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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“Other countries have mandatory voting…It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything,” said President Obama in calling for mandatory voting in an Ohio speech. Eleven other nations have mandatory voting, reports Stephanie Condon at CBS News. Might be strategically better to call it a “nonvoter surcharge” instead of a “fine” or “tax,” or pitch it more colloquially as “the slacker surcharge” on those who are eligible to vote, but don’t. Assess all taxpayers a $50 federal elections charge, with refunds to those who vote in presidential or congressional general elections. It would have to be coupled with easier access provisions, like internet voting, expanded early voting and a universal federal i.d. (photos on social security cards?). Why should voters bear all of the hardships of the elections needed for a viable democracy?
One reason why Colorado ranked third in voter turnout in 2014, as reported by Adrian D. Garcia at the Coloradoan: “The 2014 Colorado election cycle was the first time ballots were mailed to every registered voter two to three weeks in advance of Election Day. Last year, the state also implemented Election Day Registration (EDR), meaning voters could correct registration problems at polling centers Nov. 4….Seven of the top 10 turnout states have EDR; none of the bottom 10 turnout states do…”
Jonathan Chait shreds the GOP’s health care “plan”: “Six years after the start of the health-care debate, Republicans keep telling reporters that they’re working on a plan. (Jeffrey Young has a hilarious, frequently updated timeline of the perennially just-over-the-horizon Republican Obamacare replacement plan.) In fact, the Republicans do have a health-care plan: It is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with what we had before Obamacare. They don’t want to admit that’s their plan, but it is. It’s right there, in the new budget released by House Republicans this week…”
Could Pot be a Game-Changer in 2016?” Megan R. Wilson mulls over the possibilities at The Hill. “Efforts to revive marijuana policy reform for next year’s elections have begun in a half-dozen states, including Nevada, Florida, Arizona and California. All of these states will be important in the presidential primaries and/or the general election.” Wilson quotes Democratic pollster Celinda Lake: “”It could have major, major impacts. Point No. 1 is, marijuana definitely increases [voter] participation of young people…The other nice thing about marijuana is that there’s no backlash. It doesn’t motivate [opponents] to vote — so it’s a unilaterally net positive effect.”
…And Phillip Smith’s “March Is a Big Month for Marijuana! 5 States Move Toward Legalization” sets the stage. “…we’re not even talking about medical marijuana or decriminalization bills, we’re talking about outright legalization bills.”
In his HuffPo post, “A Bumper Crop of Banana(s) Republicans,” John Bradshaw, Executive Director of the National Security Network, nails a worthy meme: “Under the new “Cotton doctrine,” unveiled in the now-infamous letter from Senator Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican Senators to the government of Iran, America’s commitments are only good for as long as the President who signed them remains in office. This is the way banana republics do business, not the United States…”
NYT’s Abby Goodnough reports that the Affordable Care Act’s “favorables” are up 4 percent since July in the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Further, “Forty percent of respondents said they would like to see Congress repeal or scale back the law, while 46 percent said they would prefer that Congress move forward with carrying out the law or expand what it does.”
Arguments about the effectiveness of televised political ads will rage on. But there isn’t much doubt that television news analysis of political issues falls somewhere between the “miserable” and “poor” spectrum. As David Knowles explains in his Bloomberg Politics article “Study: Political Ads Dwarfed News Stories About Actual Political Issues in 2014”: “A new study by Philly Political Media Watch finds that during evening newscasts leading up to the 2014 midterm elections the airtime given to political ads dwarfed stories about political issues by a ratio of 45:1.” In his USA Today report on the study, Rem Reider notes that Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, finds the performance of the television stations “pathetic.” Also, “There’s no way for a citizen to make his way through the bombardment and onslaught (of political ads) and make an informed decision,” says the study’s author, Danilo Yanich, a professor at the University of Delaware…The short answer is that political reality is bought,” it says. “Political ads spout their versions of the truth and, with all that money, the sponsors make their claims over and over again. The repetition works.”
Could this actually be a very shrewd plot to make some other GOP presidential candidates, like Huck, Paul and Cruz look a little less silly?

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