washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

staff

Shrum: Where Clinton’s Economic Messaging Fell Short

No one could blame you for having your fill of post-mortems of the 2016 presidential election. But Democratic strategist and current USC professor and and director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Robert M. Shrum has some perceptive insights in a review article of Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened. Writing in America: The Jesuit Review, Shrum has this to say about Clinton’s economic messaging:

To put it plainly, in areas of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that previously went for Barack Obama, she lost the message war on the economy. Yes, Trump’s claims to be on the side of working people were specious. But they were also effective. His explanations for the economic distress of those who have not shared in the post-2008 recovery were trade and immigration—scapegoats, in my view, but nonetheless a resonant message about things he said he could change that would, in turn, change their lives. Thus, while Clinton characterizes Trump’s performance in their first debate as “dire,” the reality is that in the opening minutes, he relentlessly hammered away on trade, the loss of manufacturing jobs and her shifting positions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. And in a different context, she herself cites data showing that voters under economic stress were more negative toward immigration.

Clinton fell short in communicating a persuasive economic message of her own. She criticizes Joe Biden for saying this and notes that he campaigned across the Midwest and “talked plenty about the economy.” But his commitment was not in doubt; hers was. He was not the candidate; she was.

The tragedy here is that she had, as she notes, an economic program that should have appealed to precisely the places she had to win: “massive infrastructure…new incentives to attract and support manufacturing jobs in hard hit communities…debt-free college.” It was on her website, but who among the undecided or wavering voters bothered to read it? She insists that on the campaign trail, she talked more about the economy and jobs than anything else—and cites a word frequency chart to prove it.

As T. S. Eliot wrote, “Between the idea and the reality…. Falls the shadow.” The shadow for Clinton is that what counts is not what you say but what people hear. Still, the failure to convey an economic message was not just her fault. The U.C.L.A. political scientist Lynn Vavreck found that from Oct. 8 on “only 6 percent” of news coverage mentioned Clinton “alongside jobs or the economy.” (Only 10 percent mentioned Trump in that context, but arguably his economic message had long since broken through.) Clinton did have another means to deliver her message, paid advertising, but Vavreck calculated that only 9 percent of her television spots were about jobs or the economy. Instead three-quarters of her ads focused on leadership “traits” or character, frequently in the form of assaults on Trump.

…Trump would have been vulnerable to an economic assault. As Obama did with Mitt Romney in 2012, Clinton’s ads could have spotlighted his controversial business dealings and mistreatment of ordinary workers; then they could have moved on to arraign his proposed tax cuts for the wealthy and to convey Clinton’s plans on jobs, manufacturing and infrastructure. The strategy might not have been a silver bullet, but it could and probably would have been enough to move those 38,000 votes.

Shrum notes a paradoxical effect of Trump’s Access Hollywood tape, a “bright shiny object,” which distracted the media and voters from Trump’s embrarrassing economic record, as well as Clinton’s progressive economic policies. Shrum acknowledges all of the other factors which could have played a decisive role in Trump’s Electoral College victory, from Comey’s meddling and voter suppression to her husband’s ill-timed visit to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, among others.

A candidate can’t always control “what happened” during a campaign. But every Democratic candidate has to take charge of their economic messaging, define clearly how it differs from that of their adversary and make sure it gets out to both the base and swing voters.


New GQR poll shows Democrats erase national security trust gap with Trump

The following article is cross-posted from a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research e-blast:

A new poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner shows a 55- 45% majority of registered voters trust Democrats in Congress more than Donald Trump to handle America’s national security.  This represents a huge 18-point swing toward Democrats since March, when a 54-46% majority said they trusted Trump more.

The declining trust of Americans toward Trump on national security comes at a time when the country and Trump administration face a host of foreign challenges, from growing tensions with North Korea, to Trump’s recent decision to decertify the Iran deal, to a consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.

