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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At the New York Times Jack Healy’s “A Drive for Swing State Votes Has Colorado’s Latinos Listening” previews the coming deluge of political appeals to Hispanics in the Rockies. “Interviews with Latino voters here and across Colorado also underscored the difficulty of scrubbing away an anti-immigrant image that has alienated potential Latino voters after two years of skirmishes in Congress in which the Republican-led House killed a bipartisan Senate bill that included a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants illegally in the country.” However, notes Healy, “Latino turnout in 2014 was five to 20 points lower than average turnout, according to Latino Decisions, which studies Latino political participation” and only ten of twenty million Latinos who are eligible to vote are registered.
A chap by the name of Graeme Goodsir (not kidding) has an interesting letter at the PA Patriot-News, touting election law in Australia, where “voting is compulsory for everyone over age 18, with a fine (it used to be $25) for failure to do so, without reason…The Australian system has a “built-in freedom NOT to vote” – it allows dissenters to record “informal votes” – which simply don’t get counted – but those people still must participate by showing up and having their names marked off the electoral roll.” A tweak that might work better for the U.S. is a $50 elections surcharge on every citizen who is eligible and able to vote, refundable to those who vote.
At Seven Days, a Vermont-based alternative Weekly, Paul Heintz has a juicy follow-up to Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA-TV’s expose (video here) of ALEC’s secretive confab in Savannah. Heintz’s post outs the “state representative from New England” featured in the video clip as Vermont state Rep. Bob Helm, who is also VT’s ALEC Chair. Heintz notes: “Former [VT] Governor Howard Dean, who forwarded the WXIA story to Seven Days and others, says he was outraged when he saw it. He says ALEC attempts to “bribe” legislators to support its positions….”That was one of the most shocking videos I’ve seen in 35 years in public life,” Dean says. “They’re basically giving legislators money and paying them to come to these meetings. In exchange, they get full participation in the legislative process, without any public view at all.”
Gallup affirms trend of increasing social liberalism among Americans. But how about an in-depth probe of attitudes towards economic reforms?
Republican Peter Wehner cites the GOP edge in elected officials and cherry-picks opinion data to make a case that Democrats have “pulled too far left,” but overstates his case in saying that Democrats “are placing a very risky bet that there are virtually no limits to how far left they can go.” Ed Kilgore provides a proper shredding of Wehner’s screed at the Washington Monthly.
Bryce Covert writes at Think Progress that Sen. Bernie Sanders may have hit on an idea that is likely to resonate: “guaranteed vacation time for every worker in this country,” a benefit which employers currently deny to about a quarter of American workers.
Adam Liptak reports at The Times that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case which will have potentially far-reaching consequences on partisan politics, specifically “whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters.” If the court decides in favor of the eligible voters yardstick, it could “political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans.”
Is there really absolutely nothing positive we can do to help our neighbor Mexico strengthen and protect their democracy from recurring horrors like this? Mexico’s people and culture have enriched the U.S. beyond measure, and we just shrug off their deepening troubles. Democrats ought to be able to come up with a few non-paternalistic ideas, or at least ask Mexico’s leading champions of democracy how we can help.
Just a follow-up thought to Vega’s blistering take-down of MSM reporting on Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and indifference to the GOP’s growing extremism: It appears that too many editors have a high tolerance for lazy, false equivalence reportage. But maybe America’s J-schools could also do a little more soul-searching about the kind of reporters their graduates are becoming, and adjust curricula accordingly. At Knightblog, Eric Newton has an interesting post on “The Best Journalism School in America is…,” showing a concern for innovation in programs. But it would be good to see more in the way of teaching critical thinking among such criteria.

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