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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

A good many MSM journalists and headline-writers are uncorking predictable military and sports lingo in exaggerating the tone of the Democratic debate last night (transcript here). Compared to recent GOP presidential debates, however, the Democratic candidates provided sober, civil and, gasp, informative discussion of actual issues Americans care about. As for who “won,” Isaac Chotiner of Slate says Clinton, while other pundits say Sanders. It was that close.
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tore into Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at the end of the debate, with Sanders calling on him to resign because of his appalling negligence contributing to the lead poisoning of Flint’s drinking water. As Paul Egan describes it in the Detroit Free Press: “…As Snyder prepares to deliver his sixth State of the State address on Tuesday, his political capital has plummeted, the state is grappling with what could be a billion-dollar mistake with incalculable consequences for human lives, and his river analogy is particularly unfortunate in light of a state-appointed emergency manager’s 2014 decision to save money by temporarily drawing Flint’s drinking water from the polluted and corrosive Flint River. That move, followed by other state errors, has led to a public health crisis, allegations of a state government cover-up, and Saturday’s declaration of a federal emergency in Flint by President Barack Obama…Amid calls for his resignation, stunning vitriol directed at him through social media and protests planned outside his Ann Arbor home today and in front of the Capitol on Tuesday, Snyder will deliver one of the most closely watched State of the State addresses in Michigan history.”
In Jack Lessenberry’s “Is there a Democratic strategy for Michigan in 2016?” at Michiganradio.org, he notes that the new state Democratic Party chairman Brandon Dillon has further reason for optimism about Democratic prospects in 2016. “Dillon’s focus is on the state house of representatives, where all 110 seats are up for election…Democrats need to gain nine seats to win control, but this year, Dillon thinks his party has a real chance. Twenty-seven Republicans have to leave office because of term limits, as opposed to only eleven Democrats. Many of the open Republican seats may be vulnerable, since the departing incumbents were all first elected in the GOP landslide year of 2010…If a Democratic presidential nominee wins a landslide in Michigan this fall, Dillon hopes this will carry in a legislative majority. That’s what happened eight years ago, when President Obama badly beat John McCain.”
In “Republicans’ White, Working Class Trap: A Growing Reliance,” NPR’s Asma Khalid notes, “while white, working-class voters are now only about a third of the overall electorate, they’re about half of the Republican electorate.”
From Politico’s “The One Weird Trait That Predicts Whether You’re a Trump Supporter” by Matthew MacWilliams: “…49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale–more than twice as many as Democratic voters…In a statistical analysis of the polling results, I found that Trump has already captured 43 percent of Republican primary voters who are strong authoritarians, and 37 percent of Republican authoritarians overall. A majority of Republican authoritarians in my poll also strongly supported Trump’s proposals to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, shutter mosques and establish a nationwide database that track Muslims.”
Trump will be the MLK Day speaker at Liberty University. It will be interesting to see how he navigates his big pitch to the conservative evangelical community, while paying respects to Dr. King, whose economic policies have more in common with the views Sen. Sanders than any other presidential candidate.
Dale Ho, Director, Voting Rights Project, ACLU has an update on the legal challenges to voter suppression laws.
At Smithsonian.com Heather Hansman asks “Could Pop-up Social Spaces at Polls Increase Voter Turnout?” The idea is to make polling places more of a fun spot, where people can “hang out.” What could go wrong?
George Washington University professsor Henry Farrell’s “Bill O’Reilly will flee to Ireland if Sanders is elected. He’s in for a shock” at the Washington Post provides the chuckle for the day, especially for all who have ventured to Ireland and actually paid attention. As Farrell writes, “from the perspective of American conservatism, Ireland looks like a hellhole of socialism” with “a tax system which is not all that different from the U.S. tax system for top earners, and arguably a little less favorable. The effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income….Police only carry arms under special circumstances. Most Irish police officers don’t even have firearms training…Gun ownership is highly restricted in Ireland. People have to apply for a license to own a gun, and are likely to be refused under many circumstances. Furthermore, there are heavy restrictions on kinds of guns that they are allowed to own…Handguns of the kind that O’Reilly could use for “self-defense” are not [allowed], let alone automatic weapons. Gun rights are not a topic of political debate in Ireland — Ireland’s most conservative party, which is now the majority party in the government, has just introduced new restrictions, without any significant public opposition.” Further, adds Farrell, Ireland has “socialized medicine on a scale which would be politically unthinkable in America. Ireland also has welfare benefits for the unemployed which are not notably generous by European standards, but are wildly permissive in comparison to their U.S. equivalents.”

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