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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Shrum: Bully Pulpit Needed to Prevent GOP Takeover of Congress

Democratic strategist Robert Shrum has a good post, “Obama Must Fight One More Campaign: To Keep Senate & Win House in 2014” up at The Daily Beast. Shrum has a challenge for the President, who is riding high with some of the best approval ratings of his presidency:

…What can and should Barack Obama do to secure his landmark objectives and assure that his final two years aren’t a token presidency in the domestic arena? He will have to invoke the full persuasive power of the bully pulpit–and sustain the full firepower of his vaunted political organization in 2014. In effect, he will have to run all-out for a third term in the midterms.
…To confound the conventional, almost ominous predictions about 2014, Obama will have to articulate and amplify the narrative of his campaign last year. He will have to argue not intermittently but consistently that it’s time to do the country’s business and fulfill the voters’ mandate. He will have to say to them: You elected a president who’s on your side. Now will you elect a Congress on your side so we can move America forward? And he will have to be as totally engaged as he was in 2012.
…From the bully pulpit, Obama can provide air cover; he can even appeal to national-security voters by holding the GOP accountable for the indiscriminate slashing of the defense budget. But something more will be required. On the ground, Obama for America, now renamed Organizing for America, will have to wage a non-stop battle to reach and mobilize the sometime voters who can make the difference if they just turn out. If you receive the OFA emails, you are looking at the early signs of just such an effort.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and campaign chair Steve Israel have identified the districts where Democrats can capture the 17 seats that will give them a majority…But she and the members of her party–in House contests and in vulnerable and winnable Senate seats, too–absolutely need the full weight of the Obama enterprise: social media, granular voter contact, and tailored messages that push and follow potential supporters all the way to the ballot box. Democrats also need a relentless, OFA-led movement to combat suppression and persuade voters to wait in long lines if they have to…OFA should launch and fund a super PAC targeted on the most promising and perilous races–and designed as well to replace Republican governors and legislators in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Shrum’s challenge is loaded with difficulty and obstacles. But no one has come up with a better strategy, and the political stakes could hardly be higher. Fortunately, we do have a president who understands the leverage that comes from bold action. As Shrum concludes, “No past president has ever pulled off something with the scope and impact of what I’m suggesting here. But Obama has already written singular chapters in American politics. In 2014, for the sake of his vision, his legacy, and the land he has twice been elected to lead, he may–and probably will–have to upend the settled order of things one more time.”

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