Fantasizing about their imminent takeover of Congress, the Democrats these last months have taken to throwing out all manner of ideas to see which ones stick. If you go to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s Web site you’ll find that the House minority leader has posted, like pasta on the fridge door, much of the party strategists’ starchy guesswork.
How about a vague commitment to national security? Never mind how counterterrorism will be executed. Just close your eyes and imagine it will be done differently than the way the Bush administration does it. Hey, maybe our shores will be safer if we just pull U.S. troops out of Iraq.
Or how about making post-secondary schooling, sometimes called college education, accessible to all Americans? Never mind how pumping federalfunds into such a project would inflate tuition. And never mind how universalizing degrees ultimately devalues them. If the Democrats don’t understand the economic laws at play here, maybe they can count on the hitherto un-secondarily schooled not to grasp them either.
What looks al dente this week are two pet notions of the self-styled progressive set. One, an old recipe actually, is to boost in two stages the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour by 2008. The other — ah! The march of Science! — is to do more than President Bush and the Republicans have done to fund stem cell research.
If the Democrats can just brand those issues as their own, goes the reasoning, they’re sure to strike fear into the Republicans’ hearts. What majority member wants to be caricatured as a Dickensian hard heart or as a high church inquisitor of Galileo? If the Democrats can frame the issues that way, and with some soft Republicans there’s evidence it’s working, the carbed-up voters this fall will storm Capitol Hill and replace the congressional leadership.
Some polls do show as many as 80 percent of Americans favor a two-dollar hike in the minimum wage. The Republican majority, following sound economics, has resisted popular increases for a decade, sustaining a propitious climate for job-creation. But if the Republicans acted as star economics pupils, they behaved abysmally in public relations, regularly voting themselves pay raises.
Likewise, President Bush last month cast his first-ever veto over a plan to increase funding for stem cell research. Clearly, his rejection was formed in conviction, a welcome reminder that much of the case for such research is built on fraudulent science and that needed medical advances can come from adult, not embryonic, stem cells.
Will the truth about these issues stop the Democrats from trying? Ask another. Will events, in the Middle East or elsewhere, turn this menu cold? Likely.