Democrats have a very real opportunity to see Nancy Pelosi return to the helm as Speaker of the House if they are willing to use the lessons that 2013 gave them. Below are five key issues that any Democratic candidate for Congress should learn by heart if he or she wants to help give President Barack Obama a Democratically-led Congress for the remainder of his presidency.
For the love of all that is holy, it is time for all congressional Democratic candidates to embrace the Affordable Care Act. By next November, millions of Americans will have access to affordable care, the large majority for the first time in their lives. Millions of people, including millions of children, can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. Any Congressional Democratic candidate should hammer home the fact that his or her opponent wants to take away this coverage and has no viable alternative in place. This is a huge issue and it has the opportunity to bring many people to the polls in rural areas that would have either voted Republican or wouldn’t have voted had it not been for their new affordable health care.
Any Democratic candidate running against a sitting Republican member of Congress needs to go on an all-out offensive about the lack of action taken by Republicans in regards to employment in this country. Specifically, it needs to be mentioned that these Republican candidates ran on a platform of job creation and that absolutely nothing has been done in that regard in the past three years. Although it was Republicans in the Senate who essentially killed the American Jobs Act in 2011, Congressional Democratic candidates need to hammer home that it is the Republican Party as a whole that seems unwilling to come up with a viable way to create jobs in the country. This is an especially important message in local communities that may be struggling with high unemployment.
3. LGBT Rights
Congressional Democratic candidates should also hammer sitting Republicans for failing to act on ENDA, a piece of legislation that passed the Senate with 64 votes. At a time where marriage equality is gaining steam nationally, sitting Congressional Republicans need to be asked time and time again why they are failing to protect their fellow American citizens in the workplace. Approval for gay marriage will continue to climb in the next ten months as additional states will legalize gay marriage. By November, it should be a slam dunk issue that employers should in no way be able to discriminate against their LGBT employees.
4. Immigration Reform
Again, another issue is which Congressional Republicans have failed to act is that of immigration reform. This is an issue where traditional Republican talking points fail to hold water. Net immigration is currently at zero, meaning our borders are as secure as they have ever been. Over 40% of undocumented immigrants came here legally which means that they weren’t hiding in vans running through checkpoints on the southern border as Conservative talking heads would have you believe. Instead, they had student VISAS and just overstayed their limits. This fact alone should tell us that we are dealing with a broken immigration system and one that is in dire need of reform. Children of undocumented workers live in limbo in states that have not adopted state-wide DREAM Acts. This is a huge issue that affects families, communities, and workplaces and it is one that Congressional Republicans have again failed to act on.
5. Raise the Minimum Wage
The last issue that Democratic candidates should take to the masses is that of the minimum wage. It is an issue that essentially destroys Republican economic policy as Bill Maher has pointed out. It is an issue that is supported by over 75% of Americans. When Republicans talk about the issue of class warfare, this is a prime of example of it in action. However, this is not class warfare against the rich but rather it is class warfare against the working class. The cost of living continues to increase year after year and yet wages have remained stagnant. With CEO pay at record levels, all workers ask is that their salaries allow them an opportunity to work full time and not end up on welfare. It is an issue that is immensely popular among both Democrats and independents and it one that should be a central part of any congressional Democrat’s campaign.
These are the five key issues that Congressional Democratic candidates should embrace in the coming months. There are clear differences between the two parties and the Democratic candidates share the views with the majority of Americans on all five of them. We all know that the Republican Super PACS are gearing up for their smear campaigns and other underhanded tactics in order to maintain their House majority and to keep Congress from acting on all major legislation until 2016. Nothing would make Karl Rove and friends happier than to have Barack Obama a lame duck president for two years.
For Democrats to retake the house, they need to rally around issues that get the typical apathetic voter to the poll and they need to do whatever they can to fire up their base. For this voter issues like health care, jobs, and the minimum wage are all issues that this voter cares about and with the right message, he or she can be convinced to get to the polls and vote in a non-presidential election year.
If Congressional democratic candidates embrace these issues and take their message to the American public, they will have given themselves the best opportunity to win come November.