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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Medicare for all advocates will find some useful statistics in Robert H. Frank’s article at The Upshot, “Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money,” including: “Total costs are lower under single-payer systems for several reasons. One is that administrative costs average only about 2 percent of total expenses under a single-payer program like Medicare, less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Single-payer systems also spend virtually nothing on competitive advertising, which can account for more than 15 percent of total expenses for private insurers…The most important source of cost savings under single-payer is that large government entities are able to negotiate much more favorable terms with service providers. In 2012, for example, the average cost of coronary bypass surgery was more than $73,000 in the United States but less than $23,000 in France.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” John McCain said of the Republican tax-bill-posing-as-health-care legislation on the CBS program Face the Nation. “Yet even McConnell cast doubt on the bill’s prospects for passage last week,” Reuters reports. “Speaking at a luncheon in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell said if Congress failed to follow through on a seven-year pledge to repeal Obamacare then it must act to shore up private health insurance markets, comments seen as providing a pathway to a bipartisan deal to fix the health system.” Sen Grassley isn’t optimistic about the bill’s prospects, either. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will try to hold a vote on the bill before the six-week recess that begins on July 29th.

Viral video about Trump’s awkward and weak presence at the G-20:

Sarah Jones explains “How the Democrats’ online outreach strategy went haywire” at The New Republic, and warns that the “churn and burn” email fund-raising strategy used by Jon Ossoff  may be played out. As Jones writes, “The Ossoff emails warned of electoral doomsday. The subject lines often contradicted emails that had been sent earlier that day. As election day neared, the pace increased. The campaign bombarded its email list with increasingly desperate pleas for money—or psychological intervention, depending on your interpretation…“There’s a limited pool of Democratic small-dollar donors out there,” said Kenneth Pennington, former digital director of Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, quoted by Jones. “When the Ossoff campaign and DCCC run a churn-and-burn program like this, it sullies the pond for every other Democratic cause. When people get turned off by fundraising emails, they tune out. Not just from the bad programs, but from the good ones. Everyone from Elizabeth Warren to UNICEF is going to feel that.” Jones adds, “but there’s no denying that the churn-and-burn strategy gets results. Ossoff did raise a lot of money. His fundraising helped him remain competitive with Handel…” Jones cites the more measured email fund-raising strategy of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, which was also highly-effective, not only in rasing money, but also in generating engagement.

At Salon, Conor Lynch ruminates on “Why we need the left-wing critique of liberalism: Because liberals got us where we are today. Too many American liberals have betrayed FDR’s legacy — and the attacks from both left and right have some merit.” Lynch makes his case and offers some worthwhile insights, including “At first it may seem that conservatives and leftists are criticizing liberals for opposite reasons: Right-wingers think that liberals are far-left ideologues, while actual leftists think that liberals lack core beliefs and are practically conservative.” There are grains of truth, as well as overstatement, in both characterizations, and the souring dialogue between liberal and moderate Democrats could use some adult supervision, as is often suggested by sniping and snarkage in Facebook and other social media. The ‘big tent’ party has both purist ideologues and moderate centrists, and tension between them is inevitable and needed for developing sound Democratic policy. Despite the divisions, liberal values affirming an increased role for government helping people and expansion of human rights generally hold sway with most voters who cast ballots for Democrats. What Democrats agree on remains far more significant than their more frequently-publicized disagreements.

Nobody should be surprised by all of the Pelosi-bashing. It’s what Republicans do to progressive women who have political power. Now that Hillary Clinton holds no political office, it would be surprising if the GOP did not come after the highest-ranking Democratic woman. Reasonable Democrats can disagree about whether Pelosi or another Democrat should be the next House Speaker. What is certain, however, is that, when Paul Ryan finally surrenders the Speaker’s gavel, his accomplishments will pale in comparison to what was achieved under Pelosi’s speakership.

The New York Times editorial board addresses measures for “Combating a Real Threat to Election Integrity,” and explain “Last year, Russian hackers tried to break into voter databases in at least 39 states, aiming to alter or delete voter data, and also attempted to take overthe computers of more than 100 local election officials before Election Day. There is no evidence that they infiltrated voting machines, but they have succeeded in doing so in other countries, and it’s only a matter of time before they figure it out here. R. James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, wrote in an introduction to the Brennan Center report, “I am confident the Russians will be back, and that they will take what they have learned last year to attempt to inflict even more damage in future elections…The question is this: Can the system be strengthened against cyberattacks in time for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race? The answer, encouragingly, is that there are concrete steps state and local governments can take right now to improve the security and integrity of their elections. A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice identifies two critical pieces of election infrastructure — aging voting machines and voter registration databases relying on outdated software — that present appealing targets for hackers and yet can be shored up at a reasonable cost.”

Marcus H. Johnson offers an idea for combatting voter suppression at Alternet: “Framing the issue is important because it is an effective way for voting rights advocates to expand the base of support for their fight. Twenty years ago, there wasn’t broad support for legalizing marijuana. But an effective messaging campaign turned marijuana legalization into a medical issue instead of a recreational one, leading to an increase in support and over two dozen states legalizing medical marijuana. Instead of visualizing teenagers smoking marijuana, legalization advocates got voters to think about cancer and epilepsy patients and others who use the drug to relieve pain…In the same vein, voting rights advocates can draw in a bigger base of support by framing voter suppression as an issue of political corruption. Currently, voter suppression is a problem known to the Democratic base and activists, but it isn’t covered extensively by the media and is openly dismissed by Republicans as a partisan issue. Framing voter suppression as political corruption would put Republicans on the defensive and force them to answer for stealing political influence from minority voters. It would also garner more media coverage, because corruption and theft sounds juicer and more pressing than “partisan differences.””

“A trio of new political action committees – the People’s House Project, Brand New Congressand Justice Democrats – are looking for ways to support candidates with economically progressive platforms and to challenge the party establishment, especially in rust-belt states where President Donald Trump saw much unexpected success last November,” reports Katishe Maake at mcclatchydc.com. “The People House Project says it will run candidates in every Republican-held district in 2018, with an emphasis on Midwestern and Appalachian states. A central tenant of the organization’s platform is that candidates cannot receive donations from big money donors, who Ball said have distorted the party’s messaging and intentions.”

One comment on “Political Strategy Notes

  1. Jack Olson on

    Thank you, J.P. Green, for the link to Sarah Jones’s New Republic article. Howard Dean and Barack Obama used intensive on-line fund-raising effectively in their campaigns so you can hardly blame Ossoff for using the same technique. Isn’t there a danger, though, that Democratic candidates may go to the well too many times? There must be some limit to how much money the donors are willing to give, but how will the Democrats know when they have reached that limit other than falling donations?


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