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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Progressive Democrats are angry about the sweet deal for bankers and big corporate contributors to political campaigns in the $1+ trillion spending bill, but fears of a shutdown may insure passage anyway, report Lori Montgomery and Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post. Elizabeth Warren is leading the vocal opposition to the bill: “…Warren said the changes in the spending bill “would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.” She added: “These are the same banks that nearly broke the economy in 2008 and destroyed millions of jobs.”
Let’s hope this trend for the worse is short-lived. As reported by Dalla Sussman’s “Americans Have Become More Accepting of Use of Torture” at The Upshot: “Fifty percent of Americans in an Associated Press-NORC poll conducted in August 2013 said torture against terrorism suspects to obtain information about terrorism activities could often or sometimes be justified, while 47 percent said it could rarely or never be justified. But partisanship is a factor, with Democrats less supportive than Republicans. In the A.P.-NORC poll, 40 percent of Democrats said torture could be justified sometimes or often. That rose to 55 percent among independents and 61 percent among Republicans.”
According to a nationwide, bipartisan survey conducted for the American Lung Association by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Perception Insight, “By a more than 3-to-1 margin, voters believe that the EPA, not Congress, should be setting pollution standards. This includes large majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans…Voters rate clean air as a higher priority than reducing regulations on businesses. By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters rate clean air as a higher priority over reducing regulations with 80 percent of voters rating clean air as extremely or very important…A majority of voters (63 percent) support standards for methane emissions. After hearing a balanced debate on both sides, support increases overall to 66 percent. In particular, Republicans move from 39 percent supporting to 53 percent supporting.”
John Guida has yet another “Should Democrats Write Off the South?” ramble, this one a New York Times “OpTalk” post. Pretty much the same ole ‘let’s pretend VA, NC and FL are not in the south’ riff to facilitate projection of a simplistic grand strategy.
Dave Weigel’s “Can Democrats Ever Compete for the Deep South? Should They Even Bother?” at Bloomberg Politics and John Cassidy’s New Yorker article, “Should the Democrats Give Up on the South?” explore the same theme. FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten doubts the permanence of the GOP’s southern sweep.
There’s lots of buzz about Michael Tomasky’s zinger-rich Daily Beast post “It’s Time to Dump Dixie,” which eloquently vents the disgust many of us who live in the south feel about our midterm electorate. Hindsight is always 20-20, and the resources invested in the failed campaigns of Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn in GA, for example, might have produced better results for Kay Hagan, who lost in NC by less than 2 percent. But I would agree with Ed Kilgore’s reality check that, generally “the national party did not really undertake any “concessions” to the South. So there’s no reason to swear off the South as an evil conservative seductress tempting Democrats to stray from the paths of righteousness.” In a way, the Dems dumped Dixie a while back, rightly or wrongly. All of that said, most major southern cities have progressive mayors, and that’s where the party-building should continue.
If The New Republic somehow gets revived, the editors should give Ta-Nehisi Coates’s critique at The Atlantic about the magazine’s staff diversity and reporting on racial injustice a sober reading.
It’s way early for 2016 Senate race prognostication, but Crystal Ball’s Kyle Kondik estimates that “because the Democrats need to net four or five seats to take control, depending on the party of the next vice president, the Democrats’ opening odds to win the majority are significantly less than 50-50.” As for the House, Kondik says “Our early expectation is that the Democrats will net at least a few House seats in the 2016 election,” but not enough to win a majority. We say upsets can come from all directions.
At Democracy: A Journal of Ideas Eric Alterman explains why mainstream reformist Democrats need the party’s radical left flank: “Constructive radical critiques serve two primary purposes: They provide a vision for the future, and they remind liberals not to get too comfortable with the here and now…Much has changed in American liberalism since the New Deal, but nothing quite so much as the loss of its fighting spirit. “I welcome their hatred,” bragged the self-described “militant liberal” Franklin Roosevelt of the “economic royalists” who sought to retain a status quo that operated by and for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Radicals of the day helped sustain some of that spirit, as well as planting many of the ideas that FDR and others helped bring to fruition. Our not-so-militant liberals of today could damn sure use some of that kind of help.”

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