It’s because the truth in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” is what Millennials long for and they are the key to taking back the House in 2018.
Taking back the House in 2018 isn’t about politics. It’s about national survival. And if the Democratic Party is to take back the House of Representatives in 2018 it will need the millennial vote. And if the Democratic Party wants the millennial vote it must be earned.
Right now there are lots of younger people who seem to believe that — as one intelligent 30-something woman told me last week — “both parties are just as bad.” I think she is very very wrong but I can understand why she believes that.
Fear and loathing of Trump is not enough to win over the disenchanted in the ranks of progressive millennials. What’s needed is a clear moral vision of right and wrong that’s passionately articulated.
Mistakes can’t be repeated— for instance Hillary Clinton’s identity politics-driven assumption that most progressive young women would automatically vote for a woman. Instead of voting for Hillary because of her gender many informed progressive millennials—both women and men—supported Bernie Sanders, on the basis of his his moral passion not his gender, age or race.
How do you lose the presidency to a man like Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate of all time?
Here’s how: you run a campaign devoid of passionate moral clarity.
According to her new book Hillary Clinton says she turned to the people who knew what was wrong with America to craft solutions: “I started calling policy experts,” she writes, “reading thick binders of memos, and making lists of problems that needed more thought.” Proceeding in this rational, expert-sanctioned technocratic power-point presentation-style, Clinton set out resolutely on the road to… oblivion.
That was then. This is now.
If the Democratic Party wants to win back the House–and quite literally save the country by stopping the forward momentum of the Trumped Republican white supremacist party of oligarchy–it needs to learn another language. This language is not learned in books let alone in Davos, while schmoozing with billionaires. It is the language of sincere, unscripted transparent moral suasion in other words it is the art of making an appeal to morality in order to fundamentally change behavior. It is all about intrinsic values not utilitarian charts concerning what “works.”
Surprise! Millennials care about right and wrong!
Right wing propaganda spews lies claiming that Millennials are incapable of forming a moral vision for their generation and that someone else needs to do it for them. Another lie is that millennials are driven by identity politics. The 2016 election result proved both claims to be false.
Whatever many millennials were looking for it was not someone “reading thick binders of memos, and making lists of problems that needed more thought.” Put it this way: the new generation seems to reflect the “old fashioned” moral priorities that Frank Capra fought for in his movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Moral passion is in. Cold selfish calculation is out.
What seems important to Millennials are the things in life that have intrinsic value– fairness, meaning, purpose, love, beauty and doing the right thing for its own sake. Thus it seems to me that one lesson learned from 2016 is that anyone who wants the Democrats to take back the House of Representatives in 2018 — as I do — had better preach passionate moral sermons that appeal to the millennials’ longing for a higher purpose.
According to the authoritative 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey
Millennials feel accountable for many issues in both the workplace and the wider world. However, it is primarily in and via the workplace that they feel most able to make an impact. Opportunities to be involved with “good causes” at the local level, many of which are enabled by employers, provide millennials with a greater feeling of influence. …
Surveyed millennials… are more comfortable with plain, straight-talking language from both business and political leaders; respond to passionate opinions; and identify with leaders who appeal to anyone who might feel “left out” or isolated.
The millennials’ tagline seems to me to be: “I’m for the many, not the few!”
To hear the deranged white supremacist Breitbart Right spew you’d think that all millennials want is “safe places” in universities where free speech is curtailed. In reality for Millennials it’s all about democratic control of the society we live in to facilitate basic fairness.
Millennials’ ideal of fairness includes:
- universal health care for all,
- universal education,
- college debt relief,
- public housing,
- eco-friendly public control of energy resources that safeguard our fragile planet,
- a generous welcome for immigrants of all races and faiths,
- coming together to combat economic injustices,
- propelling movements that fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry,
- outrage at the Prison Industrial Complex that exists not only to oppress people of color but to line the pockets of some of country’s wealthiest white elite,
- the concept of justice and liberty that translates as this: when you put in a full day’s work, you get paid a living wage!
Millennials are living in the real world
As Chris McGreal notes in the Guardian they “get” student loan debt. And millennials’ get money woes, “rents are exorbitant and many are paying $300-a-month premiums for Obamacare.” And under Trump’s lazy introspective misrule Millennials now share most of us Americans’ disgust at the prospect of millions of us losing health coverage while millions more see their health insurance premiums surge as Trump deliberately sabotages Obamacare in favor of tax giveaways for the 1 percent.
