Republicans have their hopes up. The 2014 midterm election is a good chance for them to take the U.S. Senate and gain seats in the U.S. House. It does not matter that they spent the last 4 years since they took over the U.S. House, doing practically nothing but blocking Democratic efforts to serve the American people, more Democrat seats are up for grabs and the GOP is grabbing.
However, Democrats do not have to take it lying down. There are issues that Americans care about and that the Democratic Party cares about, that can turn the election around in the Democratic Party’s favor.
1. Minimum Wage Increase
A large majority of Americans, including many Republicans, support a raise in the minimum wage. This would put some extra money into the hands of low-wage workers, which in turn would help spur the economy because low-wage workers will spend more.
Nothing motivates people like more money in their pocketbooks. Many Americans are pessimistic about the economy because, though the wealthy are raking in an enormous amount of wealth, the middle-class and the poor are still in a rut when it comes to their finances. This is because all the wealth that the economy is producing is going to those of higher incomes. Look at how well the stock market has done in the last few years, yet wages for the average worker is stagnant.
Republican legislators are refusing to budge on any legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour as proposed by President Obama and Democrat lawmakers. They will not even negotiate when it comes to raising the minimum wage, no matter how popular it is with Americans. Republicans claim it will cost jobs and hurt the economy, which is the same excuse they always use when it comes to helping anyone but the wealthy.
Democrats need to drive this home to the American people that Republicans are standing in the way of helping low paid workers. Let low-wage workers know that if they will get out, vote in droves this November, and help Democrats keep the Senate and even gain some seats to secure a super majority, perhaps even give Democrats back control of the U.S. House, it will be a top priority to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for the Democratic Party.
2. Women’s Issues
Women make up more than half of the population of the United States. The GOP is very vulnerable when it comes to issues that are important to women. Republicans legislators across the country think they have a right to tell women what they can or cannot do with their own bodies when it comes to abortion. Many also think that women do not deserve to have a right to be paid the same as men do in the very same jobs. Republican men in our Congress and in state houses across the country think they know better what is good for women than women do for themselves.
Democrats can do much by reminding women voters just what happened in 2010 when Republicans took control of state houses and governor seats all across the country. Anti-abortion legislation went up tremendously, as Republicans pushed their real agenda, instead of their promises to create jobs and fix the economy. It is now much harder for women in many states even to get abortions, thanks to the closing of abortion clinics and other restrictions. Because many of those clinics also provided an array of procedures and exams for women who cannot afford it, services concerning women’s health have also been curtailed.
3. Immigration Reform
Immigration reform is an important issue among Hispanic voters in this country. Repeatedly, this issue has been put on the backburner and nothing has moved forward, thanks to Republican obstruction in Congress. All the while, families have been broken up, thanks to an increase in deportations by the Obama administration. The president has done his part as far as enforcement is concerned, in hopes to move Republicans toward legislation to offer hard-working, law-abiding undocumented workers a path to citizenship, but Republicans have not gave back in kind with voting on an immigration reform bill.
Republicans know how important this issue is to an ever-growing population of Latinos, who someday will be the largest voting bloc in America. Instead, they have opted to listen to their base by continuing to refuse to move legislation forward that would not only help secure the borders but finally allow undocumented workers who have been here a long time, a chance to come out of the shadows and become taxpayers and eventually citizens.
The truth is, if the GOP does not adopt a platform that is more welcoming to the Latino community soon, it can forget about ever gaining momentum to control government in the future.
4. Marijuana Legalization
The legalization of pot is a big motivator for the young. Our government spends an excessive amount of taxpayer dollars arresting, prosecuting and locking up non-violent drug offenders. Young people see a huge hypocrisy over marijuana being illegal while the legal drug of alcohol does so much damage to our nation as a whole, from alcohol abuse, drunk driving and the domestic violence that is so often associated with alcohol.
States that manage to get a bill on the ballot to legalize marijuana can count on a much larger turnout of young voters, and therefore more Democratic votes, even if the ballots are not likely to pass. Democrats in states should work to find ways to get marijuana legalization on this November ballot, then stand back and watch the rush of young voters to the polls.
5. Republican Control of Congress
The very idea that Republicans will control Congress again, as they did during a huge portion of George W. Bush’s presidency, should send chills up likely Democratic voters’ spines. I know it does mine. If Republicans – not only in the U.S. Congress but also in state houses across the country – manage to pull off another takeover of our government, they will do what they always consistently do. Just to name a few; more voter I.D. laws, anti-abortion legislation, tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, cuts to social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,and deregulation of polluting industries and the banking industry.
Just because Democrats voters have a tendency to sit out midterm elections, opens the door wide for Republicans to motivate their voters and win big, as they did in 2010. The losers will be women, Hispanics, gays, low-wage workers and the middle-class. Our only protections from complete despair will the president and his veto pen.
It reminds me of the 1994 midterm election, when again Democrat voters were asleep at the wheel, during the Clinton administration, when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker because Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives. Newt introduced the “Contract with America”, which I fondly liked calling the “Contract against America”, that would have done away with the EPA, cut taxes for the wealthy while at the same time, cutting social programs for everyone else. It was only thanks to the veto pen of President Bill Clinton that Republicans did not get their way then.
Democrats have all the tools they need to get out there and let likely Democratic voters know just how important this midterm election is and motivate those voters to show up at the polls in record numbers. Perhaps we can head Republicans off at the pass from overtaking our government again and implementing legislation that will deepen the hurt most Americans are already feeling, thanks to the control Republicans already have over the House and their big enough minority in the Senate to block legislation.
If we fail to keep the GOP at least at bay this midterm election, average Americans will feel the pain, right down to the bone.