'Trump should start by raising the US minimum wage' - Ralph Nader
The election of Donald Trump was a stunning repudiation of the Democratic Party in the way it’s managed itself over the past few presidencies. If their party wants to win back the White House and keep the right wing at bail they need to change.
According to a president-elect, there are two kind of change you can embrace: either double down on the path it has taken for the past two decades and abandon its core values of progressivism, or it can embrace core New Deal FDR Bernie Sanders' values and make the Democratic Party great again.
Democrats must choose what kind of strategy they need to move forward and pull it off.
RT: Where does all this leave Progressives?
Ralph Nader: It leaves them with the Bernie Sanders movement. They've got to build on it; they’ve got a lot of young people behind it, so there is an energy level there. They have technicians who know how to raise a lot of money to pay for organizers in the field in all the congressional districts. What is their excuse? The problem is that the party is still led by the same people, who failed; the same people who lost to the worst Republican party in history again and again and again over recent years. Unless there is replacement of leadership with fresh initiative - and Bernie has got a lot of moral power there to try to ease them out - I don’t see any change.
RT: You’ve got a political leadership with people like Nancy Pelosi. But there is also a huge institutional infrastructure and leadership in the Democratic Party. Right now, Donna Brazile is holding down the position of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair. Some people suggest that should be someone else…
RN: People we don’t even know about – who are really up and coming and good from around the country have got to be put in charge. The DNC is the formula for the destruction of the Democratic Party.
RT: How so?
RN: Look at the record, right? If you look at the record of the Republicans in the House and the votes they have passed in the last five years, you wouldn’t believe it. It wouldn’t pass 20 per cent support in the public. Against children, against food safety against auto safety; against worker’s safety; against unions for Wall Street over mainstream; for a bigger bloat in military budget; for more cover-up on corporate crime fraud and abuse; cutting law endorsement budgets against corporate abuses. More crony capitalism; more bailouts; more subsidies, more giveaways; more intervention abroad; more rattling the sabers; more pushing it into Putin; more pushing it into China.
Of course it didn’t get any further in the Senate - it was blocked in the Senate. But why in the world wouldn’t the House Democrats campaign on all these issues in every congressional district where they are trying to run?
RT: President Obama recently and when he took the office as well, suggested that the US should work with its enemies. How can you presume the good faith of your political opponents, when they have just spent eight years trashing you, acting in bad faith, refusing to even to hold a hearing for your Supreme Court of Justice nominee, etc.?
RN: I think he is cheerleading, which is a source of laughter by the Trump crowd and his supporters. They are just laughing at him. And he wants to come out statesman-like and preserve his legacy. That is all he has left now. Bill Curry, the political commentator and the counselor to Bill Clinton in the White House pointed out something interesting. He said: ‘Barack Obama should’ve never appointed Republican James Comey, head of the FBI… because he comes out from the [George W.] Bush administration. You see that is part of this triangulation if you will. The Democrats get beat up on it all the time, because they lose their identity; they lose their commitment; they lose what they stand for; they blur everything. The Republicans are very good about blurring the Democrats and then striking them out clearly for their own objectives.
RT: Even if racism and sexism didn’t play an ultimate role in electing Donald Trump, it played some role. How do we reach Trump voters who are twisted up with misogyny and racism? Or it is really such a small portion of electorate and it was not Trump won, it was Hillary lost, and we can continue to marginalize?
RN: You deal with specific economic programs. You start with the minimum wage. 30 million people are making less than workers made in 1968 when adjusted for inflation. That is a pretty big number – 30 million, because they were making $11 federal. Four states had initiatives on the minimum wage; all four passed on November 8 by a margin of 9 percent or more. So you start with this left-right support. Minimum wage hikes are supported by 70 – 80 per cent of the workers.
So you start with that. That is something that really means something to people. They can pay their bills; they can pay their rent; they can support their kids. 15 bucks an hour to begin with. The second thing is full medical care for all. The agony, the anxiety, falling through the cracks, being denied health care; ObamaCare hopelessly unable to keep down the price of drugs and health insurance policies. You publicize that – that is 80 per cent. It comes in half the price – Canada comes in at half the price per capita – it covers everybody. You have a free choice of doctor and hospital – you are not jammed into narrow networks and you can’t go to other doctors in hospitals that would be better for you. Do that!
The third is my favorite. Law and order for corporate crime, fraud and abuse. The criminal activity against consumers, like Wells Fargo, for example; like the housing rackets and mortgages. You go after criminal activity in terms of contaminated water, food, and air. You go after bribing politicians; you go after $60 billion ripping off Medicare by the industry, health care industry. You go after billing fraud – that is something that affects people every day. They can’t even understand their bills. They’re signed on the one-sided contracts, they don’t even see the contracts.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.