminal and moral violations of the photo leak, one has to marvel at the speed and magnitude at which people were able to take in the content. So the question becomes, how can we send around our political messages with this kind of speed and impact?

After Ferguson, we’re done with the GOP

Protesters for Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO

Protesters for Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO by police officer Darren Wilson may well be a tipping point in American political history. The ensuing Right versus Left war over the narrative in Ferguson made it clear that we cannot reason with conservatives and Republicans. They are so invested in their tribalism and Kool-Aid identity politics (in this case, the Scary Brown People narrative) that, presently, there’s no chance of Republicans working with us to solve any big issues. Accordingly, Democrats and progressives might want to focus on the following three things:

Controlling the narrative in Ferguson

Anonymous "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" protester in Ferguson, MO.

Anonymous “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protester in Ferguson, MO.

The news coverage of Michael Brown‘s killing in Ferguson, MO is a classic example of conservatives trying to change the story. The facts are that Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed teenager Brown multiple times, seemingly execution style, and killed him. But the Ferguson Police, Fox News and other conservatives are trying to distract us from the facts with various narratives.

Good government and capitalism meet near Las Vegas

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Las Vegas, perhaps the ultimate symbol of capitalism, ironically is bookended by two huge examples of business/government partnership. The first one, as we all know from Rachel Maddow‘s MSNBC “Lean Forward” videos, is the Hoover Dam, located about 30 miles from Las Vegas. Hoover Dam is an example of government working with business to create a huge public project that business could not accomplish by itself. In the case of Hoover Dam (the creating legislation for which was signed by conservative Republican President Calvin Coolidge), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, a division of the Department of the Interior, partnered with a consortium of large corporations known as Six Companies, including familiar capitalist faces Henry J. Kaiser Co. and Bechtel Corporation.