Republicans Aren't Working
May 14, 2003
By Pab Sungenis
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
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.