GQR partner Jeremy Rosner, who served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton said: “The American public is rapidly losing faith that Donald Trump can keep them safe. The more they watch him handling foreign challenges, from North Korea to Iran to Russia, the less confidence they have in him.”

The American public particularly lacks faith in Trump’s ability to deal with North Korea – arguably the most dangerous of his immediate national security challenges. The public trusts Democrats in Congress more than they trust Trump to deal with North Korea, by a 57-42% margin. This 15 point Democratic edge is up 5 points just since this August, when Trump first threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” – a sign that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric is undermining his own public support, rather than enhancing it.

Equally notable: at a time when Republicans in Congress have dismal ratings – CNN polling in September shows 72% of the public disapproves of the job performance of “Republican leaders in Congress” – the public trusts Trump even less than Republicans in Congress on these life-or-death issues of national security. By a wide 62-37% margin, respondents in the GQR poll say they trust Republicans in Congress more than Trump on national security.

Trump’s mishandling of national security is starting to erode the Republican brand on these issues. In March, voters trusted “Republicans in Congress” on national security more than “Democrats in Congress,” by a large 20 point, 60-40% margin. But nine months of Trump’s tenure as Commander in Chief has cut that margin to just a 5-point, 52-47% advantage. Indeed, the GQR poll shows that on the central threat of North Korea, the public already trusts Democrats in Congress more than their Republican counterparts, by a 53-47% margin.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey fielded online, October 3-10, among 2,000 registered voters.

For more information, contact GQR at info@gqrr.com.


Tomasky: Why Dems Need Moderates

Michael Tomasky’s latest Daily Beast article, which we highlighted yesterday, provides a succinct summation of the argument for Democrats welcoming moderate candidates, as well as progressives. Here’s an excerpt:

This is a fact, and I mean it’s an immutable, undeniable fact, which I’ve written about before. Democrats can’t get to 218 (a House majority) with liberals alone. Republicans can get to 218 with conservatives alone. Right now there are 240 Republicans in the House, only about a dozen of whom you’d call moderate, and even that’s stretching it. There are 194 Democrats, most but not all of whom you’d call liberal. And that’s about the outer limit on liberalism in House districts. So to be a majority, Democrats need moderates, and quite a lot of them.

That means they need to make efforts to appeal to voters in the kinds of districts they won back in 2006 and 2008 but have lost overwhelmingly in the Obama/Tea Party era. Look at these two maps. This one is a map of congressional control after the 2008 election, when Democrats held 257 seats. And this one is a map of the same thing after the 2016 elections, when Democrats were reduced to 192.

Look how much bluer the first map is. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. North Carolina, Georgia, Florida. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. Real estate yielded everywhere.

n 2006 and 2008? It wasn’t coastal liberals, friends. It was the kind of candidate who could win in a place that was somewhat more conservative than your typical metropolitan/suburban blue district. And it’s those people who gave the Democrats their majority, who made Nancy Pelosi speaker, and who passed us (with some agita, but still, they did it) Obamacare. There were, as I recall, 53 Democrats in the Blue Dog coalition in 2009. There are 18 now.

The only way for the Democratic Party to grow is with more Blue Dogs. And so as they think about their post-Pelosi/Hoyer/Clyburn future, Democrats ought to think about this. Obviously, any Democratic leadership team has to be racially diverse, and has to include at least one woman. It seems to me especially important that the new triumvirate include a Latino, which would be a first.

The next leader should not, however, be from New York or Boston or Los Angeles or San Francisco. Chicago might be a little different, the city of broad shoulders and all that jazz. But they should find someone who isn’t from a deep-blue district. Look at Paul Ryan. He’s from a district that Cook Political Report rates as R+5; it leans Republican, but only leans. Pelosi’s district is D+37. Having a leader from a district like that reinforces the media trope, fair or not, that the party represents only certain cosmopolitan enclaves. The Democrats’ next leader should be from a district that’s a little closer to a 5 than a 37.

