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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The PlumLine Greg Sargent reports that “Dems hatch new strategy to pressure GOP on unemployment insurance,” explaining: “Dems who are pushing for an extension have hatched a new…: Once Congress returns, they will refuse to support the reauthorization of the farm bill — which will almost certainly need Dem support to pass the House — unless Republicans agree to restart unemployment benefits with the farm bill’s savings. “Under no circumstances should we support the farm bill unless Republicans agree to use the savings from it to extend unemployment insurance,” Dem Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a top party strategist, told me today. “This is a potential pressure point. We’re going to have to resolve differences in the farm bill because otherwise milk prices will spike. If past is prologue, they are going to need a good chunk of Democrats to pass the farm bill.”…Van Hollen said that a “minimum of $15 billion in savings” was expected from the farm bill, much of it “from the elimination of direct subsidies,” and said it would be unconscionable not to use this money for some form of an extension of unemployment benefits (rather than deficit reduction), which would not only help 1.3 million people, but the economy, too.”
Dan Merica of CNN Politics has a good update, “Democrats’ dream of a blue South: Moon pie in the sky?,” with a focus on Mississippi: “Ask a Southern Democrat if he or she can win statewide, and you will get a wide array of anecdotes and theories. Some point to the last Democratic governor in each state, while others to President Barack Obama winning 43.5% of the vote in Mississippi without spending any money there in 2012…But the most often-cited anecdote — by far — is the success that Southern Democrats had in 2013 municipal elections in Mississippi…For the first time in nearly 30 years, a Democrat was elected mayor of Tupelo, while Meridian elected its first-ever black mayor — a Democrat. After the win, Southern Democrats heralded the day as “Blue Tuesday” and celebrated the victories as a sign of things to come.”
In his post “Are Young Workers the Future of Labor?,” James Cersonsky of In These Times has unearthed a hopeful, though unsourced, statistic: “…Nearly two-thirds of 18-29-year olds have a favorable impression of unions, more than any other age bracket. The time is ripe for labor leaders to bring the next generation into the fold.” If this stat is solid, it is encouraging, given the decline of union membership and the MSM news blackout on union accomplishments.
The Pew Research Center reports a significant decline in the ‘enthusiasm gap’ favoring the GOP between Democratic (and Dem-leaning) vs. Republican (and GOP-leaning) registered voters — about 6 percent today, vs. 14 percent four years ago.
At National Journal’s Hotline on Call, check out Alex Roarty’s “Democrats Divided on How to Recover from Obamacare: Former Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg argues Obamacare could be a political winner. Other Democratic strategists are more nervous.” Roaty writes, quoting Greenberg, “On Thursday, senior Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg told reporters that the Republican focus on hitting Democrats over Obamacare was a political “trap.” Citing a new Democracy Corps poll he helped conduct, Greenberg said if Republican dwell on repealing the law while Democrats focus on fixing the economy, Democrats will come out on top….”I know there is an initial opportunity in going after the rollout … I would argue this is a trap,” he said. “The more they’re on this, the more voters say they’re just part of this extreme partisan gridlock [in Congress], and they’re not addressing the economy and jobs.”
Here’s an interesting quote, from a Forbes Magazine article, no less: “During four years of the hapless George W. Bush administration Republicans actually did control all three branches, but the size of government hardly decreased. It grew…You see, the Republicans talk a big game about small government, but they do so with a forked tongue. A major driver of the busted spending caps was Republican aversion to reductions in defense outlays. This is puzzling. Supposedly it’s in our national security interest to force a weaker economy on Americans so that some of the richest countries in the world can be defended by our military for free.”
In the wake of Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle City Council, Bhaskar Sunkara and Micah Uetricht address the question “Can Socialists Win Elections in the U.S.?“, also at ITT.
Required reading for every Democratic candidate preparing to deliver a speech or be interviewed on the topic of education: Blake Fleetwood’s HuffPo post “If You Want the American Dream, Go to Finland,” which includes this nugget: “Not so long ago America had the best school system in the world and the best access to education. Land grant colleges created the largest, most educated middle class in history, which, in turn, led to world supremacy in education, civil liberties, social mobility, science, medicine and a host of other areas…Our education system is static and falling behind other advanced countries — an economic time bomb — whereas Finland is an educational superpower, the best in the west, according to the PISA studies of 470,000 15-year-old students from 65 countries…Our educational progress is merely mediocre compared to the rapid advances being made in other industrialized countries and Asian cities such as Singapore and Shanghai. American students rank 37, behind such countries — in math, the basic sciences and even languages.”
At Wonkblog Dylan Matthews has a discussion with Gawker’s Tom Scocca about the virtues of negativity in politics and the harm done by political ‘smarm,’ which serves to enable conflict-avoidance.

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