BERNARD COLUMN: Political priorities and the upcoming elections

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, March 15, 2022

By Jack Bernard
Bernard is a retired corporate executive

We are coming out of the pandemic. Not as quickly as some folks would have you believe, but still that situation is getting much better. And Covid will be much less of a factor in November than it was last year or is now. And that has major implications for the Democrats, who are already under pressure to slow the apparent GOP tidal wave in 2022 elections.

Recent 2022 (versus 2021) polling by Pew Research confirms the above statement. Strengthening the economy now ranks first as the public’s top concern with 71% saying it should be a top priority, followed by reducing healthcare costs (61%), the pandemic (60%), education (58%), and securing social security (57%). On the bottom of the list were drug programs (31%), global trade (35%), strengthening the military (37%), race issues (37%), climate change (42%) and helping the poor (44%).

If the Democrats want to have any chance in November, they need to address these top priorities. And deemphasize areas that the public does not view as very important.

As I have written elsewhere, the economy is rather good with unemployment low and job creation way up.

So, why is our economy so concerning to Americans? The answer is clear-runaway inflation. Inflation was one of the main reasons Jimmy Carter, an admirable person, was a one term President. Biden needs to have a better answer than pass the Build Back Better Bill or be patient. He and his fellow Democrats also must construct common talking points, selling the positive aspects of our economy much more effectively.

Biden also must emphasize specific, understandable methods for bringing down healthcare costs. For example, having Medicare negotiate drug prices for seniors, which should be a “no-brainer.” Supposedly, both parties agree on this topic, yet it goes nowhere due to Big Pharma lobbyist money. Attacking Big Pharma and private healthcare insurers, who are both making enormous profits, will only help the Democrats. However, industry campaign funds will dry up, upsetting some key politicians, like Senator Schumer.

Stabilizing social security is another obvious area that can be easily and quickly addressed. Currently, social security taxes stop at $147,000. Why? To most Americans, that income limit makes no sense. If all income was taxed, as it should be, there would be no problem regarding Social Security financial stabilization.

Finally, Biden and the Democratic leadership need to get the progressive wing to be more careful about what they say in public between now and November. As a social progressive, I’m personally of the opinion that race, climate change and poverty are major issues that must be addressed by America. And I have said as much in dozens of columns.

However, I am not running for office in 2022. If I was, these issues would not be major talking points for me.

To change the system, you first must get in power. That means getting elected. And these issues are very low on the priority list for mainstream, moderate voters who will make the difference in November. Winning in 2022 is very important not only for the Democrats but for our nation.

The GOP has been taken over by the radical Trump faction, which espouses views that are anti-democratic and authoritarian rather than conservative. If this version of the GOP takes the House and Senate, as is likely, our democratic republic is in for a rough ride.