Trump’s unpopularity opens the door for a Democratic comeback. I think a bold move like this could kick that door wide open and could actually augment Pelosi’s legacy. She helped pass monumentally historic legislation, and now she can pass the torch at a time when the party needs someone with the self-awareness to lead the way.

The most moderate Democratic members of congress are far more amenable to progressive reforms than even the most moderate Republicans, who Ed Kilgore reminded us yesterday are nearly extinct. The majority party in congress gets to set the agenda and control the debate, as well as committee chairmanships. That’s too important to shrugg off in pursuit of ideological purity.


Teixeira: Will Rust Belt Voters Bail Out Trump?

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other major works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog, The Optimistic Leftist:

171003-TrumpApproval-All-1

As Trump’s approval ratings continue to fall everywhere, his tenuous hold on the key Rustbelt states that handed him the Presidency is slipping away. Here’s the key paragraph from a new Morning Consult analysis of data from 472,000 (!) interviews conducted since Trump’s inauguration:

A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of the president’s job performance in September, including those residing in Upper Midwest states with large Electoral College hauls that were critical to Trump’s victory over 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and some of which are home to some of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats of the 2018 election cycle. Fifty-five percent of respondents in Michigan said they disapproved of Trump, as did 53 percent in Wisconsin and Iowa and 51 percent in Pennsylvania.


Will Bannon’s Primary Challengers Help Dems?

In his  Politico post, “Democrats look to wreak havoc in GOP primaries,” Gabriel Debenedetti reports that deepening divisions within the Republican Party are leading to primary challenges that endanger their mid-term candidates and may help Democrats. Citing Roy Moore’s recent win in the Alabama race for the Republican nomination for Senate, Debenedetti notes that Alt-Right strategist Steve Bannon, who supported Moore, is also evaluating similar challenges to the GOP establshment in Mississippi and Tennessee.

Ed Kilgore notes further at New York Magazine,

Regular readers of Breitbart News were aware that Judge Roy Moore’s Senate candidacy in Alabama had become a major priority of the fiery site over the last couple of weeks. And its chairman, Stephen Bannon, became very personally involved, as reflected by his leading role in Judge Roy’s final rally on Election Eve…When Roy Moore got to the podium (and before he brandished a gun), the famous Ayatollah of Alabama gave Bannon a shout-out as “an outstanding man” who had done more than anyone else to encourage the judge in his campaign.

So once the returns came in and Moore handily dispatched the appointed incumbent Luther Strange, Breitbart News was not at all bashful about taking credit and threatening more primary challenges. “MOORE WIN MAKES STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS TAKE CENTER STAGE” shouted the headline above a half-gloating, half-menacing story from Breitbart’s senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak.

Bannon may also be eyeballing divisive senate primaries in West Virginia, Montana and Ohio, Arizona and Nevada. As Debenedetti adds, “Democrats are considering ways to step in and wreak some havoc. The idea: Elevate the GOP’s most extreme option in each race, easing Democrats’ path to victory in a range of states tilted against them.” Also, notes Debenedetti, “At the Democrats’ Senate campaign headquarters in Washington and their local offices in the states, operatives have started compiling files of the GOP hopefuls’ more outrageous statements and positions, while combing through the daily news clips for hints of further themes to pursue against them.”

Debenedetti sees echoes of Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s strategy of skillfully exploiting division in the Missouri GOP Senate primary five years ago:

At its most aggressive, the tactic could be a sequel to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s 2012 campaign against then-GOP Rep. Akin in Missouri. She actively intevened in the Republican primary with ads designed to boost the conservative Akin to the front of the pack. Once he became the nominee, a series of gaffes — led by his “legitimate rape” comment — and hard-line positions unraveled his campaign.

…“What happened [with Akin] has been multiplied [in Alabama], by both the character of this candidate and the positions he’s taken, but also by the fractures in the Republican Party — which are being fought much more publicly — and the extraordinary unpopularity of Mitch McConnell,” said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, referring to the Senate majority leader who became a central punching bag in Moore’s primary bid.

