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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Democrats: unity was absolutely indispensible for our recent victories but Dems also face divisive issues they must debate. It is therefore vital Dems figure out how to maintain maximum unity even as they disagree. Here’s where to start.

A TDS Strategy Memo by Ed Kilgore, James Vega and J.P. Green

The Democrats recent victory in the October standoff with the GOP over the shutdown and debt ceiling would have been impossible without the absolutely firm and unbreakable unity that was displayed by every sector of the Democratic coalition. You can choose any adjective you want; “vital,” “indispensable”, “critical,” “essential.” The contribution of Democratic unity to that victory simply cannot be overstated.
The source of this unprecedented unity is not a mystery. It was created by an unprecedented threat – The GOP strategy of hostage-taking and political blackmail not only presented a profound menace to all progressive priorities but also to the basic norms and institutions of American democracy itself.
As the Democratic coalition and community looks to the future, however, there is a quite different challenge that the coalition must also prepare to confront: Democrats will soon have to begin debating important and deeply divisive issues about the Democratic platform and message for 2016 and beyond. These intra-Democratic debates will set the stage for the more public disputes that will emerge during the next presidential primaries.
The critical challenge Democrats face is this: How can Dems energetically debate their differences while at the same time still retaining a sufficient degree of unity to maintain a united front and “hold the line” against the profound Republican threat?
Two Avoidable Obstacles to Democratic Unity
As a starting point for confronting this challenge, it is essential to note that there are two important ways in which Democrats unnecessarily intensify and exacerbate conflict within their coalition.
First, Democrats unnecessarily magnify conflicts within the Democratic coalition because of the particular methods and the forums for debate that they use when they conduct intra-party discussion.
Second, Democrats unnecessarily intensify conflicts within the Democratic coalition because they often fail to distinguish between disagreements over political strategy from those that involve disagreement over basic goals and principles.
Dealing with these two problems will not provide a complete solution to the problem of maintaining Democratic unity but recognizing and confronting them can materially improve the situation. Let us consider the two issues in turn.
To read the memo, click HERE

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