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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Heather Digby Parton’s Salon post, “GOP’s sales-pitch swindle: Why Dems need to push Obamacare harder: When Republicans do something, they sell it big time. With the left tentative on the ACA, here’s what’s at stake” addresses a chronic Democratic failure. Parton explains “Once again the Democrats, afraid of being associated with something unpopular, distanced themselves from their own accomplishments rather than seeing the long-term advantage in being the party that brought people “freedom plus groceries.” In this case that would be the liberty afforded to every individual when they are able to move to change jobs, start a business or otherwise operate as free individuals without fear of losing their health insurance — and “groceries” meaning a government that delivers a bit of financial security in an increasingly unstable economic environment.”
In his New York Times letter from Washington,” Albert R. Hunt explains why “Some business interests and entrenched congressional politicians argue the party’s right wing is in retreat. Not so.” Says Hunt, “Many of the more establishment Republicans who prevailed in primaries had moved decidedly to the right. The Republican agenda on Capitol Hill largely is framed by the most conservative of the conservatives.”
In his Washington Monthly post, ““Temporary” Insanity from the Hard Right?,”TDS Managing Editor Ed Kilgore puts it this way: “it’s important to remember that on the really big issues, movement conservatives are pushing against an open door; the GOP has already conceded much of what they’re being told to do, particularly on matters of core ideology rather than tactics.”
Re Thomas B. Edsall’s NYT Opinion piece, “The Coming Democratic Schism,” when has there not been profound differences about priorities, often generational? The Democratic Party could also evolve toward greater unity of its diverse constituencies, with better rank and file education. Young and old share a common interest in secure retirement for all citizens, so aging people don’t have to work and take entry-level jobs away from younger workers.
Kilgore writes of Edsall’s reliance on Pew Research categories: “…Some of the questions (some from the Pew “typology” report in June, some from a study commissioned by the libertarians at Reason, some from a couple of academic papers) about the economy and the role of government have the familiar problem of offering false choices between private sector and government “solutions” to economic and social challenges, as though one excludes the other…I would warn that his adoption of the Pew typology categories of “Solid Liberals” and “Next Generation Left” as the two pro-Democratic groups most at odds with each other gives the dubious impression one is passing from the scene while the other represents the future of liberal politics…Truth is Pew constructed these typological groups based on ideological and voting-behavior coherence and then slapped on the labels. Perhaps there’s a true trend line here, but the impression a lot of people may get that “Next Generation Left” means millennials is entirely unfounded. It’s really not that simple.”
Put Harold Meyerson’s American Prospect post “Why the Democrats Need to Take Sides” on your ‘read and distribute’ list. A teaser: “Bettering the economic lot of their constituents–particularly since those constituents are represented disproportionately among those Americans who now call themselves lower-class–will require the Democrats to do something they haven’t really contemplated, and have consistently avoided, since the 1930s: taking a side, with all that entails, in a class war.”
Class war, or at least conflict, may be unavoidable in these times of growing economic inequality. But E. J. Dionne, Jr. discusses prospects for Democrats nurturing a “pro-business populism.” It’s possible that enhanced class solidarity can make room for a thriving entrepreneurial culture that supports business innovation and creativity — perhaps a bridge between the traditional progressive Democratic values and young voters’ aspirations to succeed, referenced by Edsall’s argument noted above.
Here’s an interesting stat, from Kyle Kondik’s Crystal Ball post “The Hidden Barrier to a Republican Senate Majority: The GOP has had little recent success defeating Democratic incumbents“: “Incredibly, in the 16 Senate elections since then [1980], the Republicans have flipped only 12 Democratic Senate seats where the incumbent was running again.”
Another indication that Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the Dems’ best quiver full of zingers, from her remarks at a Buckner, KY town hall: “Mitch McConnell believes that when it comes to a choice between protecting tax loopholes for billionaires or reducing student loan interest rates, he will work to protect every last dollar of every last tax loophole,” said Warren. “And then he tells students to dream a little smaller, to do with less and give up a little sooner.”

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