The Only Way Democrats Can Win in 2022 and 2024 and Save Our Democracy
The Democrats’ number one priority must be to win in 2022 and 2024. They must not lose sight of that absolute priority. American democracy depends on keeping authoritarian, dishonest Trumpist Republicans in the minority and out of the White House. That imperative requires being much less ideological and much more practical. It requires compromising on key issues in a way that will attract many moderate Republican voters without abandoning essential Democratic values and goals. The focus must be on real, practical solutions, not on left-wing ideological obsessions which will never be enacted and which would not in any case prove effective. The areas of required rational compromise are 1) illegal immigration, uncontrolled mass migration, and asylum; 2) mass shootings and gun control; 3) abortion; 4) poverty and welfare; 5) taxation; 6) climate change; 7) national voter #ID cards; 8) creating a top-notch national police academy; 9) critical race theory; 10) greatly upgrading public school education along with curriculum reform and instituting a prestigious national high school graduation exam to ensure uniform national excellence.
Also of critical importance is to reach a national bipartisan consensus that celebrating our national accomplishments must be accompanied by an honest, objective admission and analysis of our national failures due to the incompetence of both Democratic and Republican administrations, together with a serious effort to find effective solutions to deal with those failures and avoid future ones. We must not brainwash ourselves with mindless, frenetic patriotic propaganda which ignores our failures and weaknesses, typical of Trumpist Republican propaganda, otherwise we will never be “great”, only a self-congratulatory nation of hypocrisy and engrained flaws, doomed to mediocrity and dictatorship. It’s up to the Democrats to take the initiative in a high profile, unbiased, intelligent manner. That would help them win the 2022 and 2024 elections.
The Democrats must understand it is their very own failures that led to Trumpism. Had eight years of Obama solved many of our nation’s social, economic, and foreign policy problems, Trump would not have been elected. They also must realize that populism, of the right and left, is the result of a very mediocre public school education, as is our deepening social, economic, and political divide. If they fail to address the central problem of half our population being undereducated due to mediocre public schools, they will continue to fail while governing and will inevitably lose elections to demagogic Republicans who have no solutions, but are effective propagandists targeting the undereducated. There is a high probability that should Trumpist Republicans regain Congress and the White House, they will undertake to install themselves as leaders of a durable dictatorship, very difficult to overturn.
Democracies need a well-educated population to thrive. Having half the population undereducated and vulnerable to authoritarian con men and wild conspiracy theories is asking for real trouble. Our problem is Democrats have done nothing to greatly improve public education and greatly reduce poverty, proposing only ineffective left-wing programs. And they have done nothing to make sure their own political candidates are truly highly qualified. To be truly qualified requires, at a minimum, being able to identify and knowledgeably discuss all our major mistakes in economic, social, and foreign policy over the past 100 years, and explain which would have been the correct policies. Not one Democratic political candidate has been qualified by that logical standard. Of course, neither has any Republican political candidate. There lies the root of our incompetent governments over half a century.
It is a reflection of our nation’s inadequacies that no one is proposing that all political candidates be highly qualified in order to be allowed to run for office. And that not one of our universities has created a very demanding advanced degree for political candidates, imparting the knowledge and analytic capabilities required for being a highly qualified political candidate. Instead, our nation’s current consensus is that just being a lawyer or celebrity makes one qualified. How does just being a lawyer or celebrity make one qualified, i.e., highly knowledgeable and competent in economic, social, and foreign policy? Of course it does not. It is a sad reflection of our nation’s lack of political common sense and low average level of education that we have gone so far as to elect as president a candidate who refused to release his college transcripts, as well as candidates for Congress who are veritable ignoramuses and adherents to wild conspiracy theories.
To win in 2022 and 2024, the Democrats must absolutely avoid being characterized as socialists. They are even being accused by many Republicans of being communists, typical loose language of undereducated or narrowly educated people. Democrats must loudly repudiate socialism while committing themselves to solving the nation’s problems in a non-ideological manner. They must understand that our urgent problems cannot be solved through socialism, contrary to the persuasion of leftist Democrats. All Democrats must understand that socialism is unacceptable to most Americans and is a political loser. Their leadership must be centrist, like Biden, preferably even more than Biden who at times engages in absurd, counterproductive, socialistic bashing of profits and wealth. Profits and wealth are the essence of free enterprise, and indispensable for investment and economic growth. For the moment, Biden is by far the best, most qualified and most competent Democrat, precisely because of his much-maligned advanced age: he has learned much from his long experience. Furthermore, he was the only Democrat who could beat Trump in 2020, precisely because he was the most centrist. And he was the only president capable of solidifying NATO against Russian aggression. To win in 2022 and 2024, Democrats must rally around his practical centrism, even accentuate it.
