Congratulations Delaware Democrats! Now It’s Time To Actually Govern Like Democrats

Stephanie Hansen and her team ran a fantastic race to get to her win for SD10 on Saturday and are to be congratulated.  They worked hard and capitalized on the fact that Dems (and some Rs) were fired up and ready to go — ready to vote their values after watching those values come up short in November, and watching those values be shredded day by day by the 45 Administration.

We all know the pitch that we have to vote for Democrats because the Republicans are simply not going to care about you and your life.  But we also have the real disconnect here in Delaware where the same thing seems true for Democrats as well.  Our elected Democrats can be reliable votes for civil rights votes, but not very reliable votes when it comes to helping Delaware families — or our middle class, working class or poor.  Elected Democrats have not been especially forward looking on the environment, education, transportation — feel free to add to the list.  And my theory is that if Democrats don’t govern like Democrats, they are going to struggle for votes in a climate where too many people are simply not going to be able to inventory their lives and note the places where Democrats worked to help them.

Now part of this criticism is not fair — the ACA has been a real help to many people, even as flawed as it is.  But its flaws became apparent quickly and most Democrats (certainly Carney, Coons and Carper)  weren’t especially useful in pushing for this to get better.  Senator Carper was one of several Democrats who voted against a Public Option, which would have helped make all other insurances in a marketplace more competitive.  Instead, we have the issues with premium increases and deductible explosion that a public option was designed to help manage.  You could see this as the perfect example of Democrats abandoning their own ideals — the ACA should have been an unalloyed good for poor, working class and middle class people who couldn’t get coverage otherwise and yet a handful of Dems — Carper included — voted for the interests of insurance companies.

That just can’t happen if we are going make a difference in the lives of the people who vote for Democrats.  Compromising away the public option was not about helping the people Democrats say they want to help.  It destroyed a potential bit of competitiveness that gave insurance companies all of the cards.  More broadly, it can be pretty hard to see where Democrats get much at all out of this current calculus — yes, we still hold all three branches of government so how do we remember that we are supposed to be representing the people that voted for you?

I’ve seen ads touting Senator Hansen helping to show the rest of the country what The Delaware Way looks like.  With all due respect, I’m going to suggest that is not Senator Hansen’s job.  The rest of the US already has the Delaware Way — where the interests of wealthy people and corporations all too often take precedence over the needs of the working people who still power this economy.  And I wouldn’t take this “working across the aisle” thing too far.  The GOP showed by blocking Shawn Garvin exactly how they would plan to govern of the Dems lost.  There was nothing in blocking Mr. Garvin that was about working across the aisle or even about protecting the environment.  It was about throwing their weight around no matter what might have been the better choice for Delaware’s working people.  Just remember — If they tell you who they are, you need to take them at their word on it.

Democratic governing — governing for working people — starts and ends with the Budget.  If this budget gets more money from seniors and smokers than it does from the states’ most upper-income residents, this is not a Democratic budget.  If this budget needs to partially balance on the backs of state workers and their families, this is not a Democratic budget.  If this budget provides more subsidies to developers and corporations than it does to the state’s poor kids, this is not a Democratic budget.  Democratic budgets are not defensive budgets — at least while not in an economic crisis.  Democratic budgets have come from places like California and Minnesota who did increase taxes on their wealthiest citizens and who have economies that are doing pretty well.  These economies need some evolution to make them work for all of their families as well — but they have been laying the foundation slowly but surely to get there.

We all get that Delaware’s economy needs to grow.  Most of us get that there is a group of Delaware taxpayers who have been shouldering the burden of much of this lack of growth and while continue to witness the spectacle of Democrats bending over backwards to protect those who can most afford to pay more.   It is working people that Democrats have to work so hard at getting to vote and it is working people whose interests are last on the list when electeds get to Dover. Do you want to expand the pool of Democrats in this Blue State? Do you want to make it easier for people to choose Democrats to govern?  Then you have to govern like Democrats.  Do the work that helps improve the most number of working class, middle class and poor people’s lives; show people that you care about making sure they have every chance to thrive and just stop trying to play this game on the GOP’s terms.  They are the only ones who win at that, I don’t care how many elections you win.  Get out of your defensive crouch, remember that we expect you to lead and reclaim your work — work for the most of us who need a government that will value work rather than wealth.

