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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

At The Atlantic Megan Garber writes “‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ and the Age of the Weaponized Meme: Mitch McConnell silenced Elizabeth Warren in the Senate chamber. That only made her voice louder.” Even though Sessions was confirmed, Mitch has clearly stepped in it, branding himself as America’s free speech suppressor-in-chief, as well as the new poster boy for men who think they can make women shut up. He probably multiplied the number of people who read Mrs. King’s testimony against Sessions exponentially and gave Warren’s rep as the Senate’s toughest-talking Democrat a big boost. As Garber explains, “it hit something else, too: all the notes that allow shared words to swell into shared emotion. You couldn’t have designed better fodder for a meme had you tried. “Nevertheless, she persisted” has, on the one hand, the impish irony of a powerful person’s words being used against him. It has, on the other, words that are elegant in their brevity, making them especially fit for tweets and slogans and mugs. And it has, too, words that are particularly poetic, rendered in near-iambic pentameter, with the key verb of their accusation—“persisted”—neatly rhyming with that other key verb: “resisted.” The whole thing was, for Warren, a perfect storm. It was, for McConnell, a decidedly imperfect one.”

But it would be unfair to blame the entire disaster on Mitch the Muzzler. As Pema Levy notes at Mother Jones, “Republicans, who control the chamber, provided 49 votes to rule her out of order, and Warren was forbidden to speak for the rest of the debate.”

While the media was yammering about the latest Trump/Bannon/Conway/McConnell outrages, “House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked: Republicans would make it easier to steal an election by killing the Election Assistance Commission,” reports Ari Berman at The Nation. Berman writes, “Thirty-eight pro-democracy groups, including the NAACP and Common Cause, denounced the vote. “The EAC is the only federal agency which has as its central mission the improvement of election administration, and it undertakes essential activities that no other institution is equipped to address,” says the Brennan Center for Justice.”

In Heather Caygle’s Politico post, “House Democrats seize on anti-Trump strategy,” she writes: “House Democrats’ strategy is basically this: They’ll publicly goad Trump on subjects he’s clearly sensitive about, like insinuating he’s being blackmailed by Russian President Vladimir Putin; and on other issues, like Obamacare and tax reform, they’ll get out of the way and let Trump and House Republicans fall on their face…House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Linda Sánchez of California on Wednesday summed up the strategy this way: “kicking a little ass for the working class.” All well and good, but Dems also need a strategy to improve their image.

At Roll Call Simone Pathe’s “NRCC Goes After Blue-Collar Districts in 2018” identifies the 36 House districts where the GOP will be allocating most of its resources.

The New York Times has a ‘Room for Debate’ feature, entitled “When Do Consumer Boycotts Work?‘ The discussion suffers from having just two pro-corporate presenters for a topic that merits a much more intensive and diverse exploration, particularly at a time when many progressives are looking for new forms of activism that are beyond the reach of politicians.  One of the more interesting insights in the feature comes from Judith Samuelson’s comment, “The power and speed of social media has allowed campaigns to evolve from focusing on the consequences of a product — like the legendary Nestlé infant formula boycott in the 1970s — to labor-related issues that are within the control of the corporation. From there, they have spread to include more complex global concerns like child labor and climate change. Boycotts over an issue like deforestation could require a radical kind of agency from a company if it had to disrupt its entire supply chain to make real progress.” Might social media improve prospects for boycotts of companies like AT&T,  ExxonMobile or State Farm, which are active Board Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that specializes in providing ‘template bills’ for state laws favoring voter suppression, deregulation, protecting polluting companies and weakening unions?

Apparently it wasn’t enough that President Obama saved the world economy, oversaw the longest stretch of private sector job growth in U.S. history, passed the first major health care reforms since LBJ and provided a matchless example of dignity and scandal-free government. Now come the finger-pointers to fault him for Democratic seat losses in the House, Senate, Governorships and state legislatures during his Administration, as if it was all his fault. With benefit of hindsight, sure he could have stumped more for Democratic candidates, raised more dough for Democrats and paid more attention to party-building projects. But let’s not blame him for the glaring weaknesses of the Democratic Party, which were present  long before his political career began. Gabriel Debenedetti’s Politico post “Obama’s party-building legacy splits Democrats” explores the issue and possible future contributions from President Obama, whose example continues to brighten in stark comparison to the current White House occupant.

At The Daily 202, James Hohman discusses the growing doubts about the wisdom of Obamacare repeal  shared by Republican leaders, as well as their constituents, and notes, “Many Republican politicians are speaking pretty openly about the political danger of scaling back coverage. Lawmakers are getting  nervous about facing the kind of contentious town halls that their Democratic counterparts faced in 2009. Several members have already faced  big crowds of angry activists back home. “I’m not sure you’re going to have anyone in Washington with the courage to repeal the ACA,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage said at a town hall meeting last week.”

Here’s an interesting idea for government workers who can’t in good conscience enforce Trump’s executive orders. Call it ‘The Bartelby Strategy,” as does Judith Levine in The Boston Review. Levine quotes from a Facebook post by Chapo Trap House podcast cohost Will Menaker: “Every one of these objectively monstrous, cowardly and evil executive orders issued this week depend on the acquiescence of thousands of federal employees and bureaucrats to carry them out. They, and all of us, must get used to monkey wrenching all of this. If the Democratic leadership wanted to really be “The Resistance” they would hold a press conference and encourage all federal employees to passively resist or openly sabotage their new bosses.” That or a slow-down.

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Doug Weinfield on

    Umm, if the “the glaring weaknesses of the Democratic Party…were present long before his political career began” and he didn’t do much to fix them while he was the freaking _President_, isn’t some of the responsibility his?


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