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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“If Mr. Trump’s strategy to keep jobs in America relies on busting unions, keeping wages down, deregulating everything in sight and cutting taxes for the wealthy, he’ll certainly fail…If President-elect Trump is serious about building a high-productivity, high-wage economy, he needs to put a moratorium on flawed trade agreements and crack down on unfair trade practices, and he must work to end all tax subsidies for offshoring and put those and other revenues toward funding quality education, skills and infrastructure investment….” – from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s NYT op-ed, “Don’t Let Trump Speak for Workers.”

At The Atlantic, Alana Semuels argues “It’s Not About the Economy: In an increasingly polarized country, even economic progress can’t get voters to abandon their partisan allegiance.” As Semuels observes, “…in an increasingly polarized country, an improving economy is not enough to get Republicans to vote for Democrats, in part because they don’t give Democrats any credit for fixing the economy. Gallup, for instance, found that while just 16 percent of Republicans said they thought the economy was getting better in the week leading up to the election, 49 percent said they thought it was getting better in the week after the election…These biases are only increasing as the country becomes increasingly polarized. As people become increasingly loyal to their parties, they are unlikely to give leaders from the other party credit for much of anything positive. Both sides are instead more likely to believe narratives that suggest that the other party has only made things worse.”

At The Observer’s opinion page, Robert Lehrman, a former speechwriter for Al Gore and author of The Political Speechwriter’s Companion, writes “Democrats, let’s not be shy about admitting the truth: we want a one-term President. Denying we feel that way is as believable as the way we pretended shock at McConnell’s candor six years ago. Democrats will almost certainly lose Senate seats in 2018. But done right, a steady, unyielding McConnell-like campaign, leavened with compromise as they did, can win back voters we should have captured this time…Let them call us obstructionists. We don’t have to agree with Mitch McConnell’s views. We just have to learn from his example.”

Emma Green explains why “Democrats Have a Religion Problem” in her interview at The Atlantic with Michael Wear, a former Obama White House staffer, on the topic of “the party’s illiteracy on and hostility toward faith.” Charlie Cook also addresses the subject in his interview with ‘Meet the Press Daily,’ noting, “Democrats don’t know how to talk to a lot of these people that go to church, people of value. The Democratic party has become a secular party.”

At New York Magazine Ed Kilgore explains “Here’s How Obama Could Go Nuclear on Trump and the GOP Before Leaving Office” by making ‘recess appointments of scores of federal judges up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by deceased Justice Scalia. There are reasons why it is unlikely to happen, including Obama’s temperament. But it’s not like the Republicans can credibly attack  Democrats for bucking bipartisan comity and playing hardball. As Kilgore concludes, “..I wouldn’t rule it out entirely before the new Congress is gaveled in.”

Sam Wang’s “Constitutional Hardball: Can Senate Democrats Confirm Merrick Garland on January 3rd?” explores the idea further at The Princeton Election Consortium. Calling it a “long shot,” Wang says “A bigger hurdle is whether Democrats have the boldness to attempt such a move. To some extent, party members adopt their tone from their leaders. Senate Democrats might have to push back on President Obama, who has made it clear that he seeks to make an orderly transition to the Trump Administration. But the roughness of the Presidential transition may give him second thoughts. Democrats may be bolstered by the fact that Obama’s net approval is quite high, while Trump’s net approval rating is the lowest of any incoming President on record.”

It seems possible, at least, that Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is going to raise some serious hell about Putin’s meddling in U.S. politics. As Theodore Schleifer reports at CNN, quoting Graham, “There are 100 United States senators. Amy Klobuchar is on this trip with us. She’s a Democrat from Minnesota. I would say that 99 of us believe the Russians did this and we’re going to do something about it,” said Graham, who is planning a hearing with McCain on Russia’s interference with US elections. “We’re going to put sanctions together that hit Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election, and they’re doing it all over the world — not just in the United States.”

Josh Katz has a fun post up at NYT’ The Upshot, “‘Duck Dynasty’ vs. ‘Modern Family’:50 Maps of the U.S. Cultural Divide.” It’s also an excellent resource for political ad buyers, because it indicates exactly where such TV shows and many others are popular. A lot of the popularity maps are predictable enough, but you might be surprised to learn that “The Walking Dead” is very big along the Texas-Mexico border, while “Game of Thrones” doesn’t do very well outside of narrowly-defined cities and “The Tonight Show’s” largest area of popularity is in north-central Utah. In PA, you would book some ads on “Dancing with the Stars,” “NCIS” and “Law and Order: SVU.” On the Pine Ridge reservation in SD, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” rules and “Saturday Night Live’s” strongest southern metro area is Nashville.

John Nichols has a welcome spirit-lifter at The Nation, “The 2016 Progressive Honor Roll: Yes, it’s been an awful year. But the untold story is that grassroots activists have actually frequently prevailed.”

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