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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Creamer, Bowers: Disfunctional GOP Strategy A Big Boon for Dems

In his HuffPo post, “Three Fatal Republican Mistakes That Could Spell Their Defeat Next November,” Democratic political strategist Robert Creamer illuminates some potentially costly GOP blunders:

First, Republicans forgot the fundamental truth that it is much more difficult to take something away from people that they already have, than to prevent them from getting something for which they aspire.
It’s one thing to campaign against the possibility of better health care — or against legislation that would restrain the power of banks to sink the economy. It’s quite another to propose measures that would cut someone’s pay, eliminate their power to bargain, or slash services that benefit everyday Americans — even worse to propose cutting Social Security or Medicare. Those kinds of proposals are downright personal. They really make people angry.
Nothing changes a political calculus like “facts on the ground.” That’s why the Republicans are crusading so hard to prevent the Affordable Health Care Act from being implemented. Once it’s in force, millions of stakeholders will form a political army that will prevent it from ever being repealed.

Creamer provides more detail on how the Republicans paid a political price for their ill-considered efforts to undermine Medicare and Social Security, then notes their second major blunder:

…The Republicans have forgotten the all-important political principle, that you can’t believe your own spin. That’s especially true if you spend all of your time talking to the small group of people who agree with you. Take the House of Representative’s newly-elected Tea Party Caucus. This insular crew talks to each other — repeats each other’s slogans — listens to Fox News and has convinced themselves that most Americans agree that government spending is the worst thing since murder and mayhem.
…But now that the Republicans have begun to propose concrete cuts to important public services, their view of what the “American people” want is completely disconnected from reality.
Last week’s NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that a 51% to 46% majority says the government should do more, rather than less. Fifty-six percent say that jobs and economic growth should be the government’s top priority compared to 40% who rate deficit reduction that way.
By 54% to 18%, Americans do not believe that cuts in Medicare are necessary to reduce the deficit. Forty-nine to twenty-two percent say cuts in Social Security are not needed. Fifty-six percent say cuts in Headstart Programs are “mostly” or “totally unacceptable.” Seventy-seven percent say the same of cuts in primary and secondary education. Majorities also call unacceptable cuts to defense, unemployement insurance, student loans, and heating assistance to low-income families.
On the other hand, while Republicans rail against increases in taxes — even for the rich, a whopping 81% favor placing a surtax on people who make more than a million dollars. Sixty-eight percent want to end the Bush tax cuts on those who make over $250,000.
An overwhelming 77% support the right of public employees to collective bargaining…To top it off, a Rasmussen (Republican) poll shows Wisconsin Governor Walker’s positives dropping to 43%, and his negatives soaring to 57%.
The winds have shifted — and because they believe their own spin, many Republicans have yet to notice.

The third major blunder Creamer cites is the GOP’s refusal to get it that voters will not buy discredited b.s. indefinitely:

Over and over, the Republicans have repeated their mantra that we need to “cut spending” in order to create jobs. Now, it is certainly true that controlling the nation’s long-term deficit will benefit the economy in the long haul. You can even make a case that when government debt begins to sop up lots of available credit, it can be a drag on private sector investment and growth. But no reputable economist agrees that cutting spending now — as we are just emerging from a recession — will create jobs. Just the opposite.
…The public is beginning to get the picture. The polling shows that voters want investments that actually do increase long-term growth — investments in education, research and infrastructure — that will allow us to win the future.

Chris Bowers has an equally encouraging (for Dems) take in his Daily Kos post “Why Wisconsin poses such a serious threat to Republicans.” Bowers notes that the normal fragmentation of progressives is being replaced by a more unified spirit because of Governor Walker’s union-bashing, and adds

If you will forgive me for being elliptical and finally returning to the subject promised by the title of this article, that last sentence is why the new labor uprising is potentially so dangerous for Republicans. In these fights, the interests and organizing of labor, the netroots, and the Democratic Party are very closely aligned. The result has been astoundingly effective activism: tens of thousands of people at continuous rallies, a constant buzz from progressive media covering the rallies, paid media campaigns of high quality and quantity funded by the people consuming that coverage, and Democratic elected officials willing to use whatever procedural means necessary to take the fight as far as possible. It’s caused at least the temporary disappearance of what my astute friend Matt Stoller called “the rootsgap,”–a lack of alignment between the interests of the grassroots and the leaders of a political movement.
In Wisconsin, all of the “everyone-elses” are joined together in a coherent political operation, and we are winning because of it. Despite the full-backing of the iron fist of the conservative movement, a newly elected hard-right Governor has seen his approval ratings plummet to around 40% only two months after taking office. That’s unheard of.
If what happened in Wisconsin is replicated elsewhere, then conservatives are in a deep pile of doo-doo. They know it, too. Tea party groups are sending out fundraising emails on Wisconsin admitting that they are losing…

And if it seems that this perspective is just pretty much what you might expect from progressives like Creamer and Bowers, here’s an excerpt from a post, “Gov. Scott Walker Has Lost The War” by Rick Ungar at Forbes magazine, which proudly promotes itself as the “capitalist tool”:

In what may be the result of one of the great political miscalculations of our time, Scott Walker’s popularity in his home state is fast going down the tubes.
A Rasmussen poll out today reveals that almost 60% of likely Wisconsin voters now disapprove of their aggressive governor’s performance, with 48% strongly disapproving.
While these numbers are clearly indicators of a strategy gone horribly wrong, there are some additional findings in the poll that I suspect deserve even greater attention.
It turns out that the state’s public school teachers are very popular with their fellow Badgers. With 77% of those polled holding a high opinion of their educators, it is not particularly surprising that only 32% among households with children in the public school system approve of the governor’s performance. Sixty-seven percent (67%) disapprove, including 54% who strongly disapprove.
Can anyone imagine a politician succeeding with numbers like this among people who have kids?
These numbers should be of great concern not only to Governor Walker but to governors everywhere who were planning to follow down the path of war with state employee unions. You can’t take on the state worker unions without taking on the teachers – and the teachers are more popular than Gov. Walker and his cohorts appear to realize.
…The Wisconsin governor’s desire to be at the forefront of his perceived GOP revolution may not only have doomed the anti-union effort, but it may forever label him as the man who gave the democrats the gift that keeps on giving – the return of the union rank and file into the arms of the Democratic Party.

It’s looking a lot like Governor Walker is more interested in projecting himself as the new Reagan, than in helping his party win working class support in 2012. Other Republican leaders like Ohio Governor Kasich are nipping on the political koolaide as well. And that, for Dems, could be a very good thing.

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