Bob Ehrlich: Here's the Presidential Rhetorical Playbook, Circa 2019


Most readers of this column view the Democrats’ headlong race to the left as political suicide. Indeed, it is at times difficult to take all of progressivism’s new policy positions seriously. But we must nevertheless endeavor to do so as the 22 announced candidates continue to one-up one another from deep left field.

Please be advised the following may cause dizziness, migraines, head lice, sleepless nights, acid reflux and a desire to drink heavily, but all of us should at least try to understand the ways, means and ends of the progressive presidential rhetorical playbook, circa 2019.

1. Medicare for All

A progressive initiative supported by just about every entrant into the field. But what does it mean? And what to do with the 180 million Americans presently (and happily) covered under private insurance? Sen. Kamala Harris, for one, has gone back and forth on this one. But for most of the others, it comes down to government-sponsored and paid for “free” health care, presumably along the British model. The Hospital Trust Fund’s pending insolvency by 2026 has not been made part of the conversation, but it should be. If you are thinking about that long-postponed medical procedure, you might want to move your schedule up a notch.

2. ICE: gone

Nike Under Fire After 'Outrageous' Women's US Olympics Uniforms Are Unveiled

In the words of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, “There is no such thing as an illegal human.” No single sentence says more about where the leading contenders are on the issue of open borders. Per this logic, there would be no urgent need — and perhaps no need whatsoever — for an agency tasked with tracking down and capturing illegal aliens.

3. Green New Deal

The most extreme elements here (elimination of cows, airplanes) are dangerously silly, but this agenda item represents an immediate, serious war on fossil fuels, thereby representing a threat to America’s (world) dominant position in the production of clean natural gas. Note that LNG exports jumped 35 percent in the record-breaking year of 2018.

Here, state of the art fracking operations do not make the grade. A prohibitive cost and job loss tab (and the political necessity of rebuilding that industrial Midwest “blue wall”) will keep this program more “aspirational” than real for now, but it has become an instant environmental manifesto for progressive Democrats. Remember, per former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, “We only have ten years left!!!”

4. Tax increases

Specifics vary, but every Democratic candidate in the field (most prominently Sens. Sanders and Warren) promises to revisit the Trump tax cuts of 2017 — our present stunningly successful growth economy notwithstanding. “Reform” will assuredly focus on increases in the individual brackets and higher taxing of capital gains, and a prohibition on stock buy-back provisions.

5. Electoral College: gone

A more serious proposal now that Al Gore and Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote while losing their respective elections. The deep blue, large population states of New York and California provide momentum for this growing movement. Fifteen states and jurisdictions (totaling 189 electoral votes) have passed resolutions in support of this “national popular vote interstate compact.”

Once the number of electoral votes reaches 270, the electoral college would be eliminated. Granted, its passage is unlikely and its results, if passed, are not certain, but the left is deadly serious on this one.

Op-Ed: Bully Biden Threatens Our Democracy

6. Guaranteed annual income

Different alternatives exist, but this is an idea with a wide left-of-center appeal. Sen. Cory Booker’s idea to provide every low-income baby born with $1,000 and then up to $2,000 annually until age 18 is one iteration aimed at closing the racial wealth gap.

7. Extreme abortion

This is not about Roe vs. Wade. Plain and simple, this disquieting proposal covers near-birth as well as post-birth abortion, a.k.a. infanticide. This one represents a potential overreach that could very well turn off middle-of-the-road, pro-choice voters.

8.a. Everybody votes

Not yet ripe for the national stage, a number of progressive towns and villages are experimenting with the idea of everyone gets to vote, regardless of citizenship. If you have a problem with this idea, see Item 2. Do not be surprised if this idea picks up momentum as 2020 draws near.

8.b. Everybody votes

Forget the familiar allegations of racism/suppression behind ballot security laws such as mandatory photo identification. Sen. Sanders recently upped the ante with a call for enfranchising violent terrorists such as the Boston Marathon bomber. Left unsaid are the voting rights of violent terrorist illegal aliens…

9. Reparations

How it would all work seems to be in the eye of the beholder. But a number of leading contenders (Sanders, Booker, Warren, Harris) are on record as supportive. Nobody really knows how far the Democrats are willing to take this issue, but they certainly understand where the Democratic base is these days.

10. Eliminate the right to work

A logical (if horribly ill-considered) endpoint for a field devoted to the expansion of public and private sector unionism. Sen. Harris is in the vanguard here, but expect the rest of the field to quickly follow suit.

11. Venezuela

If you expected to see a modicum of cooperation regarding the corrupt dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro … you would be incorrect. The Trump administration’s strong support for the lawfully-elected Juan Guaidó may be giving headaches to Florida Democrats, but progressives (Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Gabbard) view any U.S. pressure against the regime as unacceptable interference. To boot, Sanders has refused to recognize Guaidó as the legitimate leader of the country.

Parenthetical note: we are now officially light years from JFK’s promise to “Pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

So, with all that in mind, go ahead and operate heavy machinery. There is no chance you’ll be drowsy enough to fall asleep.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , ,
Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.