Midterms 2018 democrats’ new “better deal for our democracy,” explained – vox gas and bloating pain


House and Senate Democrats rolled out their campaign platform Monday, taking aim at corruption and pay-to-play politics in Washington under the Trump administration. They’re betting this message will help them win voters in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, when the party hopes to regain control of the House — and maybe even the Senate.

The plan is called “A Better Deal for Our Democracy” — a spin on their economic platform, “A Better Deal” — with proposals to protect and improve voting rights, new ethics laws, and campaign finance reforms, including policies that would make lobbyists’ activities more transparent and tighten rules around bribery and fraud convictions.

Congressional Republicans have had to answer for — and have largely gone along with — an unprecedented number of corruption and ethics scandals under the Trump administration, from Cabinet secretary resignations to Trump’s personal lawyer taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Russian oligarchs and major international corporations in exchange for “insight” into the Trump administration. Democrats are hoping to brand the first two years of the Trump presidency as the “most corrupt administration in modern times,” drawing on recent polling that shows voters mobilize around the “money in politics” issue.

The platform itself is reminiscent of a message Democrats campaigned on in 2006, a midterm election year that also came after historic Republican corruption scandals and resulted in Democratic control in the House, Senate, and a majority of governorships. With Trump’s record-setting unpopularity and a Democratic voter base enthusiastic to come out and vote, Democrats are banking on this message to bring them sweeping electoral wins once again. Democrats’ “Better Deal for Democracy” platform, explained

This latest agenda, however, is focused on corruption around three pillars: voting rights and access, campaign finance, and pay-to-play politics. Democrats are planning to unveil a House resolution on the floor later this week along these lines, with specific bills to address the issues.

1) Democrats are focusing on voting rights. In light of the outcome of 2016 election and subsequent investigations into voting integrity around possible Russian interference, Democrats are zeroing in on voters and increased mistrust of the election system. Their platform ranges from access to polling places and gerrymandering to concerns about hacking on Election Day. They’re pushing to bolster the Election Assistance Commission’s resources and implement automatic voter registration and gerrymandering reform. House Democrats will propose mandating independent commissions across the country to ensure district lines are not partisan.

Among these proposals would be legally requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns. That’s a direct reaction to Trump, who has yet to release his financial records, bucking decades of political precedent and breaking his own promises of transparency.

3) Democrats take a swing at campaign finance reform. This third pillar focuses on transparency in campaign donors. Sarbanes also cited a proposal that would create a 6-1 small-donor match program — a federal public financing system aimed at bolstering donations under $175. Democrats ran on this message in 2006. It was very successful.

In 2006, Democrats rolled out the “Six for ‘06” agenda, a core pillar of which was “Honest Leadership and Open Government,” including democratic reforms like banning lobbyist gifts and travel and increasing transparency around special interest influence. That push was a direct reaction to a series of corruption scandals involving Republican figures, including the bribery ring involving now-infamous Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, which landed several George W. Bush Cabinet officials and Republican legislators in jail.

After winning control of Congress, Democrats passed an ethics reform package in 2007 — which Bush signed — that addressed some of these pillars, including a ban on lobbyist gifts and a requirement that senators pay charter plane rates for riding in a private jet. Of course, lobbyists continue to find loopholes in this process.

After a year of Republican tax cuts — a core element of which was a massive cut for corporations — and what Democrats are calling a “full-frontal corporate assault on workers’ rights and consumers’ protections,” the party thinks the political climate is ripe for this message again. They have referred to the GOP tax bill as a “tax scam” and a giveaway to the wealthiest Americans. By 2027, 82.8 percent of the bill’s windfall is projected to go to the top 1 percent, according to a Tax Policy Center analysis.

Not to mention there’s been a spate of corruption allegations and ethics violations, some of which have gone un-investigated under the Trump administration — most recently involving Scott Pruitt, the embattled Environmental Protection Agency chair, who is under several investigations for excessive spending.

After the 2006 elections, the exit polls indicated that corruption was among the key issues driving voters to the polls. Democrats seem to be banking that the same will be true under Trump. The polling shows this message resonates with voters Protesters call for Trump’s tax returns at a rally in New York City. Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

But there’s been a big question mark over which messages Democrats should lead with. Should it be a policy-focused drive, aiming toward the progressive talking points that took hold of the 2016 Democratic primary, like universal health care and income inequality? Or a direct admonishment of Trump, whose approval rating has hovered around a low 42 percent at best? It’s a debate the party continues to have.

So far, the major shows of Democratic strength — from an upset win in the Pennsylvania special election with Conor Lamb to impressive gains in deep-red districts in Arizona to an almost-sweep statewide election in Virginia — have shown Democrats focusing on politics and the Republican agenda instead of Trump specifically.

There’s been a notable focus on health care, especially after Republicans spent the greater part of their first year in control of Congress trying to repeal an increasingly popular Obamacare, only to then successfully repeal the individual mandate in their tax bill. And now Democrats are establishing that their campaign against Trump will be focused on corruption and cronyism in his administration and in the Republican Party as a whole.

A report from the progressive group End Citizens United shows that voters polled in January 2018, found Democrats to lead Republicans on reducing special interest money in government and elections, but fell behind in bringing change to Washington (or as Trump puts it, draining the swamp). It appears as though Democrats are trying to drive this point home — and bring new faces to do it.