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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

From Tina Nguyen’s article, “Pope Francis’s Visit Spells Trouble for Republican Presidential Candidates” at Vanity Fair: “Steven Krueger from the nonprofit group Catholic Democrats sees the Pope’s visit as an opportunity for Democrats to win back the consideration of white, moderate Catholics. The Democrats have been steadily losing this demographic since the 1970s. After the days when John F. Kennedy won upwards of 70 percent of the Catholic vote…shifting economic interests (Catholic families assimilated into the American mainstream, becoming wealthier) collided with the rise of cultural liberalism, driving more conservative Catholics towards the G.O.P. Karl Rove further locked up the white Catholic vote in the late 90s, when he began a robust Catholic outreach program that helped George W. Bush reach the White House, carrying 52 percent of the Catholic vote in 2004. (In 2000, he narrowly lost the Catholic vote to Al Gore.)…”But I only think that will happen if the Democratic Party undertakes a robust state-based outreach effort and does not allow the [Republicans] to declare the Republican Party as the party of faith,” Krueger added…Through 2012, the Catholic vote was evenly split between parties–until it is separated into the white and Hispanic vote. On that front, Krueger says the G.O.P. should be alarmed. In his estimation, Republicans need to lock up 40 percent of the Catholic Hispanic vote in order to win the election, and an effort that certainly won’t be aided by Francis’s decision to deliver all but 4 of his 18 U.S. speeches in Spanish.”
For more on the political ramifications of the Pope’s visit, see Patricia Miller’s “The GOP’s absurd anti-Pope crusade: The bizarre spectacle of Republicans turning on a religious leader” at Salon.com and Brian Porter-Szucs’s “Why Pope Francis Makes Republicans Squirm” at Newsweek.
In his New York Times op-ed “Hurricane Trump,” Thomas B. Edsall provides a revealing analysis of the GOP candidate’s unexpected success. Dems should read the whole thing, but here’s one of the juicier paragraphs: “It’s a collective middle finger to the establishment,” a Trump supporter told the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf. “Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have,” wrote another reader, who added, “Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy.” A third Trump loyalist wrote: “This is a guy who isn’t afraid to abuse the abuser. He has and will continue to humiliate the establishment politicians who try to stand up to him by exposing them for who they are.”
“Since 1947, there have been 11 official recessions, totaling 49 recessionary quarters. Of those 49 quarters, just eight occurred under Democratic presidents, compared to 41 under Republicans. So, over the past 65 years, quarters in recession were about five times more common under a Republican president than under a Democratic president…Looking at how many recessions started under Republicans, the difference is even more stark…Of the 11 recessions since 1947, nine under Republicans, compared to just two under Democrats.” according to Politifact.
At Brookings Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais lay bare the utter cluelessness of the GOP presidential wannabes regarding the aspirations of ‘Millennials,’ as revealed in last week’s CNN debate. Among the authors’ observations: “Seventy percent of Millennials favor same sex marriage; Mike Huckabee has based his entire candidacy in opposition to the idea and no other candidate was brave enough Wednesday night to say they agreed that same sex couples should be permitted to marry legally. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials are in favor of legalizing marijuana; no candidate was willing to come close to saying the idea might have merit;…Instead, Jeb Bush in the best Boomer presidential candidate tradition apologized for using the stuff when he was young, chalking it up to youthful indiscretion, and Governor Chris Christie asserted that maintaining pot’s illegality was so important as President he would go against traditional Republican deference to state’s rights and assert federal law supremacy over state law to prosecute offenders. Like old people out of touch with what is happening in the world around them, the candidates kept on talking about repealing ObamaCare; meanwhile, fifty-two percent of Millennials approve of the program…The Millennial generation favors “win-win” solutions that avoid direct and, especially military, confrontations with America’s global opponents, something which all those in the debate outside of Rand Paul either didn’t care about or didn’t know…No one thought to ask the generation most likely to be sent into future combat what it thought. When Pew did so in July they found a plurality of Millennials (43%/39%) supported the agreement.”
Winograd and Hais also note that Millennials are undaunted by the GOP’s favorite neo-McCarthyite boogeyman word, “socialism,” most recently parroted disparagingly by Ben Carson. Win or lose, Sen. Bernie Sanders deserves great credit for his uncowed example as a deeply patriotic American who openly advocates the principles of democratic socialism. Says Sanders: “So what democratic socialism means to me,” he said, “is having a government which represents all people, rather than just the wealthiest people, which is most often the case right now in this country. And it is making sure that all of our people have health care as a right, education as a right, decent housing as a right, child care as a right. That’s what I believe…Is it a society where the government owns every mom-and-pop store?” he asked. “Of course not. You have all kinds of capitalist entrepreneurship going on, a lot of wealth being created. But what else do you have? … An effort to make sure that all people benefit from the wealth that’s being created. So you have a much more equitable distribution of wealth and income.”
At The Fix Chris Cillizza does a GOP lapdog imitation, beating up on Hillary Clinton about her – gasp – emails. He links it to a dip in her approval ratings in the polls, without presenting a particle of cause-effect evidence. If a sophomore in any decent Journalism school wrote such a screed, a “D” grade would be generous.
Don’t expect email scandal-mongers to say much about this CNN/ORC poll showing a substantial uptick in public support for Clinton’s candidacy.
While the spectacular tanking of Scott Walker can be interpreted as a defeat for the Koch brothers, here’s a reminder that their political tentacles extend far beyond presidential politics. At HuffPo Seth Shulman, editorial director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, exposes a Koch brothers-funded study at the University of Kansas which “raises questions about the political strings attached to the many millions of dollars the Koch brothers are known to have spent in the past decade at colleges and universities around the country.” Shulman spotlights testimony by the executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at the University’s School of Business, urging the Kansas state senate to repeal the state’s renewable energy standard, and the good work of Students for a Sustainable Future in using an open records request to reveal the Koch Funding of the “research” behind the testimony. The student group is part of “a national student movement at dozens of campuses around the country to “UnKoch My Campus.”

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