I. The solution to our asylum problem is simple and logical, acceptable to rational Democrats and Republicans. It consists of requiring all asylum applications be made at U.S. consulates in the country of residence, barring applications at our borders. This requirement avoids having great numbers of migrants massing at our border with Mexico, and sparing them long and often dangerous journeys from their country of origin. It avoids the current absurd practice of letting migrants into the United States while their asylum requests are considered, a process often taking many months and even years. This simple, practical, logical measure would be applauded by all common sense Republicans and Democrats. There is no valid rationale to oppose such measure. The Democrats have only themselves to blame for inflaming Republicans on this issue, losing to Trump in 2016 and risking the 2022 and 2024 elections.
Beyond requiring asylum applications to be made at our consulates in the country of residence, our asylum law should be properly applied. Asylum, created in response to the Holocaust, is legally available only for individuals being persecuted by their own government, not for any other reason. Our law does not offer asylum to those fleeing poverty and crime, yet our bureaucracy has been violating asylum law requirements, granting asylum to individuals fleeing poverty and violence in their country of residence. Democrats would stay true to their principles while satisfying most Republicans by simply requiring all asylum requests to be made at our consulates, not at our borders, and by making clear to all foreigners that according to our laws asylum can be granted only to individuals persecuted by their own governments. Since there is practically no government persecution in Central America or Mexico, we would have very few valid asylum requests from that region. Visas must always be applied for at our consulates in the country of residence, why not also asylum requests?
Requiring all visa and asylum requests to be made at our consulates in the country of residence along with having all visa and asylum grants entered into an online government register would practically eliminate the migrants problem, since deportation would be immediate, with no administrative or judicial review available for those not having been granted visas or asylum, there being no need for fact checking beyond online verification.
The migrants problem is a national problem, not a local one. The Biden Administration should be taking charge, handling it and paying for all costs incurred by states and localities. It is unfair and unreasonable for them to have to shoulder the costs incurred from dealing with illegal migrants. Biden and the Democrats must not give the impression of being for open borders if they want to win the 2022 and 2024 elections. Republican concerns are legitimate. Biden must take decisive action without delay and make clear to everyone in Central America and Mexico that migrants without visas and asylum permits issued by American consulates abroad will not be allowed to enter the country. If they manage to enter the country illegally, they will be penalized (denied all future rights to visas and asylum) and deported. Biden must publish immigration quotas for all to see and rigorously enforce them.
We always regulated immigration with quotas in the past, a logical and moral system, which should not be abandoned. No civilized nation has open borders, anywhere in the world, for good reason. Biden and the Democrats should loudly announce that they are not for open borders and illegal immigration. This is absolutely essential, not only to discourage migrants, but also to reassure Republican voters and reduce the political divide. Democrats must realize that it is socially and politically destabilizing to have excessive numbers of immigrants in any given year or number of years, particularly when there are many American citizens having economic difficulties and feeling ignored or abandoned by their government.
Democrats, justly feeling compassion for the plight of migrants, should complement asylum reform by proposing a major Peace Corps effort to help poor Central American countries develop economically and socially, through investments in education and infrastructure. That would attack the roots of migration and illegal immigration by greatly increasing economic and social prosperity in those countries. That would also greatly enhance our image worldwide and make us proud. Two-year, well-paid Peace Corps tours would no doubt appeal to many recent college graduates, making their lives more meaningful and providing valuable experience for success in the global economy. There should also be a domestic America Corps, providing tutoring for public school students having academic difficulties, beautifying our cities, roads, and highways, providing in-home assistance for the elderly and infirm, and helping staff child care centers. Both the Peace and America Corps would be extremely valuable programs providing enormous economic, social, and foreign policy dividends, and actually lead to stronger economic growth, lower budget deficits, and lower taxes.
II. The real solution for our gun violence and mass shootings problem is not gun control, since black markets always exist, as proven by the fact that making addictive drugs illegal has been a complete failure. Rather, the solution lies in greatly reducing the number of mentally disturbed and alienated, the only ones who commit gun violence. The only way to greatly reduce the number of mentally disturbed is through 4-year high school courses in psychology complemented by “group therapy” and “good parenting” workshops, coupled with individual attention to students having psychological difficulties. Why continue to waste time arguing over gun control when the real solution lies elsewhere? Logical Democrats and Republicans will all agree on a rational, effective policy for violence prevention. Furthermore, greatly reducing the number of mentally disturbed has enormous benefits beyond eliminating violence in general and mass shootings: it would greatly reduce the number of addicts and criminals of all sorts, saving enormous amounts spent on therapy, policing, and incarceration, and be a significant boost to the economy thanks to the increased productivity of a much more well-adjusted citizenry. (One must distinguish between mentally disturbed and mentally ill.)
