On today's BradCast: There is at least one thing Republicans are very good at. Whenever possible, they leverage their rightwing policy agenda --- such that they have one --- however they can in order to shift political power to their advantage. They do this both inside government and in their external communities, such as media, law enforcement agencies and corporate industry. Our guest today suggests that Democrats must learn from the Right to do the same thing...but completely differently. [Link to full audio of today's show is posted below this summary.]
They shouldn't adopt policies to prevent their opponents from being able to vote, as Republicans do. But the progressive policy agenda should be constructed to expand the base of progressive voters. While Democrats are unlikely, at this point, to win the hearts and minds of many Trump supporters after their years of brainwashing by the Republican/Fox "News" propaganda industrial complex (including a weekend full of lies falsely claiming that Joe Biden's climate policy includes a ban on red meat --- or, as Trump's former WH Economic Advisor warned on his Fox show over the weekend, Americans may soon only be be allowed to drink "plant-based beer" on July 4...yeah, seriously), Democrats can expand their own electorate through both smart legislation and executive actions.
We're joined today to explain all of this by City University of New York's Distinguished Lecturer of Urban Studies and Roosevelt Institute Fellow DEEPAK BHARGAVA who, with Dorian T. Warren last month at The American Prospect, detailed what they describe as the "Progressive Multiplier" effect. A way, they argue, to defeat Trumpism, as long as Dems take the right lessons --- not the wrong ones! --- from Republicans.
"When rightwing governments take hold, when the Republicans take power, they of course care about their policy agenda, like tax cuts and deregulation," Bhargava tells me. "But they start with the premise that in order to get all that done, they have to take the knees out from under their opposition. They're first order of business --- even though they often don't run on these issues because they're manifestly unpopular --- their very first orders of business are typically to weaken unions. That's often number one. Number two is to weaken voting rights, targeting people of color especially, and young voters who lean Democratic. And number three is to change the rules of the political game through gerrymandering and other means, so that they are making an electorate that is more favorable to them. By doing these things, by passing these things first, conservatives and Republicans create a situation where they have more power in the next legislature and the one after that, to do more and more conservative policy, to take the state or the country in a more extreme direction."
Bhargava is clear, however, the lesson for progressives must not be to prevent their opponents from access to the ballot box, as Republicans do, but to expand their own pool of voters. "This is the crucial distinction. I do want Democrats to be ruthless. But I want them to be ruthless about expanding democracy -- Republicans have been ruthless about restricting democracy --- democracy at the workplace, meaning unions, democracy at the polls, meaning voting rights. I want the Democratic Party to be ruthless about expanding everybody's participation. That means Republicans, too. But making it easier to participate, easier to join a union, easier to vote, easier to participate in all kinds of ways in civil society. So, this is the crucial difference. Yes, it will redound to Democrats' favor and progressives' favor if more people are able to be part of our democracy."
"The underlying agenda here is to expand democracy in America," he reiterates, "and that's why the two strategies don't have any equivalence."
How can that be done via legislation and --- as the GOP has taken obstruction of legislation to an art form --- via Executive Actions by the President? We discuss all of that, including many examples --- from labor policy to policing to immigration enforcement and much more --- on today's program.
One key example Bhargava offers today, among many --- as also discussed in his new book, out today, called Immigration Matters: Movements, Visions, and Strategies for a Progressive Future --- is that the Biden Administration could add millions of new voters to the rolls, almost overnight. "There are nine million people who right now are legal permanent residents with green cards who could become citizens if we aggressively did outreach, lowered the prohibitive fees, undid all the barriers Trump created. Nine million new people by 2022 could be voting. And, as it happens, the vast majority of those will turn out to be Democrats."
Of course, Republicans know this, which is why Trump's executive policies were "hugely strategic in making it much, much harder for people to become citizens and vote. They increased fees, they made the questions harder. They lengthened the time you had to wait. They did everything they could to throw roadblocks in the way." The Biden Administration could, and should, reverse all of that immediately, Bhargava argues.
Also on today's program, several examples of both the GOP's institutionalized and well-funded rightwing agenda machine --- courtesy, in this case, of Fox' phony "Biden burger ban" lie all weekend long, across all of their shows, and the upcoming extreme gerrymandering by several states where Republicans are picking up House seats after the 2020 decennial Census, where they control the entire redistricting process. While several Democratic-leaning states are picking up seats as well, none of them have processes completely controlled by Dems. But Democrats are not completely unaware of these ideas, as illustrated today by President Biden's Executive Order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15/hour and automatically indexing the new wage to inflation for the future. That will be hundreds of thousands of Americans who will have Democrats to thank for a nearly 50% raise. Dems, however, as Bhargava agrees, need to get much better at letting those Americans know who is responsible for their newly increased fortunes.
I hope you'll tune in for today's important discussion.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with news on the GOP's laughable infrastructure counter-proposal to Biden's American Jobs Plan; the EPA revoking the Trump Administration's Big Government ban on state's rights to set their own emissions standards; and a very important message to climate emergency obstructionists from teen climate activist Greta Thunberg...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)