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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Elliot Hannon’s “Today Was the Worst Day Yet” at slate.com documents the damage Trump did with executive orders and other actions yesterday. It’s clear already that Trump’s grand strategy is to pile on so much that the media, Democrats and progressives will not have time to respond effectively — before the next headline-grabbing outrage is launched. Very similar to his campaign strategy. Hannon writes, “On Wednesday, the president of the United States made historic moves to recast the country as an angry, insular nation, one that recoils from the world around it and casts suspicion on those within and without. This is the America Donald Trump envisoned; this is the America he campaigned on; this is the country he’s delivering.” Progressive social change groups will have to step up their game to respond effectively to the Trump (Bannon) rapid-fire, ‘shock and awe’ strategy.

In his Politico post “Democrats launch scorched-earth strategy against Trump,” Gabriel Debenedetti writes, “According to interviews with roughly two dozen party leaders and elected officeholders, the internal debate over whether to take the conciliatory path — to pursue a high-road approach as a contrast to Trump’s deeply polarizing and norm-violating style — is largely settled, cemented in place by a transition and first week in office that has confirmed the left’s worst fears about Trump’s temperament. …“They were entitled to a grace period, but it was midnight the night of the inauguration to 8 o’clock the next morning, when the administration sent out people to lie about numerous significant things. And the damage to the credibility of the presidency has already been profound,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “They were entitled to a grace period and they blew it. It’s been worse than I could have imagined, the first few days.”

In the same post, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a candidate for California governor,  offers this cogent strategic insight: “Focusing too much on what he says — every absurdity, every misrepresentation of fact, every lie that comes out of his mouth or his tweets — makes no sense to me…The best way to fight Trump is to chart what represents the values, the priorities that we’re for. I don’t think it makes sense to spend all of our time responding to every tweet, I think that will just reinforce a notion that many people have in our country that we put party before country.”

Behind the Democratic strategy on confronting Trump’s cabinet nominees, according to Leigh Ann  Caldwell at nbcnews.com: “Democrats in the Senate are in the minority and don’t have enough members to block a nominee. However, if they slow down the process, it not only gives the party more time to negatively influence public opinion of the GOP agenda, but it also stalls what Republicans hoped would be an aggressive legislative agenda that includes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act…Senate rules allow for up to 30 hours of debate on each nominee. Thirty hours of clock time could take days. Multiply that by a dozen cabinet nominees — not to mention the dozens of lower-level nominees that will come before the Senate — and it leaves much less time to achieve legislative wins….Republicans continue to argue that President Barack Obama had seven members of his cabinet confirmed on his first day. Instead, Trump has the fewest number of nominees confirmed on his first day of any president since Jimmy Carter in 1978…”The more we learn about these nominees, the clearer it becomes that Trump’s plan is to break his campaign promises, and the more the public gets fired up for a thunderous fight to stop him,” said Ben Wikler, president of the progressive grassroots group MoveOn.”

Here’s a couple of polls that help show why public school-basher Betsy Devos is an extremely out-of-touch pick for Secretary of Education: Alexa Welch Edlund of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, “…A poll from Virginia Commonwealth University…released this week, found that 69 percent of Virginians are willing to pay more in taxes to maintain state funding at current levels…54 percent, said they would be willing to pay more to increase funding for public schools.” At The New Mexican Staci Medlock adds “New Mexico residents want to preserve state funding for schools and raise taxes instead of shoring up state revenues, according to a poll released Wednesday. Some 72 percent of 402 registered voters surveyed statewide said they oppose further cuts to public education, according to the poll, conducted by Research & Polling Inc. for the nonprofit New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.”

This may explain why Ted Cruz groveled so shamelessly to Trump, who suggested and never retracted his belief that Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination. Trump got Cruz’s grovel in exchange for nothing, similar to the way Trump played the equally-gullible Mitt Romney.

As Trump prepares to unveil his real Supreme Court nominee (the short list does not include Ted Cruz), Senate Democrats are shaping their resistance strategy, albeit with limited options. Meanwhile, the role and future of the fillbuster tactic is very much at issue, Carl Hulse reports at The New York Times.

At Vox Seth Maskett sketches a credible scenario for a Democratic comeback in 2018. It largely depends on an economic slowdown and declining popularity of Trump, both of which are quite possible, even likely. Plus historical patterns in the midterms have not been kind to the party in the White House. But Maskett disses factors Democrats can influence, like “recruitment, canvassing, advertising, and innovative strategies by new party leaders,” without justification. It’s like saying there’s not much Democrats can do to improve their prospects for the upcoming midterm elections. If so, why bother preparing for 2018?

In his article “How The Democratic Party Can Get Back Into The Game,” pollster John Zogby has an easier-said-than-done quintet of suggestions, at Forbes, no less. One of his better ideas comes under the subtopic “Building a bench, recruiting candidates,” in which Zogby offers “I would closely look at two new sources of candidates and policymakers—mayors and community college presidents. These are men and women who must establish vision, communicate to a wide range of leaders, balance budgets, create initiatives with limited resources, be nimble enough to spot trends and act upon them rapidly, welcome newcomers, enable economic development, and suffer daily the narrow minds and whiny voices of the jaded. These are the people to learn from and welcome.” Fair enough, but it would be good if Democrats also made an extra effort to recruit women and some working-class leaders, perhaps from the labor movement. And do make sure that those college presidents don’t sound too much like academicians. Democrats need more candidates and office-holders who talk like regular people and would never use words like “deplorables” in the battle to win hearts and minds.

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