Gun control is simply a divisive ideological issue, not a real solution. Mentally well-adjusted individuals are not violent, even if they own guns. So, Democrats should drop arguing for gun control, in favor of a truly workable policy that many Republicans would support: preventive mental health provided by 4-year psychology courses in all high schools. Prevention is the operative word. As a nation, inexplicably and inexcusably, we have done nothing for prevention in order to greatly reduce the number of mentally disturbed, alienated, and unloved citizens. We irresponsibly routinely abandon mentally disturbed and alienated youth. Then we are shocked when tragedy repeatedly occurs: violence, mass shootings, addiction, rape, and suicide. We stupidly continue to not emphasize prevention. It’s idiotic.
III. The real way to get rid of the abortion divide is to focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies. The concept of prevention seems to have been forgotten by Americans. Since most unwanted pregnancies (and abortions) involve high school dropouts, the only sustainable solution is to prevent dropouts. That requires turning every single public school into an elite school, with individual attention for students having academic or psychological difficulties. In fact, psychologically well-adjusted and academically focused youth are responsible and careful, they hardly ever have unwanted pregnancies. Additionally, Democrats must make clear to Republicans that making abortions illegal will not prevent them, just like making addictive drugs illegal has not worked, since there are always black markets. Why keep wasting time on ideological debates, when the solution is non-ideological, except for cases of rape and incest? Eliminate most unwanted pregnancies, and you eliminate most abortions. How could Republicans object to a focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies?
IV. The real, sustainable solution to our widespread poverty and welfare problem is to focus on turning every single public school into an elite school with an enlightened curriculum, strict class discipline, lots of homework, individual attention to students having academic and psychological difficulties, and school uniforms. Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the “War on Poverty” in 1965, and what have the results been since then, under a succession of Democratic and Republican presidents? Total failure. Why? Because the focus has not been on providing every single youth with a great education. The result has been increasing high school dropouts, unwanted pregnancies, addiction, poverty, unemployment, violence, crime, record numbers of incarcerated citizens, big spending on policing and welfare, big budget deficits, high taxes, and much lower economic growth. Democrats must realize that poverty and crime are a function of education. The poor are not well educated, and that is the fault of both Democratic and Republican administrations. Democrats must finally focus on greatly improving our public schools. Democrats must finally wake up and prioritize turning every single public school into an elite school, as good as the best private schools, with an enlightened curriculum, strict class discipline, and lots of homework. That would finally lead to much greater social and economic prosperity, much less political strife, much less government spending, and much lower taxation. Everybody happy.
V. The Democrats must drop their ideological class-warfare insistence on higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy. No more “soak the rich!” clamor. Where would we be as a nation without many highly profitable companies and wealthy citizens, responsible for most investment? We’d be a poor, backwards country. The more profits and incomes are taxed, the less private investment there is. Private investment is the key to economic growth and technological progress. Not only would higher taxes not work, but proposing higher taxes is one of the best ways to lose elections. Democrats need to keep in mind that the wealthy use tax shelters to avoid paying high taxes, so there is no point in insisting on higher taxes, it only drives away many voters. Furthermore, tax shelters reduce the nation’s productive output, by misallocating capital away from productive investments. They result in a waste of the nation’s capital, lower economic growth, and lower tax revenues. Democrats must also keep in mind that corporate profits are necessary for investment, therefore increasing taxes on them is counterproductive economically. Instead of bashing drug companies for charging a lot for new therapeutic drugs and wanting to raise their taxes which would only reduce their research and development spending for new drugs, Democrats should propose providing consumers with government rebates for expensive drugs, financed through QE, not through higher taxes. To make pharmaceutical companies responsible for drug affordability in a competitive free market economy is illogical and counterproductive, as it reduces funds available for research.
Furthermore, Democrats must drop their obsession with financing budget deficits through higher taxes, a recipe for slower growth and higher budget deficits, and understand that QE financing by the Federal Reserve is optimal whenever there is slack, i.e., unemployment and unused productive capacity. Furthermore, QE is not inflationary so long as it is not excessive, i.e. not creating excess aggregate demand. In fact, from 2009 up to the beginning of the Covid crisis in 2020, we had enormous QE financing of our budget deficits, yet record low inflation and interest rates, contrary to the expectations of mainstream economists.
