Columnist Richard Bogartz: Hints to the Democrats

Thursday, August 03, 2017

It’s audacious for me to suggest some ingredients for a new Democratic approach to the people. What do I know of politics? But then, the Democrats lost to Trump. So maybe my two cents in a rough draft might help.

Democrats, please commit to four virtues: Decency, Caring, Compassion, and, dare I say it in a political context, Love.

Decency has to do with being ethical, honorable, principled, honest, and moral. A lot to ask of politicians but this is what the people crave.

Honesty can begin with a return to adequate science funding, with commitment to funding and dissemination of politically independent, disinterested research. Honesty is respect for legitimate news sources and condemnation of the fake news instead of the current White House offering of the opposite. A commitment to honesty would be to a president who will speak the truth to us all (his is name is Bernie, her name is Elizabeth) and a Congress that does its business in the open.

Morality is another aspect of decency. Without trying to define it, we can probably all agree that it certainly involves minimizing harm to humans. So throwing 20 million off health insurance is immoral. Defense sounds as if it ought to be moral. Protecting the nation against harm. But the morality is in the details. What are we defending? Who or what is the enemy? Do the Russians, Chinese, Iranians or North Koreans actually threaten to kill more of us than disease, broken bridges, sugared “food” or poverty do? Why do we have troops in 134 out of 193 nations? Why are we perpetually at war? How to stop it? How can we better use here at home some of the $611 billion in the military budget and $50 or so billion more in the black budgets?

Caring has to do with appreciation that all of the people matter. All means all. Almost all of the Republicans prove over and over that they do not care about people. They care about corporate consolidation, profits, bottom lines, contributions, and profitizing the commons. Google “Charter Schools” and “Texas Highway 130.”

Caring requires honesty about jobs. What kinds of jobs are possible today in the U.S.? How many? Which jobs are gone forever? Tell it like it is. The people will hate some of the facts but love you for telling the truth.

Advocate spending some of the defense budget on job reeducation, defending our people from joblessness. Commit to higher minimum wages. Living wages. Remember that all of the people matter, they all need to eat, they all need shelter. They need a liveable, unflooded world. Then come down heavily in favor of rebuilding the infrastructure. Rebuilding bridges before they break is caring.

All people need health insurance. Dump the Affordable Care Act. Regain your humanity as a political party and come down solidly for universal single payer health care. The people want it. Throw the health insurance companies under the bus together with their stockholders. Profiting on the inability of the vulnerable to get medical treatment is immoral. Under the bus with Big Pharma too. It is the people that matter. All of them.

Compassion is appreciating that others have an inner life. They are centers of consciousness. The Democratic political stance should be to promote the attempt to appreciate the lives and experiences and sufferings and thoughts and hopes and dreams of other people. Without compassion we walk around dead to the lives of others. Others become only objects to fulfill our purposes. You should inspire us to be more than we are, better than we are.

The country is desperately in need of love. The Dalai Lama teaches that we need to love people and use things rather than the reverse. The more we understand that we are the same at our core, the more we can grow to love one another.

Richard S. Bogartz is a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.