Why Are Democrats So Bad At Crafting Stories?
Democrats were on the Senate floor all last night trying to highlight the gutting of Obamacare by Senate Republicans with the secret plan that will be voted on with minimal debate and amendments. As usual for Democrats, the outrage made very little impact on the national media if the lack of coverage on the front page of the NY Times today is any indication. You would think that the mainstream media might be concerned about a bill effecting nearly 20% of the American economy being negotiated and passed virtually in secret.
As Josh Marshall points out, the press is taking a free pass when they say that no one knows what is in the Senate bill and giving a free pass to Republicans who say they haven’t seen the bill. The parameters are quite clear and everyone knows it is going to look remarkably similar to the House bill which will force 23 million off the insurance rolls and end up killing tens of thousands of Americans. It is hard to see that the Senate bill will dramatically change those numbers, perhaps only extending the period before those numbers become reality or, if you believe other reports, it could be even worse than the House bill.
But Senate Democrats have also been pretty weak in crafting a story that might actually grab the media and the general public and make them focus on this issue. The story is not so much that the bill is being crafted in secret. It is not so much that Republicans are engaging in the ultimate hypocrisy by passing this in secrecy and without hearings after complaining that Democrats rammed through the ACA without GOP input when, in fact, their were dozens of hearings and amendments. The story the Democrats should be telling is that this is all a part of a piece, an attack on our democracy by the Republican party.
Refusing to give Merrick Garland a hearing was an attack on our democracy. Changing Senate rules to put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court was an attack on our democracy. Getting the House to vote on a bill without a CBO score so that the economic and societal effects of the bill are unknown to those voting is an attack on our democracy. Crafting a bill in total secrecy that effects one-sixth of our economy is an attack on our democracy. In fact, these are the actions of a third world dictatorship.
The refusal of the President of the United States to acknowledge that the Russians hacked our election is an attack on our democracy twice over. The firing of the man leading the investigation of that Russian attack on our democracy is itself an attack on our democracy. Having the Attorney General lie under oath to the Senate confirmation committee is an attack on our democracy. That same Attorney General recused himself for the Russian investigation and then recommended firing the man leading that investigation. That is an attack on our democracy. Having the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Devin Nunes, recuse himself from the Russian investigation and then yesterday state that he has never done so is an attack on our democracy.
This is far more than a partisan issue. What the Republicans are doing in the Senate is affront to every American. Democracy demands that the actions of our representatives be transparent and open. When bills that effect millions of Americans and one-sixth of our economy are negotiated in secret and passed in the middle of the night, when government officials feel free to lie to Americans and flout the rule of law, then we cease to be a democracy. And that is the story Democrats need to be telling every single day.