The Democratic Party and the Federal Reserve should also realize that reducing the current inflation, which is caused by Covid supply-chain disruptions and high oil, gas, and grain prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, does not require causing a recession through higher taxes and higher interest rates, which would only increase our budget deficits and unemployment, an illogical trade-off. The proper policy response is not causing a recession, but solving the Covid supply-chain disruptions and increasing our production of oil, gas, and grains. In other words, increase supply, not reduce demand. (Democrats must realize that oil and natural gas are a necessary bridge to 100% green energy.)
To ensure victory in 2022 and 2024, Democrats should propose eliminating long-term capital gains taxes because they are economically counterproductive by reducing investment and even consumption, leading to lower sales tax revenues. Also because they are unfair since many long-term capital gains are due to inflation. Furthermore, those taxes lead to all sorts of tax shelter schemes for the wealthy. Mostly, capital gains taxes affect middle-class Americans, not the ultra-wealthy who routinely use legal tax shelters. Think of homeowners who need to move, and find that after capital gains taxes the proceeds from the sale of their home are grossly insufficient to buy an equivalent home. For example, the average single-family home in 1970 cost around $22,000. Today, the average cost is $440,000, 20 times more. A citizen wanting to move and selling a family home purchased in 1970 will have to pay enormous capital gains taxes, and be left with after-tax gains totally insufficient to buy a comparable house somewhere else. That is extremely unfair and illogical. The entire capital gain is illusory, due to inflation. There is no real capital gain. The same goes for long-term capital gains taxes on stocks. Many civilized, economically advanced nations eliminate capital gains taxes on real estate and stocks held for over 5 years. At the very least, the United States should do the same. But total elimination would be best, leading to tax fairness and increased economic growth. Eliminating long-term capital gains taxes would be a big vote winner for Democrats.
Democrats should keep in mind that income taxes reduce consumption, thereby reducing sales tax revenues. Lower income taxes lead to increased consumption and higher sales tax revenues, a significant offset. The wealthy are big spenders, generating lots of sales taxes and employment. Consideration should be given to replacing federal income taxes with a federal sales tax (retail and B-to-B) of between 5% and 10%, depending on the state of the national economy. The Federal Reserve, instead of relying exclusively on raising or lowering interest rates (a very imprecise tool for regulating the economy with negative side-effects), would be given the authority to raise or lower the federal sales tax, a much more precise tool with no negative side-effects. To ensure progressive sales taxation, the IRS could mail annual sales tax rebates (prebates) to all low-income citizens every January. The end result would be that low-income citizens end up paying no sales taxes, while high-income citizens end up paying more taxes through a federal sales tax than they were through income taxes, not having tax shelters. That’s tax fairness and pro-growth. Replacing federal income taxes with a 5–10% federal sales tax would most probably be very popular with Republicans and Democrats alike, and propel the Democrats to wins in 2022 and 2024.
Democrats should also propose eliminating the estate tax, which is unconstitutional since 1) it is essentially a tax on private property in violation of the 5th Amendment’s “no taking” clause (it is clearly not an “excise tax on the transfer of estate assets”, as the estate tax law misleadingly asserts); and since 2) it taxes property accumulated through after-tax income, effectively double-taxation. Apart from being very unfair to everyone, it affects mainly upper-middle and middle-class Americans, since the wealthy avoid the estate tax through tax shelter schemes. Furthermore, estate taxes are anti-growth, since they reduce private investment and consumption. Eliminating the estate tax would be a big vote winner for Democrats.
VI. Democrats should realize that fossil fuels, particularly oil and natural gas, are an unavoidable bridge to a “green” economy. The focus should be on increasing pollution controls while incentivizing investments in solar, wind, hydro, and electric transportation, so that “green energy” replaces fossil fuels as soon as possible. That would win over Republicans.
VII. Democrats should propose high-tech national photo ID cards, which would eliminate any Republican concerns of non-citizens voting in our elections. Such cards could contain important personal health information, very useful in case of medical emergencies. They are essential for national security. Most civilized nations have national ID cards, and they have not led to privacy abuses. How can Democrats rationally be opposed to them? Is the federal government so incompetent as to not be capable of issuing national ID cards to every citizen in a year at most, in time for the 2024 elections? The ID cards would also simplify the task of employers to make sure they are not employing illegal aliens. Illegal aliens without criminal records living and working here for more than a year prior to the national ID card legislation could be given temporary Green Cards, renewable subject to good behavior.
