By Richardt Stormsgaard
Two recent Ipsos/Reuters polls are quite interesting. The first one raises serious questions about the faith some Democrats have in young voters as the key to stopping the right-wing onslaught on our institutions, indeed democracy itself. The second one gives us hope that the Trump/Republican Party finally has gone too far for the tastes of their more moderate supporters that were overwhelmed by the Trump/Cruz/Tea Party majority before the 2016 election.
A poll of young voters published April 30, 2018 of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. These voters increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy. One example was Mr. Hood of Florida, a 34 year old black Democratic voter from Louisiana, who appreciated his slightly larger take-home pay after the Trump Tax Cuts, apparently unaware or unconcerned that the second stage after these tax cuts will be the dismantling of Medicare and social security as outlined by McConnell, Ryan, Rubio, and other prominent Republican politicians.
I will mention an incident from the 2017 Nevada County Fair to illustrate my reluctance to depend on the judgment of young voters. I was one of three Democrats manning the Democratic booth, and a young man walked by and said he would not vote Democratic because he was a Green Party member. I did not engage him because I was already in another conversation but could have said that our clean air and water regulations were created by moderate Democrats and Republicans almost a half century ago before there even was a Green Party, and that he in fact along with other Green Party supporters that refuse to vote for Democrats in our winner-take-all election system is a contributing factor to the slow dismantling of our environmental safeguards by the hands of the extreme corporate right-wing now controlling the Republican Party.
The second poll is from April 9, 2016 and this is the promising one. It concludes that college educated white voters over 60 who list “health care” as their top issue rose from 8 percent in 2016 to 21 percent. As a result this very important demographic of consistent and committed voters went from favoring a Republican Congress by ten points to backing a Democratic Congress by 2 points, a very considerable swing of 12 points since the 2016 election. More and more of these traditionally moderate Republican voters have come to realize that it indeed is the intent of the Trump/Republican Party to dismantle our social safety net. 2 out of 3 Americans, including these conservatives, strongly support social security and Medicare as two of the pillars of our social safety net.
Focusing on the Republican commitment to eliminate/privatize social security and Medicare should be our primary talking points in the next elections. I am concerned that secondary issues like Medicare-for-all and free college education might allow the right-wing to avoid being held responsible for the abhorrent actions they have undertaken during the Trump era.
Even after potential Democratic landslide victories in 2018 and 2020, the huge deficit brought about by the Trump Tax Scam will make the necessary tax increases politically very difficult. If our Democratic friend from Louisiana mentioned in the first paragraph is willing to sacrifice his old age security for a few more bucks today out of his take-home pay in the prime of his life, imagine how he will feel if he has to pay much more in taxes to fund Medicare-for-all and free university education-for-all.
Let us not forget that a major reason for the right-wing success over the last half century has been major former Democratic voter groups from the Upper Midwest and the South that fell for the lie of trickle-down-economics and bear major responsibility for the right-wing take-over of our political system when they began voting for a radicalizing Republican Party beginning during the Reagan era. These were voters that Bernie Sanders specifically targeted with considerable success using similar language to that of the extremist right-wing.