Washington -- Prominent members of the Democratic Party, including a congressman who has designs on House leadership, have recently looked at Democrats' electoral prospects and come to the conclusion that, for large numbers of swing voters across the country, the Democratic brand is held in even lower esteem than is the Trump brand. This is hard to fathom, given the embarrassing incompetence and moral vacuity of the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. But there can be little doubt that it is true. The question is, what are Democrats going to do about it?
One approach is to sharpen the Democrat's economic message, but others caution (wisely in my opinion), that it's not the economy, stupid, it's the culture. Many voters will not move away from Trump regardless of economic issues, because they associate the Democratic Party with a culture that is anathema to them.
But is it really? It wouldn't be if Democrats united around both an economic policy and a culture that Trump voters could embrace in the next election as a refuge from the dangerous directions of the party they put in power. And it wouldn't be if Democrats could unite on something positive they can be for, rather than simply shaking their heads in disgust at the degrading nonsense of Trumpism.
It's time for Democrats to offer that combination in a "Decent Deal."
Foremost in this appellation is the word decent, and all that it offers as a counterweight to the many levels of indecency of the current president.
Next, the word deal elicits memories of the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal, and of and Harry Truman and his Fair Deal. In the spirit of bi-partisanship, Teddy Roosevelt's Square Deal should not be left out.
Democrats should look to the details of the New Deal, the Fair Deal, and the Square Deal as touchstones to unite its competing factions. The New Deal, with its Social Security and its oversight of financial institutions, is now part of American life but needs continual adjustment and reaffirmation. The Fair Deal, with its focus on racial integration and access to medical care, is a work in progress. The Square Deal, with its emphasis on the environment and trust-busting, is still relevant and critical.
Framing current issues in these terms will not set well with those who want continually to frame politics and elections in ideological terms. This plays into the hands of the not-so-hidden persuaders who have turned descriptors like "liberal" into cultural epithets to turn voters away from Democrats. Most people -- especially swing voters -- actually hold both liberal and conservative views simultaneously, depending on the particulars of an issue, and will welcome relief from divisive ideological battles that never seem to deliver what they want, which is effective, honest government.
A decent deal is all that most voters want out of life. They do not want special privileges, only a decent chance to succeed, and a decent chance for everyone. This is what they will vote for, if given a choice.
A Decent Deal represents the culture of decency and opportunity that Democrats should be offering, and uniting around.