VIII. Democrats should take the initiative of proposing the creation of a very well run National Police Academy, which would ensure a high level of vetting, training, and certifying of all police officers; would lead to uniformly good policing across the nation; and would eliminate excessive use of force and abusiveness by the police. States and localities would appreciate receiving high quality, cost-free training of their police force. And citizens would be reassured that the police would be highly trained and highly qualified nationwide, and that incidents of excessive force and abuse of power would be eliminated. Republican voters would no doubt agree on the merits of a high quality National Police Academy. That would be another vote getter for the Democrats.
IX. Democrats should propose having a high school course on the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights accompanied by the world history of human rights violations instead of a course on critical race theory. Critical race theory is very divisive and counterproductive, focusing only on slavery in the United States and failing to show that the roots of slavery and all sorts of human rights violations come not from White Americans, but from antiquity and, surprisingly, from the holy books of monotheism. Slavery, for example, was institutionalized by the Bible with Moses’ laws. Focusing instead on the world history of human rights violations does not single out any racial or national group for condemnation, thereby removing objections to being targeted, and provides a much-needed understanding of how humanity has developed through the ages. It’s the most effective way to end racism, religious, sexual, and gender discriminations.
X. Democrats should propose making every single public school an elite school, understanding that requires every school to have an enlightened curriculum, strict class discipline, lots of homework, school uniforms, and individual attention given to all students having academic or psychological difficulties. What would be an enlightened high school curriculum, taught nationwide? One that includes the following four-year courses: 1) psychology (taught in conjunction with “group therapy” and “good parenting” workshops); 2) detailed, analytic 20th Century history; 3) economics/finance/investing; 4) history of art/architecture/design; 5) history of music; 6) the United Nations’ Charter and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 7) the world history of human rights violations; 8) comparative religion studied through direct readings of the holy books along with the history of the major religions; 9) logic and critical thinking; 10) ethics and empathy; 11) foreign languages and cultures; 12) introductory and Constitutional law; 13) Latin; 14) the major mistakes in economic, social, and foreign policy of the past 100 years.
Democrats should accompany a proposal of public school curriculum reform with a proposal to institute a prestigious national high school graduation exam which would promote uniformly high educational standards nationwide. We cannot afford to have educational backwaters. We need every single youth to get a truly excellent high school education as a minimum. That is essential for equal opportunity. That is a prerequisite for a socially and economically prosperous society with no political strife, which should be our priority. Those two proposals would be very popular with many centrist Republicans.
Democrats must constantly keep in mind the priority of saving our democracy, which requires ditching ineffective ideological policies and adopting logical, practical solutions that many Republicans would enthusiastically agree with. If Democrats fail to win in 2022 and 2024, they will have only themselves and their divisive unworkable ideologies to blame, particularly in the aftermath of January 6.
We can’t count on the Republican Party to save our democracy. Worrisomely, Republican state legislatures controlling various swing states are planning to enact legislation to override citizen votes for presidential electors, substituting them with electors selected by the state legislatures, guaranteeing Republican presidential electors even when the popular vote is in favor of the Democratic presidential candidate. That override of the popular vote for president in a particular state is allowed by an archaic provision of the Constitution, Article II, Section 1 (2). That provision, empowering the state legislatures at the expense of the voting citizens, made sense in 1789 when very few Americans were educated and most could hardly read and write. But today it is extremely anachronistic and undemocratic to eliminate the primacy of the popular vote. So, it is imperative for the Democrats to win many of the swing states in order to limit the number of Republican state legislatures in 2022 and 2024, otherwise the president may end up not being elected by the voters. They had better be smart, realizing that left-wing policies have not solved our social problems, and only help Republicans win elections. The Democrats must become a solid party of the center, not of the left, with practical, effective, non-ideological policies, emphasizing that Republicans are against voters.
Finally, Biden should challenge Putin and Xi to separate live Zoom free-wheeling debates (televised and online with simultaneous translation chyrons) with no moderator, only a chess stop-clock with one hour speaking time allotted to each president. In these perilous times, the world is entitled to know exactly what the leaders of the world’s super powers think, directly from them. Biden would easily win world public opinion, since dictators have no moral cards to play, particularly those who were committed communists repeatedly violating the U.N.’s Charter and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then turned fascistic. If Putin and Xi decline to participate, Biden should show up anyway for the 2-hour debates, with cardboard cutouts of Putin and Xi placed on nearby chairs, and proceed with his statements followed by answering questions from the global press. Whether or not Putin and Xi participate, Biden wins politically both globally and domestically, gaining great stature. And he possibly staves off continued war in Ukraine and an attack on Taiwan, ushering in a period of much reduced Russian and Chinese aggressiveness and violations of international law.
© Edward Sonnino 2022
July 21, 2022