With Capitol Hill in the background, a crowd fills the streets during the Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017, in Washington. (Oliver Contreras for The Post)
Freed from their obsessive interest in President Trump’s core base (Should we have said “Merry Christmas” more often? Maybe we should have pretended that NAFTA cost jobs?) and the temptation to shun reality in search of the secret sauce for attracting fact-free Fox News viewers, Democrats seem to be coming to the realization that their traditional base — single women, minorities, young voters, college-educated voters, urban dwellers — is perfectly compatible with other demographic cross-sections of America (e.g. married women, suburbanites, #NeverTrump Republicans). Moreover, occasional voters (e.g. millennials) can become spirited activists and off-year voters if given enough reason to turn out. There is no shortage of issues that can bring together all these voters. We’ll start with just five that might resonate in the suburbs, with college-educated women and with disaffected Republicans — and also, in some cases, might help turn out traditional Democratic constituents:
Accountability: So long as Republicans retain House and Senate majorities, Trump and his band of ethically challenged advisers pay no price for their conflicts of interest, misuse of taxpayer monies, nepotism and lack of transparency. If voters think that this president and every future one should reveal his tax returns and eschew monies coming from foreign entities, they will need to jettison Republican majorities, who have been absolutely clear that they take no interest in the president’s financial self-dealing and conflicts. Real congressional oversight is possible only with Democratic-led committees.
Economic self-sabotage: Trump likes to take credit for the economy that he inherited, but he is doing a bang-up job undercutting the economic recovery now in its ninth year. Trump’s trade war is well underway. The Post reports:
The Chinese government plans to immediately impose tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork and certain fruits, a direct response to President Trump’s recent moves to pursue numerous trade restrictions against Beijing.
If U.S. goods become more expensive in China, Chinese buyers could opt to purchase products from Europe, South America or elsewhere, though White House officials have routinely discounted the likelihood of this.
Beijing’s move could force Trump to decide whether to follow through on expansive trade restrictions he had hoped would crack down on China even if Beijing is now threatening to harm U.S. companies that rely on Asian markets for buyers. . . . In addition to pork, the new tariffs from the Chinese government will include U.S. exports of apples, oranges, almonds, pineapples, grapes, watermelons, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and a host of other items.
Meanwhile, Trump’s anti-immigrant raving is costing the United States high-skilled workers. As Axios recently reported: “Tech companies in and around Toronto have seen a surge in international job applications over the last year, by far mostly from the U.S., according to a new survey. The number doubled and tripled in some of the companies, the result of a deliberate Canadian campaign to attract tech workers from the U.S. and around the world. … The spike in applications and hiring adds to the evidence suggesting that President Trump’s immigration crackdown is resulting in a loss of tech workers to Canada.”
DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program: Aside from the economic ramifications of his anti-immigrant stance, Trump’s approach to the “dreamers” — highlighted in his Easter Sunday tirade — is a moral disgrace and nightmare for local police (who understand the danger to public safety when a significant number of residents refuse to report crimes or assist police for fear of being deported). Upwards of 80 percent of voters want dreamers legalized; if deportations pick up, that number may soar. This is not just an issue for Hispanic voters. Bloomberg reports:
A sizable majority of Americans, especially Democrats and independents, support giving legal status to Dreamers, opinion polls have shown. The topic resonates especially in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Nevada — states with large Hispanic populations where Democrats are seeking to chip away at the Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
“We’re discussing it in our race every single day,” said Jacky Rosen, a U.S. representative who’s the likely Democratic nominee to face Republican incumbent Senator Dean Heller in Nevada. “Dean Heller is doing whatever the president wants — he’s opposing the Dream Act and he voted against two bipartisan DACA deals.” . . . . “To young voters, DACA isn’t an abstraction — it’s their friend, their neighbor, the classmate they’ve grown up with, who the Republican Party was willing to deport,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic consultant.
Unfit nominees: The GOP Senate rubber-stamped a slew of incompetent, unqualified and/or ethically deficient nominees who predictably washed out (former secretaries Rex Tillerson, Tom Price, David Shulkin) or remain mired in scandal (the Environmental Protection Agency’s Scott Pruitt, Housing and Urban Development’s Ben Carson, Treasury’s Steven Mnuchin, Interior’s Ryan Zinke). It would be far better for the country, and for Trump frankly, if the Senate would exercise some quality control. It should have been apparent at Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing (guns in classrooms to shoot bears?!?) and from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s repeated untruths to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his Russia contacts that they would stumble in office. Nevertheless, the GOP-led Senate waved them through. If voters want to stop the parade of extremists, cranks, incompetents and ethical malefactors, they will need to dump the Senate majority.
War: The president, we have seen, exercises enormous power in foreign affairs. However, Congress can choose to exercise its not-insignificant powers to declare war (or not), to fund (or not) military escapades and address trade policy (or not). It has the power of oversight and the bully pulpit. If voters are nervous about confrontations with North Korea and with Iran, they had best put in place congressional leaders who will make clear that only Congress has the power to authorize a first strike (i.e. war) against hostile powers.
Democrats have no shortage of issues on which to run. But if they want to sweep up suburban voters and college-educated women in particular, they would do well to stress these issues. They are not only good politics but also matters of good governance.