And then there’s college debt
Often, the most vulnerable borrowers are not those with the largest debt, but low-income students, first-generation students, and students of color – especially those who may attend less prestigious schools and are less likely to quickly earn enough to repay their loans, if they graduate at all. … In its last years, the Obama administration tried to rein in the student loan industry and promoted more options for reduced repayment plans for federal loans. Since then, Donald Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has reversed or put on hold changes the former education secretary John B King’s office proposed and appears bent on further loosening the reins on the student loan industry, leaving individual students little recourse amid bad service.
A lot of people are far too cynical about the Democratic Party … even saying that “they are the same” as the Republicans. Bullshit!
- Republicans will let the trillionaire oil and gas folks like the Koch brothers continue to rape and destroy the planet.
- The Democratic Party is trying to stop environmental degradation.
- Democrats believe in equal rights for gays and transgenders and women. Republicans don’t.
- Trumped Republicans coddle Nazis and the KKK. Not so the Democrats.
- And there is much, much more from universal medical care to paying off student debt….
Republicans think that having a social conscience is dangerous
Republicans in Congress back Trump’s meanness not just on immigration but the entire social safety net. Compassion is out! Codling white privilege is in! The GOP mantra seems to be: Let’s crush those needy young people– for their own good! Give em’ character! As political commentator and activist Howie Klein, pointed out in his blog on Blue America:
The stark fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and virtually every member of the Republican congress are trying to pass [bills]… that will literally result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, bankruptcy for many more and suffering for millions. And why are they doing this? They want to get their hands on 800 billion dollars that funds Obamacare so that for the first time since 1986 they can give permanent tax cuts to the likes of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
Republicans hate the social safety net, except when tax money is used to bolster the fortunes of corporations and billionaires. They believe that a society without “economic incentives”–in other words a society where if you need help you’re on your own–leads to economic stagnation. But as Garrison Keillor writes in the Washington Post Republicans are total hypocrites … when it’s convenient to be.
The Republic of Texas believes in self-reliance and is suspicious of Washington sticking its big nose in your business. “Government is not the answer. You are not doing anyone a favor by creating dependency, destroying individual responsibility.” So said Sen. Ted Cruz (R), though not last week. Sunday on Fox News, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Texas would need upward of $150 billion in federal aid for damage inflicted by Harvey. The stories out of Houston have all been about neighborliness and helping hands and people donating to relief funds, but you don’t raise $150 billion by holding bake sales. This is almost as much as the annual budget of the U.S. Army. I’m just saying.
What the millennials care most about these days in politics is a quest for a new and fair, ‘New Deal’– for everyone
Franklin Roosevelt’s remake of the American economic system — his shot at reining in the forces of heartless capitalism-gone-wild — saved America. The Works Progress Administration, which provided jobs to millions made unemployed by economic collapse, was at one time the single largest employer in the country. A raft of legislation addressed pay, working conditions and housing. Roosevelt also introduced banking regulation that stayed in place until the 1990s.
Roosevelt saw his reforms as laying the foundations for the very kind of social democratic societies the US helped build in Western Europe after the Second World War through the Marshal Plan… but – most ironically! – then failed to build here. Bluntly: America helped make compassionate caring socialism work in Europe but not at home.
What we need is a call from Democrats to take a page from both Roosevelt and Frank Capra… Let me explain…
The 1946 American Christmas fantasy — “It’s a Wonderful Life” — needs to be re-watched and re-learned. There’s a reason it has lasted over the decades: It’s a call to make America morally great, not “again” but for the first time. It is what we hunger for: a fair life, a good life, a meaningful loving life shaped not by greed and ambition but by the most humane passion of all: empathy.
And the context in which Capra made the movie–the moment right after we’d defeated the very kind of fascism, racism and nazism that Trump is now revisiting on us — is scarily apt in 2017. The fascist white supremacist right (not to mention angry delusional white evangelicals) are Trump’s biggest fans. Frank Capra call your office!
Capra asks us to choose a worldview that affirms the I-am-my-brother’s-keeper philosophy over greed.
The context in which Capra asked us to make this choice was one wherein he’d been working during World War Two to defeat the Nazis. And it was right after the war Capra made his statement about what to do with the hard won peace.
What’s Capra’s point made in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
It is that democracy must be based on moral fairness or it will fail.
According to Wikipedia, Frank Capra enlisted shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to work directly under Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, who would later create the Marshall Plan and be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for helping to rebuild Europe as a fair democratic and socially responsible society, with a social safety net for all that would become an example to the world.
During his first meeting with General Marshall, Capra received his wartime orders when Marshall said, “Now, Capra, I want to nail down with you a plan to make a series of documented, factual-information films—the first in our history—that will explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting… You have an opportunity to contribute enormously to your country and the cause of freedom. Are you aware of that, sir?”
