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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At Vox Theda Skocpol’s “A guide to rebuilding the Democratic Party, from the ground up: Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that” takes a sobering look at the Democratic Party’s structural deficiencies and how they might be fixed. Skocpol, a Harvard political scientist and director of the Scholars Strategy Network, writes that “the key priority should be strengthening the Democratic Party at state and local levels, even as liberals also build a mass movement to demand universal voter access and devise new formats for unions and other dues-based popular associations.” Skocpol makes a case that “America is actually a federated polity where electoral geography matters more than ethnic or class aggregates…Trump won because he rang up unusually high margins (although not unusually high turnouts) among voters across all social strata in suburban, small-city, and semi-rural counties, especially in the Midwest. In many of those places, Democrats are not an organized presence at all…The cross-state federated networks of the NRA, the Christian right, and the centerpiece Koch organization, Americans for Prosperity…reached into most states and localities and helped Republicans bring conservative voters home and rack up commanding suburban and rural vote margins…Democrats tend to organize across the entire country only temporarily for presidential campaigns…The Democratic Party itself has to be beefed up and redirected into a year-round organizing operation — right now. A new head of the DNC will soon be chosen, and he or she has to be a nuts-and-bolts reformer, not just a show horse or protest organizer…the key to electoral and policy victories for America’s future lies in a robust, nationwide Democratic Party built to engage citizens everywhere in election and policy campaigns year round, every year.”

Greg Sargent explains at The Plum Line why “Democrats must do everything possible to resist Trump’s excesses. Here’s what that might look like.”  Sargent focuses on Democratic opposition to Trump’s proposed ‘Muslim registry,’ and supports pro-active legislative measures to prevent any “registry that is based on religion, national origin, nationality, or other classifications.” While most Republican members of congress are expected to oppose such measures, they have the virtue of forcing them to take a clear position. “Congressional Democrats will have to roll out concrete proposals wherever possible which, while doomed, will at least stand as alternatives,” writes Sargent. “One big question is whether they’ll find allies among constitutional conservatives and libertarians who are horrified by Trumpism’s threatened excesses — and one way to test that will be with proposals such as this one.”

NPR’s Meg Anderson shares this critique of Clinton’s campaign strategy from Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections,” the Vermont senator, who gave Clinton a surprisingly strong run for the Democratic nomination, told NPR’s David Greene in an interview airing on Morning Edition. “You’ve got to go out and mix it up and be with ordinary people.”

We’re about to find out how much of Trump’s meddling in America’s intelligence agencies the top Republican leaders are going to accept. According to “Donald Trump Plans Revamp of Top U.S. Spy Agency” by Damian Paletta and Julian E. Barnes of the Wall St. Journal, the President-elect’s plans to upend the U.S. intelligence superstructure, apparently to make it more Putin-friendly, are already drawing hostile reviews. As Paletta and Barnes report, quoting Sen. Lindsey Graham on Trump’s parroting comments by Julian Assange: “We have two choices: some guy living in an embassy on the run from the law…who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us…I’m going with them.”

While most Americans are aware that Hillary Clinton received nearly three million more votes for President than did Donald Trump, Kos shares a less well-known but even more striking statistic: “In the Senate, the 48 Democratic senators received a combined 78.4 million votes, to the 54.9 million votes earned by the 52 Republican senators. We don’t live in a real democracy, and Republicans have been able to game the system to their advantage.”

Here’s a very disturbing report at The Hill, explaining how the “GOP aims to rein in liberal cities.” As Reid Wilson explains, “After consolidating power in Washington, D.C., and state capitals under President-elect Donald Trump, Republicans are moving to prevent large cities dominated by Democrats from enacting sweeping liberal agendas…Republican state legislatures are planning so-called preemption laws, which prevent cities and counties from passing new measures governing everything from taxes to environmental regulations and social issues…The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council has offered five sample preemption bills on everything from local minimum wage hikes to rules governing genetically modified food and other agriculture products.” At stake are city laws addressing soda taxes, smoking bans, gun control, broadband access and a ranges of other concerns.

At Democracy Now Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh interview NAACP President Cornell William Brooks who was just arrested in a sit-in at the offices of Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. Brooks and other NAACP members were protesting the nomination because of Sessions’s “opposition to the Voting Rights Act, support for anti-immigration legislation and history of making racist comments.” In the interview Brooks explains, “…Not only has he not stood against voter suppression in his own state, not acknowledged the reality of voter suppression as recognized by federal courts, the one instance where he has appeared in court in terms of voting rights, it was to prosecute three civil rights activists, which it took a jury less than three hours to find innocent…We stand in opposition with over a thousand law professors, with Governor Deval Patrick, with organizations not only on the progressive left, but I might also note there are any number of conservatives who take strong exception to the fact that Senator Sessions is—stands against whistleblowers. He stands against civil liberties.”

After reading Dave Weigel’s “Democrats stumble toward a Supreme Court strategy” at The Washington Post, it’s hard to avoid concluding that Democrats don’t have much of a strategy, because they don’t have any promising options. Senate Majority Leader McConnel took a gamble and got lucky with Trump’s Electoral College win, and now the Republicans hold all of the cards. Sure, Democrats and progressives can and should raise hell when Trump nominates a reactionary to complete the High Court. But the hope that Trump will suddenly send a bipartisn olive branch in the form of a moderate Supreme Court nominee appears unlikely, given the pattern of his cabinet picks. True, 2018 looks like a really bad year for Democratic Senate candidates, but Dems must put up a fierce fight for the best possible outcome.

From Jen Hayden at Daily Kos: “Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) thought she’d take the temperature of her constituents regarding the Affordable Care Act and it didn’t quite go as Blackburn planned. Turns out, people like having health insurance.” Blackburn tweeted “Do you support the repeal of Obamacare? RT if you do, and share what you want to see as the replacement.” The result from almost 8,000 responses: 84 percent said “No,” and 16 percent said “Yes.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Jack Olson on

    Kos notes that Democratic Senatorial campaigns won 23.5 million more votes than Republican Senatorial candidates in 2016. He overlooks that only one-third of Senate seats were even on the ballot and the most populous states to hold Senate races have Democratic majorities. California, New York, Illinois and Washington held Senate elections while Texas, Michigan and Tennessee did not. (Florida, which elected a Republican, is a exception to the general pattern.) Had all of the most populous Republican-majority states held Senatorial elections, the results might well have been the opposite.


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