1. The “macro” basket consisting of issues that might be of concern to large numbers of voters but don’t hit them immediately where they live or in their pocketbooks, such as climate change, crumbling infrastructure, runaway federal debt and deficits and Trump’s xenophobic America-First-and-our-allies-be-damned foreign policy.
2. The “micro” issues that voters sit around their kitchen tables worrying about, such as healthcare and its subsets—the cost of prescription drugs and pre-existing condition coverage, guns and school safety, paying for college for their kids and crippling student debt, and static wages and job security. Tens of millions of Americans wake up every day and go to bed every night obsessing about these matters.
Note. Some issues such as immigration cut both ways, directly affecting certain demographic cohorts but not the majority of voters.
In the 2018 elections, Democrats were wise to focus on the micro issues and dispense with the macro ones. It enabled them to flip 41 House of Representatives seats. It is the kitchen table concerns that resonate.
Democrats running for President and Congress need to harp on these issues and not spend a lot of time, energy or money on the more abstract concerns of Americans. Similarly, it is not necessary to keep reminding voters of Donald Trump’s 16,125 lies (and counting), corruption, boorishness, incompetence and bad and deeply embarrassing behavior. He is guaranteed to do a stellar job of that all by himself (see, e.g., Coronavirus). That is all the focus needed.
When zeroing in on kitchen table issues, Dems should point out the many bills they have passed in the House to address these problems that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow to be voted on in his chamber. They include the following small sample of more than 300 House-passed bills (many bipartisan) now wasting away in McConnell’s Senate graveyard:
H.R. 986—Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act of 2019
H.R. 987—Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (see also H.R. 1503 and H.R. 1520)
H.R. 271—Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Health Care
H.R. 8—Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019
H.R. 1112—Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019
H.R. 987—Raise the Wage Act
H.R. 2722—Securing America’s Federal Elections Act
This list demonstrates beyond any doubt which party has the core interests of American voters in mind and why taking back the White House, flipping the Senate and retaining control of the House is so important. Absent Democratic control of the White House and Congress, none of these kitchen table issues stands a chance of being addressed.
When addressing these issues, Dems should also point out why Republicans don’t want these bills to become law. Voters also need to know that Trump and his Republican accomplices are blatantly lying when they claim, for example, that they want to protect pre-existing condition coverage, or that election security laws are unnecessary because Russia et al. are not trying to scuttle our democracy.
Dems running for any federal office need to highlight all of this repeatedly between now and November. This is a winning formula. It is also one Republicans fear.
February 28, 2020