Hey, I just thought of a great way for Virginia Democrats to motivate the base to turn out and vote for a Democratic Senate. It occurred to me as I was listening to the first in a series of reports by Michael Pope on WAMU radio on the rip-off artists known as “car-title lenders.”
After discussing how one poor victim took out a loan for $2,600 and ended up paying a whopping $5,515, Pope then shifts to a staunch defender of the industry:
“It’s not predatory,” says Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, who has taken about $37,000 from TitleMax in the last decade. He says if people like Waverly didn’t have access to businesses like TitleMax, they would find other ways to get the money.
“Well they borrow it on the street,” he says. “Borrow $100 on Monday, pay back $200 on Friday, 10,000 percent APR. That’s where they were borrowing money. And if they didn’t pay it back they got the hell beat out of them and they still had to pay it back.”
The report then cites the Center for Responsible Lending, which indicates no evidence of such a black market for loans, but reports that car-title lenders in 21 states are “costing borrowers about $3.6 billion each year in interest on $1.6 billion in loans.”
In other words, Sen. Saslaw is doing here precisely what we see conservatives on Fox do every single day: make an utterly ridiculous argument, contrary to all known facts – but in concert with his donors’ economic interests.
That seems to work for Republicans. But guess what? We’re Democrats. We don’t just make excuses to avoid helping poor, defenseless Americans from being exploited. We get involved in politics precisely to help the type of people who need to be protected from those who would prey on them.
Real Democrats, like Attorney General Mark Herring and Del. Scott Surovell, are working to restrict the worst abuses of the car-title lending industry, through increased enforcement and new legislation. Like most Virginia Democrats, they absolutely need and deserve your support.
But Virginia Senate Democrats have a branding problem, and that problem is leadership by the dinosaur Saslawasaurus Rex. We all look bad if the face of the state Democratic party is an out-of-date, anti-environment, pro-payday lending, all-around jerk.
So, here’s the idea – Senate Democrats, Saslaw included, make the following simple pledge: if elected, you will choose new leadership.
It does not make sense to have a leader who violates the deepest values of our party, and the Democratic base understands that. So now’s the time — before the election — to send a message: that the next Senate will lead Virginia Democrats into a positive progressive future, leaving pay-to-play politics behind.
Or, alternatively, you can just expect Democratic voters to believe that somehow the same old leadership is going to start producing glorious new results.
And if anyone out there believes that, I’ve got a great 200% interest loan to offer you…