Monday, February 20, 2017

Taking Back the Kitchen Table

By now, you've heard me assert in more than one way that old saw, "all politics is local."  And in previous articles, I've discussed how the Democrat Party has abandoned local politics for the national stage.  That's caused us to lose sight of the reality on the ground.

Conservative media paints a much darker picture than reality, deftly coupling financial concerns with fear-baiting tactics aimed at immigrants and terrorism, and that's energized their base in some ways that don't necessarily fit the facts.  But it ain't all rosy either.

In a nutshell: liberals need to get back to the kitchen table, the heart of American life.  It's ground zero for financial issues, healthcare issues, education issues, and the all-around quality of life that families are dealing with.  It's where things get discussed and decided.  And it looks nothing at all like the DCCC's national platform.  Let's look at the lay of the land.

46% of Americans say that a $500 hit to their monthly budget would be financially disastrous.  Over 70% of Americans have less than $1000 in the bank.  The average American has over $130k in debt, $16,000 of it in credit cards and $28,000 in a vehicle loan.  They are upside-down on their cars and homes, and perpetuating it through refinancing and extended-term loans that keep them there.  (Ask me later about the damage that decades of unrestrained lifestyle marketing has done to our society.)

Meanwhile, the average American between 55-64 years old has just $100k in retirement savings (about a third have NO retirement account at all).  In a post-pension economy, people haven't adapted their spending and savings practices to prepare for retirement.  As a result, people have to just keep on working longer and longer.  Besides being a personal strain, that stagnates the job market, too.

Two thirds of Americans are clinically overweight, the precursor for a host of long-term medical conditions and a major factor toward productivity in the workplace.  A third are clinically obese and are in immediate jeopardy of significant medical issues.  Almost two thirds of adults are on some kind of prescription medication.  Two-income families have become the norm just to stay afloat.  People are tired, stressed, and feeling increasingly helpless in managing their own destinies.

If you want to be relevant in the political spectrum, you have to recognize this.  You have to get back to the kitchen table.  That's what our 45th President did.  For whatever else you may think, he got this one right.  The Republican Party OWNS the kitchen table.  The big money Super PACs and think tanks don't actually care about these folks; they are simply tapping into their circumstances to further a larger pro-corporate agenda.  And that's the awful irony of the whole thing.

The good news is, we are all experts!  We don't need focus groups or polls.  This is OUR reality.  The bad news is, the Party is completely focused on Washington.  We are going to drag them along with us or, potentially, leave them behind.

This is also where outreach begins.  Before you ask for a vote or to post a sign or support a rally, or - heaven forbid - ask for money, offer a hand.  Find out the core issues in your community and start looking at how to tackle them together.  If you believe in the core liberal values of Equal Opportunity, Equal Dignity, and Equal Justice, as I do, then this is where our attention is needed most.

No comments:

Post a Comment