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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Some talking points about the latest GOP Obamacare repeal proposal, from Margaret Sanger-Katz at The Upshot:” “In the days before Obamacare, applying for health insurance meant filling out dozens of pages of forms and submitting medical records. It was almost impossible to compare prices. Your premium might be set higher for a large number of reasons, including if your child was overweight. This could be the future in some states under the latest Republican proposal to overhaul the health law…The proposal, offered by leaders of libertarian and centrist groups within the House Republican caucus, would allow states to waive key insurance rules imposed by the Affordable Care Act if they believe the changes could lower premiums or advance other state goals. The proposal retains the health law’s promise that people with pre-existing health conditions can still buy insurance. But the protection would be largely technical.”

I like the way Eugene Robinson puts it in his WaPo column: “House Republicans are apparently ready for yet another attempt to snatch health insurance away from constituents who need it. Someone should remind Speaker Paul Ryan of a saying often attributed to his legendary predecessor Sam Rayburn: “There’s no education in the second kick of the mule.”…Having failed miserably to win passage of an abomination of a bill — the American Health Care Act — Ryan (R-Wis.) and his minions are back with something even worse. A draft framework being circulated this week would pretend to keep the parts of Obamacare that people like, but allow states to take these benefits away. We see what you’re doing, folks…This is getting silly. What part of “forget it” do Republicans not understand?…I’m sure the crowds at GOP town halls will be understanding. Just be sure to check attendees at the door for tar and feathers.”

Regarding recent public attitudes toward single-payer health care, Catherine Rampell, writes at The Post: “A recent survey from the Economist/YouGov found that a majority of Americans support “expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American.” Similarly, a poll from Morning Consult/Politico showed that a plurality of voters support “a single payer health care system, where all Americans would get their health insurance from one government plan.”Divining the longer-term trend in attitudes toward this idea is difficult, as the way survey questions on the topic are asked has changed over time. Views of a health-care system in which all Americans get their insurance from the government single payer vary a lot depending on how you frame the question. Calling it “Medicare for all,” for example, generally elicits much stronger approval, while emphasizing the word “government” tends to depress support…But at the very least, some survey questions that have remained consistent in recent years show support has been rising back up over the past few years for the broader idea that the federal government bears responsibility for making sure all Americans have health-care coverage.”

I enjoy political snarkage as much as most. But former Bush speechwriter and now Wapo columnist Michael Gerson has a couple of sentences in his op-ed worth pondering: “On the whole, people can better tolerate being shouted at than being sneered at. And the sneer of the knowledge class was clearly a motivating factor for many Trump voters. They felt condescension from the commanding heights of the culture and set out to storm its highest point. The pose of late-night television — duplicated by many on the left — is a continuing provocation…A sneering, dismissive, dehumanizing, conspiratorial, hard-left-leaning response to Trump is his fondest hope.” Ridicule can occasionally influence political attitudes (remember Tina Fey as Sarah Palin) in a favorable direction for progressives, but nowadays it’s often overdone and counter-productive from a progressive point of view (see direct insults to Trump voters on your Facebook pages).

At In These Times, Chris Maissano and Jesse Mannisto, both members of The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), dialogue on a question of interest to many progressives: “Should Democratic Socialists Be Democrats?” At one point in their discusion Mannisto comments, “Let’s frame the question carefully: Should we work within the Democratic Party? I’d say yes. Is it enough to work within the Democratic Party? Definitely not. I’m energized by the possibilities of this political moment, but I still see electoral work as one component of broader movement building. It seems our main difference is our degree of optimism…Electoral work isn’t necessarily the best way to spread our message, but it’s a way that’s proven powerful of late…I’ve felt frustrated to the point of contemplating canceling my Democratic Party registration for the second time (I signed back up to vote for Bernie), but then I reminded myself how much easier my giving up would make it for all those corporate super-delegates. They’d love it if we sat at home and let them run their primaries with no alternative vision to stir things up… we all joined DSA because we believe it’s possible for avowedly socialist ideas to resonate with the American people. For that reason, I hope we don’t exit the Democratic Party; I hope we infiltrate it…”

Geoffrey Skelley and Kyle Kondik have an update at The Crystal Ball concerning “Initial 2018 Gubernatorial Ratings: Competitive races abound as GOP plays defense in many open seats,” and the outlook is not bad. “Before we move on to the 2018 races, we want to set some expectations for 2017: Democrats need to sweep both New Jersey and Virginia in order to consider the year a success. Both states are more Democratic than the national average — the Old Dominion by a little, and the Garden State by a lot — and these are two states the party should be able to carry with a Republican in the White House who, at least for now, is not popular. Obviously, holding Virginia seems like a heavier lift for Democrats at the moment than flipping New Jersey. This year represents a golden opportunity for Democrats to make a dent, albeit a small one, in the GOP’s mighty roster of state governorships before turning the page to the packed 2018 gubernatorial calendar…Republicans will be defending nine governorships in states Clinton won — Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, and Vermont — while Democrats will be defending just one governorship in a Trump-won state (Pennsylvania)…Democrats are hoping that they can win a substantial number of governorships over the next two years, given how many open seats the GOP is defending and the general tendency for the party that does not hold the White House to make gains down the ticket in a midterm year. The president’s party has netted governorships only once (1986) in 18 postwar midterms. As of now, we favor the Democrats in two Republican-held seats — New Jersey and New Mexico. Overall, the Democrats should start 2019 with more governorships than they hold now, but the high number of Toss-ups and otherwise potentially very competitive races combined with the unsettled national environment next year creates a high degree of uncertainty.”

In bad news for A.G. Sessions, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto report thatA recent CBS News poll shows support for legalizing marijuana is higher than ever. Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll. Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use…Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents. Sixty-five percent think marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. And only 23 percent think legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime.”…Back in 1979, this poll found just 27 percent saying it should be legal…Those over 65 are the most opposed to legalization, but most under age 65 support it. And women are now as much in favor of legal marijuana as men are; in previous years they were less so.” What happened to the Hippies?

Heads up, Dems. Dave Johnson warns at ourfuture.org that “People Don’t Know Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is a Scam.” As Johnson explains, “Polls show that the public likes President Trump’s plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. That’s because they think he actually plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. He doesn’t. Not hardly…Trump knows the public wants infrastructure, so he promises it. Just like all the other things he promised and went back on after the election. Jut like all the contractors he stiffed, and the students at Trump University. It’s just another Trump con.” Johnson cites gallup and CNN/ORC polls indicating the public likes the idea of spending $1 trillion on infrastructure improvement. In reality, however, Trump has already cut spemnding for infrastructure, and his so-called plan is just a privatization scheme to benefit his wealthy supporters.

At ThinkProgress.com Ian Millhiser has put together a dossier on Republican candidate for GA-6 congressional district, former GA Secretary of State Karen Handel, entitled, “The GOP candidate in that Georgia special election is a pioneering vote suppressor.” As Millhiser writes, “Handel was one of her state’s leading champions of voter ID during her time as Georgia’s top elections official…Seven years ago, Handel was Georgia’s Secretary of State — its chief elections officer. In that role, she was a top advocate for a then-innovative method of voter suppression. She spearheaded an illegal purge of Georgia’s voting rolls. And she even tried to prevent Democratic candidates from appearing on the state’s ballots.”

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