This was in The New York Times this past week:
“Democrats are for a bunch of freeloaders in this world as far as I’m concerned,” said Gari Day, 63, an Avis bus driver from suburban Detroit. “Republicans make you work for your money, and try to let you keep it.”
Mr. Day is oversimplifying quite a bit (think of Republican supported corporate welfare), but he’s concise and articulate. And he’s right about a key thing. Freeloaders are demoralizing to hard working people, and the Democratic Party shouldn’t be enabling them. Government assistance should be conditioned on work and responsibility–a social contract–and taxation should never be onerous.
Democrats have a terrific opportunity going forward because the demographics of the country are going their way (Millenials, Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and women are all growing parts of the electorate, and trend Democratic). But Democrats will scupper their advantages if it seems like they’re just for wealth transfer from the rich to the poor.
Thus Democrats need to take budget control seriously, support justice for the working poor, and not let anyone freeload on the system. This latter point can perhaps be tied in with compulsory military or national service for the children of the rich, the middle class, and the poor alike. Before the age of 30, no one should escape some form of national service for 2 years. It builds a national culture and puts everybody in the same boat. And for the qualifying poor, 2 or 4 years of service can translate (say) into 2 or 4 years of free college or technical training.
In any case, no one in America should be laying around collecting a check from the government, and no one should be untouchable (rich, beyond the law, and aloof to working side-by-side with people from lower classes, at least for 2 years of their lives).
In short, if the Democratic Party retooled its brand in such a way that it could attract the vote of Gari Day (the gentleman quoted in the NYT), Republicans would be forced to run to the center as well, and our collective politics in the United States would be less divisive and hate-filled.
People like fairness and inclusion. The party that gives that to them most consistently will win the future.