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A world beyond the Beltway by @BloggersRUs

A world beyond the Beltway

by Tom Sullivan


Maps show a change in Pat McCrory's support in Mecklenburg County between 2012 and 2016. Red is Republican (McCrory) and Blue is Roy Cooper (Democrat).
N.C. STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS. (via WFAE)

The Zero Hour's R.J. Eskow makes a most incisive point that as much as those of us on the left dislike the sitting president, we cannot seem to stop talking about him. But we need to. He dominates the media landscape in overwhelming fashion and crowds out any progressive messages. Running against Trump did not close the deal in 2016 and it won't win hearts and minds in 2018.

While we are talking about Russia, Eskow writes, Republicans:

  • Want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by $1.8 trillion.
  • Would impose work requirements and lifetime caps on Medicaid.
  • Want to sell large chunks of America’s infrastructure, including highways, to corporate interests.
These are issues that matter to Americans not obsessed as political junkies are with what happens each day inside the Beltway. We need to start talking about what typical voters care about:
As Sam Pizzigati notes, the intrusion of corporations into government, combined with the free-market ideology that has gripped leaders of both parties, has already led to rush-hour highway tolls that approach $50 for a one-way trip in suburban Washington D.C.

Rather than tax the area’s millionaires to build and maintain adequate roads, leaders in the surrounding states have opted to impose “market-driven” tolls on commuters. Meanwhile, the DC-area Metro subway system – once a source of national pride – continues to crumble as funding declines.

Trump’s infrastructure plan is a sham. Its “$1.5 trillion” price tag actually amounts to only $200 billion in federal spending over ten years – less than one-sixth of the advertised figure – and that amount would be purloined from other vital programs.

Recall that Danica Roem, the first transgender candidate elected to a state assembly seat, ran a campaign in northern Virginia focused on alleviating local traffic problems and fixing local schools.

Recall too that former NC governor Pat McCrory lost the governor's mansion in 2016 on Charlotte home turf the Republican had once won decisively. He lost in part because of opposition to tolling I-77:

But this year was different. McCrory fared worse, collecting about 159,000 votes, compared to almost 220,000 four years ago - despite a higher turnout. And Cooper won the county overall. He got nearly 295,000 votes, including some northern and southeastern precincts that went for McCrory last time.

In north Mecklenburg, McCrory's support for NCDOT's I-77 toll lane project drove some voters to Cooper, says Kurt Naas, who leads the anti-toll group Widen I-77.

"The message is that the governor has had multiple opportunities to cancel the toll contract that is unanimously reviled by north Mecklenburg. And he has refused to do so. And I think north Meck has spoken at the ballot box," Naas said Wednesday.

Health care is an issue that dominates outside the Beltway hothouse. And those Medicare cuts harm seniors, Eskow writes, noting Medicare accounts for roughly two-thirds of nursing home costs and is the primary payer of health care for retirees. Eskow adds, "As Nancy Altman of Social Security Works says, Trump also has proposed slashing Meals on Wheels, home heating assistance, and other programs for seniors." And seniors turn out in off-year elections.

Democrats have to spend more time building their own brand than they do helping spread Trump's. Even Trump voters know deep down they've bought a pig in a poke. What do Democrats have to offer that's better? That's what our voters need to hear.

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Request a copy of For The Win, my county-level election mechanics primer, at tom.bluecentury at gmail.