By Ralph Nader
There is something about entrenched bureaucracies that transcend nations and cultures. When bureaucracies are confronted with unanticipated or new challenges, they freeze – like a deer facing headlights.
Sears, Roebuck and Company saw Walmart coming out of Arkansas for years and spreading all over the country, but the Sears bosses could not adjust to deal with this swarming business model. Sears, once the premium retail and mail order company in the nation, is now almost gone.
The lumbering General Motors (GM) had years to confront the electric car challenge of Tesla. Tiny Tesla took on giant GM, which built electric cars as prototypes long before Elon Musk was born. GM launched the much-troubled Chevrolet Volt and other converted model brands, but Musk isn’t losing any sleep over competition from GM or the other giant auto manufacturers. He just reported last quarter sales of over 300,000 electric vehicles, which means expected sales of well over one million dollars in 2022 or 50% over the previous year. Tesla’s profits are skyrocketing as well, as more Tesla manufacturing plants open. The GM bureaucracy, under CEO-engineer Mary Barra, just can’t put it together no matter its bold promises to convert to all electric vehicles.
Similarly, the national Democratic Party bureaucrats are inept or bewildered. With its record-setting campaign fundraising, the Party can’t seem to figure out how to go on the offensive against the overtly lying, cruel, corrupt, law-breaking, Wall Street over Main Street, Trumpian Republican Party. GOP fictions are fabricated and reinforced with wild falsifications – e.g., critical race theory being taught in elementary schools, Democratic politicians wanting to defund the police, Democrats being “socialists,” and the latest, that Democrats support teaching gay rights and gay lifestyles to early elementary school children. These accusations have left the Democratic apparatchiks tongue-tied. They can neither come up with easily pummeling rebuttals, exciting slogans, nor even authentic boasting about delivered and proposed social safety net and infrastructure programs that provide necessary assistance. How hard is it to boast about the $300 per month to over 60 million children cut off by GOP Congressional callousness? Or a $15 minimum wage? Or good-paying jobs repairing and expanding public services for all workers also opposed by the GOP?
Article after article in the mainstream media depicts the Democratic Party as depressed, discouraged and predicting their own defeat in the November election. They are searching for effective “messaging” by looking over each other’s shoulders.
Bear in mind that many of their Republican opponents are political crooks, law violators and voter suppressors. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who is in charge of the Senate November campaigns, wants to tax 100 million low-income Americans and sunset Social Security and Medicare. (See, Senator Scott’s An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America).
Democratic political operatives are frantic and down in the dumps. Yet they cling to their corporate-conflicted consultancies that are making it worse for themselves. Facing their self-fulfilling prophecies of November doom in the Senate and the House, they are still not welcoming the advice and know-how of the civic community, which fifty years ago worked with the Democratic Party to enact the fundamental consumer, environmental and worker safety legislation.
GOP strategists mock the Democrats regularly as not having a clue as to what ordinary Americans want. Unfortunately, whether it is arrogance, stupidity or historical ignorance, the Dems rarely return calls of civic leaders who know how to connect with Americans where they live, work and raise their families.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the mainstream media has excluded the activities and reports by these national and state organizations. They gave coverage to the work of these groups in the past.
Can, at the very least, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and its network of related federal and state committees, pollsters, fundraisers and consultants learn from Harry S. Truman in his underdog 1948 presidential campaign against the former prosecutor and New York Governor Thomas Dewey? Pollsters and pundits described Truman as a sure loser and a has-been. Southern segregationists or Dixiecrats walked out of the Democratic nominating convention and formed their States’ Rights Party.
These setbacks just got “Give-Em Hell Harry” underway. He called Congress back into session so he could show the public the differences between his policies and the retrograde Republicans. As related in Robert Kuttner’s new book, Going Big, Truman pushed “…legislation on housing, aid to education, a higher minimum wage, development and reclamation programs for the South and West, increased Social Security, and expanded public power.” With these popular hammers, Truman provoked the fierce opposition of what he repeatedly called, the “do-nothing 80th Congress,” controlled by Republicans, and set the stage for highlighting sharp differences with the GOP in his presidential campaign.
Come September 1948, Truman spent 33 days covering 21,928 miles on the railroad campaign trail, attacking the Republicans and their “big money boys.” In Dexter, Iowa, Kuttner reports, “he told a crowd of some ninety thousand people” (outdoors):
“I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who’s hitting you? …These Republican gluttons of privilege are cold men. They are cunning men…They want a return of the Wall Street dictatorship…I’m not asking you to vote for me. Vote for yourselves.”
This was the language of class warfare that still resonates as well in 2022 as it did in 1948 or in 1933. The Democrats can even quote mega-billionaire Warren Buffett who candidly said there is class warfare in America, “…but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
The Democrats have memories of many inept races for the White House and the Congress that they should have won handily over the last 25 years. What they should remind themselves of now is how the FDR, Truman and LBJ Democrats won their elections against much more tame Republicans than the now vicious, snarling, anything goes GOP candidates that have turned themselves into Trumpian lackeys.