Shortly after his meeting with General Marshall, Capra had viewed Leni Riefenstahl‘s Nazi-loving (alt-right-style) “terrifying motion picture,” Triumph of the Will. Capra describes the film as “the ominous prelude of Hitler’s holocaust of hate. “I sat alone and pondered. How could I mount a counterattack against Triumph of the Will; keep alive our will to resist the master race? I was alone; no studio, no equipment, no personnel.”
Capra considered one important idea that had always been in his thoughts: I thought of the Bible. There was one sentence in it that always gave me goose pimples: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
After the war Capra continued his moral crusade he’d started in his documentaries on “Why We Fight” directed at American soldiers.
In “It’s a Wonderful Life” the hero played by Jimmy Stewart–George Bailey–does moral battle with the heartless greed-maddened banker, the Koch brothers/Trump-like Potter. Potter is the richest man in town, only stopped from even greater riches and total power thanks to the brave efforts of Bailey and his struggling Building & Loan Company.
Bailey handles his business in a way that is based on empathy, compassion and community, goodness and mercy. Potter represents the worst qualities of capitalism and greed that lives on today in Trump’s and the Republican Party’s callous, elitist cabal of wealthy white oligarchs who the Republican lickspittles solely serve.
Millennials’ ideals are a reaffirmation of Frank Capra’s and General Marshall’s Humanist vision
Democratic candidates in 2018 could do worse than chanel Bailey’s famous speech in the movie, and adopt his (and Capra’s) non-cynical tone and substance as their own:
George Bailey: Just a minute… just a minute! Now, hold on, Mr. Potter! You’re right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. … But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what’s wrong with that? … Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you’ll ever be!
Trump’s predatory Potter-like capitalism caters solely to the needs and interests of the rich and powerful by enforcing policies that are detrimental to ordinary people.
It is a system that ruthlessly defends the interests of the 1% over those of the rest of society. And it provides a direct link to Capra’s the images of George Bailey’s moral crusade in Pottersville that — via Trump and the GOP Trump-collaborators — we’re reliving right now.
But… I am full of hope.
The future can be put back on a track of justice, fairness and beauty. This can be a color-blind, open and good country. We can re-embrace the real American dream that’s not defined by greed but by tolerance and compassion.
Here’s the good news…
I’ve been meeting new Democratic Party candidates from across the country and also several members of Congress running for reelection. I’m encouraged because many of them are young, and many are women. They are smart, caring and motivated to stop Trump and the far right from trashing empathy, goodness and love forever. They are the new face of the Democratic Party.
I want to do my bit to help introduce these new faces (and some old ones too) to the millions of people — including the tens of thousands of millennials — who watch my videos I post on Facebook and here in this blog.
Why am I doing this? Because I care about my 5 grandchildren! Period.
If not now (in the lead up to 2018): when? If not you and me: who?
…I’ll be taking a cross-country road trip starting very soon and producing at least 20 three to five-minute unscripted videos on my iPhone talking to many of the new Democratic Party candidates.
(Some of my video commentaries in the last couple of years have had 4 to 5 million views. Others 1 million and many more in the hundreds of thousands. So I’m hoping to build on this crazy exposure to do my small part in helping the better sort of clear thinking Democratic candidates win.)
I’m not registered as a Democrat but as an independent (unaffiliated) voter who used to be a Republican and religious right leader until I fled the evangelical movement in the late 1980s. That said, I’m going to work my butt off between now and the 2018 election to do everything I can to help the Democrats to Take Back The House! They are the only viable game in town to stop Trump and the Republicans from destroying American hopes and dreams of a fairer better society, the society I want to leave to my 5 grandchildren.
What can my video production tour (hopefully) achieve?
I hope I can help change the image of the Democratic Party — at least for the people who watch my video blogs. The Democrats have been tarnished by the image of an aging and failed establishment party.
The failed Hillary Clinton presidential bid — by what seemed to be a nepotistic out-of-touch self-absorbed wealthy clan — didn’t help. Thus Democratic Party leaders are too often perceived as just more rich people speaking for candidates who reflect the interests of billionaires.
… today as we face 2018 this is a FALSE image!
Actually there’s a bright new day coming in 2018.
At the state, local and national level new candidates are stepping forward in unprecedented numbers to run for office, to STOP Trump and to defeat the racist, greed-driven and xenophobic Republican agenda.
- I want to help others experience the surprise and joy I felt meeting today’s new faces in the Democratic Party who are vibrant, open, authentic,
- I want to share my enthusiasm for these new faces in the Democratic Party,
- I want to see the Democrats TAKE BACK THE HOUSE in 2018!
get involved with your local Democratic Party congressional races and your state Democratic Party and volunteer early…