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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Robert Kuttner’s “Q&A: A New 50-State Strategy” at The American Prospect features an interview with  Former DNC Chair Howard Dean on the DNC leadership contest and, more importantly, his ideas for rebuilding the Democratic Party. Among Dean’s observations: “We need a partnership between the DNC with the state parties, to get more Democrats elected to state legislatures. Republicans have been incredibly effective with that. They’ve creamed us, and that’s a really big problem..,And we need a national database. You’ve got to support the state parties with technology…We need two things: we need a 50-state strategy, and a 50-year strategy…[The] generation elected Barack Obama. 2008 was the only election in my lifetime where more people under 35 voted than over 65. This year is a wake-up call for that generation, which is really grief-stricken by Trump’s vote, because it was a repudiation of all their values. I think they’re ready to consider getting involved again.”

For an uplifting antidote to the downer images of the inauguration, check out “Pictures From Women’s Marches on Every Continent” in The New York Times. Will Trump be influenced by the demonstrations that drew an estimated on million protesters in the U.S.? Probably not, and certainly not in a good way, as his recent comments suggest. May it please be followed by more women candidates and a voter registration campaign of unprecedented size and energy. Washington Post reporters notes that “David Axelrod, one of Obama’s closest advisers and an architect of his campaign strategies, said it is incumbent upon Trump’s opponents to do more than march…“This is an impressive display today. But if it isn’t channeled into organizing in a focused way, then it is cathartic but not in the long run meaningful,” he said. “That’s the challenge for the progressive community.”

Put slightly differently, Edward-Isaac Dovere and Elana Schor ask in Politico “Will the women’s march be another Occupy, or a Democratic Tea Party? Organizers and participants want it to be a movement that can do what Trump did in his presidential campaign—only in reverse.” “Now they have to figure out what to do next to channel the raw energy of the marches into political action,” wite the authors. “And what is it that they’re about: Women’s equality? Reproductive Rights? Race? Climate change? Stopping Trump from putting someone they don’t want on the Supreme Court? Making him release his taxes? All of the above? Signs (and costumes) for all of that and more were all over the place on Saturday.”

In his Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne, Jr. explains, “The politics of the next few months and years will depend a great deal on whether the energy displayed on Saturday is sustained through the hard work of political activism. I can imagine skeptics reading this and saying one day of protests will be very easy for Trump and the Republican Party to absorb (even if one can imagine Trump’s fury at not getting even a day’s peace)…there is reason to believe this was not a one-off. First, there was not a single march in Washington but demonstrations all over the country. As the tea party showed, change comes from local actions coordinated nationally. There is clearly a large national base of opposition, community by community.”

The Post’s Philip RuckerJohn Wagner and Greg Miller do a good job of describing Trump’s splenetic over-reaction to the massive demonstrations in compared to the turnout at his inauguration, noting “President Trump used his first full day in office to wage war on the media, accusing news organizations of lying about the size of his inauguration crowd as Saturday’s huge protests served notice that a vocal and resolute opposition would be a hallmark of his presidency…With Americans taking to the streets in red and blue states alike to emphatically decry a president they consider reprehensible and, even, illegitimate, Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency for a stream-of-consciousness airing of grievances — including against journalists, whom he called “the most dishonest human beings on Earth…“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes,” Nick Shapiro, a former deputy chief of staff to Brennan, said in a statement. “Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

Still wondering what happened in Wisconsin?  Political consultant and educator Brandon Savage has a  provocative op-ed in Urban Milaukee entitled “Democrats Must Change Strategy: Stop bashing Walker and start addressing issues like taxes.” Savage writes “First, Democrats need to stop saying, “You’re voting wrong” to people who support Republicans. A vote is a calculation made by an individual based on what he or she feels is best for family, pocketbook and community. It’s a reflection of that individual’s values. Imagine someone telling you that your values are wrong. It’s an easy way to have a door slammed in your face. A voter like that will wonder, “What do they know about my values?” Don’t do it. Ever….Second, Democrats in the state Legislature have to get to work. They’re in a deep minority, but it’s not impossible to produce results. Democratic state Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee was first elected in 2012, but he’s already authored nearly 30 pieces of legislation based on criminal justice reform alone while having other bipartisan initiatives signed into law. He does it all without ever saying the words “Scott Walker.”…Third, it’s time to get real about the issues that matter. That means Democrats have to start supporting tax reform and address the burden of property taxes while creating real incentives for small businesses and farmers, aka, “Main Street.” Democrats can’t concede this issue because it’s a “Republican issue.” That’s a lazy excuse. It’s time Democrats get tough and talk about the issues that matter most in the small towns and rural communities where they need to win…Democrats can stand up for labor, public education and all the values they hold dear while still delivering a message and results that will make voters think, “They speak for me.”

Some words of wisdom for Democrats from former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, via RealClearPolitics: “…Democrats must diligently seek to establish countervailing power – stronger trade unions, community banks, more incentives for employee ownership and small businesses, and electoral reforms that get big money out of politics and expand the right to vote…The Party must change from being a giant fundraising machine to a movement. It needs to unite the poor, working class, and middle class, black and white – who haven’t had a raise in 30 years, and who feel angry, powerless, and disenfranchised.”

It looks like salon.com screwed up the headline (‘repeal,’ not ‘appeal’?), but Margaret Greenwood-Ericksen, National Clinician Scholar, Clinical Lecturer, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, University of Michigan and Mahshid Abir, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, have some research underscoring the dangers of the GOP’s reckless campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As Abir and Greenwood-Ericksen write, “To improve rural health, it is critical to maintain the expansion of Medicaid. We must find a way to expand coverage for the rest of rural America – two-thirds of uninsured people in rural areas live in nonexpansion states…we are facing a rural hospital closure crisis. The cause of this is complex, but over 70 percent of the closures have occurred in states that did not expand Medicaid – which appears to be linked to improved finances, as hospitals in expansion states have experienced less uncompensated care….An immediate repeal of Medicaid expansion and the private marketplaces without a thoughtful transition and comprehensive plan to maintain health insurance coverage will result in catastrophic consequences for rural health…It will result in a sudden decrease of the insured rates, leading to a dramatic increase in uncompensated care which will likely drive further rural hospital closures. This will result in a crisis of access to emergency care and harm rural economies, condemning rural Americans to an unbreakable cycle of poor health and poverty. American identity is steeped in a desire to protect our most vulnerable – but we need to act now to save our heartland.”

Any bets on how long the petition urging the federal government to release Trump’s tax returns will last on the White House web pages?

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. kevin henderson on

    Everyone has a reason that should drive them out to vote. Whether it be, voter rights, aid to dependent children, labor union issues, tax issues, pell grants, student loans, health insurance, education, environmental, abortion or etc. I drove about 10 miles and stood in line for almost hour in order to vote in the last election. I did it and no had push me to vote. In my opinion the main problem of the democrats is they have to rely on unreliable voters to win elections and too often those unreliable voters don’t show up. I strongly believe that in almost every election that if everyone who would vote democratic, voted, the democrats would almost never lose an election. So the question is how to have unreliable voters find their issue, and go out to vote, so far no one been able to come with the 64million dollar answer. People who keep saying after each failed election that the party, labor unions or whomever didn’t do enough to get the vote out or didn’t give people a reason to vote, I believe are wrong. Democrats must find a way to have unreliable voters figure out for themselves that every election is important


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