Andy Schmookler: A Congress whose priority is the good of the nation

schmooklerAlthough defeating Donald Trump is one essential goal for this fall’s campaign, that should be seen as one important means toward the ultimate goal, which is to move the nation forward.

There is every reason to believe that the Republicans in Congress would try to do to a new Democratic President what they’ve been doing for more than seven years to the current Democratic President: use their power to obstruct progress on all fronts.

For that reason, a wise Democratic campaign must also minimize Republican power in Congress. To achieve that purpose, the Democratic campaign should have two main themes: in addition to tying down-ticket Republican candidates to the defects of their grotesque standard-bearer, the Democrats should run against Republican obstructionism.

One of the main lines from the speeches from Democratic nominee for president should be, “Give me a Congress whose priority is the good of the nation.”

The set of issues on which Hillary Clinton has been has been campaigning will, of course, remain essential to the campaign: it is important for her to seek to inspire the people with a vision for a better America.

But all the campaign talk about issues is largely just a wish, with no likely relation to future reality, unless this across-the-board obstructionist control by the Republicans in Congress can be eliminated. And it is a mistake to ignore that reality.

Neither Democratic candidate, it seems, has wanted to talk much about the Republican roadblock in the way of almost all they propose. Perhaps they’ve worried that voters would find it depressing. Perhaps they’ve feared that voters don’t have the stomach to face that reality that the necessary task is larger than electing them president.

But telling the truth about this big problem of Republican obstructionism doesn’t have to be a downer. It can help ignite something. It can be a way of motivating the voters to do the job America needs for them to do.

After the Democratic nominee presents her issues in an inspiring form (think here of FDR’s great “I see an America” speech), she continues:

“But for us to move toward that better America, I need you to elect a Congress eager to do its job on behalf of the people. Recent years have shown clearly what that requires: kicking out the obstructionist Republicans and electing Democrats to Congress.

“I understand why some people – on both sides of our partisan divide — have been eager this year to ‘shake things up’ in our politics. But really, it’s clear what kind of shaking up we most urgently need: fixing the problem of our ‘broken government’ has to start with the people rejecting those who deliberately chose to break it.

“In deliberately jabbing a stick through the spokes to prevent our nation from moving forward, — in putting party ahead of the good of the nation — these Republican obstructionists have betrayed the people’s trust.”

Democratic candidates – top to bottom, and around the nation – can use this truth to rally the people to get these obstructionist congressional Republicans out of power.

Two sources of passion can fuel a potential Democratic landslide:

• a vision of the better America, to touch Americans’ yearning to move forward rather than to stagnate and deteriorate, and

• a call to send the obstructionists packing, to tap into Americans’ evident readiness to rise up against a system that clearly is not serving them well.

That’s a combination that might capture the Congress along with the presidency.

“I pledge to you, my fellow Americans, that I will do everything in my power as president to move the nation forward … The most important thing you can do now is ‘Give me a Congress that will make a better America – not partisan advantage– its priority.’

“’If the president was for it, we had to be against it.’ Those were the Republicans’ marching orders as we know from former Republican Senator from Ohio George Voinovich. That’s not how our founders intended for their wonderful system to work.

“The system our founders set up – with divisions of powers and checks and balances– wasn’t supposed to cripple the country. It was supposed to teach people how to work together to move the nation forward.

“Give me a Congress that wants to work with me for the good of the nation.”

Column by Andy Schmookler


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