12 comments on “Congratulations Delaware Democrats! Now It’s Time To Actually Govern Like Democrats

  1. Don Peterson

    What a thoughtful and articulate essay on what is wrong with the Democratic party, both nationally and here in Delaware! Thank you!

  2. Amen to all of this…

  3. Thomas O'Hagan

    Thank you for writing this well written critique of what is wrong with the Democratic Party in Delaware and in many other parts of the country as well. They have become a party of professionals who support themselves, local businesses and banks. They have forgotten their roots. The huge budget deficit facing Delaware could be mitigated substantially if the legislature would consider: adding two new upper brackets to the state income tax raising approximately $130 million, increasing the franchise tax on large corporations adding approximately $30 million, and legalizing pot which would take money away from organized crime and provide approximately $6 million to the state. In addition, given the state of Delawares infrastructure and demands for more, the legislature should reexamine the need for an increase in the state gas tax. If it is raised it should be placed in a separate escrow account with the legislation written to prevent its use for anything but infrastructure capital repair and improvements. No stealing it years later for some special purpose as yet unknown.

    • These are excellent ideas. Have you been to any of Carney’s Budget meetings to convey these? I know from the one I attended, it seemed that the ideas weren’t really welcome and that he was laying the groundwork for some Trickle Down scheme.

      • Having been to one myself, I can say that it was less of a democratic meeting of minds and more of a lecture from on high, telling us how Carney thinks the budget should be solved, not how the people want it to be solved.

      • Thomas O'Hagan

        I mentioned the first two to him in person after the election and before he was sworn in. He was obviously not interested. I have also mentioned it to Schwarzkopf and Lopez and they were not interested either. In fact Schwarzkopf refused to give me his position on these ideas when I asked him, as a constituent of his, before the election.

  4. Certainly local Democrats could solve some of their turnout AND volunteer problems if people could connect voting for Democrats to real improvements in their own lives.

    • Exactly this. People in this state and in this country want a change and it behooves the Dems to be true to the principals that have come to define their party and be out on the forefront, aggressively fighting for the rights and welfare of the middle and working class (of all races, not just the white one!) against the depredations of a system designed to benefit a very small, very wealthy few.

  5. Elaine Smith

    Leslie Wimes nailed it in this NPR interview with David Greene.

    • I heard that this AM and thought she could have been way more thoughtful here. First, Tom Perez is not DWS by any stretch. He’s a well-thought of Civil Rights lawyer, got a lot of worker-oriented stuff done at the Department of Labor — and DWS has nowhere near this kind of cred. Dismissing Ellison as a gopher in the role of Deputy only ended up diminishing Ellison, which was not cool either. Tom Perez is a progressive that has actually gotten real stuff done for Americans who needed it and I can’t fathom why that makes him The Establishment.

      • I am completely baffled by how people have turned Perez into “the establishment”. Then I speak with them and realize they have no idea who Tom Perez is or what he’s done. They’re really doing him a disservice. Not to mention how many of these same people cheered when Obama chose him.

        And you’re correct. They are diminishing Ellison? Why do that? I see a great team here.

        I can’t believe, with everything we have to work on, that this is the hill people are willing to die on. And, like I’ve repeatedly said, I was fine with all the candidates. I liked all of them. Turning people who agree with you 98% of the time into the enemy isn’t a winning strategy.

        • One of the things that progressives have to do is to stop waiting for their messiah every four years. And turning the DNC Chair into another messiah hunt was not useful. The thing is that right now is a great moment to organize and push Ds for better behavior. You don’t need the DNC for that.

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