Op/Ed: Spoiler Alert – Democrats mostly agree on big policy issues
By Mike McGann, Candidate, Chester County Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphans Court
I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines suggesting that Democrats are deeply divided and likely to implode over internal disputes on everything from health care to the cost of college. There are times when the national media seems to need to draw a false equivalence between the normal battle of ideas in the Democratic Party and the French Revolution-like chaos of the current Republican Party.
The idea of a divided Democratic Party is, so as not to offend the delicate ears of some fragile commentators, horsehockey.
To accurately describe the condition of the two parties, let’s imagine two highways, a Democratic Highway and a Republican Highway.
On the Democratic Highway, all the cars are headed largely in the same direction. Some might be creeping along in the slow lane, with an abundance of caution, while others have the pedal to the metal in the fast lane. But, and this is the important takeaway: they’re all headed in the same direction.
Meanwhile, on the Republican Highway, we see cars going in all sorts of directions, some spinning out of control, others driving directly into oncoming traffic. And there’s a giant toll booth with Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and other conservative pundits forcing cars to turn around and head directly back into oncoming traffic. In the distance, it appears a bridge is out — a shiny, Trump (™) branded bridge — with no warning signs for motorists.
Sound extreme? I don’t think so.
Let’s talk about the “big” internal disputes on policy within the Democratic Party.
On Health Care: Every last one of us wants it for every American at a reasonable and affordable price. Sure, we don’t all agree how to get there, with ideas ranging from a mild revamp and upgrade of the Affordable Care Act (the folks in the above mentioned “slow lane”), to Medicare-55 “the middle lane folks” and lastly, Medicare For All, the folks in the “fast lane.”
Let’s contrast that with our friends across the aisle. You might have seen the dozens and dozens of votes in Congress to wipe out the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), including its protections for pre-existing conditions. They’ve already taken out the mandate and gutted subsidies. Those aren’t opinions, they are on-the-record facts. Now, though, finding that Americans actually like the ACA, some Republicans are back-pedaling, claiming to want to preserve the popular stuff, while at the same time supporting a lawsuit, spoiler alert, that would take away all of those popular provisions. Despite having nearly a decade to figure out an alternative there’s nothing like a consensus on replacing the ACA in the Republican Party beyond “Obamacare bad.”
We could repeat the same argument on a dozen other issues from the insane costs of college (something I know about first hand as the father of twins who are seniors in high school), to Global Warming, to Income Inequity, Border Security (you won’t find a single Democrat who supports babies in cages, as an example, but all of us want secure, modern borders instead of wasting taxpayer money on a 12th Century solution).
So, while the narrative of the pundit class might suggest real division — I get it, everyone getting along is boring, it doesn’t drive TV ratings or clicks — we Democrats all pretty much want the same things. We may, in our usual unruly and small d democratic way, disagree exactly how to get there or how quickly and will have a robust and healthy debate on it.
But make no mistake: whether you feel more affinity to Conor Lamb or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (or fall somewhere between as most of us do), we all want to move in one direction: forward into a future with better, affordable health care, affordable college, real jobs (not today’s Starbucks Economy), equal rights and opportunity regardless of gender, sexual orientation, creed, or ethnic background, full accountability, and responsible, grown-up leadership.
That’s a future we can all get behind.
Mike McGann, a resident of Pocopson, Pa., is a long-time journalist and editor who decided late last year to return to politics. He is currently running for Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphans Court of Chester County.