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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some salient observations from Thomas B. Edsall’s New York Times op-ed, “Who Can Tell the Future of the Democratic Party?“: “A random examination of Obama’s speeches during the 2008 campaign reveals his sensitivity to the concerns of the white working class — from which his maternal grandparents, with whom he lived for many years, came. He rarely turned to an explicit “identity politics” strategy…Even when speaking before civil rights and women’s rights groups, Obama took pains to avoid particularistic appeals…Every campaign seeks to mobilize specific constituencies. Identity politics are, and have always been, a fact of life. The issue is what takes precedence: those constituency-specific appeals or a sustained emphasis on a more encompassing appeal to a broad economic class…The tried and true way for a politician to market a coalitional regime amid a cacophony of particularistic demands is to forcefully assert the primacy of the whole. This worked for the Obama insurgency in 2008 because his coalition members were willing to temporarily suspend their immediate demands in favor of a more encompassing victory.”

At The Daily 202 James Hohman rolls out a scenario to explain “How Democrats might be forced to get onboard with replacing Obamacare.” Hohman writes, “Here’s the rub: Republicans actually can repeal Obamacare somewhat easily using the procedure known as reconciliation. It’s the same maneuver that Democrats used to jam through the law in 2010 after Scott Brown unexpectedly won a special election to replace the late Ted Kennedy. Only 51 votes are required. But, under the rules of reconciliation, a replacement of the law cannot be moved through this same process. Sixty votes will be required in the Senate for that, and Republicans only have 52 seats…The emerging Republican stratagem is to create some “transition period,” as McCarthy calls it, setting a firm date on which the law would expire. That would then create a metaphorical cliff that the country would go over unless Congress acts. With the prospect of 20 million Americans losing health insurance coverage, the R’s bet that the D’s will cave and accept something they don’t like rather than nothing at all. As McCarthy put it, “Once it’s repealed, why wouldn’t they be willing to vote for a replacement? Right? You have no other options…It’s a dangerous cycle that could set up an epic game of chicken.”

New York Times reporter Carl Hulse reports that “Democrats See Medicare as Winning Wedge Issue” and note that Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health Education and Welfare Rep. Tom Price is  “not only a leading proponent of repealing the Obama-era health care law, but he has embraced Republican efforts to move future Medicare users into private insurance programs and raise the eligibility age.” Hulse writes, “Senate Democrats intend to press Mr. Price on this subject during his confirmation hearings. They see a wide opening for political gain, given the 57 million older Americans who rely on Medicare — including many white Midwesterners with financial worries who voted for Mr. Trump…“Good luck to selling that to the voters in Indiana and Ohio that were Democrats and voted for Trump this time,” Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said about a Medicare revamp.”

Mary Bottari of the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch has a must-read for Democrats who are concerned about stopping the GOP/corporate takeover of state legislatures and governorships. Bottari reports on the annual meeting of  The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) now underway “to strategize on how to advance a far-right agenda under a Trump presidency.” Bottari reviews the ALEC agenda and spotlights one major item: “It is notable that another ALEC bill under consideration at this week’s meeting “Resolution in Support of Nonprofit Donor Privacy” recommends that the public be kept in the dark when it comes to finding out which millionaires or corporate interests are bankrolling ALEC, because the poor souls might be subject to public criticism or public pressure to drop their ALEC membership.”

In Stuart Rothenberg’s Chicago Tribune op-ed “How the Democratic Party should prepare for 2018 and beyond,” he advises “the makeup of the 2016 Senate class limits Democratic opportunities, but the House of Representatives suddenly became a very different battlefield with a Republican president…Since a midterm is almost always a referendum on the sitting president, the contours of 2018 will depend on President Trump’s success and failures, as well as on Democratic recruiting and fundraising. That makes it fundamentally different from the last five general elections…Like all parties after defeat, Democrats should assess their strengths and weaknesses, their vulnerabilities and their opportunities. But they better not simply prepare to fight the last war again.”

At Organizing Upgrade Bob Wing and Bill Fletcher, Jr. note the racial bias of the Electoral College and how it helps Republicans: “Why is it that, in the 21st century, the Electoral College keeps trumping the popular vote on behalf of Republicans?…The pro-Republican bias of the Electoral College derives from two main dynamics: it overweights the impact of mostly conservative voters in small population states and it negates entirely the mostly progressive votes of nearly half of African American voters, more than half of Native American voters and a major swath of Latino voters.”

Trump has credited Twitter as an invaluable tool for enabling his electoral college win. The New Republic’s senior editor Jeet Heer warns that inflammatory tweets are now more like a way of life for him: “A president-elect is supposed to try and unify the country after a divisive political conflict; relentlessly controversial tweeting stands that old idea on its head. Since his election, Trump has picked a fight with the cast of the musical Hamilton (accusing them in a now-deleted tweet of not just insulting Vice President-elect Mike Pence but, worse, of forgetting their lines). He’s falsely claimed that he won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He’s argued that anyone who burns the flag should suffer from a “loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Likely as not, Trump is consciously using “incendiary tweets” to distract attention from Clinton’s popular vote win, now at 2.5 million, and the media has taken the bait. As Heer notes, “For a politician who frames himself a populist, losing the popular vote is especially embarrassing. Sticking to campaign mode is in part a response to this failure—a way to refight the election that Trump and his team know they didn’t fully win…Trump’s tweets help get people talking about something other than Trump University, or his conflicts of interest. They manufacture distracting controversies. But they also, crucially, give him a powerful microphone to address the world without the interjection of critical voices. They are a form of press conference without a press, a social media rally with an audience in the millions.”

Hohman also reports on the Romney grovelfest, which may end in making Ted Cruz look like a principled man of his word in comparison. A sampling of Romney’s gush: “I had a wonderful evening with President-elect Trump. We had another discussion about affairs throughout the world and these discussions I’ve had with him have been enlightening, and interesting, and engaging. I’ve enjoyed them very, very much…” It is a sad commentary that, if Trump selects Romney for State, it would add dignity and gravitas to his stable of cabinet picks thus far.

In that regard, hopefully the Sarah Palin at the V.A. buzz is just a pat on the head for her support of Trump. But, yikes, it’s true. Former Veep Dan Quayle has been sighted in Trump Tower.

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