If Democrats want us to think they really believe in their “Better Deal” campaign, shouldn’t they try to actually implement its ideas? Especially in a heavily Democratic state like Massachusetts?
Turns out nope! Though the Massachusetts Senate has taken some good votes, including passing paid family leave, the legislature remains dominated by corporate-friendly Democrats, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo going so far as to flirt with endorsing Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
So the progressive group Raise Up Massachusetts is going to voters directly, asking them to approve ballot measures for a $15 an hour minimum wage, paid family leave, and higher taxes on millionaires:
Proposed questions being offered for next year’s state ballot would gradually raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts to $15 an hour and require that workers have access to paid family and medical leave from their employers.
Raise Up Massachusetts planned to announce on Monday it was launching a signature drive for the two initiative petitions. The same group is behind a third ballot question that would impose a so-called “millionaire tax” on the state’s wealthiest earners, with the additional revenue earmarked for education and transportation improvements.
Why are Massachusetts Democrats letting independent progressive groups lead the fight for these wildly popular ideas? It’s no wonder voters don’t feel any particular loyalty to the party and vote for Republicans like Baker and Scott Brown who don the Average Joe costume whenever it suits them (then ditch it when they head to fundraisers on the Cape).
It’s unclear where the plan goes from here. If you Google “democrats better deal,” the entire first page of results is critiques of Better Deal. In part, that’s because there’s no new written plan as of yet outside of the op-eds — the front page of Democrats.org doesn’t even mention it. Click “we believe” and you get the 2016 party platform.
Democrats began the process thinking they’d come up with principles that could serve as an alternative to Trump. But after the consultants and pollsters got done with it, and the party’s big donors had their say, what’s left isn’t that different from the technocratic, small-bore fixes that lost the 2016 election:
Trump’s brilliance was in thinking—or at least talking—big about upending the system, says [John] Judis. “The key to his campaign, and what made it populist in the tradition of the People’s Party, Huey Long, Perot, was that he voiced demands that the prevailing leadership of both parties were unwilling to grant or even consider. Ditto Sanders.”
By contrast, says Judis, Schumer’s Times op-ed “used every cliché of the last 20 years. I don’t disagree with anything they propose, but they are proposing incremental stuff that in some cases (worker retraining) has proven to be pretty useless.”
If Democrats want voters to believe they stand for strong progressive solutions that will make life better for working class voters, party leaders should stand for strong progressive solutions that will make life better for working class voters — at every level. Until then, they shouldn’t be surprised when their new slogans are met with extreme skepticism.