All is not lost. In danger, there is opportunity.
As the midterm election approaches, more than a few Democrats are nervously eyeing nose-diving poll numbers and fielding angry calls from their constituents about A.) Rising gas prices, B.) Rising food prices, C.) Rising housing costs, or D.) All of the above.
“A sour and angry America poised to punish Dems this fall,” announced Politico in somber tones today, to the likely surprise of many mainstream media outlets still trying to put a brave face on things.
“Biden and his top advisers know that the window to change the economic narrative through executive action is rapidly closing,” continued Politico, in a not-so-subtle prod of President Joe Biden to revive the “phone and pen” presidency of his predecessor.
Former President Barack Obama did visit the White House recently, in an effort to remind any Americans feeling sour and angry that Democrats did deliver on their promises with the roll-out of Obamacare.
Still, Breakfast Club host Charlamagne Tha God- never one to mince words- recently summed up the feelings of many voting Democrats during an interview with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“You do realize, Pete, a lot of black people feel like Democrats have kept no promises,” Charlamagne told Buttigieg on April 8. Buttigieg appeared shocked to hear it.
“Really?” the Transportation Secretary replied, a bit flustered, before launching into a full-throated defense of the Biden Administration and its efforts on infrastructure.
Infrastructure, however, as Charlamagne and his listeners must have noted, is something most voters consider a given. Bridges, roads, sewer systems, electrical grids and civil defense are the barest minimum of what people expect from their government.
Plus, Obamacare was a decade ago, and plenty of people remain uninsured and underinsured to this day. Plenty of voting Democrats are sounding a lot like Janet Jackson: “What have you done for me lately?”
The cost of living increase trifecta that is hitting the most economically vulnerable hardest- skyrocketing prices for food, fuel and shelter are taking an unsustainable bite out of many a modest household budget.
Plenty of families are in immediate danger of shooting right down the socioeconomic ladder. The rising cost of living is enough to knock plenty of families right out of the Middle Class.
The rising cost of living is proving a great uniter: Across the demographic board, being plunged into penury is hardening many who have historically voted Democrat in the past.
In this, as in so many other things, Covid19 didn’t cause these challenges so much as worsen them to the point they have become impossible to ignore. The wealth gap is absurd, and it was so even before the 10 wealthiest people on the planet doubled their wealth during the pandemic.
The plight of the working class in American has long been haunted. There are three things in particular Democrats could focus on over the next few months in order to turn their midterm fortunes around.
They are three issues most politicians and elected officials spend almost no time talking about, but which impact the lives of Americans- from the cradle to the grave- perhaps more-so than any other topics about which media companies, Hollywood do-gooders and corporate advertising departments waste an ocean of digital ink daily
The issues also represent three major opportunities being missed by both parties to connect with voters on things that really matter: Healthcare, education and the drug overdose crisis.
The High Cost of Healthcare
Contemporary American society has three serious problems no one is doing anything about and it is compounding all the others.
First and foremost, are healthcare and education.
The costs of both have not kept pace with inflation, with what the market will bear, with any semblance of sanity or good sense.
Democrats in the White House just celebrated the anniversary of Obamacare. All these years later, millions of Americans still can’t afford their healthcare costs. Americans still pay more for prescription drugs than patients in any other nation.
That’s because other nations have government oversight panels with whom pharmaceutical companies must negotiate to set prices, extend patents, etc.
In the name of free-market economics, U.S. consumers don’t enjoy this benefit. Instead of a panel of elected officials to review the plan to roll out a new drug and advocate for consumers, drug companies are allowed to price their wares at “whatever the market will bear.”
Well, the market isn’t bearing it.
Those with insurance might do alright, most of the time. Everyone else is forced to pay twice and three times what people in other countries pay for the same drugs- if they can.
For many, they can’t.
Unaffordable Higher Education
The same is true for the costs of higher education. While not every economist agrees, the Biden Administration’s recent decision to extend the student loan repayment freeze was no doubt a compassionate one. But the fact that graduates owe such extraordinarily large sums in the first place is a bit of a red flag.
What student loan borrowers really need is more affordable higher education options. Options which don’t require the loan equivalent of a large house would be good for the economy, good for workers, good for employers.
A sensible government would want its citizens to be able to easily and cheaply attain as much formal education and training as they can stand. Instead, a cabal of universities and colleges have made attending college financially prohibitive for a large percentage of the adult population.
The third thing politicians are avoiding to their cost is America’s new drug problems.
Summer of Fentanyl
Crack cocaine was a terrible tragedy; methamphetamines have destroyed families, lives and communities. The opioid crisis has devastated entire swaths of the country.
Have we ever seen a drug as deadly as fentanyl?
The DEA warns this week that “mass overdose events” have been increasing with alarming frequency. Unlike most drug overdoses, which are accidental, these overdose events which kill multiple people happen when fentanyl has been intentionally substituted for a less lethal drug.
Drug traffickers are dressing fentanyl up as cocaine; they are turning it into counterfeit prescription pills. During these “mass overdose events”, 6 out of 7 people who accidentally ingest fentanyl do not survive the incident, according to DEA statistics.
The DEA also warns that enough fentanyl flowed over the Southern border in 2021 to kill all 330 million or so odd souls in the U.S.
Politicians aren’t eager to discuss this problem because the Southern border is a very hot-button political topic.
However, drug enforcement policies have nothing to do with immigration law, immigration reform, illegal immigration or the relative morality of borders in general.
A deadly epidemic is killing otherwise healthy young people, many of whom are more likely than ever to be self-medicating in the age of Covid when depression, overdose and suicide rates are wildly elevated.
If Democrats spend the next six months helping the U.S. get a grip on these three issues, there needn't be any sleep lost on election night.
And perhaps none during subsequent elections either.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)