The ‘meat and potatoes’ case to vote Democrat

See Disclaimer.

With the 2022 mid-terms just a couple of weeks away, Republicans are favored by prognosticators to win the majority in the House, and perhaps even in the Senate. That would be disastrous, both on principle and for our day-by-day life.

In a prior article, I addressed the ‘democracy itself is at stake’ case to vote Democrat. The argument boils down to the threat of authoritarianism, embodied by a majority of Republican candidates who are election denialists. This principled argument should be sufficient to guide Americans away from voting Republican, regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof. The argument certainly resonates strongly with me—an independent voter and naturalized citizen, who has lived in both authoritarian and democratic regimes across three different continents.

However, not all Americans have experienced the ugliness of authoritarianism in person, and many do not have the urgency (or luxury?) to vote on principle alone. Economic self-interest and perceived quality of life matter to voters, in varying but important degrees.  That is why today’s article focuses on the ‘meat and potatoes’ argument to vote Democrat. That argument is as strong as the principled one, if we just stop a moment to think.

With an aged and still aging population, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are essential social safety pillars in our country. A significant percentage of seniors rely on Social Security as the only or a crucial part of their income. And literally all non-veteran seniors rely on Medicare (or Medicaid) for health care. Any cuts to those social programs will directly and drastically affect large segments of our older population, at a time in life when their options for new income are scarcer. The indirect impact of increased senior poverty and preventable health problems will be felt throughout our entire population.

Why then vote Republican, a party that is explicitly targeting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for cuts? Our clear self-interest, as Americans, is to vote for the only major party that seeks to keep these social safeties in place and sustainable: The Democrats.  

The economic news under the Biden Administration are mixed. As measured by the growing GDP, the decreasing budget deficit, higher salaries and historically low unemployment rate, the US is doing extremely well. As measured by inflation (including gas prices) and the stock market, the country is struggling. A recession may or not be looming. No US Administration fully controls the economy, as we live in a globalized world. So, neither full credit nor full blame can be assigned to Democrats.

But while, as a retiree, inflation and stock market woes concern me, I also realize that these are in significant part consequences of a context (COVID-19 and war in Ukraine) that Democrats have generally handled well. I further understand that the legislative actions of the Democrats have been empathetic, measured and forward-looking—keeping us in reasonably good economic standing, and opening for us as good prospects in the medium and long term as we could expect in times of crisis.

The Biden stimulus packages starved off major economic and social pain, at the height of the pandemic. The infrastructure bill, now being methodically implemented under the competent leadership of Pete Buttigieg, will transform the country in fundamental ways. The Inflation Reduction Act (misnamed as it might be) is a remarkable investment in our present (e.g., control of prescription drugs costs) and in the future of our children (e.g., climate change mitigation). All those, and more, are thoughtful Democratic initiatives, and constitute good governing.

By contrast, Republicans have been a party of obstruction, rather than constructive opposition. Coming into the mid-terms, they offer the country no discernible viable plan for economic recovery. In fact, should they win the House and/or the Senate, deadlock (rather than negotiation) will most likely ensue, as they will further obstruct a Biden agenda that was designed with a (much needed) long term perspective. That deadlock spells doom, for a country and world at crossroads in so many critical economic areas and issues.

Why would we risk deadlock, rather than strongly support the alternative? Democrats have a reasonable game plan, and (intermixed with some mistakes) have had the courage to implement painful measures where needed, with an eye on a future with the robust economy that we all need and hope for.

I am mildly encouraged by occasional signs of increased viability of specific independents (e., Utah’s senate candidate  Evan McMullin) or even of the emergence of another party(ies). Because independents are now the largest voting block, there is the theoretical potential for a significant third party appearing in an entirely new political space. More likely, a third party might emerge from a split among Republicans, as in departing representative Liz Cheney’s hinted vision of a constructive conservative force. Either of these alternatives would be a positive development—but neither is a reality now.

This mid-term’s choice is, again, just between two parties. Voting Republican is a clear and present danger—both on principle and on a ‘meat and potatoes’ perspective. Voting Democrat is the clear path, and that is where my vote will go. Will you join me?

— Antonio Baptista

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