…Republicans are in an increasingly public, multi-front civil war, and Trump’s base is openly fed up with its own party’s congressional leadership. With support for McConnell as Republicans’ Senate leader emerging as a primary issue, Greenberg called his unpopularity figures among Republican voters “way beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

There may well be a bumper crop of opportunities in 2018 for Democratic candidates for office at the state and local level to actively exploit Republican divisions. It might even be a good idea for state Democratic parties to have projects and task forces developing variations on the ‘Akin strategy.’ But the emphasis for Democratic campaigns everywhere must be on recruiting, training and funding strong candidates for every state legislative seat, state-wide office and congressional district. With that commitment, Democrats will do well against all opponents.


Teixeira: Democratic Wave Building?

The following post by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other major works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog, The Optimistic Leftist:

Special elections provide important clues on political momentum. One under-analyzed area of special elections is state legislative seats. There are many more of these than there are of the heavily-publicized Congressional specials. Brian Stryker and Zac McCrary of ALG Research provide a detailed analysis of the legislative specials and detect very considerable Democratic momentum. Bottom line: the patterns are so strong that if they continue they could be enough to shift dominance of state legislature from Republicans to Democrats in 2018. That would be huge.

Caveats apply of course and Stryker/McCrary provide some at the end of their article. And Republican advantages from incumbency are considerable. Still, their results are rather striking and in an area where Democrats pay far too little attention.

Note this also about where Democrats should compete:

Additionally, many Beltway pundits continue to debate whether Democrats should target so-called blue-collar Obama-Trump type districts or more white-collar, suburban Romney-Clinton districts. The answer so far on the legislative level, is “Yes”; Democrats need not acquiesce to that false choice. Just like FiveThirtyEight, we find that Obama’s 2012 performance and Clinton’s 2016 performance in a district are equally predictive of 2017 results….

Because both 2012 and 2016 have been equally important predictors, a lean Obama district that swung heavily to Trump is just as ripe an opportunity as a strongly Romney district that shifted to Clinton. Republican legislators who hold either of those types of districts — as well as a much broader swath of GOP districts — should be very worried by what has occurred at the legislative level over the past several months. Likewise, Democrats do not necessarily need to choose between targeting state houses in places like Iowa where Trump did well in 2016 or states like Arizona or Virginia, where Trump is generally weaker than other recent Republicans.


Vegas Mass Murder Spotlights GOP’s Failure to Protect Americans

The horrific mass shoting in Las Vegas raises the question, is it at long-last time to ban or restrict assault weapons?

The easy availability of semi-automatic/assault weapons has been a threat to national security for a long time, and we have seen clamor for gun control swell and fade after mass shootings time and again. But the horrifying toll of this one vicious shooting incident — currently at 59 fatalities and 500+ injuries — brings a new urgency to calls for congressional action.

We had a federal ban on assault weapons, which was enacted in 1994. But it was allowed to expire in 2004. there was a failed effort to pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. Today, only seven U.S. states have assault weapons bans, and Minnesota and Virginia have training and background check requirements for assault weapons purchases. Some cities and counties in Colorado and Illinois have local laws banning sale of assault weapons, as does Washington, D.C.

The Editorial Board of The New York Times presents a graphics display which helps to put the problem in political perspective. Entitled, “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress,” the graphic doesn’t provide the horrifiying death and injury toll, which is well into the thousands. But insert the term, “Republican-controlled” before “Congress” and you have a more accurate description of the reason for inaction. Republican leaders of congress have been extremely effective in preventing even modest assault weapons restrictions that might save lives from being enacted.

That’s not to say that all Democrats have supported restrictions on semi-automatic weapons. Some have been cowed by the NRA, and their silence is part of the problem. But it’s equally-accurate to say that all serious initiatives to restrict assault weapons in recent years have come from Democrats. Back in 1993 former Republican Presidents Ford and Reagan joined Jimmy Carter in calling for a ban on  “semi-automatic assault guns.” But today, nearly all Republicans in congress have failed to do anything to protect Americans from the scourge of easilly-available semi-automatic and assault weapons. Democratic Rep. David Cicilline (R.I.) introduced “Assault Weapons Ban of 2015” and was supported by 149 House co-sponsors, but not one of them was a Republican.

