by guest blogger Jesse Hendrix
In the wake of the Republicans setting a world record for synchronized shooting yourself in the foot, Democrats are feeling good about themselves. And why not? Polls show that if the election were held tomorrow, there would be a good chance of them taking the House while keeping the Senate. Unfortunately, the election won’t be held tomorrow. There’s a whole year to go. A whole year of dealing with this House. A whole year for the Democrats to screw something up.
In the spirit of my advice to Republicans, here are five rules to help Democrats make the most of a bad situation.
Rule 1. Go big on the budget.
The shutdown-ending deal has set the stage for yet another round of budget talks, which will in all likelihood go up to the last possible second. Treat this as an opportunity. Don’t just try to maintain the current budget levels–the current budget levels suck. Make the argument for more job-creating spending and more tax fairness. Keep hammering the damage austerity has done and make the Republicans own it. When they say “We can’t afford that,” point out the military program we could cut that costs more, or the small tax changes that would pay for it. Anything that costs 24 billion or less should be compared to the economic cost of the shutdown. Republicans are down. Kick them.
Rule 2. Go big on everything.
On the rare occasion that something gets done in Washington, the discussion goes like this: Republicans make a far right proposal, Democrats make a center-left one, and we end up with a center-right compromise. This needs to change. They say “Defund Obamacare” you say “Expand Obamacare.” Then suddenly the compromise is “Maintain Obamacare.”
Since Republicans are blocking everything, you might as well go for the wish list. Push a jobs bill. Push infrastructure spending. Show the public what they would get if they put Democrats in charge of the house and senate. Keep reminding them of the first two years of Obama’s presidency when stuff got done.
Rule 3. Be the reasonable ones.
This follows on from Rule 2. Push for what you really want, but be ready to take what you can get. Practice variations on the following: “We believe that [Strong Liberal Policy] is what is best for the country, but in the interests of bipartisan compromise, we are willing to accept [Weak Liberal Policy]”
Work with any Republicans who are willing. You’ll get more done. As an added bonus, this makes you look good to independents and moderates, while opening the Republican involved to attacks from the right.
Rule 4. Don’t fear the Deficit.
Republicans are going to try to make the discussion all about deficit reduction. This is code for cutting social programs. Do not fall for it. We do not have a short term deficit problem. The deficit is falling faster than Wile E. Coyote holding an anvil. We have a growth problem, and to encourage growth the government needs to invest money. The way you say it matters. Don’t call it “Government Spending.” It’s “Investment in America.”
Rule 5. Don’t do anything stupid.
This is both the most important rule and probably the most difficult to follow, but you have to try. We need to see no dirty tweets, no affairs, no prostitutes, none of it. As Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner taught us, it only takes one Democrat with a sex scandal to completely distract the media and public from Republican wrongdoing.
So there you have it. Five ways for Democrats to capitalize on Republican self-destruction. You guys have finally been showing some spine, and you need to keep it up. To completely misquote Margaret Thatcher, “Someday the Republicans will be in charge of government again. The Democrats’ job is to hold on until they are sane.”
Jesse Hendrix writes political satire at www.stoptellingliesaboutliberals.com. Questions, comments, good jokes and job offers can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org