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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Nation Rick Perlstein gives the old “demography is destiny” cliche a proper shredding, arguing that, while demographics favor Democrats at the moment, any talk about inevitability is foolish chatter, especially since “a more immigrant-friendly Republican Party” by 2016 is a possibility, which could cut just enough into the edge Dems currently have with Latinos.
Perlstein has another good post at The Nation, “Right and Left in Democratic Politics: The Long View,” in which he urges his fellow progressives to get real and acknowledge the conservative/moderate flank of the party as a continuing reality: “…Study them–take them seriously. Don’t let them play the underdog; that just advantages them, too. We’re in a fight here–always have been. They think they are the party–just as confidently as we believe we’re the party. The only way to make our vision of this party a reality is to work for it–and not to act surprised when their side works for it, too.”
For those who would like to see some solid data that verifies what you have suspected for months, Andrew Kohut, former president of both the Pew Research Center and the Gallup Organization has an opinion piece up at the Washington Post, “The numbers prove it: The GOP is estranged from America.”
Do read Rebecca Dana’s story at The New Republic, “Slyer Than Fox The wild inside story of how MSNBC became the voice of the left
Democrats have a chance, at least, to pick up a senate seat in GA, where Saxby Chambliss is retiring and the Republicans are looking at a divisive primary, which is well-described in Russell Berman’s post “Tight-knit Georgia Republican delegation starts to fray over Senate race” at The Hill. President Obama got 46.9 percent of the vote in Georgia in November. Unfortunately, however, Dems don’t have much in the way of charismatic alternatives, with Rep. John Barrow mentioned most often as a possibility.
Good to see the DNC getting involved in fighting back against the Republican scheme to award electoral votes “based on their percentage of the popular vote, instead of the current winner-take-all system. Two electoral votes would be awarded to the statewide winner.”
At Salon.com Michael Lind has a few thoughts on “Defeating useless rich people: Taming wealthy, unproductive “moochers” will require a populist campaign to stop them. Here’s how we can do it.” Says Lind: “…we need an Anti-Rentier campaign that would unite unlikely groups: owners of productive businesses as well as workers, populist conservatives and liberal reformers. An Anti-Rentier movement would distinguish businesses that make profits by providing worthwhile goods or services in innovative ways from rentier interests that passively extract exorbitant tolls and fees from the economy without adding any value…The Anti-Rentier tax agenda would seek to raise capital gains taxes on rentiers while lowering the tax burden on American workers and the profits of productive businesses.”
Here’s a switch. Joseph M. Schwartz Dissent article, “Social Democracy for Centrists” observes, “The Economist, long identified with libertarian economic ideals, lauded the “Nordic model” in a cover story last month as a “centrist” economic path for global capitalism. Long hostile to “tax-and-spend” social democracy, the publication’s change in tack arises from its recognition that austerity policies are deepening the economic crisis and that the inequality and declining social mobility of “free-market,” Anglo-American capitalism threatens the very legitimacy of the capitalist system that the Economist holds dear…The magazine praises Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway for accomplishments often touted by social democrats–low poverty rates, egalitarian distribution, and efficient public services. But the magazine argues that these are now “centrist” societies because they balance their budgets, allow for consumer “choice” within their public services, and nurture risk-taking entrepreneurs. The Economist sheepishly admits that these countries funnel over 50 percent of their GDP through the public sector (versus a meager 30 percent in the United States and 36 percent in Great Britain)…”
Ronald Brownstein’s “The Man Who Could Turn Texas Blue: Rick Perry” explains “…Gov. Rick Perry, back from his stumbles in the 2012 GOP presidential race, has insisted that Texas will not accept the federal money provided by President Obama’s health care law to expand Medicaid coverage….Texas Democrats are too weak to much affect the Medicaid debate. But if state Republicans reject federal money that could insure 1 million or more Hispanics, they could provide Democrats with an unprecedented opportunity to energize those voters–the key to the party’s long-term revival. With rejection, says Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, Republicans “would dig themselves into an even deeper hole with the Hispanic community.””
Heather K. Gerken of Yale Law School has an interesting proposal at Scholars Strategy Network: “The United States would benefit from a new Democracy Index that makes our shortfalls visible for all by ranking states and localities based on how well they run their elections…This index would function as the rough equivalent of annual rankings of colleges and universities in the U.S. News and World Report. It would focus on the concrete issues that matter to all voters -How long did you spend in line? How many ballots got discarded? How well is the registration process working? The Index would also include regular, objective measures of the election process.”

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