Democratic Underground  
The Republicans Aren't Working
May 14, 2003
By Pab Sungenis

In 1988, then-Presidential-Front-Runner-By-Default Joe Biden lifted a few lines for one of his speeches from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock. The media, behaving like sharks in bloodied waters, seized upon the story and shouted it from atop their high-horses. Having already unseated one Democratic candidate, Gary Hart, the press began calling Biden a serial plagiarist, leading to his early withdrawal from the race.

The Democratic Party claimed to learn its lesson from the incident, which may be doubtful considering the number of "Al Gore Invented The Internet" stories from the 2000 campaign, but if there's one thing that should have been learned from the incident, it's that if we are plagiarizing, we're plagiarizing the wrong people.

With the scene being set for the 2004 Presidential race, perhaps the time has come to revisit a campaign theme and slogan used by a British politician again. They owe us one. After all, Tony Blair (before he devolved into W's lap dog) rose to power modeling himself on Bill Clinton;
the "New Democrat" inspiring what is still referred to - although somewhat derisively today - as "New Labour."

The difference is, this time, we should forget about the Labour party and take our cue from the Conservatives.

As anyone who lived through it, on either side of the pond, will tell you, 1979 was a tough year. Inflation, "malaise," and high unemployment plagued the economies of both America and Britain. In America, this would lead to the downfall of Jimmy Carter and rise of Ronald Reagan the following year. In Britain, strife forced the collapse of the coalition government of Prime Minister James Callaghan and a general election. Leading the forces of the Conservatives was the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.

While any one of a thousand differences between Thatcher and Callaghan could have (and probably should have) been discussed in the election, the genius of Thatcher was illustrated by her choice of slogan. The victory of the Conservatives in the election of 1979 could honestly have been attributed to three simple words. Posters popped up in major metropolitan areas, accompanied by adverts in the various media. They all showed a long queue at an unemployment office. Above, three bold words summed up the key issue: "LABOUR ISN'T WORKING."

The result, as they say, is history. The Conservatives won a landslide. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister. And under her and her successor John Major, the Conservatives ruled England for 18 years, six years longer than the Republican stronghold during the terms of Reagan and George Bush, Sr.

Today, in 2003, we have in the Oval Office a man named George W. Bush. Elected during a time of peace and prosperity, George has led us into two wars, with ones against Syria, Iran, and North Korea in the active planning stages. But more devastating than his record on peace is his record on prosperity. Since Bush the Lesser came into office, 2.7 million jobs have been destroyed. Nearly one out of every 100 Americans has lost his or her job to the Bush economy.

This has only ever happened once before in the past century: during the four year term of Hebert Hoover. Yes, despite what the Republicans may tell you, the economy is not rosy. It is not expanding. It is not "on the right track." Forget Bush the Elder's "double dip" recession. Forget Carter's malaise. Forget the Nixon gas lines. In real terms, those that hit Americans where it matters the most, we are in the worst shape we've been in since the Great Depression.

And here lies the key to the 2004 election. W has a chance to turn the economy around, but he's not using it. Instead, he's pushing the same policies that his father referred to as "voodoo economics." The same exact policies which failed to stop the economic slide in 2001, and may even have sped it up. Even under the absolute best independent predictions out there, even if every single thing goes right, the best we can hope for is maybe 1.5 million new jobs created. This would still leave W as the only President since Hoover to preside over a real job loss during his term. Even if Bush's voodoo-redux works the way he wants, there are still going to be more Americans out of work thanks to the Republicans than there were when they seized the government in 2001.

It's time to forget the war. Forget Enron. Forget Halliburton. Forget Bush's suppression of civil and human rights. As valid as those issues are, there is one issue that's going to undo the Republicans, and that's jobs. Keep saying it like a mantra until it sinks in. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

First, the Democrats need a full employment plan. We had nearly full employment during the Clinton years, so we know it can be done. Put forward policies that will go toward job creation, and extend unemployment benefits to help those who are suffering now, before the policies can go into effect. Hit the Republicans hard, over and over, on jobs. Never let up. Every time a Republican touts another round of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, ask them why those cuts would help now, when the last round put almost three million Americans out of work. Fight like a bulldog, don't let them shake this one off.

The DNC should start running TV ads next year. Simple ones, text only. The screen split into two columns, a blue one with the Democratic donkey and "1993-2001" and a red one with the Republican elephant and "2001-2004." Put the economic record of the Clinton years side by side with that of Bush.

On the Democratic side, "Deficit reduction, balanced budget, $100 Billion surplus." On the Republican side, "Annual deficits of as much as $300 Billion." Fade them out. On the Democratic side, "20 Million jobs created." On the Republican side, "3 Million jobs destroyed." Fade that out. On the Democratic side, "America works." The Republican side: "America unemployed."

Then fade to black, and bring up four stark white words: "THE REPUBLICANS AREN'T WORKING."

Then, in October of 2004, Democratic operatives should organize a March on Washington, 2.7 million people strong. Show W. exactly how many people he put out of work with his insane economic policies. Banners held high: "JOBS NOW!" and "BUSH ISN'T WORKING!" Like the Bonus Marchers of the 1920's and the Hoovervilles of the 1930's, we need to take the fight for jobs right to Little George's front door. The massive press coverage of 2.7 million Americans descending upon Washington would generate should be the final nail in the coffin of our unelected President.

Finally, we have to pick the right standard bearer. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Democratic candidates out there can't carry the banner for job creation since many of them voted for Bush's tax cuts in 2001, and are poised to do it again. We can't allow anyone who shares complicity in this economic devastation to lead our party in 2004, or we will lose the one great issue we have, the one that can rout the Republicans and usher in Democratic control of both the White House and Congress.

But first, we have to have guts. We can do it, because after all, right now the Republicans aren't working, and neither are nearly three million Americans.


Pab Sungenis is a nationally syndicated radio host, the owner/operator of DeMarco Cinemas, and a Democratic committeeman from New Jersey.

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