Originally Published: March 22, 2017 6:01 a.m.
People don’t care about politics or economics. They don’t care if it’s left or right, socialist or corporatist, FDR or Reagan, tea party or Bernie. All they care about is that things work.
If the decades of Arizona cutting corporate taxes had worked, and we were a rich state with great education funding, people would love it. All of those low-wage and sick and older people who can now get insurance because of Obamcare, love it. People don’t much care what route we travel, so long as where we arrive at, things work.
That’s something Democratic leaders need to get through their heads.
If things aren’t working well, and someone can convince people that going one way or the other will improve things, they’ll jump on board and give it a try.
The most recent example is all of those voters who first went for Obama, then went for Trump. But long before that, through the middle of last century, lots of Archie Bunker types who were very conservative, nevertheless loved their unions. Why? Because they and their parents, witnessing the decades before unions were strong, through decades of them being strong, saw that it worked. Sure, unions are a social thing, but they’d seen that they were the only way to get decent wages and treatment. It worked. End of debate.
You could see the flip-side in Silicon Valley’s heyday. Young eggheads out of the universities who would generally be liberal, just loved the Wild West economy of the booming tech scene. It worked. If there was a lot of laissez-faire to thank for that, so be it. (There was an enormous amount of government investment, but I’m speaking of the perception.) You also saw it with very conservative people at tea party rallies who want their socialized Medicare. If it works, that’s what they want. Don’t sweat the details.
Sure, a tea party politician who votes to fund something, even if it will return double, or a Democrat who votes to cut a redundant EPA regulation, may lose their voters, but in the bigger picture, if something works, people want it. And when enough people are frustrated that things aren’t working, they’re open to ideas.
Democratic leaders haven’t pushed bold, progressive ideas, in part because they’ve slipped into Wall St. thinking, but largely because they let themselves get cowed that such ideas are unpopular and would be rejected. They don’t push hard for, a really big government infrastructure program, to make a serious attack on wage theft, reset laws back in favor of worker groups who sue companies, make owners of big corporations who repeatedly cheat their customers sell at a loss to new ownership, push policies to tighten the labor market.
Look at the advance in health care coverage in this state spearheaded, not by Democrats, but by Governor Brewer. Look at all the tea partiers and Trump voters who love that they can get insurance for the first time because of Obamacare. If something works, philosophy be damned.
Stop fretting and lead the parade. Be bold, be convincing, make it work, and people will love it.
Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at tomcantlon dot com.