As Democrats plan their attacks for the mid-term elections, they must focus on economics and not on culture (any aspect of "Trump's persona" goes under cultural issues).
The main line of BS that Republicans have been spoon-feeding voters is the same old failed trickle-down supply-side economics of the Reagan years. Only now they figured out that if they could convince major companies to throw some breadcrumbs to their workers in the form of small one-off bonuses, it would make for better propaganda than an IOU.
The natural response is that one-time bonuses of small size do nothing to improve a person's standard of living, even over the next two years, forget the next 5, 10, or 20 years. They need to double their income, not halve their taxes.
The long-term solution is to impose tariffs on foreign manufacturing so that these plants will be built in America and employ Americans at the high wages that such economic activity naturally provides, unlike the unprofitable activity related to agriculture. Since Trump ran on this issue, it would be one where Democrats would help Trump achieve his good policies, from the Democrat perspective, since he basically ran his campaign as a Democrat who wanted to restrict immigration.
For a shorter-term solution, which would have longer-term benefits as well, the Democrats must push for a higher minimum wage -- some are saying $15 an hour, but why not a nice round $20 opening bid? (And index to inflation.)
It is a no-brainer to prove the superiority of higher wages over a one-time bonus, so there goes what little the GOP had to point to for economic benefits to the sub-elite classes. Not to mention the no-brainer of portraying this as benefiting the vast majority over a handful of wealthy elites and corporations.
The mid-terms would make a nice time to use this single issue to branch out into other populist issues in time for the next general election, making it a non-reformist reform.
For example, the Democrats could steal all of the anti-immigration voters away from the GOP by proposing a $20 minimum wage. The entire purpose of open borders is for employers to have infinite access to cheap labor, rather than pay Americans a decent wage. By making it illegal to employ cheap labor -- $20 an hour is certainly not cheap -- there goes 90% of immigration.
If employers had to pay $20 an hour, they would not bother with immigrants, who don't do as good of a job as Americans do, and who are not as well integrated into our society. If you're forced to pay $20 an hour, you're going to try to get the absolute best workers you can -- and those will be Americans, not desperate foreigners.
That will be true whether the foreigners tried coming here illegally, or were brought in legally on visas. At $20 an hour, there would simply be no more demand for them. You might as well hire an American and get more bang for your buck.
This will also work even better than E-Verify to force foreigners out of our country who do not belong here. They are only sustained by cheap-paying employers. Once employers have to pay $20 an hour, all employment will dry up for the 50 million foreigners here, and most of them will pack up and go home.
That is true not only for the illegals, but a good chunk of the legal immigrants too. Even if they had naturalized status as citizens -- if nobody wants to hire you, because you don't produce as much as an American would for $20 an hour, you'll be permanently unemployed. You came to America to enjoy higher wages than your homeland, while still steeply undercutting American workers' wages. But if that's no longer possible, you won't get hired, and you might as well go back, where you'll be better socially and culturally integrated anyway.
Democrats would not have to emphasize this pleasant side-effect on immigration that would come from raising the minimum wage to a living wage, but they would peel off far more voters from the other party, including in red districts, come into office with a larger mandate, and remove the sole major issue that anyone even bothers voting Republican for anymore.
Trump won the general election by stealing two major issues from Democrats -- trade and foreign policy (and the minor issue of not touching the social safety net) -- while Bernie and similar Democrats would only have to steal one major issue to dominate the elections -- immigration.
Framing it entirely in terms of class and standard-of-living avoids making it a cultural issue tinged with race or ethnicity. And the non-white base of the Democrats are African-American citizens -- not foreigners of any race. They will not get offended just because raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour will slash the amount of immigrants coming in, and ramp up the number of them leaving the country. "I got mine, bitch, now you go getcho own back in Mexico or India or China."
There's more to be said on how raising the minimum wage would re-configure the business landscape, since there's plenty of scare-mongering there, but suffice it to say that it would cause a re-allocation of investment away from crappy ventures that only survive by paying $2 an hour wages (a Mexican hole-in-the-wall "restaurant"), and into ventures that were profitable while paying at least $20 an hour (a manufacturing plant).
Consumer prices stay the same when labor costs go up, due to competition on price among rival firms in a sector. Instead, it is profits that get affected by higher costs. Still, lower profits won't necessarily be borne by stockholders -- maybe they can pay the same dividends to shareholders, while making the bloated management eat the losses caused by higher low-end labor costs. Instead of $10 million a year in compensation, an executive makes "only" $5 million or just $1 million a year, while the amount going to shareholders stays the same.
(This reduces inequality, and makes for a more harmonious society.)
Managers could not threaten to leave for greener pastures, since all companies would be facing higher low-end labor costs with a $20 minimum wage. And no group of stockholders would want to eat the lower profits themselves; all would do their best to make the managerial class eat those losses instead via lower compensation.
There may be differences by sector, where in some the managers would have relatively more power than stockholders, and executive pay would not suffer as much as dividends. And in others, managers would have far less power than stockholders, and executive pay would really take it up the ass. But on the whole, it is likely to be the lavishly compensated ranks of managers who would suffer from a higher minimum wage, rather than the owners of the companies themselves.
Labor and capital coming together to squeeze the cancerous managerial class -- a natural fit for the Democrats, whose coalition includes not only financiers but trade unions, as opposed to the yuppie managerial specialty of Congressional Republicans. Democrat sectors of the economy (finance, tech, media) are not labor-intensive, so they wouldn't be harmed much anyway, compared to the GOP's sectors which are all labor-intensive (manufacturing, energy, agriculture, armed force).
It is also the managerial class that is most forceful in bringing in cheap labor -- stockholders don't care how costs are kept down, and that could just as well happen by slashing managerial compensation while keeping labor costs at a living wage, which would exclude immigrants. Pursuing their own class interests, the managers and professionals want to make labor the one to shoulder the burden of the stockholders' orders to cut costs, while keeping their own costs comfortably high.
The people who Americans always hear complaining about "I can't find Americans to do this job" are managerial types, not stockholders, who are too removed from the hiring and firing process. The managers cannot find Americans to do the job at the low wage being offered. Raise the wage, fill the job immediately with Americans.
In this way, a movement for a $20 minimum wage would heighten their class consciousness as well as their national consciousness. Who benefits the most from immigration? Employers of cheap labor. Not so much the stockholders, who are invisible to workers and who are not involved much in day-to-day operations of a company. Working people have much more contact with, and hatred of, the managerial layers above them, and these are the ones responsible for hiring and firing, including the drive to hire cheap immigrants over "costly" Americans.
The Trump movement was primarily anti-yuppie rather than anti-investor, another way in which it was attacking the Republican orthodoxy (of appealing to managers and professionals rather than workers or wealthy investors).
The Bernie movement is more explicitly anti-investor, yet remains vague and squishy about how anti-managerial it is. Typical of socialist and Marxist movements, which are primarily composed of managerial and professional types, who are happy to attack stockholders while continuing to exploit the working class in distinctly managerial ways, like wanting open borders for cheap-labor immigrants.
If the Bernie-style Democrats want to appeal to more Americans and confront the most pressing problems, they have to take on the managerial yuppies more than the uber-rich stockholders. That's not so far from the class orientation of the party already. And the main issue to do this -- jacking up the minimum wage -- is already on the Bernie agenda. And its side effects on immigration would steal away large swaths of GOP voters without alienating core Democrat voters, as long as these were pointed out in neutral terms.