McLean column: What happened to the Democratic Party?
As a recent college graduate in 1967, I registered as a Democrat. Like much of America, I admired President Kennedy. In the military in Vietnam I quickly became disappointed in the Democratic Party. When I left the Navy in 1973, I was only too happy to move overseas and leave the hatred of the anti-war movement behind.
Returning in 1976, it seemed to me that Jimmy Carter was a good and honest person. I still believe that. However, he soon proved to be a naïve and poor leader. Although disappointed in President Carter, I thought that there were still Democrats who were willing to work for the greater good.
Democratic leaders like Tip O’Neil and Walter Mondale were capable of moderating their politics and working in the best interest of the country. While most of us understood that President Clinton was less than moral, he was willing to compromise. A master politician, he moved his positions to the middle in order to win the 1996 election.
Sometime during the W. Bush administration, the Democrats became the party of resistance and anger. President Obama used his teleprompter speech skills to ride a wave of calls for change to an election victory.
While Obama had an opportunity to unite the country, he spurned that chance and divided us along racial lines. Naïve liberals did not understand that liking someone just because of the color of their skin is as racist as disliking them because of the color of their skin.
Under Obama, Democrats began to abandon their base. Coal Miners and oil field workers were left out. White middle-class men were not wanted in the party. There was no effort to address the core problems of African American poverty and crime as the blacks voters were taken for granted. Pro-life women were expressly excluded. The Jewish base is threatened by the support for Islamic radicals and Palestine.
It was disappointing to see Democrats abandon their working class base in the vote on the tax reform bill. Prior to Trump, many Democrats including Congressman Tim Ryan, Senator Clair McCaskill, Senator Joe Manchin, and President Obama proposed lowering corporate taxes.
All understood that corporate taxes are regressive taxes, which unfairly hurt the low-income workers the most. Anyone who has ever operated a business understands that all costs, including taxes, must be passed on to the consumers if that business is to remain in business.
The single mother buying food at City Market is paying City Market’s taxes as well as the costs associated with the product. As a percentage of her income, those taxes are much greater than on the wealthy or those even solidly in the middle class. Sales tax and gasoline tax are also regressive taxes.
I cringe when I hear certain politicians suggest a VAT tax as a solution to our debt problems. VAT is a regressive sales tax on steroids as the product is taxed in all phases of the production process with the ultimate consumer bearing the entire burden of the tax.
During the brief government shutdown, Democrats were accused of putting the DACA young adults ahead of American citizens. Superficially that seemed true. In reality, they were only interested in future votes. The extreme left would like open borders but know that is an argument they cannot win.
The underlying thinking is that open borders would bring more democratic voters, which would repopulate the base. Instead of arguing openly and honestly for open borders, they hide their true goal by supporting chain migration and an expanded visa lottery.
If the Republican Party deals with the DACA situation in a reasonable manner, they can negate the Democratic advantage with Hispanics. Most Hispanics believe in a free market. They do not want dangerous criminals in their neighborhoods. They want good schools for their children. They want an opportunity to improve their lives.
Most Americans agree that the DACA young adults should be given legal status and a reasonable pathway to citizenship as long as they have not committed felonies and the border is secured.
Additionally, we need to admit that, as a country, we attracted illegal workers by making our entire country into what is legally known as an attractive nuisance. Most of us benefited from the low cost labor supplied by these workers either directly or indirectly.
Since immigration laws were not enforced, all Americans share in the responsibility for allowing these workers in. Thus it is incumbent on all of us to support a solution that is humane and reasonable.
Republicans should agree to a legal status for those who entered illegally as long as they have committed no felonies, agree to either pay taxes for the time they have been here or show proof that income tax was paid, and perform community service for each year here illegally. For them there should be no pathway to citizenship.
To the Democrats, immigrants, whether legal or illegal, are pawns in the greater political chess game. Republicans can win that game by acting reasonably.
Roland McLean, an Aspen Glen resident, is a University of Colorado graduate, Navy veteran and retiree after more than 30 years in international construction. His column appears on the fourth Thursday of each month. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.