Democrats can be confident of public support for restrictions on semi-automatic and assault weapons. A 2016 Quinnipiac University National poll found that 59 percent of voters supported “a ban on the sale of assault weapons.” An even larger majority — 64 percent — agreed that “”It’s possible to make new gun laws without interfering with gun rights.”

There will be heated arguments over the next few weeks about the effectiveness of legislation to restrict assault weapons. But the NRA bromide about a “good guy with a gun” as the best remedy for stopping domestic mass murders has been utterly discredited by the Las Vegas killings. The only thing that is certain is that no legislative remedies will even be given a chance to succeed until Democrats win a working majority of both houses of congress.


Creamer: Trump’s War Threats Should Be Met by Renewed Calls for Disarmament

The following article by Democratic strategist Robert Creamer, author of Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, is cross-posted from HuffPo:

No one really believes that an even moderately rational leader of North Korea would use nuclear weapons to launch a first strike against the United States. Such a move would almost certainly lead to the annihilation of North Korea itself – and its leadership. It would be suicidal.

But history shows that the confrontation between the United States and North Korea still carries with it enormous danger: the danger that a horrific conventional or nuclear war could occur as a result of miscalculation or mistake. And the likelihood of such a catastrophe increases exponentially when the leaders who could launch a war are impulsive, erratic megalomaniacs like Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, historians have identified dozens of close calls – miscalculations or mistakes – that could have led to a nuclear war.

On October 27, 1962, the Soviet Fox-Trot class diesel submarine B-59 was cruising in waters off Cuba near the U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Randolph and nine destroyers. The submarine B-59 was in international waters, but as part of the U.S. naval blockage of Cuba, the destroyers began dropping depth charges around the B-59 signaling it to surface to be identified.

The B-59 had been cruising too deep to monitor U.S. broadcasts and had not been in touch with Moscow for three days. Fearing that the depth charging meant that a war had already broken out, the Captain of the B-59, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky decided to launch the ship’s nuclear-tipped torpedoes at the attacking U.S. ships.

Normally, the Captain only had to get agreement from his political officer to launch nuclear-tipped torpedoes or missiles. Luckily, on the B-59 the Captain, his political officer Ivan Maslennikow, and the second-in-command Vasili Arkhipov had agreed that all three must unanimously agree before the B-59’s nuclear armaments were used. This stemmed partially from the lucky coincidence that Ankhipov, though he was only second-in-command on the B-59, was commander of the entire flotilla of submarines and of equal rank with the Captain.

The Political Officer agreed with the Captain to use the nuclear-tipped torpedoes. Only Ankhipov refused to agree and ultimately convinced the Captain to surface and contact Moscow. Ankhipov’s case was bolstered by the lucky fact that the sub’s batteries were low, the air conditioning had failed, and heat and carbon dioxide levels onboard had risen.

He might not have realized it at the time, but Ankhipov’s good judgment and resolve probably prevented a nuclear war. But what if it had been a different sub?

Historian Graham Allison begins his new book Destined for War, by quoting German chancellor Theobald von Bethman Hollweg. “Ah, if we only knew,” he said when pressed by a colleague to explain how his choices, and those of other European statesmen, had led to the most devastating war the world had seen to that point – World War I.

Allison goes on to note that none of the major actors in Europe wanted a war. And by the time it was over in 1918 the key players had all lost what they fought for: “the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved, the German Kaiser ousted, the Russian tsar overthrown, France bled for a generation, and England shorn of it treasure and youth. And for what. If we only knew.”

The major actors unthinkingly made mistake after mistake and “blundered into the abyss.”

