There are a whole host of issues where Democrats are the party that believes in making the tough, rational choices. From taxes, to building the middle class, to environmental policy*. We’re the party that has to tell people the truth: we’re going to have to burn a lot less carbon. We’re going to have to make industrial polluters pay if we want to slow industrial pollution. We’re going to have to pay taxes if we want education and social services.
I sometimes hear this described as a messaging problem: We’re the party that tells voters that they have to eat their vegetables and do their homework. If most voters were under 16, this would be a problem. Fortunately, most adults understand the value of vegetables and homework.
The problem isn’t that Democrats have to sell eat your veggies, it’s that they can’t sell eat your veggies to adults. I’m not particularly health conscious, but my whole apartment smells of the vegetables I roasted for dinner tonight. Sure, I’d rather have chocolate cake for dinner but I, like most adults, understand that in the long term that’s not a good idea.
And I think that’s the attitude we have to take: Sure tax increases are annoying, but the things they fund are better in the long run. Sure, there might be a problem switching to greener sources of energy and it might be a drag for some people to drive less, but the oceans are dying and the globe is warming. We’ll try to accommodate that as best we can, but ultimately, there is going to be some pain.
I know, I know, Jimmy Carter gave a speech in 1979, and a year and change later lost a presidential election. So we always have to sugar coat things. But seeing the consequences of the last 3 decades of a policy of cake for dinner and no homework, we may be ready for politicians to treat us like we’re adults.
* Yes, Lee demonstrated the other day that there are also issues where we, as a party don’t live up to that ideal. I still think it’s much more true of Democrats where we differ from Republicans, even if we do fall short.