Recently, I read the best-seller, “Everything Trump Touches Dies” (http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Everything-Trump-Touches-Dies/Rick-Wilson/9781982103125 ) by Rick Wilson — a noted Republican consultant and strategist, and #nevertrump stalwart. It’s alternately terrifying and hilarious. At the conclusion Wilson offers suggestions for the “recovery” of the Republican Party. They are worth considering for what they suggest for the Democratic Party.
A Party of Hope, not Hate: Wilson says, “Republicans need to become a party of militant optimism about the future. Right now we are a party of doom and gloom…”
Of course, this is a knock on Trump’s perspective: “Make America great again” and “We’re losing everywhere…” But it’s also a reminder that Democrats have to offer a positive agenda. It’s not enough to run against Trump and Republican corruption, in general. Democrats must offer a hopeful message that says, in essence, the United States is a prosperous country and it’s possible for everyone to share this prosperity.
Reform from within: Wilson warns about political corruption and advises the GOP to adopt: “strict ethics rules for elected Republicans…” and forbidding “members of Congress from lobbying after they leave. We need to tighten up financial disclosure rules so members voting on legislation that benefits their own bottom line face sanctions.” These are prudent suggestions and Democrats would be well advised to adopt them.
The Constitutional Operating System: Wilson notes, “Republicans need to restore the divisions between the three branches of government. Under Trump, Congress has abandoned its role as a coequal branch and acted like a Trump houseboy.”
Talk Main Street — And mean it: Wilson wrote, “The vast and increasing disparity in wealth in this nation has been shrugged off by Republicans… We’ve been parties to bleeding dry the middle class in this country, confusing “good for business” with “good for people.” Amen.
If the GOP is the Party that’s “good for business,” then Democrats have to be clearly identified as the Party that’s “good for people.”
The Rule of Law: Wilson observes, “[Trump’s] constant attempts to obstruct justice in the Mueller investigation with only the slightest pushback from Republicans are so dangerous that we haven’t even seen the possible scope of the damage yet… a commitment to restoring respect for the law is fundamental.” Another amen.
Democrats have to be clearly identified as the Party that carries forward the vision of the Founders.
Build a diverse Party: Wilson spoke to the GOP, “By increasing our ideological diversity we’ll expand the places we can compete, offer Americans more choices in more communities, and enrich the scope of candidates who enter politics. With that in mind, it’s time to make real efforts to recruit African American, Hispanic, and female candidates…”
Republicans would be well advised to listen to what Rick Wilson has to say. At the moment, Democrats are more welcoming to women and racial/ethnic minorities. But, we also have to be accepting of ideological differences.
Purge racists, conspiracy nuts, and lunatics from our ranks: Wilson writes, “the Republican Party has a race problem and pretending it doesn’t exist has become impossible… the single greatest risk to conservatism, the Republican party, and the nation is if the alt-right virus spreads deeper into the political system.” Wilson adds, “Conservative authors, news outlets, and broadcasters need to outgrow the fever swamp of conspiracy and madness.” Wow. Rick Wilson calls out Republican crazy.
Decency, humanity, and tolerance: Wilson observes, “The fashionable cruelty of the Trump era… aren’t the character of a president or of a party deserving of respect and support… The increasingly hideous tone of the GOP is a long-term brand killer.” Yeah.
Respect and honor American institutions: Wilson writes, “Donald Trump is wrecking our institutions in ways more corrosive, insidious, and permanent than the wildest visions of our worst enemies… Trump has corrupted and broken the entire idea of the American presidency.”
Wilson continues, “Restoring faith in institutions rests on accountability.” Democrats must become the accountability Party, politicians with the highest ethical standards.
Govern like grown-ups: Wilson notes, “Trump’s raging, vulgarian insult-comic shtick wore thin for most Americans during the campaign… [nonetheless] for far too many Republicans the desire to emulate Trump as a play to the base was all too tempting.”
Wilson prescribes: “The House and Senate leadership must… discipline their members in areas ranging from ethics to affect.”
Kill crony capitalism: Rick Wilson writes, “Americans know and feel that the deck is stacked against them when it comes to Washington offering the biggest, wealthiest, and most irresponsible players the power to define markets, protect themselves from risk, and leave taxpayers with the bill. It’s time to stop it.” Amen.
If Democrats are truly the Party that’s “good for people,” they must stop all aspects of crony capitalism.
Stop fighting the last wars: With regards to issues such as gay marriage and marijuana use, Wilson observes: “It’s time to tell the evangelical cohort in the GOP that that since they’ve shown their true colors by giving Donald Trump a series of mulligans on his port-star-screwing, pussy-grabbing, serially adulterous life, they’ve lost their moral authority to scream at the rest of us.” We can only hope that the adults within the GOP evangelicals will read Wilson’s book and change their behavior.
While this is an impressive list, there are (at least) two more suggestions that all Democrats would do well to consider. We can’t continue to spend so much on “defense.” In 2018 the U.S. spent more than $600 billion on defense spending; more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom, and Japan combined. That’s ridiculous.
We must take action to head off the impact of climate change. This seems so obvious that it amazing that it has to be mentioned. But it does. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and the GOP has followed his lead.
By the way, everything Trump touches dies.