In his December, 2016 article in the New Yorker entitled, World War Three, by Mistake, Eric Schlosser says: “Harsh political rhetoric, combined with the vulnerability of the nuclear command-and-control system, has made the risk of global catastrophe greater than ever.”

He goes on to describe a terrifying episode:

On June 3, 1980, at about two-thirty in the morning, computers at the National Military Command Center, beneath the Pentagon, at the headquarters of the North American Air Defense Command (norad), deep within Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, and at Site R, the Pentagon’s alternate command post center hidden inside Raven Rock Mountain, Pennsylvania, issued an urgent warning: the Soviet Union had just launched a nuclear attack on the United States. The Soviets had recently invaded Afghanistan, and the animosity between the two superpowers was greater than at any other time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

U.S. Air Force ballistic-missile crews removed their launch keys from the safes, bomber crews ran to their planes, fighter planes took off to search the skies, and the Federal Aviation Administration prepared to order every airborne commercial airliner to land.

President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asleep in Washington, D.C., when the phone rang. His military aide, General William Odom, was calling to inform him that two hundred and twenty missiles launched from Soviet submarines were heading toward the United States. Brzezinski told Odom to get confirmation of the attack. A retaliatory strike would have to be ordered quickly; Washington might be destroyed within minutes. Odom called back and offered a correction: twenty-two hundred Soviet missiles had been launched.

Brzezinski decided not to wake up his wife, preferring that she die in her sleep. As he prepared to call Carter and recommend an American counterattack, the phone rang for a third time. Odom apologized—it was a false alarm. An investigation later found that a defective computer chip in a communications device at norad headquarters had generated the erroneous warning. The chip cost forty-six cents.

 Let’s remember what a nuclear war is all about. One study showed that a single 1-megaton bomb exploded above the city of Detroit would cause up to 630,000 deaths and injuries from blast alone. And many of those who escaped death initially would ultimately suffer horrific deaths from the effects of nuclear fallout or burns.

In all three of these instances, the decisions leading to a war – or almost leading to a war – did not involve a grand design or conscious action. They involved mistakes or near mistakes that were, or could have been catastrophic. And their likelihood of doing so vastly increases if they are made by erratic, impulsive people who lack self-confidence and a sense of history – people like Donald Trump or Kim Jong Un.

Every day, there are reports of a lover or spouse who kills his or her significant-other in a fit of uncontrolled anger or rage. These are not cases where one spouse wakes up one day and coolly decides to kill the other. The man murders his wife in a fit of uncontrolled passion.

Everyday you hear of teenagers who get into a fight over a girlfriend, pull guns and ruin each other’s lives because somebody insulted somebody else. Neither rationally planned the attack; the names start flying, the hormones start flowing, and pretty soon one or more kids lies dead on a sidewalk or a barroom floor.

Donald Trump seems to have the emotional maturity of one of those teenagers. And remember that the kids who shoot at each other in a dispute over a girlfriend would be throwing punches rather that shooting bullets if they did not have access to guns.

Donald Trump has control of the nuclear launch codes to thousands of nuclear weapons.

And the likelihood of a mistake or miscalculation is not simply limited to national leaders. Once the stakes go up and forces are entangled, the mistakes or miscalculations of scores – or even hundreds – of people who are outside of the span of control of national leaders can snowball into international calamity.

At one point in the Cuban Missile, Kennedy elevated the alert level to Defcon II. With that order German and Turkish pilots took their seats in the cockpits of NATO fighter-bombers, armed with nuclear weapons, ready to attack. If one of those Turkish or German pilots had gone rogue, that one pilot could have started World War III by flying 2 hours or less and dropping his nuclear payload.

That’s why it is so critical that in the cases of both North Korea and Iran, the leadership of the United States lowers the tension. In reality, of course, Donald Trump has done everything he can to bring tensions to the boiling point.

In a world brimming with nuclear weapons, our true national security has very little to do with whether our president can do a better job slinging insults than the leader of North Korea. It has everything to do with avoiding another horrific war – and in particular a nuclear war.

