A Path Forward

Minnesota has a unique political history with the Democratic party. While many Democrats in Minnesota identify with Democrats, we’re known as the DFL. I grew up believing the principals of the Democrat Farmer Labor party, I still do.

In the early 1920s, the Farmer Labor movement became a powerful political force earning State legislative victories over Democrats and Republicans with their simple message. ‘Agrarian reform, protection of farmers and unions, public ownership of our natural resources, utilities, railroads and a belief in social security legislation’.

Ideals that benefited people’s lives. Ideologies that common folk could understand.

Not only was the Farmer-labor party successful in Minnesota’s legislative seats, from 1921 to 1944 this party elected 3 Governors, 4 United States Senators, and eight United States Representatives.

In 1944, with Hubert Humphry being instrumental, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party merged with the Democratic party becoming the Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota.

Today’s Republican party have all but merged with the Tea Party, Libertarians, the Alt-right, and far right Evangelicals giving them a powerful, political voice that drowns out Democrats, Progressives and Liberals.

There’s a history lesson here, and we should learn from it.

Democrats should ask themselves, ‘Why are people who hold our values, our belief in unions, in our environment, in social justice, turning from us, and seeking representation in third parties such as the Progressives, the Green Party, the Independence party, and even Libertarians?’.

We should ask also ‘Why does America have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any modern nation?’.

I don’t have to parse the questions into a thousand data points to find the answer. It’s there, clear, concise.

People don’t vote, simply because there’s nothing to vote for. Nothing new, nothing challenging, nothing that speaks to their future. Not because they don’t care, not because they’re lazy, but because they have heard it all before, with no real-world results.

The Progressive party will continue to grow, as will the Green party, the Constitutional party, the many state Independent parties. So will the Tea Party in some form and fashion, and the Libertarian party, and as they grow, the Republican Party will grow, and become much more of a force than they are now.

At face value, the Democratic Party will claim that they echo the voice of Progressives, that they believe in public ownership of our natural resources, that the Party believes in our labor force, that corporations have grown too large, their influence too great, but if that were all true, Bernie Sanders would have been our nominee.

And here’s the rub, rank and file Democrats, believe in all those things. People in general believe all these issues. Yet, half our nation will not vote.

For the Democratic Party to become sustainable, they must do more than echo repeatedly their concern for issues. They must reach out to people with third party affiliations, bring them into leadership positions, incorporate some of their platforms into theirs, cut ties with corporate donors that contribute to both political parties, and they must learn how to message their belief systems beyond simply attacking Republicans.

While we live in a different world than those of the 1920s and the Farmer-Labor party, some things don’t change. The need to change, the ability to change, the desire to change are always with us.

Politics are, after all, always rooted in being local.

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Return to Point Zero

In the March of 2009, President Obama convened a health summit compromised of doctors, insurers, drug companies, consumer advocates and lawmakers. That July, Democrats presented a thousand-page plan that would become the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Late fall, both house and Senate approved their own versions. The battle was on amid accusations of death panels, grossly high premiums and lost coverage.

Dislike Obamacare or not, we talked, we argued, we fought, we yelled, we screamed, we lied about Obamacare, but it somehow passed.

Is Obamacare perfect? No, a lot of concessions were made to make it law. Would it be a better bill without those concessions? Who knows?

The thing is though, before the ACA a lot of people were using the emergency room as a doctor’s office, premiums were skyrocketing, in some years, by double percentage points, while valuable benefits were being lost, college kids were dropped from their insurance plans, and if you had a pre-existing coverage, chances are, you couldn’t find affordable health care.

Right or wrong, something had to be done. I’ve always considered Obamacare the first step in rectifying our Nations ridiculous healthcare system. I’ve always believed that the ACA would be improved on; identifying problems, fixing problems, always a work in progress.

As I write this, today there are 13 powerful, white, male Republican Senators working in secret to craft a bill to replace the ACA. That’s all we know about it. No discussions, no negotiations, no leaks.

Contrary to belief, this is not how the ACA was passed. In fact, this is not how laws are made, not here in America. Perhaps in some small banana republics, but not in the United States of America. Common sense dictates that the bill has to be somewhat similar to the House bill, in cost and content, otherwise the process starts over.

So why the secrecy? Why are the voices of a multitude of people; women, minorities, doctors, insurance and pharmaceutical companies not allowed to speak to their concerns?

Democrat or Republican, as an American, this is not the democratic process, this is not the American way, this is not who we are, and it should make you mad as hell.

Will Americans wake up next week to find that many once again must visit the emergency room for a child’s cold, that their college student has no access to healthcare, to outrageous premiums, to decreasing benefits and if you have a pre-existing condition, you’re simply too much of a risk for coverage.

A return to point zero on the baseline, where our healthcare industry chugged along, making huge profits for some, and painful decisions for most, a huge step backward that benefits few, and is shamefully problematic for most.

Is this going to be the new standard in America. Bills formulated in secrecy, with out debate?

Are you really fine with that?

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