The willingness of North Korea to limit its nuclear program has everything to do with the willingness of the United States to give North Korea credible assurance that it will not attack them, nor seek to change their regime. Every time Trump escalates military threats he does more to convince them that their only defense is nuclear arms.

The North Koreans saw what happened to Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi when he ended his nuclear weapons program, and they don’t want it to happen to them.

And, of course, if Trump abandons the Iran Nuclear Agreement, then the North Koreans will be completely convinced that they can’t trust any deal to limit their nuclear program that is agreed to by the United States.

Instead, the United States should use strong economic sanctions to pressure North Korea to the bargaining table and provide an off-ramp for them that guarantees their security ― the same way the Obama Administration did so effectively with Iran.

With the advent of nuclear weapons that are capable of destroying our species, human survival depends on our ability to develop non-violent means of conflict resolution that do not involve war.

Like it or not, knowledge and technology will continue to spread. The only long-term solutions to our survival are strong international agreements to limit and then eliminate the use of that technology to produce nuclear arms at all. And to devise political structures that resolve differences fairly and democratically across the face of the planet.

This is not a radical idea. Mainstream leaders like Pope Francis, former Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, and Clinton Secretary of Defense William Perry have all called for enforceable international agreements to eliminate all nuclear weapons – including those controlled by the United States and Russia.

In the end, any thing short of that leaves our own security at terrible risk. And those who bluster on about making America “Great Again” by wiping other countries off the face of the earth, are jeopardizing that security more than anyone else.


Teixeira: Dems on the Rebound

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of major works of comtemporary political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog, The Optimistic Leftist:

Special election shart

It is not generally appreciated how good the special elections have been for the Democrat this year, probably because people have not concentrated on the swings in these elections relative to Democratic performance in 2016. It is these swings, rather than the absolute outcomes, which tells us the most about how the political climate is shifting. Daniel Donner over at the excellent Daily Kos elections–a treasure trove of useful electoral data–has analyzed these swings and reports the following:

There has been considerable consternation and many pixels spilled about the regions of the country where the Democratic margin in the 2016 presidential election fell sharply compared to 2012, including the entire states of Iowa and Ohio. Was this the beginning of a permanent realignment? Was it a new baseline? Or would Democrats be able to recover?
We now have some answers, illustrated in the chart at the top of this post. There have been 10 special elections in districts where the presidential margin shifted 10 points or more toward Donald Trump compared to the 2012 margin. And in all 10 of those, the margin has shifted back toward Democrats in the special election. What’s more, in eight of the them, it has shifted past the 2012 presidential margin, and Democrats have outright won six of them (those where the dark green dot is to the right of the vertical axis).
With just 10 elections in this category, we have to be a little careful, but we can say one thing with certainty: Democrats are not stuck at 2016’s presidential numbers.

The times they are a-changin’. And, as these data indicate, for the better.


How DNC, DLCC Are Mobilizing for State Wins

The following article, by Jess O’Connell, CEO of the Democratic National Committee and Jessica Post, Executive Director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, is cross-posted from Time Magazine:

Over the last few months, we’ve seen Democrats united against the attacks on our values. We stopped Republicans’ attempts to take away health care from millions; we’ve pushed back against this administration’s hatred and bigotry; and we’ve kept President Trump from advancing much of his disastrous agenda. But what you may not have noticed is that Democrats have also been notching victories at the ballot box.
There’s no sugarcoating where we found ourselves after November. We didn’t just lose the presidential election; we had been losing elections up and down the ballot for nearly a decade. That’s why we’re changing things. And we’re doing it the right way – from the ground up.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), state legislative leaders and state parties are leading the fight to take back control of state legislatures across the country. With the help of the DLCC, state parties and our progressive partners, state Democrats have won more than 50 percent of state legislative special elections since Trump’s inauguration and have flipped six competitive seats from red to blue – all in districts that went for Trump in 2016.

MORE: